Sunday, August 29, 2010

Wa! So happy~~


Somebody just told me that I look like Bear Grylls.

Who the heck is Bear Grylls? Yeah, I didn't know either until I got that comment and looked up Mr. Grylls.

Do it now and you will understand why I am so happy.


Well, of course that somebody's compliment can only be explained by the two following reasons:

1) She hasn't seen me for several years

2) She is just very very kind

No other reason (short of her wishing to borrow $3000 from me) can explain her comment.

Nevertheless, I am happy.

In fact, I am so happy that I could only be happier today if the cute guy biking behind me this morning invited me for breakfast. He didn't, but I am still happy!

*I realise that almost every of my posts is labeled 'Life'. Kind of lame....but true.*

My child's name will be


It literally translates into "chest as big as the sea".
No, it doesn't mean that I would like my child to have chest/bosom measurements that would humble anyone on steriods or anyone with triple breast implants.
It means that I would like my child to have a mind and heart that can accommodate so much that it is like the sea.
I want my child to hear every wrong and right, every opinion and criticism.
I want my child to understand that every person is unique, and every unique person has a zillion more unique ideas.
I want my child to approach all these people and their perspectives with an open mind instead of presumptions or biases.
I want my child to realise that greatness is measured in humility, unity is founded on acceptance and respect, and joy is to laugh with others and to cry with them. I want my child to recognize that all these isn't possible if he is narrow-minded or self-centric.
I have spent most of my life trying to achieve that described above, and I have a long way more to go. Thus, I want my child to be reminded of this 'goal' via his/her name.

Humility, and its natural siblings 'acceptance' and 'respect' are traits that I admire most in people. Of all the people whom I have some in-depth understanding of, there is only one person in whom I find all these traits expressed.
I hope that one day, I will see myself in the same light too.
If I don't, I hope my child will.
Even if he/she never achieves it, trying to do so is already an achievement beyond most people.

*Hehe. The pronunciation of the name is "Liu Hai Jin", so I think his/her English name can be 'Hygiene" hahhahahahaha*

*Another form could be 刘海心, heart like the sea, Liu Hai Xin. But this one is a bit darker I think...cause heart as deep as the sea just sounds so...scheming hahaha. And the English name for this can be Hyacinth hahahah....if it's a boy, too bad la!*

Friday, August 27, 2010

Licky strikes again!

Licky's real owners are back from overseas. I suppose they will be welcoming Licky back into their house very soon, so here's another post of Licky before he leaves us (i.e., you and me).

When Licky was handed to me about 5 weeks ago, I was told that he may molt soon.

Needless to say I was very eager to see it happen in real-time right before ma eyes.

Needless to say that I was also disappointed because when it happened, it wasn't as dramatic as I had imagined.
Okay, don't ask me why I thought Licky's eyes would be filled with anger or how it could breathe fire. It would have been cool if he did, that's all.

The reality.

Yeah, there was no violent thrashing or hissing. In fact if I hadn't happened to be home that afternoon, I wouldn't have seen him molt. Actually I didn't see him molt either, it wasn't an immediate process. It took was a pretty drawn-out process that lasted a good 18 hours at least. I say '18' because the night before, I noticed that bits of skin around his tail were coming off, so the molting started the night before, if not earlier.

I now have Licky's old skin dried and lying on top of my cabinet. Don't know what to do with them haha.

Just to finish it, here are some pictures of Licky exploring my living room. Warning: the last picture may be a bit graphic...if you don't like snakes, don't see.


Licky after he just swallowed BigYumYum (i.e., a bigger rat than the previous rat, YumYum). Licky is seen here 'readjusting' his lower jaws back into normal position after having to separate them to enlarge his gape to swallow his meal. It was pretty awesome to watch :).

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The above is a rendition of a dragonfly picture I took while walking with Seraina in the UC Davis Arboretum. I rendered it using Corel Painters Essentials 4. Now. . .

 How did I start using Corel? Because it came with my newest toy~~erh I meant tool: the Wacom Bamboo Pen.

 Not coincidentally, this blog post was also written with the Pen.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Thank you (pandi kuti)

There were several times of late that I felt I was especially abused and taken for granted.
Often after each of these, I wondered what went wrong and why my sincerity and good intentions always backfired and misunderstood. I took many slaps to my smiling face.
More than once I contemplated vengence and payback, because I thought I didn't deserve what hit me.
Yet through all these years, I am glad to say that I have never ever touched retribution.
I have argued, I have cast fierce stares, I have kept silent.
But I have never done to people the hurt they did to me.

Of late, I began to question...why not?

Pain is an abyss.
Retribution is a knife.
To return pain with pain is to fall into an abyss lined with knives,
you would be sliced to shreds even before you reach the bottom.
You might look scary then,
but you wouldn't even recognize yourself no more.
When that happens,
you have lost. You are lost.

I have just begun to accept that things have ran their course.
I have begun to accept that I can't make sunshine
out of shadows such deep.
Then I looked through pictures taken over the years.
Hundreds of pictures, all of joy,
of excitement and hopeful anticipation,
of mischievous glances, of lazy yawns,
of sitting without talking, of talking without thinking.
Each picture of her, even if it is just her shoe, made my blood rushed.
Was it just yesterday?
How did the months pass by so fast?

The pictures brought back so much sugar that
for a brief moment I took it all in,
and believed in the possibility again.

Then I remembered the line from "500 Days of Summer"
--think back and all you remember are the good, think again.
Yes, where were the pictures of her tears? There would have been hundreds too.
Where were the pictures of my speechless frustration,
of my guilt-ridden face?
Where were the pictures of that abandoned apartment. all the furniture left cold?

I realised that I had not a single picture to show for the pain and misery
engraved between us over the past years.
Not a single picture really, not even one in my memory.
If I can string out a sad memory, it lasts but an instance only to blur out.
Perhaps I just cannot pinpoint the bad or the sad,
perhaps this is how I innately survive the world.
If so, I am grateful for this unconscious gift.
I'd rather greet a slap with a smile than to slap another smile.

About those pictures.
Our joy was true, our hopes were true.
I see in each of those pictures,
a guy who felt as if he had everything he ever wanted,
and I know very well,
he indeed had everything he ever wanted.
It ran its course, and he's lost it.
But he never forgets that he once had it,
and for many many days in the past few years,
he felt happier than he ever was.

Thank you, pandi kuti.
Thank you, very much.

Sunday, August 22, 2010




原来一个人可以如此自私, 也还真让我大开眼界。
A long way more to go =)

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Large red numbers in the dark. A terrible reminder.
 For the first time in my life, I am having insomnia.

It's not serious yet, I don't think.

I just can't sleep, regardless of what I try to do, until 3 or 4am.

I would just be turning around in bed.

My mind can be blank.

My body can feel tired.

But I can't sleep.

Of course I haven't tried pills, and I won't.

Very weird lah. I mean...I didn't have insomnia when I was to take my Qualifying Exam, arguably the most nerve-cracking experience I had in the past few years. In fact I slept quite well the night before my QE.

So why now? It's been going on for at least a week now.

I don't feel stressed.

I have many many thoughts buzzing through my mind of course, but that's the norm. So that can't be it.

Perhaps it's because I am getting close to the end of my Ph.D. life, and too many uncertainties lie ahead? But I can only see light and fun reason to be anxious.


On the bright side, one night I lasted through the whole night without sleeping, and I decided to walk for to snap a pic of sunrise. There is an overhead bridge across the highway just 3 minutes walk from my apartment that should give me a good scene of sunrise over the highway. I almost went...then I remembered that the direction ain't correct. The highway runs North-South. Nah...wouldn't have been a great I crawled under the covers and looked at the bright red numbers again...going 5:XX....

Photo-taking Saturday 1: Farmer's Market

Blurp: My mom and I will be spending almost the whole month of October visiting 3-4 National Parks and several major cities in Arizona, New Mexico, California and Oregon. In preparation for that, I need to get really proficient with my camera skills. Now, photographing ain't just what you can do with your camera body and lenses. The nature of our trip would also require me to walk miles with my camera equipment in a camera sling-bag over one shoulder, and a backpack with water, maps, snacks etc. Since I use only prime lenses (no zooms) that means that I have to be skilled in changing lenses in the field too. Thus, I have planned to walk-a-bout in Davis in the abovementioned setup to get ready for October.

Weather was really great today. Sunny with some pockets of clouds and a soft breeze. I showered, shaved (my mustache looks ugly), read some depressing but not surprising Malaysian news and headed out the door. Before I left, I said bye to Licky who has just molted and has been quite frisky lately. My sexy bike beckoned me right outside my apartment, but I decided to walk instead. Since coming to Davis, I think I have biked more than I have walked, so some walking is a nice change. Furthermore, I don't expect to be biking in October.

The Davis Farmers Market opens every Wednesday (4.30pm-8.30pm) and Saturday (morning) in downtown Davis. Apparently it has been voted America's Favourite Farmers Market. This achievement makes me wonder if there are many other farmers market in the States, or their patrons just don't bother to vote? Don't get me wrong though. I do like our farmers market, just surprised that it's "America's Favourite" =).

Farmers Market isn't restricted to farmers, of course. There are a huge variety of stuff on display and ample opportunities for healthy transaction of cash. Yes, cash (and sometimes cheque) only. There's an ATM nearby with the appetite of a polar bear just out of hibernation who eats only service fee. No picture of the ATM because I was concerned that it would eat me too.

People eating right on the outside corner of the market.

inside of the market

Honeydews, cantaloupes etc. I bought one of them honeydews today. The boss said to let it sit for a few days to ripe. Nice, honeydew this Wednesday! When I was taking this picture, a trio of ladies next to me were whispering "paparazzi"~ LOL.

I love the colors!
This stall uses an analog scale instead of the common electronic balance. That, and the colorful chalk board. I like.
the Vue family farm. Don't really know why, but I buy most of my veges from them. The mom likes to show customers the caterpillar damage on her veges to 'prove' the absence of pesticide use. The dad likes to converse but I often have a hard time understanding his English. Today he couldn't understand me when I said 'Malaysian' too. Guess we are both equal. Hahaha. The daughter's pretty charming. I know why...
I bought from this stall the first time today. The couple running the stall (the man here and his wife I presume, not the lady in blue here) were very friendly and casual. I love it when I want to buy ONE chili and they insisted that I take it for free. I paid them 25cents anyway. Also bought three garlic from them. Testing tonight.
Gigantic red onion, or just a small head. Maybe the head was small, but still that was one of the prettiest heads around.
Strength in length. Enough said, for most uninformed males. The truth is quite the contrary. Still catchy though. The boss said this variety is less spicy than the usual red onions. See, looks can be deceiving. Tak potent langsung!
People also sell herbs and flowers at the market. I actually know the girl on the right in the picture. She volunteered for my department's exhibition this past Spring. I think she was prettier with glasses and a more bookworm look. The hot pink strip in her hair was still quite hot though.
Arh~~at least four, five stalls of pastries. There's just something magical about pastries glistening in the sunlight in a basket.
Woven baskets. I haven't seen anyone bought one of these in my four years here. The hungry ATM is just lurking behind in the dark...
One of the two coffee stalls in the market. This one is run by two friendly and talkative men. I wanted to try their coffee today but I couldn't see any info on the blend, the origin or the roast of the coffee beans used. I could have asked, but the line was building
A local store in town. Some of their tshirts are really cute and funny. My niece is still small for one of these...I think.
This wise and kind looking lady sells an assortment of blankets, mats and aprons that she made herself. She always just sit in there, under her canopy sewing away. I actually thought of asking her to teach me...but I don't believe anyone is that kind or patient hahaha. And if she is truly wise, she would refuse =).
One of the performers this Saturday. Every day seems to offer different music performers. Typically Wednesday's have larger bands.
the magic of The Hotdogger! I haven't tried their hotdogs yet, but the lines have always been long. Maybe one just can't go wrong selling hotdogs in the States. This lady definitely seemed to enjoy her work though. I like how she put her left hand out. Like dancing to the hotdog. She knew I was snapping pics of her...maybe it was for show?
Beef steaks and Americans--inseparable.

Another popular stall. They roast their popcorn right there so you can hear the "Pop pop pop". Never tried their popcorn fact I have only eaten popcorn like thrice in 27 years. That means when I turn 36 I will have to eat it the fourth time.
Who can finish that big bag of popcorn?! WHO?!
How typical of children to run around unleashed. Jeez. This picture makes me dizzy just looking at it.
Yeah right? I was amazed too. Nice of the small girl to convey my feelings on my behalf. Oh if you didn't know, Davis is a Bike Town!!
One of the two playgrounds next to the market. One of the moms had to climb up to grab her kid. Hahaha...too bad I didn't catch that action. Would be too embarrassing for her I think if I held my camera up.
=). I hope the dad wasn't having a hangover...
the market's Clown. The kids love her. One badge on her reads "Dilly Dally"..that's her name? She sure is a hardworking clown though.
I snapped a whole series of pictures chronicling the adventures this family had with the ice-cream man. The excitement, joy and anticipation on the children's faces were just too good. The mom was happy, the ice-cream was happy, the children were overjoyed, and I was happy too.
That's the Mom!
The other playground next to the market. There were quite a few dads at this playground. Next time I got to check if Malaysian playgrounds have as many dads.
I thought she bought the ice-cream for the kid but it turned out was just too good of a color-match for her to let go of the ice-cream.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Enigma of Old Tea House

Old Tea House.
How should I describe this place so familiar to UC Davis students and their friends and families who visit Davis? Instead of using sentences, let me try a string of keywords.

Asian. Bubble milk tea. Chinese MTV. Popcorn chicken. Tapioca. Jay Chou. MSG. Air-conditioning. Inconsistent quality. Parkson (sometimes Richard). Baked dishes.

K, I think you get the idea.

Old Tea House is without doubt one of the busiest restaurants in Davis. Its patrons are usually students but I have often seen families enjoying their lunches there too.

The enigma is...WHY?

It's an enigma because
1. the food sucks big time
2. the food is loaded with MSG
3. I can only eat 1/3 of the food each time before having to stop due to MSG/flavoring overload
4. Their drinks were the only recommendable section of their menu, and yet the quality consistency makes a roller-coaster pales in comparison
5. the food sucks big time
6. serving time can be VERY long
7. the tables are often dirty (small food scraps or stains)
8. Queues can be awfully long, especially when you are really tired and want some food fast (e.g., exam time)

In contrast, just a few steps down we have Subway, the healthy sandwich place we can all call home! Subway's business is doing okay too, but nothing compared to Old Tea House'. I would say that this Subway has none of the 8 (okay, 7) killer flaws above, yet people (students!) flock to OTH, queue for 30 minutes even if Subway has a customer queue of zero.

Why then, does Old Tea House attract so many of us?
Yes, I am very much guilty of being one of them loyal customers. My stomach has never gone without OTH tapioca for >3 days (slight exaggeration), and I have read almost all of OTH's magazines...twice.

It used to be that their food was cheap, but I have discovered that many other restaurants cost similar for better food.
I used to like reading their HongKong tabloids, but their restock rates have dropped to unforgivable levels.
Their drinks were once awesome and the answer to my BubbleMilkTea addiction, but their Taro Milk Black Tea hasn't tasted like taro (or milk black tea even) for many months now.
Nevertheless, I still return there for my 48-hourly dose of Taro Milk Black Tea...why?

As absurd as it may sound, some people actually love OTH's food. These people...I can't understand and thus I won't bother to analyse their addiction to OTH.
Many of us enjoy the convenience of eating out (fast and relatively cheap) at a place so close to our apartments (there are literally hundreds of students living next to OTH). Convenience, check.
Many of us enjoy the ambience in OTH. It's cool, it's noisy, it's always playing some Asian pop song or movie (from suspiciously looking DVDs) in the background, and there are always young (and good looking) Asians in the restaurant. Checking out hot people, check.
And I think for me...what draws me back again and again is a sense of nostalgia. I have spent much time here with my friends, sharing as many outrageous laughter as sensitive counseling. Apparently people who have left Davis will miss OTH. I think they miss the people more than the place itself. Nostalgia, check.

I am sure I will miss OTH too after I have left Davis.
I meant I will miss the times I had in OTH with my friends.
And that one time a guy next to my table tried to flirt with me. It was the most flattering moment ever!

Thanks Old Tea House!!
Handsome, Seraina & Big-mouth. See how happy we were in OTH? And for whatever weird reasons, I couldn't find pictures of my friends and me in OTH. Hmmm...

500 Days of Summer

I just watched this movie on a DVD.

I am glad that I didn't watch it in the cinema when it was released last year because I don't think I would have felt the impact that I am feeling now.

I won't spoil it for those who haven't watched it yet. If you haven't watched it, then don't do so until you have experienced heartache from a break up (especially if it's bad break up like mine)...but of course I hope you never will experience it. If you haven't watched it, then you can skip this post :).  If you have watched it, then let me share somethings from the movie that struck me hard.

In one scene, a guy was narrating about his girlfriend for many years, Robin.
"Ideally, she should be more into sports, she would have a better figure,..(list),...that is the girl of my dreams." 
"But Robin...Robin's better. Robin's better than the girl of my dreams."
"Robin is real."
This is so true! Everyone has some images of the person he would love to be with, to cherish and be loved by. That isn't reality though, and in contrast to what the uninitiated would think, reality is actually nicer. Why? I can't answer for you, but my answer for myself is simple. If I really do meet the girl of my dreams, she won't want me. In fact, she will be so perfect that I will be unnecessary. Reality however, will give me someone who will love me, who will need me--somebody whom I will need too.

Tom (the lead) writes greeting cards. One of my favourite lines of his is "I love us." Every relationship is a common project involving both parties, us. It's saddest when one party abandons the project, but when both parties are working on it, there's no more rewarding project ever.

Talking about abandoning projects...Tom was totally devastated when Summer, the girl he was totally enamored with, abandoned their relationship. He couldn't understand it. He spent months reliving their happy moments together, trying to piece together what actually went wrong. Watching him in that state was akin to watching myself on the screen. In fact, Summer was very much like the girl who threw me off my balance too.

After they broke up, he was trying hard to let go of her but was failing utterly (so familiar~). Then suddenly he met her on a train to a mutual friend's wedding party. She invited him for coffee. He was at first reluctant, but went ahead. From the coffee to their dance at the wedding party, Tom was smiling and being happy for the first time since the break up, even though he was with the girl who made him sad in the first place. Weird, isn't it? That it's the same person who grieves you and makes you happy. This is also too familiar to me.

Summer then invited Tom over to her party over the weekend. Tom was once again in high spirits, has his expectations up. Too bad, reality crashed in bad on him. The party turned out pretty cold for him, and he saw a wedding ring on Summer's finger. His life went from bad to worse there.
Expectations totally out of sync with reality---another familiar experience.

During this, Tom's teenage but awfully wise sister dropped him the following line:
"Tom, I know how you have been thinking that Summer's The One girl for you, but I don't."
"All you have been doing is remembering the good stuff you guys had. Next time you look back again...I think you should look again."
What the heck! What wise words!! I have always told my friends and myself that it's better to remember the good times and forget the bad, especially in terms of an ended relationship. I failed to realise that during recuperation stage (hahaha), it's a zillion times to break down the dreadful walls of self-pity IF I only replay the happy times again and again. It makes it so much tougher to let go, and makes me wonder again and again why I failed to save it. It also makes me feel so much more guilt than I deserve, and gives the other party (she) all the benefits of doubt. It makes me blind to the simple possibility that...perhaps, just perhaps, I was undeservedly played for a fool.

After Summer got married, and Tom was picking up his life again looking for a job as an architect (what he always wanted to be), they met again. The following conversation reflects quite some on Summer's character, and reminds me much of ...

"Summer, you should have told me about him...when we were at the wedding party."
"Yeah. But he hasn't asked me yet."
"But he was already in your life."
"Yes he was."
"Then why did you dance with me?"
"Because...I wanted to."
"You just do what you want, don't you?"

Then Tom asked Summer:
"You never wanted to be anybody's girlfriend, but now you are somebody's wife. I don't understand."
"It just happened."
"What just happened?"
"It just happened...I woke up one morning and I was sure of it."
"What were you sure of?"
"What I never was sure of when I was with you."

So was Tom's ordeal just ...meeting the wrong person at the wrong time?
Was that my case too?

The ending was hopeful for Tom, and I am sure that it will be for me too!
Coincidentally, I am leaving Davis in Autumn =). Hehehe..those who have watched the movie may understand my pun here.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Today I went to the local Farmer's Market to buy some fruits and vegetables. Before I left my house, I thought of bringing my camera with me.

I didn't.
I should have.

I saw a girl. There, among the throngs of people old and young, was this Asian girl looking curiously at the stalls. She wore a straw hat with a dark greenish band round the top, a hat that sits atop a smiling face. In the dimming light of dusk, her eyes beaming with childish joy and excitement caught my attention.

I was walking out of the Market as she walked in. We had a second of eye-contact before she figured that the eggplants were more interesting. I turned my head to look at her, but then she has shifted her focus to the strawberries. I walked ahead for several more seconds, my mind drifting between a blank slate and some illusions of what would have happened. Before I realised it, my steps swung to the right and I was striding back through the side of the Market. I knew I was subconsciously trying to flank her and something?

She was gone. She wasn't standing by that stall no more.
Of course she was still in the Market--she looked too excited to leave the Market so quickly. Standing still, I briefly collected my thoughts and pondered my options.

This could have happened....

If I had brought my camera along, I would have pictures of us enjoying our ice-cream instead of resorting to MS Paint. Then you guys (especially you, ChinJiat) wouldn't doubt my words.

Then again, of course it didn't happen. After I daydreamed for several seconds, I returned to reality. The next thing I hugged was my bike as I started home.

Perhaps many people would, after their relationships ended in heartbreaks, vow never to fall in love again. Perhaps they would begin to think that being alone is better than going through the whole relationship ordeal again. Perhaps they would begin to plan of contributing their time and energy to the greater good instead of investing it all on one person, just to risk that one person pack and leave you in the silence and cold. And of course, these same people would meet someone else, rekindle the fire within that burns stronger than ever and fall in love once more.

I, for now, have these cute encounters to fill my mind for days =).

By the way, for those who know, the girl at the Farmer's Market looked much like 常盘贵子, but straighter hair. Oh damn~~suddenly I am dying to watch Beautiful Life and/or Long Vacation!!