The Pickpocket Huntress

I came across a video of this unique and amazing woman, Eliana Guerrero, who volunteers her time and effort to look out for pickpockets who prowl Barcelona’s subways. Why? Simply because she loves her city so much that it bothers her how the rampant crime affects its reputation, and she thinks, “Nobody is doing anything about this. Somebody has to do something about this.” So she went out and fiercely became that somebody.

Well, she shouldn’t be ‘that’ somebody but just ‘a’ somebody. Because there really should be other somebodies joining her to help their city.

She’s really risking her life and limb, the way I see it. Even ‘petty’ criminals like pickpockets can turn violent out of resentment or desperation when confronted, and they tend to work in gangs. I hope she stays safe.

And I imagine it is a largely thankless affair. I can imagine some people are annoyed at feeling alarmed and give her dirty looks when she blows her whistle or when she reminds them to sling their handbags in front of their body where they can see it. I hope she brushes off the negativity she suffers and stay strong, and always be proud of the very noble volunteer work she’s doing for Barcelona.

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I remember how Bert stopped a crime in progress a few years ago in Penang, Malaysia. We were there because I wanted to do a marathon (my first ever full marathon). We had visited the parking lot of a mall where the organizers were distributing the runner’s bag which contained stuff like the bib number. Then we went to the bus stop in front of the mall to get back to the hotel. Naturally there was a big crowd of people at the bus stop, so when our bus arrived it was a slow process getting to the door to board it because there were maybe more than 50 other people crowding around it waiting to board. There was no queue. It was quite chaotic.

Bert saw it before anyone else. A young guy some distance in front of us who had almost reached the door, with his hand already dipping into the bag hanging from the shoulder of the guy in front of him. Bert shouted at him, “Hey, stop! Yes, you! You with your hand inside his bag!” Everyone around us fell silent, shocked and wondering what the white guy was screaming about. The surprised pickpocket glared angrily at Bert for a moment, then shrugged, deciding to pretend not to know what Bert was referring to. Now alerted, the almost-victim snatched his bag in shock and hung it from his other shoulder. “I saw you! I saw what you were doing!” Bert continued to yell at the pickpocket. He stomped off, suddenly not interested in getting on the bus.

The almost-victim never thanked Bert. Idiot. That annoys me now, thinking about it, but I wasn’t thinking about it then. I probably didn’t even notice Bert wasn’t thanked. I was busy being in awe. My man is so cool. My heart was bursting with pride for him.

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Back to Ms. Guerrero in the video. This remarkable woman is not even from Barcelona, but is an immigrant from Colombia, and yet her love for Barcelona is so strong that she and her incredible sense of civic-mindedness do some amazing and potentially dangerous work to protect this city that she had grown to love. Her city. That’s food for thought about immigrants. That they can see and appreciate what we may take for granted, and end up loving our city or country as much as or even more than we do.

Every city in the world deserves a pickpocket huntress or two hundred. The video reminds me of the subways and touristy areas in places like Rome and Milan, cities I have visited several times. The subways there can be quite unpleasant. Even Bert who is a native Italian was targeted a few times, maybe because he was with me so they thought he was a tourist too. Thankfully we were never victims. Hopefully never.

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Related:

  • The Savvy Backpacker – How to Avoid Pickpockets in Europe — Tips for Outsmarting the Thieves
  • Life In Italy – A pickpocket’s tricks: How to Avoid Getting Robbed While On Vacation In Italy.
  • All Singapore Stuff – Woman’s handbag was cut and wallet stolen by thief at Ikea
  • Forbes – How to protect yourself from pickpockets and thieves when you travel (this one is a lengthy six-page article but contains an interesting and comprehensive list of tips)

No Sleeep feat. J. Cole: The Return of Ms. Jackson

I find myself going back to this time and again these past few days since I first heard it. The tune featuring her distinctive voice is catchy but very dreamy and relaxing. I love soulful slow jams like this.

This is her first single since ‘Nothing‘, which was released in 2010, so that’s a long absence especially from a megastar of her league.

I like the video for ‘No Sleeep‘ too. Especially for a ‘comeback’, it’s very laid-back. Not some outlandish epic production, but just a quietly exquisite effort that provides a good and suitable complement to the song, as what a music video should do.

It also contains a sweet tribute to her father Joe Jackson at around the 1-minute mark, with a black-and-white photograph of a much younger him posing together with baby Janet.

That sweet, famous smile is still a wonder to look at. And her wardrobe here, where she’s all covered up but still sleek and very stylish, topped with that gorgeous mane of hair, is so Janet.

I have read that she married a Muslim businessman from Qatar in 2012, and has therefore converted to Islam. But this is certainly not the first music video featuring a modestly attired Janet. One reason why her music videos that span her long career are so fascinating is her style which is always alluring and interesting, whether she’s sexily revealing or covered up. Of course it also helps that the woman is gorgeous right till today at 49. She can put on anything and still look good.

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I’m including the video for ‘Nothing‘ here since I love that last single as well. A very beautiful ballad that is a nice song to listen to right after the slow and sensuous ‘No Sleeep‘. ‘Nothing‘ is from the soundtrack for a movie called ‘Why Did I Get Married Too‘ (2010) in which she acted as well.

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Related:

 

 

Galaxy Cat

I came across this beautiful mural art at one side of Holland Village Market & Food Centre, the side that faces Haagen Dazs.

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Gorgeous, isn’t it. I find it fascinating, even as I feel a bit uneasy as I study it. It rekindles a suspicion deep inside me that I thought I had long banished.

That cats first came from outer space thousands of years ago, landing on our planet to enslave us. Cunningly working their way into our hearts with their fluffy cuteness and by pretending to be hopelessly derpy ever since. But we all know they are forever slyly plotting away in those pretty little heads of theirs on how to finally beat us into total submission. I have frequently caught my cats staring at me with a startlingly evil expression.They came close to domination with the ancient Egyptians, but all their effort backfired when they ended up being mummified along with the very masters they were seeking to destroy after seducing them. Progress has been slow ever since because they kept getting distracted into playtime by glittery things and puking out hairballs.

The designer of my keychain not only agrees with me, but thinks the situation is far more grim than I had thought.

Cats now rule the world

Anyway, back to the mural art.

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Detail 1

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Detail 2

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I am inspired by this artwork to call the next cat I adopt ‘Galaxy’. Or Gal, for short.

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Related:

Heel Pain

I’m starting to freak out now that it has dawned on me that the pain in the heel of my foot is just not going away. In late March (or April, I don’t quite remember) I went out for a jog for an hour, as I normally did about once to thrice a week. But this time I ended up with a very sore left foot the following day. I brushed it off. The pain gradually increased in the following week or so. I still wasn’t worried because it’s not uncommon for me to feel some pain or discomfort after running. I always just took it as my feet reacting to the strain, and it always went away after a few days max.

Now it’s been four months. The pain abates or returns with varying degrees. I didn’t really realise the length of time except for the occasional vague thought, “Shit, when is this pain finally going away? It’s been weeks.” The reason being that I was particularly busy with our projects at work, which required a lot of physical effort and me being on my feet, and walking briskly, so I just put up with the pain the best I could. After about a month of that, we moved house. About two weeks of stress and exhaustion in packing boxes and furniture and other stuff. Moving from one double-storey house to another means a lot of pounding the stairs to get many of those boxes and furniture from one floor to another. And after that it was immediately back to work again.

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I know an injured joint/muscle needs to rest to heal properly, but I just coudn’t give it enough of that, even when I was limping and hobbling on some days. In addition, I’ve always been a fast walker (even when I don’t need to be somewhere quickly). When the pain is unbearable, of course I can’t walk quickly, but even when the pain has mostly subsided for a while, I find it’s such a strain to keep reminding myself to walk slowly so that the foot can properly heal.

It was only around last month when I was thinking of how much I miss jogging, that I was startled into realising that I haven’t jogged for three whole months. Started to be alarmed and wonder why the pain in my foot stubbornly won’t go away. Tried to make myself feel better by thinking, “Okay, I’ll just walk for exercise since that’s all I can do now. Let’s see what happens.” Of course the idiot that I am, I was soon brisk-walking because seeing all the joggers running past me made me jealous and miserable. I brisk-walked for almost an hour, and the next day, the sharp pain in the heel hurt like hell all over again.

I started searching online to learn more. As with other subjects, there is so much info online that one can become overwhelmed or confused, and spend way too much time reading. So I picked and chose randomly what to read/watch as I just don’t have the time to read endless articles.  I learnt the basics that the area that is causing the pain in my foot is called Plantar Fascia, and the condition is called Plantar Fasciitis. It’s an apparently common affliction even among experienced athletes. It was both comforting and depressing at the same time to learn that it is common to suffer for months from this condition, as I have been. What scares me most is that some people end up having it as a chronic ailment for years. I can’t bear the thought of going through it again even once more after I’ve recovered, let alone over and over again for life.

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So no more marathons, even after I (hopefully) recover from this? My last one was back in 2012. I don’t want to be a pussy, but it’s such a massive pain in the ass (or heel, rather) that I would just be scared of getting this Plantar Fasciitis crap all over again. Because, oh my God, the pain when it comes…. and being out for months, without being able to jog, is just so… *sigh* … damn irritating and depressing, to be honest.

I can’t afford to see a podiatrist or whatever specialist, so I turned online to learn some stretches to help myself, including from the following video:

I also like the advice of the following doctor Gary Crowley who not only recommends some stretch exercise, but explains what each is for and how it may impact the treatment. He also reminds the viewer to note which works or doesn’t, as I suppose not all work for all bodies, so we have to learn for ourselves what specifically works for us.

I discovered his excellent website, Do-It-Yourself-Joint-Pain-Relief, some years ago while I was searching online to learn to cope with some lower back pain. I find his advice and instructions sensible and easy to follow. Of course, being me, I also have to mention the bonus that’s he’s goodlooking and pretty hot. Especially when he smiles.

Videos for Step 2 and Step 3 can be found on his Heel Pain Treatment‘ page.

Of trivia

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Image from Wikipedia. Click to go there.

I’m reading A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, which is the first Sherlock Holmes story, and something Holmes said got a chuckle out of me.

“I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skillful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.”

Too true!

Holmes was responding to Watson who was flabbergasted that not only did Holmes not know about the Solar System, but wished to forget this new information he had now acquired, because it was just not relevant to him or his work.

But it’s the Solar System we’re talking about here!, Watson protested.

“What the deuce is it to me?” he interrupted impatiently; “you say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work.”

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I don’t think anyone intentionally fills his head with junk or so-called ‘useless trivia’. If something sticks in your mind or strikes you as particularly interesting and you go ahead to learn more, it’s because you have a strong interest in the subject and to me that’s a good enough reason to do so.

The quote reminds me of the various subjects or skills I wanted to learn and went ahead and did them, whether on my own or in the form of courses that took up a lot of time and effort (evening classes after work, for example). Some were completed and proved to be useful, while some others did not turn out to be useful or relevant to my work or other aspects of my life. A few were abandoned because the interest fizzled out after a while. But whatever the outcome, I never regretted taking on any of them, because I enjoyed the learning process every single time.

I get Holmes’ point, though. Or Sir Doyle’s, rather. And this bit:

It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent.

is something I have probably been guilty of. While this:

Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before.

sounds scary but is probably true.

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Notes to me: To Do

  • Declutter brain-attic for a tidy and efficient workspace.
  • Expunge useless trivia like celebrity gossip, politics and other stuff you picked up in the news, current favourite TV show (Extant starring Halle Berry) and the Solar System
  • Renovate brain-attic. Include filing cabinets and open shelves so the useful info is tidily organized and easily accessible. Also a fireplace so the useless info can get sucked in and go up in smoke.
  • Don’t feel hesitant or too guilty to pick up new things that may seem useless or pointless, as long as you enjoy them. Just quickly burn after use lest something sticks. Keep brain-attic neat and tidy.

Two short gay films: Nessun Dorma and Ageless

I was scrolling through Yahoo News! Singapore, and came across a link to a short gay film called Nessun Dorma (2012). It’s Filipino and in Tagalog, with English subtitles. I loved it. It’s so well done. For a three-minute show, you get a well-encapsulated story of heartbreak, intimate and raw but not painfully over-dramatic, and two actors who are not only hot but talented, carrying the story convincingly. I was very entertained by this short story by writer Ronald Genato and director Jedd Rommel. And did I mention it was all of three minutes?! Stunning.

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Nessun Dorma put me in the mood for more so I moved on to YouTube to check out some other short gay films there. Some good, some not so. One I really like is Ageless (2013), written and directed by Heath Daniels.

It’s a sweet, funny story that had me smiling throughout. I was also going “damn, those two gentlemen look good” at the older couple of Charles and Howard. I mean they’re in such great shape. How old are they supposed to depict? 50s, 60s? I hope I’ll look good like that if I get to that age.

At the end of the credits, it flashed ‘Shot entirely on the iPhone 5‘ which of course was amazing to me. I hardly ever use my phone to take basic photographs, let alone with those fancy filters you see online. In fact I hardly ever use my phone for anything other than phonecalls. I don’t even like to text. So this Daniel Heath shooting an entire short film on a phone… I find that impressive.

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Related:

  • Vimeo.com – Other works by Jedd Rommel available for viewing
  • Youtube.com – Heath Daniels’ channel

Basic Chicken Soup from marthastewart.com

Chicken soup cooked 3rd Jan 2015

My partner has the flu real bad these past couple of days. I wanted to cook some chicken soup for him as a nice surprise to cheer up the poor guy. Most of the time it’s him cooking for us. I’m not very good in the kitchen, which is why I’m only inspired to cook like maybe once or twice a year. Basically the interest just isn’t there.

So I felt relieved to quickly find some chicken soup recipes that seemed really simple when I googled just that: ‘simple chicken soup‘. And they require so few ingredients to buy too which is a nice bonus. Chicken, carrots and celery. That’s it. The rest is just onions, garlic and salt, stuff we tend to already have at home.

I chose to try a recipe from Martha Stewart’s website. It even has an accompanying video as the recipe was demonstrated on Martha’s show by Sarah Carey, Food Editor of Martha Stewart Living. It was simple enough to follow on its own, but the interesting video featured was a welcomed bonus.

Click here for the link to the recipe.

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We both loved it. It was so delicious. And of course I loved that it was so easy even for me. I definitely want to make this soup over and over again.

Notes:

  • Part of why it’s such a breeze to make is that there is no separate stock to make. I loved that I didn’t have to use any bouillon cube for flavour. The soup was already so rich and tasty from the chicken and the vegetables, especially the thinly sliced onions. Four whole cups! That’s a lot of onion to me, but mmmm it made the taste of the soup so lovely.
  • And not a single drop of olive oil or any other oil either. The oil from the fat of the meat and the skin is enough. Update 4th January: In fact Bert just mentioned it was a bit too oily for him in his condition, with his coughing and all (ooops!). So next time until he gets better, I’ll remove whatever fat and all the skin except on the wings.
  • I used 3 carrots instead of six as stated in the recipe, since it’s just the two of us.
  • I took about one and a half hours to make this soup. More than an hour of that was just leaving the soup to simmer, partially covered.

You’re the one that I want, covered by Lo-Fang

There are many things I love about the gorgeous film Australian director Baz Luhrmann did for Chanel, starring Brazilian model Gisele Bündchen. Most of all is the rendition of the beloved You’re The One That I Want from the 1978 movie Grease. The haunting cover is by American singer Matthew Jordan Hemerlein, better known by his stage name Lo-Fang.

I will forever love the original as sung by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, but Lo-Fang’s lush treatment propels it to another swooningly glorious dimension. He took it to a stunningly unexpected direction, and what blossomed from the effort is a sparkling beauty that taps gently at your heart and quietly asks for a hug.

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I had seen the Chanel film some time ago, was enamoured by the music and meant to note it here but didn’t at the time. Recently, (okay fine, at work this afternoon when I was supposed to be working) I was led to it again when I was browsing through Buzzfeed and came across this post, which introduced me to the name of the leading man. Watching it again I was reminded that besides the music, the suave and oh-so-sexy leading man with the Javier Bardem vibe was another thing that made me go ‘mmm, nice‘.

His name is Michiel Huisman, a Dutchman. He’s only 33. I thought he looked older in the film. Must be the beard. Which adds up to why I think he’s so sizzlingly hot since I tend to find mature men more attractive. Among the shows the actor has worked in are several popular television series including Nashville and Game of Thrones.

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Michiel Huisman, in a still from the video. Image from the tumblr site Daily Michiel Huisman. Click to go there.

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And here is of course the charismatic original version of You’re The One That I Want.

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Related:

Cat delivers his verdict on Mac & Cheese: ‘Oh yum! Oh my God!’

I must have watched this short clip ten times, cackling away. I first saw it on tastefully offensive. It’s so funny. I have a black cat too and he is quite a character as well. Dog (the cat in the video is called dog) is so adorable.

I’m not crazy or anything (no, just kidding, I am crazy) but I swear I heard:

  1. Ohhh yum!
  2. Ohhh my god!
  3. Ohhhhhhh…….. YUMMM!!!
  4. Ohh my god
  5. Ohh my god
  6. Oh yeah!

And then he turned and gave a verbal hi-five to the kitchen cabinet before swaggering away. Probably ‘hell, yeah!‘, or ‘hell, yum!‘ or something.

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I’m reminded of one of the stray cats who we fed and who came and went as they pleased, a neurotic little thing we called Marco. We wanted to adopt him as he was such a sweet creature, and we felt sorry for him and protective of him as he was such a nervous wreck. One of those restless lone rangers who didn’t quite get along with the other strays (I can relate to that haha).

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Now who couldn’t love that sweet derpy face? Marco at his preferred point of entrance and exit: the kitchen window.

But he just refused to be homed and would wail to be released back outside. I guess the bond just wasn’t there because he was already a grown adult when he came to us, and not as a kitten. I think I read somewhere you have up to 10 weeks for a newborn kitten to know you and get used to you, otherwise they’ll never have a bond with you and be totally comfortable with you. Or something!

Anyway, Marco continued to come and go for a few more months, until he disappeared for good, and that’s when I really wished I had tried harder to keep him. I was worried sick. He seemed like such a fragile thing and I was sure something bad had happened to him, the poor guy.

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Like Dog, Marco was a very ‘appreciative’ eater (read: noisy) which always cracked us up. God I really miss him. It’s been probably close to ten years, but I still remember him well. He left quite the mark in my heart.

 

 

When giving in to pressure ruins innocent lives

Pressure from family and society. Coupled with one’s own shame.

I was thinking of this subject, gay men who not only deceive themselves, but innocent women into marrying them to uphold an image, after I watched this heartbreakingly sweet video by Doug Locke for his song This Could Be Us.

Of course, my interpretation of the video is only mine.

The song is great too.

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Doug’s video reminded me of another one with a related theme, for a Malay-language song called Bukan Wanita Sempurna (Not a Perfect Woman) by the massively talented Malaysian singer Ning Baizura. It was released in January this year.

I first saw it a few months later but didn’t feel like noting it here even though I thought it was groundbreaking in terms of storyline, because the execution was pretty bad and cheesy. I just cringed at some parts of it. It’s too bad because I adore her. Ning’s voice and delivery is really something special, and as a performer she just stands out to her fans.

This video is an example why. For more than twenty years now as an artiste, she has always been known for her originality and uniqueness, so I’m not surprised that she’s the one who rises to the occasion to tackle this subject that is considered very sensitive for many in her audience including Malay-Muslims. Because it’s so radical is why I wish the end result was far better, to do the noble intention justice.

I do like the spoken words featured in the beginning, setting the tone for what’s in store.

(Love is a commitment

To always be honest

To be able to accept all flaws)

There is a very beautifully sensitive and compelling review of this video by Pang Khee Teik, an arts programme director who is also co-founder of Seksualiti Merdeka. It’s more than just a review, it’s a profound analysis which I would be so flattered by if I was the producer or director of the video. Click here to read.

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Please note: I think it’s heinous for a gay man to involve and hurt innocent people like wives and children just because he wants to hide his homosexuality, whether due to pressure from family and society or whatever else, especially if he goes on to have affairs with other men behind his wife’s back. And especially in today’s society where there is enough freedom where you don’t have to resort to such extremes.

Having said that, I wouldn’t condemn anyone. Everyone has his own personal story. For example, not all gay men discover they are gay in their teens or twenties, but later in life. So some of those who marry women may discover they are gay or bisexual only after they have done so.

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