Thursday, August 20, 2015

Book Review: Very Good Lives

Rather than a book review, I would say this as a 'thought after the read' more of Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination. If you have always been thinking you didn't have time to read a book, please - please, check this one out. This iss practically of a length not-a-book, and a message of so-much-more-than-a-book. In fact, you might find the text on-line somewhere because this book is exactly the speech J. K. Rowling gave at a Harvard Commencement. To be able to stand there and give advice to the future generation, that must be something. J. K. Rowling came to me through Harry Potter, when I was still a child who was not very fond of reading and not very good at making friends and finding life not really fitting together. The wizarding world had served as my comfort zone, my emergency blanket during my secondary school years and at the same time, a initial culture, preparing me to understand the real world. Through this so-called virtual world, I learned to understand human, I learned what it means - life. And this convinced me Rowling had a set of good life principle. In fact, I find her way of life interesting, not all perfect, but not all bad - and that's where we can learn from. In this book/speech, Rowling gave a few advice through her own life experiences.

Here are a few quotes I find moving, among a whole list of quotes (I can't paste everything here!):

It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.

Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone’s total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.

We do not need magic to transform our world; we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.

Many of what she spoke, might sound to you, normal, simple, everyday and mundane. And that was what matters. Most of the time, it was the simplest, commonest things in our life that actually matters. These little reminders...

It made me thought of the speech during my commencement. I can't remember the whole of it, but what stroke my thought was 'not to chase for honours, let the honours chase after you'. It was a waking bell in some way and a reminder.

In case you are interested in listening the speech, here it is:

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Phuket-Land Trip 2015 IV

20 June 2015

Cashew Nut Factory Visit

After the previous stop, we continued our journey on the vehicle. Here are the other two passengers chilling while the wind flew by...

We get to see more of the streets of Phuket. There were familiar shophouses selling daily stuff like this one (left). Piles of pails, bottles, containers, chair, broom, cups, bowls... anything you need - the dry stuff - in your house. And there were also houses which were well-painted and looked very nice (right). They were beautiful and I wondered what it's like, to stay in there...

Our next destination was a cashew nut factory. It was a coincidence when I just had a conversation with my ex-colleague over the chat group about cashew nut, water guava and jambu. This was a small scale factory, more for display rather than functional.

So, visitors were quickly gathered at each stations where demonstration of traditional processing of cashew nut was shown. The first one showed the extraction of the raw nut from its hard shell. This machine here has a screw-like punch which will go right through the 'eye' area and pry open the nut shell. And from inside, you get one cashew nut.

If you are curious. The red coloured object was a demonstration of how cashew nut fruit looked like. Having come from the same family of jambu air, they looked almost the same, except the nut of this, which could be seen at the bottom of the fruit after the bell-shaped body, is edible.

In the same factory, there were some machines too. Those were not as large scale as those manufacturing plant machineries, but it should be sufficient for the local factory uses. The one on the left seemed to be a roasting machine while the right one is a packaging machine. It was a pity the tour did not include explanation to these sections. 

The tour was quite short and we were shortly leaving the area. This is how it looked like from outside...

Monday, August 10, 2015

Rocks That Bleed by Bertie Gilbert

I watched Rocks That Bleed, a short film by Bertie Gilbert, today. The work-in-progress feed about this work was always filling up my screen but I didn't really know what was it about. I used to watch Bertie Gilbert's Youtube videos. In fact, he was one of the first vloggers whom I watched and followed. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I knew about Bertie from Harry Potter. And some resourceful fans pointed out this channel he had and I started watching the channel. At first they were simple, funny videos, which sometimes left you like 'what?'. But after some time, his skills improved. If I haven't mistaken, most of his old videos were taken down. Anyway, his current videos were more artsy and have more meaning, in my personal opinion. For example, this short film. It didn't have complicated plot. It was not long. It was not heavily manipulated. However, the feeling is there. I could get what the film was trying to convey, the emotion, the message. Nonetheless, one thing I like about his new film was the filmography, the shots were well captured, very ecstatic indeed. Do give it a try and have a look!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Book Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

Thus, I write a short personal review on The Martian by Andy Weir.

To be honest, I did not plan for this book in my reading list all along. It came up on the recommendation list on GoodReads and I saw it again on the books-to-movie list 2015. So, for some reason, I decided to pick up a book that I had no expectation whatsoever. Partly, because the cover was orange in colour, so I was not very fond of it before I even pick the book up.

Things began to went everywhere once I started the first page. The language was simple and straightforward and a different kind of tone than the usual fiction. From a first person point of view, I  could read into what was going on and of course, the main character was 'thinking out loud' by logging in every single of his thought.

It was a  story of how an astronaut, Mark Watney, who was believed to be dead, was left stranded on the surface of Mars. He went from finding ways to survive with the leftover supplies, to inventing new ones to lengthen his survival capacity. Once the basics were sort of covered, he made plans and trials, in attempt to communicate back on Earth. By then, he had explained how he sustained himself with potatoes, grown on Mars.

On another viewpoint, the headquarters on Earth was dumbfounded to find him alive and active and followed closely to his activities. They then proceed on rescue missions and plans. They planned to ensure Mark's survival until Ares4's arrival months later. Mark's other team members from Ares3, who flew off from the surface due to emergency, was not given the piece of news until a later days. When the mission of launching the extra supplies to Mark failed, the Ares3 team decided a 'mutiny' and avoided landing back on Earth. Instead, they went an extra round, going back to pick Mark up. 

Throughout the story, you get to read about space-travelling in lay man terms and engaged in a similarly exciting journey, though it could be fun and dangerous when it is for real. It explored how we looks at things in life and perceptions in different stages of life. It did give you a certain thinking sometimes, despite all the humour.

In total, I really enjoy this book and would like to congratulate Andy Weir for bringing this wonderful book to life. 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Phuket-Land Trip 2015 III

20 June 2015

Jui Tui Shrine and Put Jaw Shrine

After several consideration, we decided a package which will be bringing us out of the island for the next day. For that very day, we decided to hire a taxi - more like a tuk tuk driver to bring us to few places. Due to the limitation of the transport and budget, we did have to cut down our expectation, but hey, going around the southern part of the island in a tuk tuk is quite cool.

Before we start our journey, we changed and packed and we snapped a photo of this in case we need a rough map. This was the wall in the hostel reception area.

We went to find the tuk tuk and we started the drive. We passed by the alleys of the town in higher speed, compared to our walking speed. And this is Family Mart. Now I get to take a photo just to show you where we've been getting our junk food.

We heard about this transportation from our fellow room mate and finally get to see the difference. This was like the same vehicle I boarded during diving trip and it was called songthaew. The difference between this and Phuket tuk tuk, was the size and the basic vehicle. This one was a truck in comparison to van/car sized tuk tuk. Plus, in songthaew, you could actually stand at the back part with ladder and feel the wind pass by.

It was still morning, hence we get to see stalls with resemblance to morning market and people walking around. I find the streets slightly similar to those in Georgetown but a wider.

Our first destinations were Jui Tui Shrine and Put Jaw Shrine. Both of them were situated side by side at Ranong Road. This is how the first one looked like. Judging by the name, I think Jui Tui Shrine stood for this first one, because it sounded like Nine Emperor in chinese, while Put Jaw sounded like Boddhisatva in Chinese, which was the second temple next to the first one.

This little tower looked well decorated and I would have thought it was a building too. Turned out there where peopleburn the worshipping papers.

What caught my attention? This piece of couplet. Look at the suns and moons it used! And for the record, I can only read up to three suns and two moons. I can't even find how the rest was pronounced. I guess, probably the meaning was to say how many infinity days and nights...

This is the 'title' of the temple. I am not so sure about the second one, but the first one was the Nine Emperor Gods. These are gods which could be observed to be worshipped at places along the coast and near sea. Nine Emperor Gods has many said origin but usually related to sea and star lords. If you were to visit their temple during the ninth month of the lunar calendar, you could observe the Nine Emperor Gods Festival where people will be having vegan diet and rituals where some people went into trance-like state as an act of 'returning the favour' to gods, for perhaps something they were granted previously. In Penang, at the end of the nine days, the Gods were returned to the sea and all trance would vanish the moment the people walked into the sea.

The temple was pretty old and we were taking an interest in the 'answer to the lots'. In Chinese temple, there were usually bamboo strips put together where people will ask questions (to the God) while shaking the strips in a bamboo cup. And after one of the strips fall out of the container, with confirmation from the God (usually by throwing two half-moon wooden thing), the person could refer the strips to these 'answers'. The strips usually have numbers on it and you will just get a note from the respective box. However, look at these? The 'answers' were categorized before hand, where you go to the area of question you asked and take the number. From this photo, you could see more medical field: for women, for men, or surgery... etc.

The papers inside were pretty old too!

For the second temple, which was literally next door, the interior was very similar with usual chinese temple. However, we were lucky to be able to witness a 'kai guang' ceremony. It was something like an initiation ceremony for the gods statue for people to bring back home to worship and have gods protecting them...

At the end of the tour, we took a group photo, with the help of the tuk tuk driver.

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