About Me

My photo
We are what we think & my blog entries reflect how I think. Have a sip of the poison of my mind.. It's not always lethal.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Jail-Busting My Phone.. Again

My iPhone was freed from it's jail on iOS 4.1 before today. When I read about how the newer firmwares after 4.1 have better cache management and that they allow taggings of different SMS tones to different selected groups of contacts, among other nifty improved stuff, I made up my mind to update my phone's firmware and perform a re-jailbreak on it. Besides, today is the Hari Raya public holiday, so I could spare the time to wade through binary minefields.

I've noticed that on iOS 4.1, my phone's battery seemed to last not longer than I could slowly say: "What the hell, dead so soon?" I'm a heavy abuser user of my iPhone; I even use it to create my blog entries you see here, so the thought of better cache management got me thinking that it ought to improve my phone's battery life since it kills off unnecessary clutter that can function needlessly in the background like undying binary zombies. That too was a critical decision that made me decide to go for an update.

So what I had to do today was to find out first which firmware to date after 4.1 can be jailbroken untethered. After researching the Net, I discovered it's iOS 4.3.3 and Redsn0w is the untethered jailbreak software for it. There is also the option of accessing the jailbreakme.com website to automate the jailbreak process but that's not my cup of tea since I prefer to control the whole jailbreaking process by my own hand.

See, I prefer to leave my fingerprints all over the place and earn the satisfaction of complete control over the entire process. What's that, did you just mutter under your breath that being a control freak is a Scorpio trait? You are not wrong, you know? Bite me.

The latest iOS version as of this blog entry is iOS 4.3.5, but only tethered jailbreak is available for it so far. To me, there's not much point in going tethered as that would mean that if your phone's battery goes flat or if you shut the phone down completely, you will need to plug it in to a computer in order to boot it up again. So if you do not have access to a computer under such circumstances, you are pretty much screwed even if you were to charge up your tethered phone fully using a charger.

An iPhone running on untethered jailbreak software, however, does not have this problem and it can boot up independently on its own. So untethered is the way to go for me since I like independence in every form anyway.

Right, so what I did next was to google and hunt down the iOS 4.3.3 firmware file and downloaded it. I had to do that because if I were to update the firmware via iTunes, it would have forced me to update to the latest 4.3.5 firmware. I've been having a lack of sleep, so I wouldn't have had the strength to shout 'Dictator' at iTunes anyway.

Once I got my mitts on that 4.3.3 file, the next thing was to hack the 'hosts' file inside the Windows directory and add in an i.p. (Internet Protocol) address line to fool and redirect iTunes to another server instead in order to bypass the forced installation of iOS 4.3.5. It's a simple process you can read about here, which also explains the entire change of firmware process. It's all just a game of deception, I tell ya.

After that, I fired up iTunes, held down the SHIFT button, hit 'restore' and directed iTunes to the 4.3.3 firmware file I downloaded. I think I gulped too. Because of that 'hosts' file hack, iTunes got directed to the server I needed to access instead and it updated my phone's firmware to 4.3.3.

That was when I hit a wall; my iPhone got stuck in that dreaded recovery mode loop. iOS 4.3.3 was already installed on it by this point but my phone couldn't get out of recovery mode. After some panicky moments and further research online to figure out the latest Redsn0w software for jailbreaking iOS 4.3.3 (which is Redsn0w rc19), I went ahead and began jailbreaking my phone with rc19 while my phone was still in recovery mode anyway.

Heaving a sigh of relief when I observed that the jailbreaking process was able to start successfully, I almost cheered. But I hit another wall: Redsn0w froze during three-quarters of the way through its 'Installing Activation Bundle' process. Trouble never comes singly. Panic moment number 2.

Sighing, I did further research online and the following video saved me:

Basically, it involved using TinyUmbrella to force-kick the phone out of its stuck mode and it worked. And after I've rebooted my phone successfully and saw the Cydia icon on the screen, I couldn't help but smile. Then when I went into my phone's settings to check on its firmware and saw '4.3.3', I couldn't help but grin.

I did it. I've successfully freed my iPhone again from its jail for the second time, though unlike this time round, I didn't encounter any hiccup during my virgin attempt previously. But that's because there wasn't any need to reroute iTunes to another server then, since the latest firmware during that time was iOS 4.1.

Only one thing remained: because of a baseband mismatch with the firmware as a result of the process, the signal strength indicator was stuck in one-bar mode. So I went into Cydia to install ultrasn0w to correct the problem and that nipped it in the butt and fixed it.

Observations: After trying out my phone and putting it through a series of torture tests, I'm glad to report that true enough, from what I've observed, the battery life of my phone has been improved indeed \m/ Huzzah to that. And my phone hasn't crashed on me so far and everything is stable and I'm enjoying all the new features of iOS 4.3.3... and then some ;)

Until the untethered iOS 5 jailbreak in the future, remember what Steve Jobs said about the iPhone being a culture. So don't treat it as just a phone, it's more than that. It's a shackled-up fountain of great potential that you have to free.

By the way, I give names to every of my gadget that I love. The name I gave to my iPhone is 'Pandora'. For good reason, at least in accordance with my own warped logic.

Disclaimer: Jailbreaking is NOT illegal.. unless you happen to be an imprisoned convict, that is.

- De Lion Speaks

Monday, August 29, 2011

My New 'RoutDem'

There is nowhere in the dictionary where the word 'RoutDem' can be found. So am I spouting nonsense again? Wait, before you close this blog page, allow me to explain, so hold Thy fingers there. I promise things will turn out quite logical.

You see, there is such a gadget which is the combination of a router and a modem. As far as I know, there is no official word to describe such a thing other than 'modem/router' or 'router/modem', which are pretty lame. Therefore, for lack of a better word, I'm taking the liberty here to use the word 'RoutDem' to describe such a gadget for this blog entry.

So a Modem is a gadget that allows you to have online access to the Internet and a Router is a networking device connected to a modem that allows multiple devices like another computer, laptop or a handphone to connect to the modem (and thus, the Internet) wirelessly via the router.

In other words, a router allows devices to ride on it to access the Net via a modem connected to it. If the Internet is a house, then the modem is the gate and the router is the gatekeeper while the devices trying to access the Net are the party-crashers attempting to enter the house through the gate. Logical so far, I hope.

So I was informed that the contract of my broadband Internet service has just expired recently and if I don't renew the 2-years contract, I'll have to pay for the service at a higher uncontracted price. Since I need Internet access every single day for the rest of my life, a renewable 2-years contract is a definite must. Why pay a higher price for something I use everyday, right?

So I was informed by my ISP (Internet Service Provider) which is Starhub, that upon renewing my contract with them, they will upgrade the speed of my broadband Internet access by replacing my modem which has a speed of 30mbps (megabytes per second) with a new one with 50mbps digital horsepower.

Best thing is, there will be no extra charges from my usual under-contract monthly payment. So I'll be paying the same amount but getting a boost in speed. Cool.

So I took up the offer and they sent a tech over to my place to install the gadget which is a one whole piece of device - a combination of a router and a modem. How very niftily encompassing. The picture on the left shows it in action (click it to bloat it).

Honestly, this is the first time in my life that I have to deal with a 'RoutDem', so inevitably, I'll have some apprehension and questions about it:

The voice in my head:
a) If the modem goes bust, then the router becomes paperweight.

b) If, on the other hand, the router goes kaput, I should probably still be able to use the modem to access the Net on my computer which is directly connected to the RoutDem. I might have to adjust some things here and there though.

c) But should the device ever fails as a whole, I won't be able to use anything to get online; royally screwed, so to speak.

Hey, I just talked to myself there. Well, I had to since I have to analyze the pros and cons of substituting a separate modem and a separate router with a RoutDem. Actually, points a and b above are no different from a separate modem and separate router situation. But point c above rings true for a RoutDem and that would be a unique case all on its own.

So I better not have a point c situation. Anyway, if I'm not mistaken, my ISP now provides only RoutDems as standard when it comes to home broadband Internet.

Performance-wise, I did notice a slight boost in surfing speed so far. It's not overly much as compared to before but it's still a discernible factor. But it wasn't like my old modem and router were cyber versions of tortoises to begin with, though.

And in the area of wireless coverage, I have no problem connecting my phone to the router from anywhere in the house, just like before.

Stability-wise, I'm happy to report that not once did the device crash on me so far and Internet surfing has been as smooth as a baby's butt. I'm happy with it so far. But it's too early to tell, though. We'll see as time goes on.

Well, you can be sure that if my RoutDem ever goes gaga on me someday down the road, a new blog entry about it with the 'Rant' label attached will be born here in this blog site. Here's hoping we will never see one  ^_^"

- De Lion Speaks

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Presidential Election Day

Today is our Presidential Election Day. There are a total of 4 candidates contesting: Tan Jee Say, Tan Cheng Bock, Tan Kin Lian and Tony Tan - the battle of the Tans. Everyone of them had affiliations with the ruling party (as in being an official party member) except for Tan Jee Say who was from the opposition. I said 'had' and 'was' because candidates are not supposed to be existing official members of any political party to qualify for the PE.

On the morning of 23rd August while I was having coffee at work, I received a SMS message on behalf of Dr Tan Cheng Bock (snapshot of it on the left with the sender's return number at the bottom of the message censored out in case creeps who like to make prank calls on a political level happen to be reading this).

And I mentioned 'on behalf of Dr Tan Cheng Bock' because I don't think he would message me personally since I'm a nobody and nobody knows me, duh. He must have paid some marketing company to send the message. According to Facebook, lots of folks received the same message too.

Some people have expressed their disdain for such campaigning SMS messages and regard them as spam. For me, I'm ok with it since I know I will only receive this message just once, at least till the next Presidential election years down the road should the doc not get elected this time round and contest again. It's no biggie to me and I happen to like the doc for his calm and collected demeanor, as well as the fact that he had the guts to speak up against certain policies which he felt didn't benefit the nation during his stint with the ruling party.

For Mr Tan Jee Say, some folks think he's confrontational. Maybe he is, but he sure doesn't seem to put his tail between his legs and mince his words when he speaks up against issues he feels are unjust or not right. I think he's being passionate about the issues he believes in but that rubbed some people the wrong way, I guess. Still, I like his guts, though some feel that he needs to reign it in with more self-control.

As for gentle Mr Tan Kin Lian, I honestly think he has the heart for the people. He seems to be a really nice guy but some folks wonder if he would be swept off deck by the mean, fast & furious political scene of the cabinet. Still, his desire to be the voice of the people is an admirable one. Afterall, the Prezzie should have a heart for the people's welfare above everything else.

Hang on a second, the entire government body ought to have a heart for the people above everything else, not just the Prezzie.

As for Dr Tony Tan, he is heavily endorsed with the support of clans and associations. On the flip side of the coin, he's been drawing quite a bit of flak by Netizens in pages like The Online Citizen's Facebook page. Just read the comments sections of the postings regarding the PE there and you will see what I mean. Some of it are just plain nasty.

The reason for that is mainly because lots of people feel that he is a Yes Man to the ruling party, besides other reasons like the National Service issue regarding his son. It's quite a messy issue. But then again, the other candidates have been receiving some flak too, albeit on much fewer and gentler extents. Nobody can please everybody.

Right, so all of us have to vote for our new Prezzie today at one of the 162 polling stations assigned to each individual estate. We have until 20:00pm to cast our votes. Just like I did during polling day in May, there is no way in heck I'll go to the polling station in the morning and endure a crowd. I woke up in the afternoon and taking my time, I made my way to the polling station at 17:40pm.

Oh, and just as a little side-note, I love the weather today; it's really cooling with an overcast gloomy sky - my kind of sky. I just don't like the drizzle that remains after the rain earlier. Would have been perfect without it. Can't have everything sometimes but having most of everything can still be good enough for me.

As expected, there are only a handful of people here at the polling station during this time in the late afternoon. I don't have to queue behind anyone. Good. Ushered and guided by friendly polling agents who greeted me courteously, I made my vote, cast it into the ballot box and got out of the polling station to the block opposite.

Standing here under the block opposite the polling station I just came out from, I whipped out my phone and took a distant shot of the polling station since I'm not allowed to do so within its premise. Since I'm gonna blog about this, I need a picture (click it to bloat it):

The polling station assigned for my estate is the exact same one as the one for the General Election during May. I ain't complaining, it's just a stone's throw away from my block and I haven't thrown stones for as long as I can remember.


It's already past midnight and I'm still glued to the TV while keeping myself updated about the vote counts on Facebook where counting agents relay their observations online.

Apparently, Mr Tan Kin Lian has garnered the lowest votes so far to the point that his situation seems really bleak. There are so many confirmed and unconfirmed updates going on online that one moment, the feeling of hope and elation can take over and the next, dismay and disappointment. Then within the blink of an eye, the process can repeat itself again with the next opposite emotion. It's a very excitingly nervous roller-coaster ride.

A couple of hours later, one thing becomes certain: Mr Tan Jee Say and Mr Tan Kin Lian have been out-voted out of the fight leaving Dr Tan Cheng Bock and Dr Tony Tan neck-&-neck in the ring. Between the both of them, their garnered vote difference is not more than 2%, justifying a recount which is what's happening now, causing further inevitable delay and the media on TV has to continue entertaining us further, sometimes recycling repeated news which given the circumstances, cannot be helped. I pity the counting agents who have to start their work all over again.

According to Channel News Asia which I'm viewing to keep track of the election, Dr Tan Cheng Bock was leading by 2% before the recount. So when they started to report that Mr Tony Tan is now leading by over 7,000 votes so far now that the recount has started, I'm finding this sudden turn of the tide rather peculiar mathematically. But my mathematics sucks, what do I know? And I've probably missed some things here & there while I was distracted by shiny things or while I was making some coffee in the kitchen.

The Moment of Truth...

It is now past 4am in the morning (man, what a long drawn-out fight) and the result has been finalized and is being announced.. The winner is Dr Tony Tan. He won over Dr Tan Cheng Bock with a 0.34% margin, which means that overall, he won 35.19% of votes on the national level. You can read about it here.

And by the way, since my mathematics sucks, I'm using 2 decimal points for the voting statistics here so that I can appear to be smart and not so dumb, bite me.

So this is it. Dr Tony Tan is now our new President starting 1st September. However, despite all the endorsements and despite all the support from the clans and associations, his win was a very narrow one and 35.19% overall is not a very encompassing figure on a national level when it comes to being an elected President. To put it really bluntly but honestly, 64.81% of the People did not wish for him to be our President. Ouch.

But a fact is a fact is a fact: Dr Tony Tan is our newly elected seventh President and everyone of us has to accept that whether we like it or not. If you don't, you have to deal with it.

This was only the second time in our nation's 46-years history since Independence we voted for an unappointed elected President after the late Mr Ong Teng Cheong. Looks like Our new Prezzie has to work really hard to win over the hearts & minds of 64.81% of the People.

64.81% is a gargantuan figure. So it's gonna be a gargantuan challenge. We'll see how things will turn out with Dr Tony Tan at the Presidential helm.

Buckle up and hang on tight for the ride.

A picture speaks percentages
( photo courtesy of Yahoo! )

- De Lion Speaks

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Plugging In At Eski Bar

Sometimes, I'll grab company to join me when I want to relax somewhere and have a drink after work. Other times, I just prefer to be alone and have some 'Me' time. That's gotta be a Scorpio trait, I guess. We are not afraid of being alone, at least for a moment.. even if it's a long one.

Today is such a day when I just want to be alone by myself. I've just finished work finding myself at Raffles Place. I was working in Orchard earlier and proceeded here after. I can see the Singapore River from where I am and when one sees the Singapore River, one thinks Boat Quay and Clarke Quay.

And when one thinks Boat Quay and Clarke Quay, one thinks drinking and dining places. So here I am at Eski Bar in Boat Quay. Eski Bar is at the back alley behind the main area facing the river. I wanted to hole up at the main area for a drink but the pubs and restaurants there are crowded at this hour. I don't like the crowd. Not today. So I came here to the quieter back alley instead where I can hear myself think.

Going into the bar to order my drink, the sub-zero temperature hits me and every pore on my body leaps for joy. It's been awhile since my entire being has been enveloped with the feel of winter, albeit an artificial one. But I'm gonna take the outside seat instead. Later, I'm gonna walk in there again to pay my bill and enjoy the cold sensation once more when I'm done here. I miss the cold of winter in other countries I've been to with proper winter seasons.

As for my mood, I'm feeling quite tired of my work recently (who wouldn't once in awhile, that's only human) and it's going to get more tedious from next month onwards - there will be product blitzes that will bog me down since I'll have to lug lots of things around with me and I don't drive, while having to hit my sales call quotas for the days and the humid weather won't help.

There will also be a few full days of training for an upcoming new product as well as 3 full days of a public Pharmaceutical event at Suntec in October that will not only last from morning till night but eat into my weekend as well. I've been to similar multiple full days conventions at Suntec during my stint in the IT industry before and I know that it's gonna be tiring. Well, at least it will happen before my birthday.

I'm just hoping that all these won't eat up too much of my guitar practice time. I do not believe that one should devote one's entire waking moment to just work and career and nothing else. Everyone should have their own personal pursuits outside of work. Maslow's Hierarchy, babe.

And there's also the fact that my monthly sales targets have been increased dramatically and I only have one new product on the horizon to expand my product range to help me cope. I don't think I have enough ammo for the fight when I think about the breadth of product promotional activities and the height of my sales targets, so to speak.

And on top of everything, I've decided to give up on something and it ain't gonna be easy. But on a better note, my body is telling me that the cough that's been bugging me lately is gonna be gone soon, good riddance to that.

Hey, now that I'm putting all these down in writing, I think I've figured out why I'm feeling kinda lousy. So I guess I'm here at Eski Bar having a drink to rest my mind and perk myself up for the challenges ahead. Not that it will do much but every instance of winding down and resting collectively ought to at least do something for the grand scale of things.

Drain yourself, plug in for some recharge and charge into the fray again. Now I know how a handphone feels like.

Anyway, the surrounding here is 70's-esque, what with the place I'm at made up of rows of shophouses modified with a touch of modernity. Imagine and visualize the 1970's merging with 2011. The pic on the right which shows my immediate surrounding now ought to help you see what I mean.

I'm gonna chill out here a bit, surf the Net with my trusty phone and once I've finished my pint of Heineken, I'm gonna walk over to the Censorship Board building and go home from there.

Have a good evening. Tomorrow may either be better or tomorrow may be worse, but Life is such that in-between the ups & the downs, one better learn to shift to a lower gear, chill out a bit, smell the roses and recharge and encourage oneself to continue the fight on the morrow.

So speaking of ups & downs, Life is just like a lift. Just don't malfunction and get yourself stuck for too long.

The Singapore River

Be like water. Water flows around and through every opening of obstacles to get to the other side. If all else fails, you can always try crashing through everything tsunami-style. Just ask a pissed Mother Nature who gets her way whenever she feels like it.

- De Lion Speaks

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Curry Day

That's a pot of chicken curry which includes tao pok and potatoes made by my Lioness on my request (click the picture to bloat it). Curry is a spicy local dish that comes in many varied forms well-loved and enjoyed by every race here. Curry is absolutely one of my favourite dishes even though it wasn't invented by my race but I'm mighty glad the Indians did. My tastebuds can testify to that, Slurp!

There is no official 'Curry Day'. But today is the day when lots of my fellow countrymen here on home ground as well as overseas deliberately cook or buy the dish for consumption. The reason? To make a statement which you can read about here.

The true story of the incident that sparked off this nation-wide event happened like this in a nut shell: A family of PRCs staying in a HDB flat was turned off by the smell of curry whenever their local Indian neighbours cooked the dish. So they lodged a complain and their case was mediated, resulting in the Indian family agreeing that they will only cook curry when their PRC neighbours are not at home. The details of the incident are found here.

That family originally from China telling the local Indians not to cook curry, which is a LOCAL dish that has become a cultural thing shared by the true blue races here as one united people, would be akin to them going to North Korea and telling the people there to stop eating Kimchi.

There is a saying: 'When in Rome, do as the Romans do.' Within the context of this incident, this means that that PRC family ought to assimilate themselves with the local culture, traditions and even cuisine since they have decided to settle down here.

Granted, I'm sure they have a genuine aversion to the smell of curry but it just so happens that every house and apartment here comes with windows and doors that one can close to prevent undesirable momentary outside elements from making their way into the house. It wasn't even like the Indian family tried to force curry down their throats.

And when it comes to living in a HDB apartment, one has to have a certain level of tolerance for one's neighbours since everyone is just staying side-by-side or opposite one another. I really think that if you are a new citizen, telling your local-born neighbours to stop cooking local dishes that may even be older than you are is just plain rude.

So this is why we are eating curry today. It isn't just an act of enjoying the food, it's a concerted effort to protect the multi-racial nation's culture, tradition and identity shared or accepted and tolerated by every race here.

Since we allow people from foreign lands to come to our own land, it is only mutual courtesy if our guests are willing to live with our ways of life, especially if they have chosen to settle down among us.

Like I've said, we provide windows and doors in our homes here to block out outside elements we do not like. One of my neighbours used to cook belachan once in awhile. When you cook belachan, your immediate vicinity will be permeated with the smell. Whenever that happened, I'd just close my windows, no biggie. It only lasted for less than an hour each time. I can live with that.

And the process of cooking curry is just a momentary thing as well; it doesn't even last as long as it would take for some people to figure out that every different corner of the universe doesn't revolve around them with themselves as the central focal point of attention.

- De Lion Speaks

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Sip of Serenity At Shochu Bar

In my blog entry here, I mentioned that everytime when I finish work at Harbourfront and Vivocity, I'll pop over to Serenity restaurant pub for a mug of Heineken and enjoy the view of Sentosa island across the narrow strait while pondering about life in general or something Emo like that. But that's alright since I even have the Emo hair for such occasions, so it's all good.

This evening, however, I've decided to hole up at the outside seating area of Shochu Bar instead. Shochu Bar is just next to Serenity and the reason why I'm here now is because they have Sapporo beer which Serenity doesn't. Sapporo is the largest city of Hokkaido and thus, according to beer logic, drinking the city's trademark golden liquid poison makes me go through a bittersweet reminiscence of Hokkaido and the city, along with the coastal town of Otaru.

Bitter because I happen to miss Hokkaido since it's my favorite place on earth, especially when snow is falling there during winter and in particular, the beautiful romantic little town of Otaru. Sweet because I had a wonderful time there where me & my Lioness experienced falling snow first-hand for the first time in our lives during late March in 2010. And yeah, I drank lots of Sapporo beer there, which other drink would be more appropriate?

So this is why I'm here at Shochu Bar. Besides the fact that I'm not in a hurry to get home for dinner since I'm on diet and am skipping dinner, I wanted another taste of Hokkaido. This is making me yearn to go back there again, which I can't do just yet because of my work and I'm waiting for winter. As it is, the shit for weather here on home ground lately has been fickle and can degenerate suddenly into one mean hot as hell sonofabitch. I hate summer to the core.

Me & my Lioness have recently planned to go to Korea in January next year. Before, I've originally planned to go back to just Hokkaido in either February or March, so if finances and work allow, I'll go back there a couple of months or so after Korea for a double-dose of wanderlust satisfaction. If not, then I'll take us both back to Taipei for a short shopping trip to replenish our wardrobe. Or probably Hong Kong? But I prefer the hippier fashion sense of the Taiwanese. We'll see.

Anyway, I wanted to take a photo of the outside bar area of Shochu Bar but the table in front of me is occupied by a guy and 3 ladies and they are blocking my view of the bar. So I'll wait for them to disperse later before taking the shot and I'm hoping they will soon since one of the ladies has the most irritating laughter. She laughs too loudly and there is nothing ladylike about it and she's wearing work clothes, tsk.

Ear-sore that begets eye-sore once you hear the way she cackles and then look at the clothes she's wearing, in the sense that not that there's anything wrong with her work clothes but her loud mannerism & cackling just don't gel with her image and ruins it. Gawd, my ears.

And I think they are either sales reps or sales managers since they keep on talking about sales reps. I wouldn't be surprised, us reps like to hang out for a drink or two after work. It's in our blood and an unwritten law of the universe. They who work outdoors hang & chill outside. Makes me wonder if they are in the Pharmaceutical industry just like I am.

View of Sentosa island (click to bloat)
Yeah, they are obstructing my view of the bar but all is not lost, I still have an unobstructed view of Sentosa island. How lovely. And as I'm typing this section, they are playing the Jap theme song of the Jap drama Beach Boys. Cool. Oh, and now that the Beach Boys song has trailed off, Utada Hikaru's 'First Love' has started playing. So even aurally, I'm getting reinforcements of my memories of Japan. And here comes that bittersweet feeling again..

So the point of this blog entry? Nothing in particular, actually. I'm just recording down my thoughts and feelings and memories after a day of work on a Wednesday. So if you are feeling cheated, you can punch a hole through your monitor right now or smash your phone against the wall if you're using it to browse this and hope that you hit the nerve center of this blog.

Neah Neah Ne Poo Poo

Seriously, aren't the above part of the reasons for a blog too? Besides, see what I wrote as this blog's tagline just below my banner above. Take it easy. It's not everyday that something exciting of a gargantuan magnitude happens anyway. Sometimes, I just wanna chill out and just write about it.

Damn, it's been awhile already and those 4 are still at the table in front of me. Oh wait, Miss Cackle is not at her seat, she probably went to pee or clear her throat or something. Ok, since she was seating at the most prominent place blocking my view of the bar and she's not around now, I'll just angle my shot slightly towards the left from their table and take a shot. So a bit of the right of the bar will be left out of the shot but it's no biggie. Here goes..

There you go :) I know, I suck at photography. Ok, with that done, I'm gonna have another final glass of Sapporo, spell-check this blog entry because my English sucks and then upload it. I'll chill out a bit more and then proceed home after I've finished my beer. The peak hour crowd ought to have dwindled some by then.


And oh, tomorrow's Thursday already. The weekend is almost upon us again (^_^)\m/

If nothing else, at least this blog entry serves to remind you to start making plans for Friday night onwards. Have a party, pal. I hope you haven't punched your monitor or ruined your phone so that you can get this far to this part.

Cheers again~

Post Script: A couple hours later...

So I'm sitting under my block sipping coffee before going up and I suddenly noticed this black heart-shaped thingy on the floor before me. It looks like a guitar pick but I'm not sure what it is exactly. So the hopeless romantic in me took a shot of it:

A black-shaped heart (if that even makes any sense). How quaint.

It's late. Go sleep. I'll go up now, take a shower, do my sales report and practice guitar. What to do? As a working adult, if I hope to excel in my hobbies and personal pursuits, I have to squeeze them into what little time I have while bringing in the dough. Maslow's Hierarchy still applies for me.

Nite ♫

- De Lion Speaks

Friday, August 5, 2011

Sales Training & Getting Drunk

We had our selling skills sales training for the entire Sales Division and Marketing Department that lasted the entire day until 18:30pm today. It was actually supposed to last till 19:30pm originally. Even our GM David and Rahmat sat in for this one. The training was conducted by Bien Lazaro from the Philippines.

Training in progress
The training was quite interesting with moments interjected with humour and a bit of naughty talk which provided refreshing moments of relief for us in the Sales Division. Why? Because those of us in Sales are trained to run the field and so, having to spend an entire day sitting down in the office can be quite torturous for us, even though the training session was quite an interesting and informative one.

We had our lunch break at 12:30pm and tea break at 16:15pm, as well as a couple of pee breaks that Bien called 'Biological Breaks'. There was once when I needed a moment of relief to recharge myself and I just walked out; no hand needed to be raised and no permission required. Such is the rude privilege of a working adult.

Bien imparting to us the
the fine art of selling skills
I've been taking pictures for this blog entry in front of everyone and when I came back from my self-awarded break, I took another picture from the door the minute I came back in before going back to my seat. When Bien saw me standing there poised with my phone for the shot, he said: "Ah, another one for Facebook, huh?" So I replied: "Yeah, cheese!"

Also, before Bien went into his training proper at the beginning, we were asked to name ourselves after our favourite Hollywood star. I wanted to choose Bruce Willis because I love Die Hard but chose Keanu Reeves instead for a more recent touch of modernity. I found myself having to struggle a bit to actually think of a Hollywood star when I decided to drop Bruce Willis and that surprised me.

Funny thing about that was, Bien mentioned he would explain later why he wanted us to do that but by the end of it all, he didn't. Therefore, I can only deduce that either he has forgotten to do so or that was just a ploy to remember our 'names' easier; since we are nobody famous, it made it easier for him to remember famous monikers attached to us for ease of address. The clever man.

Squiggly worms
You can see my training notes I wrote by hand on the left. I know the handwriting is gawd awful and it look like worms squirming randomly but I didn't bother to write properly and just scribbled willy-nilly. Could have sworn my usual handwriting that slants towards the left looks much better; it looks like sober worms squirming towards the left.

During the training, Bien told us about his experiences dealing with countering the perceived malingering of sales reps (which included using gadgets like the iPad) as well as the counter-counter measures undertaken by sales reps to beat the system.

As he was mentioning all these, I felt the sudden urge to run up to him to shut him up since such things breed mistrust between sales managers and their reps and turn companies into mini Communist states.

While we were having a break, Lily, who has interacted with Bien before from way back, commented: "He did that because he is from an MNC." That made a lot of sense. I fucking detest the ways of MNCs in my industry here since they can be inefficient, counter-productive, political and just-for-show. When I have to say 'fucking detest' on something, it means I hate it to the core.

Over here, lots of folks and corporate organizations with bloated corporate heads often degenerate into impracticality, rigid regimentation and can't think out of the box. The bigger their heads are, the more these mentioned mis-qualities tend to apply. It's a corporate disease that seems to infect lots of companies that are growing and expanding.

The core of the whole shebang
Another highlight of the training session was that we broke up into 3 teams and challenged one another with repeated attempts of a card-arrangement game which was a memory game in essence with decreasing time limits with each subsequent round. My team won every round but it was due to the efforts of my team mates because I'm not very good with memory games if I can't take my time with them, since I need time to think about what I'm thinking.

By the time the clock hit 18:30pm, Bien ended the training session and before I left the room, I went up to him and thanked him with a handshake since I felt that overall, the training was quite a good and rather fun one, despite the inevitable dry theories here and there.

Bien's poor wife waited for him at our pantry the entire day and I heard she fell asleep on the couch for some time. Some of my fellow sales troopers joked that his wife was gonna give him hell for it that night.

Jace has a talent in posing herself
And with that, we followed David's lead and proceeded to Revzone Cafe in Yio Chu Kang, a stone's throw away from Serangoon stadium for beer and dinner. Really, Revzone ought to have been named 'Revzone KTV Pub' instead since I didn't see anything cafe about it.

We arrived in batches and Jaceyn, Angela and me made up the second batch that arrived at the scene. My colleagues like to sing, so that was the very first thing they started doing when they charged into the place. For me, I just sat around or walked around with a glass of beer in my hand taking on the role of club menace disturbing and poking fun at my colleagues, sometimes literally.

Inside Revzone
The beer glasses here are small and I missed the usual sizes of beer mugs. Jason and Luke got us dinner from some nearby coffeeshop and we were allowed to bring the food into the pub, er, I mean cafe or have them at the outside seating area. For me, I ordered sambal fried rice and it was yummylicious, much to the delightful orgasm of my tastebuds. Strange, however, was the fact that they didn't buy dinner for everyone of us. So I offered to share mine with anyone who looked at my food with yearning.

So I drank and drank and drank and toasted my colleagues till I lost count of the number of toasts we made. You know how it goes; when you find yourself losing count, you tend to also lose track in monitoring yourself about how much you are drinking and how much you can hold alcohol. But it was a Friday night, so who's counting.

First-person shooter view of a toast
As the night dragged on and the beer kept coming in torrents, I soon found myself walking funny while my head felt heavier and heavier.

Jace and me chatted at the outside seating area and she poured her heart out to me about things that trouble her. And for the very first time, my colleague-sister shedded tears and wept in front of me. My heart broke seeing her like that and I gave her a hug to comfort her.

Don't you worry sister, shit happens but they don't last forever. You may be in shit but as long as you keep your head above shit-level, you will survive. I'll help you hold your head up.

As the night progressed even further, the heaviness of my head increased in magnitude and so did the vertigo associated with it. By then, only Zell, David, Jace & me were left. Soon, I found myself ending up slumped on the couch at a corner of the pub.

Zell can pop the caps off
beer bottles with his teeth
When you are in a pub and your head feels like somebody has smashed it repeatedly against the wall, crashing yourself on a couch is a bad idea. Bad idea because when you are slumped on a comfy couch under such a condition, you tend to close your eyes. And when you close your eyes, that headache and vertigo can take a mighty swing to levels you might not be able to reign in.

And then I did something that I hated myself for because that something was the breaking of 2 promises I made to myself to never ever do again, especially in a public drinking place. I lost control of my headache and vertigo and had to quickly turn to my left facing away from the crowd, looked for the little space between the couch I'm on and the couch next to it and I started puking while aiming into that little gap of space. My whole being was enveloped in agony from head to quivering toes.

Promise number 1 broken. I underestimated the retching force of the torrent of my poison since I spilled over to the neighbouring couch. Gawd, I felt terrible. I was puking my guts out. Just when I thought I've finished and got it over with, another unstoppable wave came. And another and another. If tsunamis came like that, there would be no chances for survival.

When you start puking your guts out like that, that's when you know you have become pissed-ass DRUNK. Promise number 2 broken. Fuck me.

The realization that you have broken a promise you've made to yourself is absolutely one of the worst feelings for a human being, much less two promises. I fucking hate myself for it. It's not gonna kill me but it's gonna bug me for as long as I remember what I just did to myself. And again, a big fat FUCK to that.

Halfway through my SNAFU, Zell came to me and started massaging my shoulders while he was trying to talk me out of my stupor and I think Jace came over with a plastic bag. I couldn't tell if it was her even though I looked right into the face. That was how gone I was. I raised my right hand and signaled that 'leave me the fuck alone' gesture and so, they left me alone.

After I've puked, I gained back just a tad of strength and forced myself to get up and I stumbled to the basin outside the washrooms and washed myself up, cleaning myself of all the filth. I was embarrassed and freaking ass pissed with myself. And when I say 'pissed' here, I mean PISSED.

And since I was embarrassed, I made a quick decision on the spot the minute I finished cleaning myself up - I stumbled back to my seat, grabbed my work bag and without even looking at my colleagues and without uttering a single word, I left the place in a hurry as they were trying to speak with me. I just ignored everything and everyone and walked out.

Fuck it, I'll save the explanation I owe them till when I see them next. I was worried that If I tried to reply them while I was feeling all weak and fucked up, I might just collapse on our table or end up not being able to hold it in and puke right into their faces since I felt that there was still poison left inside me.

And I was right because I puked again outside after crossing over to the opposite side of the road. I had to cross over since no empty cabs passed the side I was initially at after I've waited for some time. And when I saw the empty cab heading my way, I forced myself to stand without swaying so that the cabbie would not be scared into not taking me.

The ride home inside the cab was pure agony because the cabbie seemed to be driving too fast (which reason I attribute to him being a discerning man) and he seemed to rush over humps. So it was hell for me trying to hold in my poison throughout the journey and that caused my head to go beyond suffering a spinning headache to near explosion. I was tempted several times to ask the cabbie to stop his car and just let me get out to throw up by the side of the road. I didn't. I endured all the way.

When I got home, I no longer had the strength to shower and just stripped in the kitchen, dumped my clothes in the basket meant for clothes to be washed, donned on my shorts with what was left of my strength and crashed on my couch in the hall where I fell into a deep sleep as though I was dead.

Never again. Never again will I drink till I puke and never again will I drink till I get drunk, it's stupid. This may be the second time I promise myself again but I'll forgive myself this time for having fallen and get up again.

Die Harder.

- De Lion Speaks

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

On The Verge

I woke up this morning with relief; I'm feeling almost normal now and those sickly sensations that wore me down yesterday are gone. I said 'almost normal' because there is still a tinge of heatiness to the touch on my body even though the aches & lethargy are gone. Yeap, and I know that starting a blog entry with 'I woke up this morning' is like writing the opening lines of a Blues song.

Yesterday while I was at work, I think I experienced vertigo for the first time in my life (that world-spinning sensation you sometimes experience when intoxicated doesn't count). I was at the train station making my way to my customer's place when all of a sudden, the world around me started spinning and I had to steady myself like a sailor on deck caught in a tumultuous storm.

It only lasted for like 3 seconds. But those 3 seconds were enough to make me wonder if that was an introductory phase to something that might last longer and hit me harder, like the little drizzle before the main storm hits during a typhoon season. It got me kinda surprised as I thought to myself: "What?! Vertigo?! While sober?! Me?!".

Perhaps it's the weather lately. It's summer now and because home ground is just 1 degree above the equator, summer here can be one mean sonofabitch. June used to be the hottest month but the seasons got pushed forward. It's called 'Global Fucking Warming'.

It has been so terribly hot and humid lately with an unrelentless, scorching merciless sun beating down on everything that maybe, I thought to myself, my brains were fried silly or the grey matter in my head was approaching boiling point. Perhaps that was what rocked my world at the train station.

No, it wasn't fun. That was actually quite worrying.

And it was just a shitty day with shitty people with shitty navigation skills; I've lost count of the number of times when people almost walked straight into me at Bugis Junction. That place is crowded and having to force oneself to be more alert than usual when one's body is wearing down and having to constantly side-step here & there to avoid human crashes can induce a headache or worsen an existing one.

Some people have their eyes open while walking but their minds and awareness are completely switched off. Why is it that I was tired and kinda feeling sickly but they didn't seem so and I was the one who had to do the side-steppings for them?

Perhaps I should one day don on a Heavy Metal jacket covered with protruding spikes and let these insensitive wankers walk right into me. Not that I have such a jacket but whatever.

The only thing that cheered me up while I was at Bugis Junction was that after I was done serving my customers there, I spotted a pair of work pants at Domanchi which I liked and bought.

By the time I got home, I was feeling a strange sensation that sorta reminded me of the symptoms of Malaria; my joints seemed to ache, I was quite lethargic all over and my body felt hot to the touch while I was feeling as if chilly weather had set in. It was then that I was pretty sure I was now on the verge of becoming ill.

Every morning before I leave my house for work, I'll pop a Shaklee vitamin C tablet with sustained release. The antioxidant helps my body withstand harmful environmental effects and boosts up my immune system.

For anyone not in the know, taking supplements with sustained release is better when it comes to preparing your body for the day since they release the beneficial properties over a span of several hours as opposed to just immediate effect on the spot.

So supplements with sustained release will keep on benefiting your body throughout the day. The releases have a finite duration of course. In the case of my vitamin C, I think it's around 4 hours.

And no, taking 2 tablets together at the same time won't give you 8 hours of continuous benefit. If you want that, take a second tablet after 4 hours from popping the first one, which also means that taking more than one sustained release tablet in one go is unnecessary wastage.

They come more costlier than the cheaper non-sustained release ones but as you can already tell, they last longer with better efficiency. Fair deal to me.

I need my vitamin C because I have to travel about the country for my work and we have shit for weather here in the tropical belt that wears you down. If I hadn't taken my vitamin C yesterday, I think my body would have succumbed to the toll on it and I would have gone over the edge and fallen into full-bloom sick territory.

In this case, I don't view my cup as being half-empty despite my natural-born cynicism. If I had, I would have mentioned here that my vitamin tablets didn't do squat. Oh, and 10 hours of sleep done on purpose also did the trick.

Good thing I'm almost fully recovered or I would be tortured at the compulsory sales training for the sales division this Friday, which is supposed to last past the entire work day all the way till 19:30pm, way past the official hour when our work is supposed to end at 17:30pm. Think I'll drag my colleagues with me after that for some golden liquid remedy and induce our own vertigo.

So minimize your exposure to the sun, drink lots of water, strengthen your immune system and take good care of yourself.

- De Lion Speaks

Monday, August 1, 2011

Psychedelic Garbage

If Beauty and Misery go on a date, do something untimely out of passion and bear a child, this is what will be produced:

During the 90's, I liked Garbage's 'I'm Only Happy When It Rains' and 'Stupid Girl'. But I didn't check out their albums nor the rest of their songs, I was fed with only what MTV showed me when it came to the band. Such was the life of a poor teenage student who couldn't afford to skip too many lunches to save the money in order to buy more CDs.

Miss Psychedelic got me hyped-up about Garbage again after all these years when she played their music beginning with #1 Crush while I was in her car one fine day recently. It's funny how when I told her then that #1 Crush is an awesome song, it made her do the 'Victory Elbow Slam With Clenched Fist' as she uttered a "YES!"

The reinforcements in appreciation of Garbage's music we fed each other with soon got me addicted to their psychedelic tunes. Before long, my addiction took a huge leap forward when I saw more of their music videos which lots of foreign folks from countries with more liberal 'substance freedom' describe as being akin to the warped perceptions of an LSD trip.

I don't do drugs and I do not know how a LSD trip is like and I do not wish to find out. Still, listening to Garbage and watching their music videos and live performances make me 'trippy'; Listening hard enough to their music elevates my consciousness to some weird, surreal and dreamy psychedelic level.

Shirley Manson is awesome. And she is one of the rare few women I've seen who are the epitome of charisma. To add to the adoration, I like her wardrobe much.

The band has gotten back together and they are working on a new album. Stay tuned and pun-intended.

-De Lion Speaks