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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Old Posts, Knick-knack, Bits and Pieces and Whatever Things

Inspiration for this Blog

The Scarlet Pimpernel.

This heroic romance story was my inspiration for the creation of this blog. At its heart, it chronicles the plight of a young English girl and the rescue of the broken French nobility during the country's bloody Revolution.

I named this blog Shadow Pimpernel because I rescue my innermost thoughts and feelings to protect them from the harsh, jaded reality. This way, when times and people change, places shifted, the core part of who I am is still preserved.

Read me.

Tutorial for Newbies

How to Build a phpBB3 Forum Community (Part One)

Games Reviews

Games Review: Cate West - The Vanishing Files by Gamenaut
Download for Trial Version:

Games Review: Cate West - The Vanishing Files by Gamenaut
Download for Trial Version:

Games Review: Dream Chronicles 2: The Eternal Maze
Download for Trial Version : Reflexive... not yet!

Games Review: Fatal Hearts by Hanako Games
Download for Trial Version:
Download for Fatal Hearts’ Walkthrough can be found here, or better yet, you can visit the designer’s website at

Games Review: Spirit of Wandering - The Legend
Download for Trial Version:

Games Review: KingMania by
Download for Trial Version:

Flash Game: Hapland Series Walkthrough
Link(s) to Play...
Hapland 1:
Hapland 2:
Hapland 3:

Games Review: Ara Fell, The Legend of Dirisetsu Hollow
Download for Full Version:

Games Review: The Great Tree
Download for Trial Version:

Games Review: Dream Chronicles
Download for Trial Version:

Games Review: Fairy Godmother Tycoon
Download for Trial Version:

Flash Game: Other Age by Zeiva
Link to Play:

Flash Game: Grow Island
Link to Play:


Taco Bake with Corn Chips

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Southern Chicken with Onions

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Breakfast Pepper Mix

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Chicken Tartlets

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Brutally Honest

Really, you can just read my Blogger Profile if you’re the curious sort. I have 105 views on it and growing so another unique hit is nothing... well, unique.

But if you really want to know more about me, be forewarned; I tend to give too much information.

My physical traits
At the risk of how digital pictures can be stolen and misused, it’s my policy not to post individual photos of my friends or my families and identifying their characteristics online. Not unless I have their permission. After all, their faces, their identities, make my photos of them as their photos too.

Same goes for me so you’ll just have to imagine what I look like. And I’m not going to Photoshop my description either.


Well, that’s taken care of. I’m actually about 55-60kg and exactly 157cm at the time of writing. So I’m pretty tall for a female Malay girl in her mid-twenties; I can look over the heads of Malay girls and most men. Much of the weight is in the bones, I’m quite broad shouldered and long-legged. My tailor said I have a high-waist, whatever that means.

But I’m not slender build - did I mentioned I was fat? - kind of plump in all the woman’s places and sadly, my stomach is a bit round as well. I have a waist, but it’s not as visible as I liked. To put it in TV fashion terms, I have ruler shaped body.

Other than the gene pool, I was quite a tomboy growing up; Teakwondo and running sports. I figured out early in childhood that I’ll never be as pretty as my elder sister and my big family shall always compare me to her and all my female cousins.

So I even today I forgo cosmetics; hardly even wear make-up, hardly have a reason to anyway. Doesn’t really help my round face and my round nose, of course. I have only one skirt - real skirt - and one pair of pumps amidst a multitude of pants, shirts and sneakers. I do have some vanity though. Like laced and beaded ‘kebaya’ dresses and subtle coloured ‘kurung’ dresses. All dresses are formal wear, yeah.

I guess my best physical asset would be my hair. I grew up having really short hair, like a motorbike helmet. Now it’s hell of a length, reaching to my hips. This reason why I kept long hair is that I hadn’t bothered to go to a hairdresser in 6 years and I flatly refuse to let my mother near me with scissors (really bad experience).

Kind of redundant to have long hair because I prefer to wear headscraves anyway.

A few of my favourite things
Favourite books, favourite music, favourite food - you can just read these in my Blogger Profile so don’t let me go Sound of Music on you. Instead, I just describe why I like these things. Really a description of my personality of sort.

Let’s start with I’M A HOPELESS ROMANTIC.

Pathetic isn’t it? All those tomboyish-ness had rendered me to a sensitive pile of ooze when it comes to fantasy and romance. Or fantastic romance. Or romantic fantasy. Whichever way, if you look for me in a bookstore I can spend hours in two places; Romance and Fantasy.

When it comes to movies though, I hate romance. That’s because movies tend to overdo things with all that slow kissing and orchestral music and (God forbid!) sarcastic humour. But there are some exceptional romantic movie I like, like Pride and Prejudice (truthful to the book, yay!).

What I really like in movies are fantasy (of course!), sci-fi, action and mystery, like the Bourne series or Lord of the Rings movies or my new love, Transformers. Horror, comedy and animation... err, not so much. Particularly horror. I’m kind of sensitive to fear, I get scared easily.

One time, on Astro’s Hallmark channel, I watched both movies of Stephen King’s Rose Red. It’s about a haunted house with roaming white mists that makes people have unexplained accidents or disappears completely. After that, I hadn’t been able to walk into a dark room at night for two weeks. In my own house.

Music has no particular preference in me, as long as it’s got a good beat and I can play it in my car and computer. I don’t have a particularly favourite music artist because I prefer the music itself than to be enamoured about the artist making it. Little bit of rock, a little bit of R&B, a little bit of soul, a dash of rap, a pinch of hip-hop; that’s me.

But if I were to make a choice on a person or a group, it’s a tie between Linkin Park and Bon Jovi. Go figure.

As for food...


If it’s on my plate, I’ll try eating it. Besides that, I prefer bread or potatoes over rice or pasta and prefer beef as meat of choice. I rather like spicy food and I can really go for any kind of soups and stews. Cakes and pastries are okay to snack on but fruits are my preferred snacks. If there is chocolate, stay the hell out of my way.

What I want.
Get degree.
Get job.
Get out of house.

Nuff’ said.

Favourite Images and Chosen of the Month

For the slideshow’s direct link, click here.

These pictures are property of their respective artists and have no affiliations with this blog. I liked them, I collect them and I share them with readers. Kind of like collecting stamps. Please support these artists by visiting CGSociety, Deviant Art and 3D Artists.


For the FEBRUARY 2008 Slideshow’s direct link, click here.

Links to Images from February 2008’s Slideshow...
A Water Faerie
Chinese Battle Ladies
Virgo Angel
Sky Port: Rural
Sky Port: Mountainous
Silent Cathedral
Mosque at Golden Light
Crafted Silver Flower
Lords of the Elements
Castle of White
The Snow Wolf
The Knight Lady



Copyright HOTgraFX

Sometimes, I find one really, really awesome picture and kept it in my Secret Stash. What makes these pictures beautiful is that I find an imaginary connection to it with a life project of mine, a fantasy series so to speak. The landscape picture by Artist No.1 is what I thought magical woodlands would be or that sci-fi spaceship by Artist No.2 is the battle-craft for a war I had been detailing about.

To keep my writing skill from getting rusty before I find a columnist-type job, I choose a picture from my Stash every month and share it with readers for a whole month as I write a short story of what I had imagined the picture was about.

Here, updated on a regular basis, are the previous pictures by such amazing artists and my inspired stories for them.


March’s Magic Image Story: The Sleeping Geyser


February's Flight (2008): A Slave's Memory


January's Journey (2008): The Stone Necropolis


December's Dream (2007): Follow the Mouse

I have a pretty big Stash. You can help me choose what I can use for the following month by voting in the poll on the right-hand side of the blog.

Growing Blooms

Unlocking Pandora is a simplistic game project I’m working on for some time now. Most recently, I’ve managed to get it to be approved as my final Project Paper in Multimedia. The links here direct to the blog entries of my project updates.

The game will be given for free once it’s completed. It’ll be churlish of me to actually sell it for profit, considering how I got the authoring tool and its resources.

Due date for Project Paper report: April 2008
Due date for Unlocking Pandora Act 1 release: December 2008
Due date for complete 4 Acts of game: Not sure yet but it can’t be more than Spring of 2009


Game Project Update: About RPG Maker 2003 System

Game Project Update: Emotions Run High

Game Project Update: Animating and Spriting

Game Project Update: The Storyline

Game Project: Unlocking Pandora

Other than the game project, I also have two book projects I'm working on that's mostly just for private use. I won't publish either one of them unless I'm more sure of the local market OR I find an overseas publisher that's willing.

Book Project: Myths of Suvon

Book Project: Marigold's Masquerade

Unlimited Free Image and File Hosting at MediaFire
Reynold’s Map of Modern London (1859) by James Reynold

A JPEG file of Victorian London. Original link is here.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Games Review: Ara Fell, The Legend of Dirisetsu Hollow

Either you’re a regular reader or a newbie; I usually take some time to play around with Reflexive Arcade games I’ve downloaded and cracked to full version. It’ll be a hypocrite of me to say that I don’t enjoy free full versions (and I rather be an ass than a hypocrite) but I do try to give reviews.

Unfortunately for Flex, that’s not today’s review. I’ve played a couple of games recently, thinking they might be a nice-to-try; Oberon Media’s Home Sweet Home and Big Fish Games’s Azada.

The former game bored me to death. It’s just a continuous repetition of nothing but furniture arrangements, like a shrunken version of the designers’ same damn The Sims’s homeowner. Fish tank here, couch there, include hardwood floor. Then command minions to work and feed them steroid-filled coffee. Repeat until nauseous. Sad to say, I never bothered to finish it.

The other game was far nicer, both visually and in its gameplay. I would have been more enthusiastic and very much made a real game review if I hadn’t been Dream Chronicles’ corrupted. Dream Chronicles had a better storyline (which is not really saying anything) but Azada’s storyline is might as well been written from book. Literally, if you get what I mean.

Still, I really recommend Azada if you love visually stimulating imagery and a variety of puzzle-solving (as usually, ask me nicely if you want crack versions).

Since I couldn’t find a new game on the market that’s inspiring enough, I’ve decided to look the Old PC Folder of mine and bring out the old game that had knocked the love of RPG Makers software in me.

Ara Fell: The Legend of Dirisetsu Hollow

Hah! Man, is this game old. As in two years old. Hey, it’s still kind of old. Sort of.

Back in the days when Windows Vista was still a byword, Ara Fell ruled the forums, grabbing Misao Awards like... well, like misao take-outs at a midnight Asian restaurant. I was a wee IT student, much less a programmer, looking for excuses not to play homework with Photoshop 5.0. It wasn’t just the sprite artwork that caught my eye (though that did cross my mind) but it was more of a combination of art, gameplay, audio, the whole nine yards in cheap games.

The game uses 99% REFMAP sprites.
Image by Badluck

The author, Badluck, had taken a new level of graphic effects, map design and storyboarding. Thanks to him and his editing, REFMAP sets had been elevated from the ‘cliché’ status and back to ‘stylish’. And sad to say, I’ve been spoiled into REFMAP sprites as well (hehehehe!).

What if I take off my shoes and wipe my feet first?
Image by Badluck

The story follows in the adventures of Lita LeCotta, a simple village girl going for her big chance at the archery contest. But then a friend’s discovery of a cursed ring and secret emissaries from a holy church come into play. Suddenly, Lita found herself as the only person on her floating homeland who could help save two races of people against vampires... and an even greater threat.

Can’t I just call the police or something?
Image by Badluck

Just as in many console style RPG-games, the gameplay allows your main character to bring along some fighters of various battle classes. You gain experience points and monetary rewards by battle map monsters (which are visible on the terrain so you are able to avoid them if you’re not ready or too weak for combat).

Your trick is to solve the quests by exploring the world and follow clues of the story. Such as, if ghost’s necklace is giving you trouble, you have to rescue the ghost himself in order to take it off. If you need to proceed beyond the gates, answer the Earth Spirit’s riddles.

Stupid bird...
Image by Badluck

Of course, then there’s the basic combat stance which you have to confront since these monster have no sense of negotiations. Field monsters can be avoided but occasionally you get guardians, enemies, vengeful spirits, etc, etc and so your tactical thinking get to have some exercise. My tip here is to better power-up with your upgrade and defensive spells before going offense and some of the monsters are tough!

A game like this does leave a pretty good impression on an intuitive but lacklustre kid. I got me my own set of RM2K3 and REFMAP sprites and got started on my first game.

But that didn’t work out so I restarted and made a better project called Unlocking Pandora, which is still an ongoing process.

The best part about Ara Fell is because it’s free to play. Like various members of, the only reward is fame and inspiration. As compared to Reflexive Arcade games and other newer, more high-tech RPG games, Ara Fell ranks pretty low and simplistic. But hey, you get what you pay for.

Unless you know how to crack.

PS: Free downloads for this full game can be found in Ara Fell Website. If you want the god-mode cheating version, ask me nicely.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

January’s Journey Image Story: The Stone Necropolis

Previously: December's Dream (2007)


“Leaving already, Ireulun?”

Brushing her sweaty black fringe from her forehead with the back of her dirty hand, Ireulun smiled at the matronly figure standing on the threshold of her bedroom. She got up from the floor she was crouching and dusted her hands on her thighs. She wanted badly to stretch her arms upward, to stretch her back, to pull at knotted muscles but Ireulun was quite tall for a woman and her knuckles would knock against the low beams of the ceiling.

“Not yet, Mrs. Marble. Maybe tomorrow or the day after tomorrow,” said Ireulun.
“Oh? By ship then?” asked Mrs. Marble.

Ireulun nodded. Her knees ached. She had been crouching in one position for too long, replacing the frayed straps on her backpack with strong new rope strings. Almost all her worldly possessions are in that backpack, including her map and her diary. The books she had studied - books all borrowed from the village library - were stacked neatly on the study table by the window.

Mrs. Marble too noticed that Ireulun was looking at her books and quipped, “If you still need them tonight, I can take the books back to town for you tomorrow.”
Ireulun shook her head.
“Thank you ma’am, but I shall do that myself. I have everything I need for my trip. I’m quite ready to take off from the island.”
“Everything, indeed?”
“Yes, ma'am.”

A fissure of irritancy crept in Ireulun, but Mrs. Marble spoke in a sarcastic tone that evokes nothing more than a twitch in the corner of her lips.

Ireulun is a something like a guest of Mrs. Marble’s small farm. Ever since she found herself lost on Crosswind Isle, far from either home or her intended destination, the widowed Mrs. Marble took her in as a kitchen maid.

Mrs. Marble also took on a role as her steadfast duenna. She imposed strict curfews on her goings to town, watched her growing number of acquaintances and advised her to often write letters to home, to her family. Normally it irritates the devil out of Ireulun, to be led around as if she was a helpless little girl, but Mrs. Marble had been so kind and considerate that Ireulun decided that it was a worthy sacrifice.

Still, she didn’t need to be reminded on everything.

“Yes, everything, ma’am. Even the letters from the West,” said Ireulun, grinning.
Letters from the West are those of her family. Satisfied with the answer, Mrs. Marble beamed.
“Good, good. I take it you shall go to town this afternoon?”
“Yes ma’am.”
Mrs. Marble narrowed her eyes at Ireulun and waved a soupspoon at her nose.
“I expect to see you back a full hour before sun down, little miss. Understand me, gel?”
Ireulun threw the plump old woman a mock-pout.
“Awww gee, Mrs. Marble. Will there be candy?”
Ireulun left the cottage amidst laughter and as much light-hearted bantering as between two good friends.

Fifteen minutes later, her feet touched the cobbled streets of Sandhurst town. Crosswind Isles is an island, or rather, a series of small islands clustered very close together, and Sandhurst is situated on the largest island. It is a market town where the local fishermen and small-farm owners converge to trade and exchange news.

It was also the place where, several months ago, Ireulun found herself getting off on the wrong ship port and had no idea how to get back home; proficient though she was in languages, the local dialect was as strange to her as hers was to them. Only Mrs. Marble, by sheer luck and good timing, understood what Ireulun was trying to say and rescued her from the authorities who thought her a possibly dangerous half-wit.

In those months, Ireulun managed to adapt well to the island life and languages. She learned a lot about its history as well, something her nature would not allow her to miss such opportunity.

After returning the library books and making a few new purchases, such as some day-old bread from the bakers’ for the night’s soup and a seashell necklace she had admired for some time, Ireulun realized that she was still a bit early from Mrs. Marble’s curfew. Her curiosity was piqued was refused to be suppressed any longer.

She decided to take the longer route home. The route that cuts alongside Balcony Park.

Soon after she got used to the island life, Ireulun began exploring. What she found not an hour’s walk from the market town and through the dense woodlands was a sight that knocked her breath out.

A lookout dais on a high rock cliff. It must have been a platform of sorts connected to a bridge somewhere to a very near, very large outcrop of a neighbouring island rock jutting out of the rough waves and biting winds. The dais itself was beautiful. A completely circular structure surrounded by stone arches on spiral pillar, topped by female statues. Every statue was the same; a female in a flowing robe and coronet hairstyle, each holding a shiny crystal ball in her hand.

And beyond Balcony Park were the domes and towers of one of the largest stone metropolis Ireulun had ever seen. A city at her feet and she can view it for miles toward the western sea from the cliffs.

The stone city and the stone dais were separated on by a short but very deep chasm of winds and waves, endlessly pounding against the jagged sea rocks. Erosion had weathered the bridge into a broken stump on both sides of land, yet Ireulun felt that if the chasm was not so deep and the winds would cease, she might cross it with a good swing on a strong vine.

A good swing and she would land her feet into the metropolis. Or more accurately, a necropolis.

The local islanders did not call the dais Ireulun now stood upon as Balcony Park; she gave it that name for lack of a better one. The dais, indeed the entire empty city, had no name. Or rather, its name and origins was forbidden to speak of amongst the people of Crosswind Isles.

Not for lack of trying. She consulted the library, the village hall, the small religious school and even the fisherfolk in a neighbouring community a good distance away. Not one can answer her inquisitive inquiries. But their faces held subtle contempt for her, as if her innocent questions were a violation of some unwritten code.

As an experienced traveller, she knew when not to step on beyond local bounds. But as an experienced traveller, she just could not let it go. Hence, Ireulun had broached the subject to Mrs Marble only some days after she discovered the stone city.

“A forbidden city?” she said with more awe than she intended. Mrs. Marble turned to her just in time to see Ireulun shut her gawping jaw.
“Yes, gel. And like the rest of us, you will do well to stay well away from that haunt,” said Mrs. Marble with a narrow look.

But Ireulun could not stop herself from asking why, but she managed to keep her expression to a mild inquest instead of the bubbling curiousity she was filled within.
“Because, gel. That city belongs to ghosts now. Just an eyesore of our islands’ past. The folks who lived in there are long gone and so let them rest in peace.”

She said it with such a finality in her voice that Ireulun’s concern for her landlady’s affections took over her desire to learn more about a city no one speaks of.

Now, as the sun’s red rays were disappearing behind the domes and towers of the city’s horizon, Ireulun packed her shopping basket of foodstuffs and headed back to the farm for her last night on the island. Her last night before the last passenger ship of the season sets sail for the sea.

Her last chance from discovering the city’s hidden secrets.

Darkness came quicker than she had expected due to the storm clouds that had gathered quickly across the sky. Far too quickly. Ireulun realized that these must be the first stirrings of the winter rains. The seas around the island are relatively calm during most of the year. But come wintertime and the winter storms, it was impossible - completely impossible - to navigate sea vessels of any size through the choppy waters, much less through the unforgiving rains.

Tomorrow Ireulun would depart for the mainlands in the far south. She had stalled her journey for many days now, but ever since she had that dream - her strange dream of a forest of silence - did she finally habor a real desire of leaving. She would leave soon, before the full blast of winter storms stopped her.

It did not rain when she finally returned to the Marble farmhouse, but with the last signs of daylight disappearing behind thick rolling clouds, Mrs Marble would have the place lit with candles and warm from the kitchen fire. And mostly likely waving her soupspoon in a very concern, maternally concerned, manner.

So when Ireulun noticed how dark the house was and that the front door was swinging open and close on its hinges by the strong winds, something was wrong. Even more so when between the swinging door, she saw an old shoe in the darkness, attached to a leg, lying on the floor. With the rest of the fallen body of an old woman.

Mrs. Marble

Struck with fear, Ireulun ran into the farmhouse.


“Shh, Maggie. I’m here.”
“Maggie it’s alright now. Can you hear me?”

Mrs Marble - Maggie - opened her eyes for the first time since her fall to the floor. Ireulun heaved a sigh of relief. She turned to the bed table to fetch the cool compress she had been applying to Mrs. Marble forehead. But a firm hand with old fragile fingers held to her wrist.

“Don’t leave,” said Mrs. Marble, weakly.
“I’m not,” Ireulun said. She placed her other hand over the old woman’s grip on her wrist and squeezed gently, trying not to harm her.

But those fingers gripped even more tightly.
“Don’t... leave...”
Ireulun next sigh came out more in a sense of exasperation.
“I’m not,” she repeated. Patiently, she gestured a hand to the bed table, “I’m just going to get a cool cloth, that’s all.”

Mrs. Marble blinked her old eyes at the bed table, topped with a bowl and strips of cloth.
Ireulun vaguely nodded.
“Maggie, you had a fall. The healer from the village had come to check on you.”
“Only... fall. Healer Marcus-“ she wheezed in a breath. “-just now?”
Actually, Mrs. Marble had suffered a stroke and fell to the floor because of it. And the village healer was at the farmhouse over a full day ago. The time was the evening on the day after.

“Yes, Maggie. Only a fall. Lie still.”

Ireulun reached far to fetch the compress and placed it on Mrs. Marble’s forehead. For the rest of the night, Ireulun kept watch over her, as protective as a parent to a child. Outside, the winter storms began its seasonal onslaught. No one would be out to sea in a very long time.


“Not a good protector, aren’t you gel?”

Ireulun woke up with a start from her resting place. The first thing she noticed was a stinging, cramped sensation on her neck and down her back. The second thing she noticed was that Mrs. Marble was sitting up straight from her bed. Wide awake and with a narrow gaze. And in full control of her wits.

“Mrs. M-mm-Marble?” Ireulun began.
“You have a trail of drool on your mouth, gel. My wooden table better not stain permanently.”
Beneath her still riding emotion of anxiety, Ireulun could help but mentally giggled. She rubbed her drool off with the edge of her sleeve.
“I was-“ her voice felt hoarse “I was just resting my eyes. A slow blink, that’s all.”
Mrs. Marble raised an eyebrow in disbelief and watched her far too disconcertingly. Even old, frail and in a ragged but serviceable nightgown, Mrs. Marble looked somewhat intimidating. As if she was waiting for something that was her due.

Ireulun felt the first stirrings of an uncomfortable silence. She got up from the desk she had been sleeping - resting her eyes – upon.
“Do you feel better now, Mrs. Marble? Shall I make some tea?”
She mentally blinked. “Maybe coffee or choco-“
“I don’t want anything to drink gel.”
Ireulun did not know what to say after that.

Sensing her young charge’s apprehension, Mrs. Marble extended a clawed hand and spoke more softly.
“Come here, Ireulun.”
Ireulun did as she was bid and sat on the coverlet on the old woman’s bed.
“Why are you here, child?” Mrs Marble asked. Hey eyes looked deep into hers but there was no predation in her constant gazing.

Ireulun cleared her throat before she said weakly, “I couldn’t just leave you, ma’am.”
To her relief, Mrs. Marble only smiled.
“You missed your ship, didn’t you?”
“Why didn’t you leave? You were ready days ago.”
“I,” she drew in a deep breath, “don’t want to leave you. You were ill. Someone has to take care of you and I want it to be me.”

She returned Mrs. Marble gaze, eye for an eye, and saw nothing but sincere gratitude flowing between them.
“You missed you family, do you, Ireulun?”
Ireulun only nodded.

Her family. A mother and a father. Her brothers and sisters. In the west.

Mrs. Marble continued.
“You didn’t have to stay with me you know. You don’t have to postpone your journey.”
“Nonsense! I can wait until the winter’s over. Or until you’ve fully-“
“I’m not going to recover, gel.”
Ireulun’s eyes went wide. Before she could speak, Mrs. Marble spoke first in tone that held deep meaning.

“I am never going to recover.”

The silence in the bedroom stretched. The only sounds that could be heard were the crackling of the fire in the bedroom fireplace and the light drone of the night’s rain as the early hours rendered it into a drizzle. Ireulun frowned and unconsciously mouthed a silent why.

Mrs. Marble’s face shone with a delicate glow.

“Child, I had not been quite truthful for all the time we’ve been together.”
She paused and then continued.
“I am dying, child. Not wait!” She held up a hand when Ireulun was about to interrupt. “Just listen.”
When Ireulun shut her mouth, she continued.

“I know I don’t look it, but child, I am dying. It wasn’t just a fall, wasn’t it, gel? I had another stroke, didn’t I?”
Knowing that the question was purely rhetorical, Ireulun kept mum.
“I had already seen a healer, the one before Healer Marcus took the job. I may not look like it but I do know that this winter,” she waved to the window, to the rains outside the farmhouse. “This will be my last winter.”

When she paused and closed her faded blue eyes, Ireulun had a sudden thought that the old woman might faint again and a small burst of panic grew in her chest. When Mrs. Marble only continued, her panic lessened, but did not disappear.

“Gel, I want you to leave. Soon”

Immediately, Ireulun’s panic was replaced with an uncomfortable mix of concern and irritation. She held to Mrs. Marble hand.
“I’m staying here. With you.”
She then raised her hand when Mrs. Marble poised to interrupt.
“It’s the right thing to do. I won’t leave you alone, in this old shack. If you won’t get better, I want to be next to you.”
Mrs. Marble stared at her with the same open frankness as Ireulun said her words. Then she added the obvious.
“Amongst other thing, Maggie, there’s no passenger ship left to take me off the island.”

Instead of accepting her sacrifice, an acceptance her help, Mrs. Marble shook her head briskly, her eyes twinkling.
“I didn’t mean by boat, gel. Did you think my stroke made me loose all my wits?”
That did occour in Ireulun’s mind but she knew the old woman’s pride too well to have mentioned it. But if not by sea, then...?

Mrs. Marble pointed to her cupboard and spoke to her again before she could formulate an assumption.
“Fetch that box, my dear.”
Ireulun blinked inwardly. She rose slowly, mindful and ever aware of Mrs. Marble’s fragile health. Crossing the room to the cupboard, Ireulun opened it. She hardly ever entered her landlady’s room, much less look into the cupboard. Between dusty coats and threadbare dresses, she did not know where to look first for... whatever it was that Mrs. Marble wanted her to find.

“Left side. Third drawer from the top.”

It took some strong tugging to get the drawer to open. Ireulun immediately knew what Mrs. Marble was referring to when she opened that tight drawer. There were silk scraves in that drawer of a design she had never seen before but it was what nestled in the middle of those scraves that drew her eye. It was the size of her fist. She knew without touching that if it was placed on her palm, it would fit snuggly.

“You know what it is don’t you gel? You seen something of its like every time you go to that dais you so loved to look out from.”

It was a crystal ball, an exact replica of the crystal balls held by the female statutes of Balcony Park. Round and clear, the crystal ball’s surface was smooth and unmarked. But inside the crystal ball were cracks that seem to grow outward from the centre. Altogether, it was like an unlit star frozen in time, frozen inside the crystal.

Ireulun turn to Mrs. Marble and held out the ball to her. It was surprisingly light but Mrs. Marble would not take it.

“Gel, that ball is for you now. I want you to have it,” said Mrs. Marble.
Ireulun let the questions in her mind show openly to her face, waiting for Mrs. Marble to explain more.
“If you take to the place you’ve always been wondering about for weeks, you will see.”
Slyly, with a teasing glint in her eye, she added, “And you will see it.”
“It will help me leave the islands?” asked Ireulun.
“Yes, dear.”
“What is it?”
“You’ll see.”

For a dying old woman, Mrs. Marble had the gall to still be mysterious. Ireulun had a half-mind to childishly pout and stomp her foot but when Mrs. Marble’s expression blanked and turned towards the window. Outside, the world was in the darkest hour before dawn. The rains had lessened but it had not stop, a temporary respite before the winter storms returned to blast the islands again.

“You should leave. Soon. It only works at dawn,” said Mrs. Marble.
Ireulun never saw her look older than she ever did at that moment.
“Please. Mrs. Marble,”

She waited. It was not until Mrs. Marble turned to look at her than Ireulun asked her question.
“Mrs. Marble,” she started slowly. “How did you get this?”
Instinct, trust and understanding of character made Ireulun knew that the crystal ball was not a stolen artefact.

Like a secret unfolding ghostly wings, Mrs. Marble gave Ireulun a long sweeping assessment, a girl prior to the prime of her life as much as she was long past hers.
“That crystal ball, gel, is mine. Given to me by my family,” said Mrs. Marble.
When she did not say more, Ireulun could barely contain herself.
“Mr. Marble?”

Mrs. Marble gave a genuine chortle but the act made her cough bitterly. Ireulun approached her in alarm but the garrulous woman waved aside her open arms with a, "Don’t worry me, gel, I must say this. It’s been too long and I can’t have it hanging over me before I depart.”

Ireulun waited in painful patience.
“My dear, Mr. Marble never knew of it. For all I had love him, the ball was only my secret. My burden to bear.

“You asked me before about the forbidden city, yes? Let me tell you why we - even I - never speak of it. Our memories of those citizens were never good. The people of this island were the lowest of the lower class. Fisher folk and farmers, they were the natives of this island but they were treated as if they owed the invaders their allegiance.

“Then came a time of trouble. A day of reckoning for the people of that city you saw. Like a plague it swept between the stones of the city, filling its domes and breaking its towers. Still, their arrogance made them blind. They would not leave. They died in that city.

“The people who had repented, including my family, had made plans to leave. To escape. We had a way. But we never had the chance.”

“You were discovered?” asked Ireulun.
“Discovered. Or betrayed. Who’s to say? I was the only survivor,” said Mrs. Marble. Sadness, an old pain, a long buried pain, coloured her tone.
“The device we made, it was on the very edge of the city, on the island’s mainland instead of the outcrop of rock we had made as home. The blind ones never knew what it was, except that it was something. They were afraid it was something that might be used against them.”

She paused, her breath ragged, her eyes shone with unshed tears. Ireulun sat by her side and held her hand. Whatever courage she had, whatever comfort she could give, she transferred them to Mrs. Marble, a refugee of the past.

“It was never anything offensive. Or aggressive. We - my family - we just want to leave the island safely.”
“But you didn’t.”
“They didn’t. I did.”
She turned to Ireulun and spoke quietly, barely a whisper, more a repercussion of old regret than old age.
“I should have died there, Ireulun. I should have died protecting my family,” said Mrs. Marble.
Ireulun did not turn away or gave pity. Only her understanding. It was Mrs. Marble’s pride that had helped her survive whatever cataclysm had been inflicted upon the stone city.

“So you roamed the streets of Sandhurst before you met and married Mr. Marble. Nobody knew who you were? Why didn’t you just leave?” asked Ireulun.
“Nobody cared. The failing of my people did nothing to improve what limited quality of life the natives of the island already had. They just shrugged and went on with their life, just no longer answering to a foreign authority,” said Mrs. Marble.
“As for leaving, where would I go? I have no one, no place. No one that it, until I met my husband and he had no desire to be more than the farmer he was.”

Cupping the crystal ball in her hands, she felt it absorb her warmth. A long silence passed before she felt the old woman’s gentle touch on her shoulder.
“Use it my dear. You may take your leave today.”
Ireulun was still absorbing the new revelations about the silent city. And of Mrs. Marble.
“What about you? No matter what, I still can’t leave you.”

A slow smile infused Mrs. Marble’s face, a smile of friends sharing trust and hope. Ireulun could not help but smile back.
“When I first met you, Ireulun, you told me you were a traveller. You took many journeys because you wanted to. Isn’t this just another leg in your journeys?”
“Journeys means little if not for those I meet.”
“Then take this from an old woman who never left the island.”

Squeezing Ireulun’s hand over the crystal ball, she raised her own gnarled hand to her smooth cheek.
“I plan... to go on a journey too. My family will be waiting for me, just where I left them,” said Mrs. Marble.
She paused, and then continued.
“I don’t want anyone to be left behind.”


Contrary to Mrs. Marble wishes, Ireulun stayed with her for the rest of her final hours. Perhaps Mrs. Marble had always known Ireulun’s steadfast desire to stay with those who needed other. She never mentioned or gave any allusion to the term ‘weak’ or ‘helpless’. No, it was Mrs. Marble’s strength, her desire to live, that kept her alive and Ireulun was proud to have known her.

In the back of her mind, she wished she could have done more to her landlady, her friend for many weeks. If Mrs. Marble had lived long enough to meet her mother, the two would have become good friends.

It was the third dawn after Mrs. Marble - now late Mrs. Marble - had had her stroke. Ireulun had left a message at the village healer’s notice and another at Mrs. Marble’s nephew in town. She had not stayed a minute longer than necessary. With her possessions and her sustenance for a long trip in her backpack, she took off without looking back.

Mrs. Marble is going on a journey.

Ireulun would start hers as well.

Well, if you insist gel. We will part in the heavens at dawn.

At dawn? Even at her deathbed, Mrs. Marble refused to explain more than she did, citing it was more fun when Ireulun should see for herself. Whatever it was that the lost people of the stone necropolis had made, Mrs. Marble was confident Ireulun would handle it.

The heavy winter rains, as always, slowed to a drizzle come dawn. It was the best time to be on the move, to cross familiar but muddy forest paths. Deep were her thoughts about the city, about the old woman’s past, about the biased natives of the island that the arches of Balcony Park loomed over her before she realized that she had arrived.

The stone structure had not changed in her eyes; it still looked the same as she had first seen it. The arches were standing tall, the slabs on the floor crooked as ever. The city without life hovered in view, filling her view.

But in her mind, coloured by new revelations, everything about the structure had changed. Ireulun did not know. She walked a little bit away from the dais and onto the broken bridge structure. What had caused the failing of the city? Why was the government so blind? Why, even years later, the natives refuse to speak about a dead city?

Who were the ladies who posed as female statutes for this balcony? The people who made these arches, were they members of the rebellion of supporters of the blind government? Or was it the natives who had been forced to work without pay to craft these sculptors?

Questions that perhaps will be revealed in time.

Or perhaps never.

In the heart of a student of history, that last part irked Ireulun’s heart. But she had other plans. Plans that preclude the mysteries of the stone city. Remembering her friend’s instructions, Ireulun reached an arm to her back and pulled out the crystal ball. The light of dawn was reflected in the spiky cracks, making the inner star glow.

Slowly, Ireulun took slow steps toward the middle of the circle, holding the ball with both hands and keeping it warm with her fingers. The reflected light grew and shone, until it was no longer reflected light but an inner light that glowed from the crystal ball.

In response, the other crystal balls - the crystal ball held by the surrounding statutes glowed in similar colour of less intensity. Then one of the statutes’ crystals, closest to Ireulun, burst into shards. She held up her arm in a jerked surprise, barely missing the shower of shards to her face.

But the shards were tiny and brittle as glass. They bounced off her arm harmlessly. Soon other crystal ball on the hands of the statutes burst as well. One by one, they pop and cracked and shattered until all that remained was Ireulun’s own, shining every brightly.

There was a moment of silence, a stretching stillness that Ireulun wondered if she had done the steps correctly. But then ground started to shake beneath her feet. Not an earthquake, more like a sudden weakness in the dais floor. Sand? The stone slabs of the crooked floor dissolved under her feet like melting sand.

She imagined that if she suddenly found herself in the top half of an hourglass, perhaps that was how the sand was falling under her feet. Ireulun quickly jumped out of the way of the moving, shifting sand, the stone slabs of the floor breaking into pieces, the slow sinking sand brought her ever deeper into the floor.

Her foot then struck something solid. Her initial thought was a hidden stone sculptor but as she tried to gain purchase on it, she realized that the structure had a smooth surface.

A metallic surface.

Curiosity grew greater than her caution. She rubbed the spot where she had landed. The surface was definitely metallic. One hand still holding the bright crystal, she swept the sands around her, bringing to light a more definite unveiling of the unknown object.

As sand continued to flow steadily under her feet, the hidden structure, the lost relic of the stone necropolis revealed itself under the glaring light of Ireulun’s crystal ball. What Ireulun found was beyond what she had been guessing and mussing about.

Far, far beyond her expectations.

“Mrs. Marble, you have got to be joking!” Ireulun exclaimed in disbelief.

Next: February's Flight (2008)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Images: Pimp My Snail and Devil-Flytrap

Wow, this week has been hectic with the capital H-E-K-T-I-K. And I still haven’t completed various things I have to do, much less wanted to do. Starting with my due date for chapter 01 for my thesis project. Dr. Visor is probably wondering what had happened to me. I fear opening my school email account for this fact.

The other note haven’t finished is the story for January’s Journey. I can’t do my thesis report and stop thinking about that work I wanted to do so I’m going to finish the story. Hopefully it’ll be up by today.

As voted by you - and me - (what? Can’t I vote for my own story pictures?), I got the next month’s picture running and I’m uploading it into By the time you read this, it’ll be in my file server but I won’t post it up yet until I got January’s Journey coming.

Instead, I’ve decided to post these two images as pics of the weeks, including the one I missed last weekend. This are for the more playful aspects of myself, rather than have any connecting with my life’s book series project. I thought you might get bored of landscapes and handsome characters.

A snail with a pimped-up ride by Vasily Bodnar. Probably with free cable TV and hot water shower, this snail is obviously showing off his country-style new digs to his fellow slow-mates. See carefully and try to spot how many other snails are there.

Of course, this piece of escargot is going to need to upgrade to an army tank if he every got close of one of these veggies.

A monster plant by Alberto Lozano. He wrote in CGSociety that he imagined this devil-flytrap was a product of a crazy lad student, most probably trying to play Little Shop of Horrors. The art drawn here is an excellent monster worthy of any 2B pencil. Oh yeah, and the Lozano’s not a bad artist himself either. I really liked the plant’s canines (scary monsters don’t have placque!).

These two pictures I’d liked a lot for their quirky humour and their visual design and colouration. They make my smile easier to come by as I’m working on my deadlines. Enjoy them!

Monsters in My House

You know, all that newspaper advertisments about having the wildlife as your neighbours - so-called co-existing with the natural environment - isn't all that’s crack up to be. When some years ago, my family moved out of our tiny terrace house in D’sara U (at the urgings of MySis, who wanted to be married in the new house), we’ve only changed location and species.

Neighbours shall always be busybodies, always coming in at odd times. And just as ugly.

Let’s start with a mugshot shall we?

Okay, this isn’t the most threatening of monsters, but I still say it’ll scare a few baby geckos to a corner. This is Bear-bear. He is a neighbour, property of my homicidal baby nephew. BabyNabil brought it into my room and after I had to drag him out, Bear-bear stayed. His most dangerous weapon is using himself as a flying missile.

Here are neighbours my father adopted. They were just helpless creatures, swimming in a large pond at the Ikano pet store, having to live in clean water and being fed healthy food. Thanks to my father, they were taken out of their easy life and put into the 6ft by 4 ft square tank filled with algae and subjected to fear of death by stoning by BabyNabil, who likes to drop stones into the water.

This neighbour is a smart one since he drops in mostly at night, sneaking through crevices unknown and disappears comes daybreak. He stays mostly in the kitchen, feeding off baby cockroaches so we all tolerated him. I called him Shrooms since he looked like a fungus.

Here’s a fellow who had taken residence at the back garden, amongst the herbs. God knows where he came from but he brought his wives and kids with him! Stumbled across a nest of eggs but they still came back. Luckily we have 2 cats so the lizards population was kept low.

Here’s the elder of the 2 cats, Patchy. Named so for his jet-black patches, he’s one of 4 brothers born to our older cat (bless her). Now the only survivor, he’ll be 13 years old this March and is already a very grumpy old man.

Younger cat Dusty. Don’t let the sweet, sleepy personality fool you. I had to scratch his head for the umpteenth time just to get him to stop moving and biting long enough for a photo. He’s half-Persian, was 5 last December, a gift of MySis’s friend. He’s the only animal BabyNabil is afraid of since he scratches and bites a lot, which makes Dusty my favourite pet.

Birds of course you’ll know would be plenty. But unlike the fat pigeons of mamak stalls, these birds had to compete each other for limited resource. This one actually flew into the house and was pecking at old rice bowl before we caught it and set it free. In retrospect, this bird, when stuffed with briyani rice, would have tasted real good.

Dogs you know are a common feature in every neighbourhood, no matter how new. They sh** everywhere, break into trash-boxes and scare joggers and children. Every time the security guards shoo them out, they procreate. I wouldn’t describe what the hell these two are doing but I think the third is waiting his turn.

Did I mention I’m living next to a natural environment? I think I did. This picture is to reinforce that. If you haven’t any idea what neighbour this is, then you haven’t been watching enough DC comic movies. This bat just decided to fly in to get out of the rain and had chosen our ceiling simply because we left a window open. He eventually left but we closed our windows during heavy storms now.

Aha! The most notorious neighbour yet. He has a reputation for terrorizing 5 blocks of houses, eating the neighbourhood’s fruit trees and sneaking into kitchens to steal rubbish. BabyNabil was ecstatic when this monkey (who I named Foget) first appeared, most probably because my nephew has found a kindred spirit. I have more pictures of this guy. I’ll give him a proper personal blog entry someday.

And the most dangerous neighbour of all...

I’m sure it’s not fair as you can see this sweet, innocent - deceitful, conniving - little baby face. BabyNabil will turn 3 years old this June and he’s a holy monster in my house. His parents work all the time so they drop off their only child with my parents, his sla-, I mean, grandparents.

He practically lords over everything and everyone, from the Astro TV to Barney the Dinosaur DVDs to nasi lemak with eggs for breakfast. Every breakfast. Otherwise he’ll scream and mope around the house and nobody will have peace. A complete brat, this neighbour is the most effective parasite.

My only thanks to him is that he has cured me of any maternal streak I ever had about having children (eeep!). See what I had to wake up to everyday? I’ll be glad if I ever reach age 30. It’s tiptoe around the monster field, which is one of the reasons I still have Bear-bear safe in my room.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Game Project Update: Emotions Run High

I got bored.

Don’t worry, I wasn’t thinking about giving up this project. In fact, now that Dr. Visor approves it as my new thesis project I can’t afford to give it up, lest the wrath of my conscience destroys me with nightmares.

Damn me if I haven’t been reading too many Steve Jackson’s books.

The developments on this project are quite few sadly, due the busy-ness of beginning a new semester. I had planned on going to the resource website to download the latest stuff, and then edit them. Some of these new resources don’t need edits, just planning where to put them.

These would be great for that castle siege in Act 1.

Hah, the castle siege scene! Players won’t have time to stop and help the soldiers. I’m going to need to get rid of one soldier and replace it with a monster the soldier’s fighting against. It’’s be a lot of work, since I’m using up to 3 different types of monsters but I really, really wanted a massive siege.

Got some more stuff for the more dramatic sprite edits. But this one is a unique edit, nobody else has it (nobody in GamingW that is). This is a testing pose for the final battle in Act 1. I don’t mind putting this up as a spoiler cum teaser because I’ve got a far better pose for the Great Evil Boss in Act 4 final battle.

Each class of magic has its own casting effect. Ice magic would have sparkles and icicle-blue imagery while the metallic magic is more subtle but instantaneous (metallic magic = bombs, bombs, BOMBS!). This down here is a prologue scene. I’m not really sure if I should include it though and in which chapter.

”By the Angels, how could you... why?

I’m not a really good GIF animator (hehehehe) but I hope you get the idea. Dark and evil magic uses a purplish-black glow, to highlight that the magic doesn’t always expose its nature until it oozes out of the bad guy.

Also to be reminded, as a continuation from my last game project update, I’ve finalized the basic outline that I had planned for my protagonist main magical scene. It’s not as good as some of my older magic circles but that was done intentionally.

In the scene I’m planning, Keea had to cast her high-level spell in a hurry and the circle isn’t perfect, and her comrades to aid her in combining energies would either be wounded or missing. The shape isn’t a full circle either; in thaumaturgy, this is an aggressive circle.

Very nice. Background please!

I’m going to take a little bit more cleaning up to do before I impose this art into a picture and an animated charaset; thus my biggest graphic project yet. But anything to stall the coding, riiiiiiiiight?

Don’t worry about the coding though; I’m saving the best for last.

Sort of.

As you can see, the graphics I’ve selected are mostly fighting or casting scene and then some. In the heat of the battle, the drama has to be greater, thus new effects and customized graphics come into play.

Because I don’t want to be something like, oh wow, super tension rising and got to go do something, rescue somebody or stop that bad guy and I’m running across dangerous obstacles, war zones, but what the heck? I had to stop and do a crossword puzzle.

Night Brings Weird Messages

I’m not really into dreams and dream interpretations. Yeah, sure I’m really into magical theories and practises but my interest is mostly academic and for pleasure. Sorry, but when it comes to making serious dream study and possible connections with the metaphysical plane, I stand next to Freud.

So when the little girl Sharlinie kidnapping episode continues with the family actually hiring bomohs (witch doctors) to crack coconuts and free white birds, I felt more pity than disgust. It’s a hopeless task to go to witch doctors, but the family is desperate, just as desperate as the police force trying to locate her.

For me it’s prayers, not bomohs, that should be turned to in bringing hope to counter distress. Unless these bomohs work for free and they are actually proven to be successful, it’s best not to revert to them. The bomoh’s prediction that Sharlinie would be found in a week is bulls**t, in my opinion.

Magic, spells and folk practise is all good in checking the weather or if the paddy fields brings best harvest. But when a child’s life is at stake, for God’s sake, at least let it be done privately instead of giving them quacks free advertising. False hopes, false rumours, and when the deed doesn’t turn out the way it goes, the witch doctor still gets paid.

Family still get bumped.

Enough of the possibly devastating repeat of the tragic Nurin case. As Ron Weasley once interpreted Harry Potter’s tea cup as ‘going to suffer but be very happy’, here’s something I have that means completely nothing.

A Dream Book.

Yup, just as the title says.

I wasn’t always anti-prophetic dreams. In my younger years, I was a hell of a believer. I planned my days using horoscopes and toss pennies into wishing fountains. I arranged my bedroom furniture by feng-shui. What washed-coloured clothes I have are arranged to be worn on specific days.

By God was I ever a mystic fa**ot.

After I outgrew my magic markers, the souvenirs of those days had been reduced to just this little piggy from the book market. It was MySis’s friend’s book who, upon moving to overseas, didn’t know who to dump it to so I adopted it from the rubbish bin.

It’s basically a dictionary of sorts. You choose the prominent subjects on what you’ve dreamt before and basically connect the dots. Let’s see about this dream I had last week.

I was on the second floor at Giant Kelana Jaya hypermarket; I recognize the place well. There were other people there. Busy people, all rushing but they all seem to move in the same one direction. I was standing, or at least, walking very slowly.

I push pass the crowds and enter the market proper but the aisles were empty. Not product empty - there were items for sale - just nobody was around. Which is really odd because as I looked back, the crowd was full and moving but nobody had entered after me.

But then a guy wearing all black appeared from the crowd and walked towards me. I couldn’t see face, or rather I don’t remember his face but he was very tall and had black hair. I think he was stalking me as I started to run away really fast. I took a long route toward the produce section.

Looking back, I saw the dark guy also running toward me. He had long strides. I remembered feeling scared. I saw a stick and grabbed it (a broom? A mop?) and swung it at the dark guy. It hit his head and he fell back, staggering.

I guest I should have just ran off but I used the stick to fight him again but he ducked and grabbed my wrist so quickly that I dropped the stick. He pulled at the back of my neck and pushed me to the floor. I fell down. I thought he was going to hurt me and that’s when I knew that it was a dream.

Then I heard a series of loud bangs, like New Year’s fireworks had burst too close, and the area was filled with white smoke. The dark guy covered me on the floor with his body or maybe he dropped a big blanket over me. That’s when I began to think that he was protecting me. It was the way his arms were placed on both my sides.

When the bangs stopped, the guy pushed himself away from me. It was still smoky everywhere. I turned over and looked at him. This is when the memory of the dream was hazy. I think he said something and I answered. Then he gave me his large black coat and told me to go somewhere safe. And he got up and left, ran off.

I don’t know what caused this dream, but it might be the TV series Numbers DVD I watched that afternoon. Much of the stuff here are hazy, as dreams evaporates come daylight. But for the curiosity, let’s look into the Dream Book.

Staring with...

Market: Dreaming of an outdoor market in which all sorts of foodstuffs are temptingly displayed is an omen of prosperity, but if the food is wilted or otherwise spoiled, it predicts hard times.

I was running for my life. I didn’t stop to check the expiry date on the products.

Crowd: It is a portent of profitable new associations to dream of being in an orderly or good-natured crowd. To be in a crowd that is reading bulletins of war outside a newspaper office predicts a business victory that will be unexpected.

Didn’t say anything about a crowd that’s ignoring me. I can’t find the dream meaning for ‘stick’ so I try adding ‘broom’ and ‘mop’ together.

Broom: To see a broom means that thrift and better luck will come to you in the near future, if the broom is new. If the broom is an old one, you will lose in the stockmarket. If a woman loses a broom she will be a cross wife and a poor housekeeper.

Mop: Using a clean new mop in a dream foretells favourable comment on some of your work. Seeing an old and dirty mop in a pail of filthy water is a warning not to repeat evil rumours that you hear.

Neither of those two makes any sense.

Man: To dream of man in the abstract is a warning against too much brain work. For a woman to dream of a man foretells a meeting of an interesting person who will be a platonic friend.

Okaaaaaay... How bout...?

Assault: Grave danger is predicted by dreaming of an assault being made on a woman. If a man is the victim, the augury is of disquieting news. If you are the victim, there will be a serious altercation in your household.

Oh gee, I’m doomed.

Noise: If in a dream one hears noises that do not readily lend themselves to any particular happening, the portent is having to meet bills of long standing.

Actually, I don’t need a dream to remind me of that.

Smoke: To dream of smelling smoke and not know where it was coming from augurs worry for a long period. To see smoke coming from a fire or a chimney is a sign of increased income.

Sounds like my early 2008 is grim.

Coat: If you dream of putting a coat on a hanger in a closet, you will receive the approval of someone whose opinion you value highly. To wear a ragged coat in a dream is a portent of riches and easy living. To help someone put on a coat is a sign of lending money to a friend; but if another helps you put on a coat, you will have to borrow money. To loose a coat foretells that your feelings will be hurt by someone you admire. To throw away a coat is an omen of the loss of a friend; but to give one away predicts making new friends.

Never thought coats are so important for one’s future.

That’s as much as I can gather. No keywords like ‘rescue’ or ‘protect’ or ‘bombs’. Put the subjects together and I get a nonsensical nonsense since none was sensed save it.

I’m going to be prosperous and gain new business-friendly acquaintances (mostly likely ignoring me). But then a person who wants to be my friend shows up but he/she will have ulterior motives. Sometime later, I’m going to lose something I’ve invested in which results in a major potentially risky adjustment. I’ll still have to pay for outcome and I’ll be worrying about it for a very long time, in which I’ll have to borrow money.


Friday, January 25, 2008

To Nuffnang or To Not Nuffnang?

Okay, there was one difference to my previous blog entry. It turns out that I didn’t have Java class yesterday’s Thursday after all. Lec. Java had been trying to contact me but she used the old house phone number, which I’ve already discontinued ages and ages ago.

Luckily for me, she sought me out, pacing like a restless kitty outside the PC Lab (some idiot administrator locked it, or maybe this door knob is just as buggy as the next one). Aaah, bust. I said sorry, we chatted, she mentioned Dr. Visor is looking for me (eeep!), made plans for next week’s class and that I’ll contact the other 2 students ASAP.

Yes, only 2 other students besides me. Like I said, Multimedia majors are a small clique.

Being at this is ‘malam Jumaat’ (the night before Friday), nobody is at my home and I didn’t want to stay home alone and the roads would be too packed to drive to Ikano Power Centre, I stayed at school for a few more hours, just long enough for the part-time students to crash into the PC Labs.

Unlike fresh-faced full time students, the male of this side of the education are older, rowdier and have hands that never stray far from below their belts, if you know what I mean.

No, that one is not what I mean.

Any sane woman would prefer homicidal baby nephews to suspicious male groups that form after 7pm, even if the male group is completely exposed in a reception hall under blazing florescent lights. Or maybe I’m just paranoid. Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean someone isn’t trying to grab at me in roads after dark.


But if I had stayed longer, in a workstation with PC access, maybe I would have finally reached a proper decision on something that had been bugging me since last month. You see, before I started blogging, I made a policy not to post ads on my blog. Not only would this be distracting, it also takes more time to load the pages (and we all know the notoriety of ‘school’ and ‘slow PCs’).

In short, I just don’t like ads in my space.

My personal space. If this had been a website project for school, I’ll drop in ads like there’s no tomorrow, if it’ll get me $ or As. And I don’t post as often as many Nuffnang’d bloggers (you know who you are), namely, everyday postings. Increased entrys = increased traffic. There’s no point in adding unsightly ads if traffic doesn’t pay for it.

That’s how my older blog fell to pieces. More concerns for ads and traffic than the subject matters. My own thoughts. I didn’t want a repeat of the last time, even though my blog died years ago, long before Nuffnang came online.

On the other hand, I get money. I’m an undergraduate with -$100 in her purse. I sneak notepads into bookstores and copy chapters from new books. All my clothes are either Brand’s Outlet or Hypermarket’s Outlet or (horrors!) Mak’s Outlet. I spend no money on make-up or shoes or even internet connection. I save every 5 cents I can pouch in, even if those 5 cents was found on the ground. In the mud.

I even taught myself how to cook.

Hehehehe, okay I’m still very much better off than most kids and I do thank God for that. I don’t need much money to really keep in working or studying but it’ll helps if I don’t have to ask my pair of sour-faces for even the smallest monetary dependency. Every morning when I wake up, it’s in the bedroom with furniture that they brought and in sheets washed with water which bills were paid by them.

Them and their EPF. Dickens’s Ebenezer Scrooge got nothing on my parents.

So in the heart of deciding to Nuffnang or not to Nuffnang, I really wanted something in the post that’s neither a bill nor a pizza discount voucher (though we also get wedding invitations, magazines, loan shark ads, even underwear once). The sad secret which I shall divulge, since nobody here knows who I am, is that I’m really, really running out of money.

My next semester bill is coming up and I haven’t the heart to ask for $3000 fee. Yet. I know the plight of parental responsibility and such but I’m getting old. The responsibility should be reversed. Government ruling says that parents are obligatory to support their children until they reach age 21 and I’m years past that. I respect them as individuals but as parents... it would help if they don’t keep looking at me as if I’m ugly oversized furniture they can’t get rid of.

So as I’m getting this blog a Nuffnang advertising, alongside to join various other popular blogging communities. It’s not much, there’s no real gain by it and the results would fluctuate. But by damn, I’m going to start paying for my own petrol money one way or another.

Sikit-sikit, lama-lama jadi bukit. Once I get an account big enough to earn my own internet connection, maybe I won’t have to stay back school for so long, then walk to my parked car in the dark night.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Every Thurday. Every Freaking Thursday.

According to the new scheduling system that caters to part-time student - me being one of the only full time student so I have to adher to their preferences – Thursdays will be my night class days.

When I woke up at 6am, fully refeshed from a good night’s sleep and ready for activity, I wondered maybe I should just stay at home until the late afternoon, say 4pm, seeing that I didn’t really feel like sitting down in the PC lab for an entire day.

Bang! Crash!
*hiss* MeeeeeeeeeooooOOOOWWWW! *growl*
Waaaa- *hiccup* -aaaaaaah!

Looks like baby nephew’s coming over today. That’s my cue to depart.

7am: Bathed and ready to go!
7:10am: Help Mak vaccum broken glass from kitchen.
7:20am: Pry headscraf from BabyNabil’s naugthy fingers.
7:25am: Clean strawberry jam smudges from headscraf.
7:35am: Failed, changed headscraf. Now I’m ready to go.
7:50am: Stuck in Damansara Toll traffic jam.
8:10am: Offically decided that I hate all forms of jams.
8:20am: Finally arrived at school. Mentally kick self for forgetting to bring Java textbook.
8:25am: Waiting outside school workstation along with 5 other early bird students, most comprises of new students.
8:30am: Listen vaguely to PakGuard’s repeated jokes. He tells the same thing every day to impress various new students..
8:35am: Enter school workstation and signing into the network.
8:40am: Downloading Mystery in London from Reflexive Arcade.
8:45am: Upload photos in ( had been firewalled in all school PCs).
9:00am: Post Taco Bake entry in Blogspot. Finished downloading Mystery in London game.
9:30am: Check all favourites bloggers.
10:40am: Post I Love to Hate my Lecturer entry in Blogspot.
10:00am: Check Project Petaling Street website. Ping blog’s entries.
10:30am: Check Gmail. Received Santana ft. Chad Kroeger mp3 music from little brother, Genius (he’s in Malaya University, studying Electronic Engineering).
10:35am: Exit school network and signing-in again (there’s a two hour limit. You just sign-in the same PC again).
11:00am: Open Gmail again and send 2 sci-fi themed desktop-quality pictures to Genius as a thank you.
11:50pm: Check blog for comments.
12:30pm: Exit school network and signing-in again.
12:35pm: Check into forums.
12:45pm: Check into and remove the map file from file server. Upload Santana mp3 in Mediafire.
13:10am: Did some neck exercise. Declined a friend’s invitation to McD lunch on excuse of doing homework (actually, no money-lah!).
13:15pm: Bored. Actually doing homework for a change.
13:50pm: Check blog for comments again.
2:00pm: Check Google for open source Java applet codings.
2:25pm: Stop and exit workstation for mid-afternoon prayers.
2:55pm: Check to see if PC Lab have classes. None. Signing into lab network (they don’t have time limits).
3:05pm: Downloading 3 new mp3s (Yay! Insecured firewall!).
3:30pm: Start on thesis project chapter 1 report; alternately check for open source Java applet codings.
4:10pm: Sign out of lab network because of immensely slow internet. Now officially hating bandwidth jam.
4:20pm: Reach parked car. Late afternoon is good time to park car in No Parking Zone.
4:25pm: Signing back into PC Lab network again.
4:45pm: Write third, untitled blog entry.
5:30(?)pm: Stop for late afternoon prayers.
5:55(?)pm: Check into Lab 3 for MP class.
6.00(?)pm: Joustle for good, unbroken, non-blurry, fast working PC with part-time students.
6:15(?)pm: Ended up getting bad PC anyway.
6:30(?)pm: Lec. Java comes in and shooed the strangglers out.
6:35(?)pm: Changed PCs.
6:45(?)pm: Reviewing last week’s chapters.
7:00(?)pm: Praying, devoutly praying, not to be chosen to showcase last week’s exercise.
7:05(?)pm: Getting to present answers to last week’s exercise anyway.
7:10(?)pm: Lec. Java presents correct answers to last week’s exercise.
7:30(?)pm: Stop for evening prayers (thank God!).
7:50(?)pm: Starting chapters on Java Graphics and GUI.
8:35(?)pm: Given this week’s exercise to take home.
9:45(?)pm: Full dark. Get to car parked in No Parking Zone safely.
10:00(?)pm: Reach home safetly, bathe and crash into bed.
11:00(?)pm: Late-night snack. Tip-toe around house not to wake up parents.
11:30(?)pm: Read a bit of fiction books before finally falling asleep.

Yup, a completely full day. Alamak...

I Love to Hate My Lecturers

I’m not a slow learner; I just don’t like to pay attention to people in suits. I have this primary school childhood fear of teachers. Teachers being angry, teacher embarrassing students in front of other students, students ganging up to bully the scolded student during recess...

In short, I was hoping for distance learning after secondary school, preferably while I travel. But my parents will have none of that, as they’re the ones paying for my tertiary education. They’ve learned their lesson of letting their children run wild with my older brother, Arsenal, who came home from USA no richer than $100,000. In debt.

Since my personality is a lot like my older brother, I ended up never even stepping foot out of PJ after SPM for my degree. And it was straight to degree too, no diploma. I had wanted diploma first, then get a little bit of job experience, then go for degree.

But again, overruled. Denied. Zippo.

I kind of understood all that. Parents always wanted the very best for their kids, whether the kids wanted to or not. This is to ensure bragging rights in their old age, trying to impress other parents about ‘oh-my-son-is-a-lawyer’ or ‘hey-my-daughter-drives-a-Porsche’ or ‘why-don’t-your-daughter-meet-my-son-and-join-their-bank-account-so-they-can-send-more-money-to-us-after-they-get-married?’.

I hate high expectations. I’m a simple girl. I don’t want a super-job that gets me super-money. I can only drive one car at a time, sleep under one roof at night and eat only 3 meals a day. That’s the downside of big families who need big support in their old age. Big expectations.

That’s why I’m thankful to finally becoming a majoring student this year. I have 3 lecturers and a supervisor now, all encompassing the major subjects and the thesis project part01. Their experience with students on the threshold of last university days prior to the rat-race reality encourages me to give them more respect than I do to my parents.

My ED lecturer is whom I shall call Lec. Whoops. This is because something always have to go wrong before she teaches, either PC breakdown, projector image blurry or the buggy classroom door knob getting locked - with all of us still in it. Being resourceful, she actually gave us a pop-quiz while the security guards look for the keys.

My VR lecturer is whom I shall call Lec-Xercise. She always seemed to be out of breath before coming to class for some reason. I later realized that she had just become Head of the Multimedia department (her first time and she didn’t asked for it) and that she didn’t like that the VR classroom is too damned far away from her office.

My MP lecturer is whom I shall call Lec. Java. It’s not just because she’s teaching advanced Java but it’s from her constant unflagging energy. For God’s sake, the class is at 6pm-9pm and she’s ready to get us do PC-lab tests and large coding discussions while everyone else is halfway to Zzz-land.

Lec-Xercise could learn a thing or two from Lec. Java, if Lec-Xercise could keep up with her and if Lec. Java could stop talking long enough to hear her.

And last but not least... Dr. Visor. He’s my new supervisor for this semester. For some reason, he got shackled with me even though he’s from Networking department. Maybe there’s a system here I didn’t know about. My last Supervisor and her superior-in-terror, Super-supervisor, was from Software Engineering.

Anyway, seeing that the man is a phD. I was scared that he might have expectations (and you know I hate high expectations). He’s in Networking and I want to propose building a game software. Would he want it online? Can I find an online system in time? Would he even accept a game system? Would he prefer I do something more mundane, like a forum community? I support open-source but does he approve?

Naturally, I was stuttering by the time I got my teaspoon of courage outside the department offices. I kept asking the receptionist for Safian or Sifuan instead of Sufian. Unable to wait for him to open the glass door, I got in through as another student was coming out.

There were two other students in the reception room. Five minutes later, there were only two of us. Unable to stop pacing, I decided to look for his office myself and asked a passing lecturer for his office (again, I stutter; I just don’t know why).

She actually looked amused. Then she pointed to the student behind me.

Oh crap.

Dr. Visor was actually waiting for me, nicely sitting there for the last 5 minutes, watching me pace around like a hungry puppy. I freaking thought he was a student, really. He was wearing plain white shirt and jet-black pants, standard uniform for all students from the Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

If I hadn’t been so nervous, I would have noticed; no need for FHTM students to hang around inside the FIT department.

Both lecturers had a good laugh as I really wish I could sink into the floor at that moment (I just have to make do with covering my red face with my textbook). At least it wasn’t like my primary school teachers; this was good clean embarrassment.

Least to say, the rest of the meeting went okay. He approved of the game system, taught me how to write the first chapter and encourages me to contact him once a week. He didn’t ask for online systems or additional programming. I can achieve those goals.

However, this doesn’t mean I’ll thank him for that trick. My next new blog will be about distance learning.

Recipe: Taco Bake with Corn Chips

This is a pretty easy recipe to make and doesn’t take an hour to cook; but there’s a whole lot of activity going on. You got to fry the meat, boil the pasta and then bake the casserole. But I tell ya it’s delicious! If you’re on a diet, stay away from this picture-filled message.

This is a warning; you’ll gain kilograms while you’re reading this.

1 whole large onion, finely chopped
A few cloves of garlic, also chopped
Some paprika powder or chili powder (optional)
1 bottle of salsa
1 brick of cheddar cheese, shredded
Some Sunglo sour cream (I got mine at Giant hypermarket)
1 packet of Ramly brand frozen minced meat (400grams, beef or chicken)
1 packet of Old El Paso Taco Seasoning mix (found at Giant hypermarket or Cold Storage)
1 Kraft’s Deluxe Macaroni n’ Cheese dinner (bought at Cold Storage)
1 medium-sized bag of Chachos corn chips

*Note: make sure the frozen minced meat had defrosted into room temperature; otherwise you’ll get meat lumps when you fry ‘em.

Heat a pot of water until it boils. Then add the macaroni pasta as this one takes the longest to cook.

Fry those chopped onions and garlic until soft and fragrant, then add the minced meat.

When the meat is half cooked, add in the Old El Paso Taco Seasoning mix. Keep frying until the meat is cooked, then take it off the heat and let it cool in the wok.

*Note: You can also add a little bit of chili powder or paprika powder as well to make it spicier.

The pasta would have been cooked right about then. It should be white and soft but firm, not mushy because otherwise they’ll break to pieces after baking.

*Note: Now you should preheat your microwave oven to 180’Celcius to get ready for baking.

Drain the pasta and while still steaming, pour ‘em into a mixing bowl. Add all the Kraft’s cheese sauce and about a cup of the sour cream.

After mixing them well, add ONLY HALF (yes, just half) of the macaroni mix into a casserole dish. Then add a layer of the spicy minced meat. Using ONLY HALF of the shredded cheddar cheese, add a layer of it OVER that meat layer.

Add all the remaining macaroni mix over all that. Add a thin layer of salsa sauce over the casserole for taste. With the remaining shredded cheese, divide it into HALF and use just one half to spread a layer over the casserole.

Bake the casserole for just 15 minutes. Add the rest of the cheddar cheese, then bake a little while longer for only 5 minutes.

You can lick the cheesy mixing spoon while you wait. Mm-mmm...

Once done, crush the Chachos corn chips and spread ‘em all over the casserole.

Now eaaaaaaaaaaaaattt!! This recipe feeds 6 people; it’s very filling. I really wish you could smell the spicy taco mince meat cos it's really great. The touch of the salsa sauce alongside the saltiness of the cheese sauce melting on your mouth is just soooooo good. Chewy macaroni pasta and crunchy corn chips-, not saying anything more.

My folks always have this dish with a side of fresh, tossed salad drenched in thousand-island sauce. Other having a nutritional, balanced diet (Mak’s a food pyramid freak), the mix of tomatoes and lettuce leaves just seem to work superbly, sort-of like, it refreshes your taste buds as you eat.

Why am I writing this? Because I’ve decided that it was absolutely futile to stick to my New Year’s Resolution, that’s why.

Spread the cheesy love...

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