Hiatus

This is rather personal, and I’ve wondered whether to write about it. But oh well, that’s the beauty of being anonymous(ish), you can wear your heart on your sleeve and write really personal stuff. And besides this is supposed to serve as a diary of sorts.

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I will have to take an indefinite break from writing here. Since a month or so ago, I’ve taken on a second job to address my current financial situation. Nothing dire or desperate, for now, but it’s best I’ve rolled up my sleeves higher and got to work to start to fix it before it gets to that stage. There are also two or three things I want to do or buy so I want to save up for that as well.

It’s kinda hard, to be honest. And it’s fucking depressing to be in this situation at this stage of my life. Not cute or funny in your twenties, so yeah, depressing and downright scary in your forties.

But when I feel a tad too whiny, I try to correct my attitude by telling myself that I’ve committed a crime (quite apt actually to think of it that way, not planning for financial stability for your future as a crime) and the judge has punished me to two years of hard labour. And I feel a bit better. As far as hard labour goes, my second job is easy.

And a funny coincidence: someone asked me what I thought of the shitty food they serve at the cafeteria there. I politely lied, “It’s okay.”, but inside I was thinking, “I‘ve never been to prison before, but I imagine this is what prison food looks and tastes like.

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Between that and my regular job, and a sick cat I still have to attend to on a daily basis with medicine and feedings via a syringe (because she’s just not eating on her own, poor thing), and other cats (mah babies!) regular housekeeping (because I’m a bit of a neat freak), regular exercise to keep healthy (I try), and some other even more boring-sounding things (but I want/have to do them anyway) there is just no time to write. Priorities.

It makes me sad because this space is the only writing I do, a hobby I’m fond of. But I’m just too exhausted all the time. I sit my ass in front of the computer and within minutes my eyelids start to get heavy. So sleepy, so very tired.

More than the writing I’ll definitely miss regularly going through the blogs I follow. All the wonderful photography, poetry, reviews and and other stuff I’ve had the privilege to enjoy these past few years. I’ll try to drop by every so often.

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Not to be a drama queen or anything *laughs*, but I just have this song going on in my head now. It’s my favourite MIchelle Branch song, too. I’ve always loved it.

Lunch highlights: Onions and bread

I absolutely love the whole onions Bert just threw in the oven together with the fish and potato wedges he prepared for lunch a few days ago. So great how such a simple and ordinary ingredient could taste so good, cooked so simply with just a bit of olive oil and salt. Uncomplicated and unembellished.

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Served with lovely homemade bread.

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He’s going through another make-our-own-bread phase, one I happily welcome with open arms (and a wide open mouth). So good and satisfying just smeared with some butter or dipped into olive oil. A nice kind of bread for bruschetta, too.

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Christians who choose not to eat pork

I’ve long known that, like Muslims, Jews don’t eat pork. Well, not all, apparently. From articles like this one and this one I recently learnt that some do and some don’t.

This is the first time time though that I’ve heard of Christians who don’t, either. It’s truly fascinating.

When I first saw the video on a friend’s Facebook, I was really surprised. And the first thing I did was to turn to my Catholic partner of more than twenty years and asked him incredulously, “Did you know there are Christians who don’t eat pork?” and he replied he never heard of Christians not eating pork either. So, yeah, it’s definitely something interesting to learn.

A quick Google search to check out who Joel Osteen is garnered the info that he is “an American preacher, televangelist, author, and the Senior Pastor of Lakewood Church, the largest Protestant church in the United States, in Houston, Texas.”

So I guess that’s a Texan accent? Sexy. Not to be disrespectful to a pastor or anything, but ah do love that drawl.

Dorky dancing at its finest

I was watching Drake’s video for Hotline Bling yet again, an excellent and addictive song, and was reminded of how he was teased in the media about his dancing. It made me laugh like crazy too when I first saw it months ago, but I have to say at the same time I find it adorable.

Thinking of that, I’m reminded of the next 3 examples of unique dancing that I guess I find fascinating and endearing as well, because they have stayed in my memory all this time. Of course it helps that I love the catchy-as-hell songs as well.

If you’re watching just to see them dance, I’ve stated below the point in time in the videos where they start dancing, but the videos are in their entirety here because as I said, I love these songs.

Lorde’s Yellow Flicker Beat. Dance starts at 1:15

Robyn’s Call Your Girlfriend. Dance starts at 0.25

Madonna’s Nothing Really Matters. Dance starts at 0:55

Oatmeal Cookies from halfbakedharvest.com

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Just out the oven. Waiting for my teeth to sink into them.

I think I’ve made these more than ten times now, ever since I discovered the recipe at Half Baked Harvest just a couple of months ago. I’ve been meaning to make my own cookies for some time and finally got around to checking out some recipes online. I chose this one and it’s like I hit the jackpot because they are, oh my God, so good, and so fast and easy to make. I wanted a recipe I could rely on time and again, and this is just that as like I said, I’ve made them more than ten times in the space of maybe two months.

The recipe is from the mum of the blog’s writer, Tieghan Gerard, and is actually for Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies. But I substituted dried fruits like cranberries, dates and prunes for the chocolate chips simply because I always have the former in my kitchen (I love them as a snack) and have been using them ever since. But I really should try chocolate chips one of these days.

Like the Chicken Soup recipe from Martha Stewart I’ve noted here some time ago (and have made many times since then as well), this recipe satisfies my criteria:

  • Delicious
  • Easy to make, even for a kitchen dummy like me
  • Not too many ingredients, so it’s not expensive to make and most or all the ingredients are likely to be already stocked at home

Last minute guests? Made these cookies for them. Decided last minute to bring a small gift when visiting someone? Whipped these little babies up and presented them in a cutesy little gift pack. So fast and easy. Hmmm, my mouth is watering a little now thinking of these cookies so much I think I’ll bake a batch when I’m done with this post.

Click here for the link to the recipe ‘Mom’s Simple Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies‘ at Half Baked Harvest.

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It’s so fast it takes only about 10 to 15 minutes for me to prepare it. First I preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. I line two cooking trays with grease paper.

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Like that

Then the ingredients.

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First there’s 2.5 cups Rolled Oats. 2 cups Flour, and 1.5 cups Brown Sugar

Also 1 teaspoon Baking Soda and 1 teaspoon Salt. Mix these dry ingredients well.

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Then add in 1 cup Canola Oil. (I’ve used Olive Oil instead as well. Turned out ok too.)

Also 2 large Eggs and 4 teaspoons Vanilla Extract. Mix everything together. I tend to use a spoon or spatula initially but then switch to mixing by hand to combine well. It becomes a crumbly, dry-ish looking dough, but as long as it holds up when you shape it into little balls later, it’s okay. Otherwise you’ll need to add a tad bit more oil.

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And finally 1 cup Dried Cranberries is added here to the crumbly mix

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When I use cranberries I like to use these. I find them at Aeon supermarket (in Johor Bahru). They are delicious and not too sweet as a quick snack too. And at a great price too at only around RM7 if I remember correctly. That’s like a little over SG$2 (Rate now is around SG$1 = RM3)

Use your hands to create little balls of dough. Yields about 2 dozen.

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 Bake for around 12 minutes.
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Love at first bite. I love oatmeal, so oatmeal cookies are the best kind of cookies there are to me.

The dried cranberries turn out deliciously a little chewy. But I’ve found them a little bitter if over-baked, so keep an eye on them when in the oven and don’t let them become too brown on top. I remember when I used prunes, they turned out so delicious and even still a little moist, but handling and chopping up those sticky prunes was a tad bit more work.  The cookie itself is chewy and substantial, like a cookie ball version of an energy bar, which makes one or two of these fab for breakfast.

(“One or two“. Hahahahaha.)

 

 

An important message for all Muslims in the world, not just in France

I was browsing through LiveLeak, and came across this video by a French Muslim, passionately calling on his Muslim countrymen to report to the authorities if they encounter anyone talking about commiting acts of terrorism, anyone even hinting in the slightest that such a thing is alright. Report them immediately to the authorities.

Click here to go to the version with English subtitles as featured on LiveLeak.

The following is the original video as featured on his Facebook and Youtube, without subtitles.

You know, what he says is such basic common sense, something all of us are supposed to already know, and don’t need reminding. And yet apparently common sense and basic decency are so sorely lacking among some people, that this video is absolutely necessary.

Please, for the love of God, for the love of our religion and the love of all our fellow Muslims and non-Muslims alike, please report anyone you come across who you suspect of being involved with terrorist activities. The great majority of us will be fortunate enough to never come across such people in our lifetime, but for those who do, anyone who speaks of commiting murder and other crimes must be reported. No ifs and buts. I don’t see how any of us can look at ourselves in the mirror again and not feel like a heinous criminal ourselves if we come across such people, yet keep quiet for whatever reason.

In case you’re reading this but you’re not going to watch the video (I really hope you will, plus it’s less than 3 minutes) here are the English subtitles that was part of the video on LiveLeak (I think courtesy of the person who posted the video there, Denidorm). I took the bother to type it out because his message is so important.

Peace be upon you

 

I’m making this video because I’m sick of it

I’m sick of all these attacks

I’m sick to see it going to shit like that

This way we’re gonna end up with a civil war

An idealogical war

and it can get very ugly

 

So I say to all Muslims of France

protect our beautiful religion

let’s track these imposters down

who pass for Muslims and kill people

It’s not the government that’s gonna do the work

Not state security or the intelligence services or all that

It’s us, us Muslims who go to the mosque

Us Muslims who share the values of the republic

It’s up to us to do the work

To track these sons of bitches down

To inform the authorities at the slightest

 

That doesn’t make you a snitch, the opposite

Because with that mentality

tomorrow they’ll blow you up

Or your mother or sister will be there

 

So it’s up to us, Muslims of France

who have our religion in our hearts

the values and principles of Islam,

religion of peace and sharing

It’s up to us to fuck up

the shit that’s inside our religion

 

The people who don’t frequent the mosque

don’t succeed cause it’s a never ending job

So rise up, rise up and show who we are

Even if we don’t have to justify anything,

because the smart know

that’s not what Islam stands for

 

But it’s up to us, to fuck them up,

wherever we or they are

If they come to talk and try to brainwash you,

track them down and break their jaws

 

Because the solution can only come from us Muslims, from inside

Because these people, sadly, they come to the same places of worship as us

 

So I repeat, it’s up to us, us Muslims of France

who share the values of the republic

who share the values of Islam

It’s up to us to track them down

and bring them before the competent authority

Even if we have to beat them down with our fists, we will beat them down with our fists

 

Enough with these cunt pseudo-Muslims

who incriminate 2 billion Muslims

 

Because whether you like it or not,

they will lump us together, every day

A brother will put in his resume, he has a beard? They will put it aside

There’s so many examples of that

It’s up to us to not stay silent, deaf and blind

Hit them hard

The solution will come from us, French Muslims

 

Peace be upon you

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Related:

 

 

No need to put others down to love ourselves

I came across the following meme quote or whatever you call it on someone’s social media account.

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As if it’s not enough some of us have to tackle prejudice from some straight people. So let’s turn on each other to spice life up further? So silly.

Except for the Madonna part (because I love her) I would say the description in the image would fit me to a T. I find the poster stupid, though. It’s supposed to be a joke, it’s not meant to be taken seriously, but that’s how something more serious starts. With a joke about other people, spreading the idea that they are inferior or undesirable in some way.

Or the occasional off-hand or snide remark thrown by an acquaintance, or disappointingly, someone closer like a friend? Buh-bye. Thanks for revealing what an asshole you actually are. I now know to avoid you from now on, because I value my time and my peace of mind.

It should have ended with “I just happen to be a man who likes men, but just as capable of being a hissy bitchy queen as any other gay man including those I just dismissed as a fucking cliche.

But yeah, okay, that would be too long and just not as sassy LOL.

Around The World by Daft Punk

I don’t celebrate Halloween. I think in Singapore it’s mainly a party thing, another theme for the nightclubs to provide more fun and variety in entertainment to their patrons. Last night though I was watching Daft Punk‘s music video for their song Around The World and I thought it would be nice to put it here today. It’s a tad spooky and lots of fun, just like what I think of Halloween. I think it’s so cool that the video is almost twenty years old and still awesome!

I’ve loved this video since I first came across it only a few years ago. Love how original it is for a music video, and love its choregraphy, costumes, stage design, everything else about it. From Wikipedia I found out that the choreographer of the video’s hypnotic and highly entertaining dance is Bianca Li, and that its director is Michel Gondry, the guy who directed the gorgeous Jim Carrey movie, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), for which he won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay as one of the writers.

Daft Punk is a French electronic music duo. Around The World is from their debut album Homework. Both were released in 1997. More recently they also achieved great success with the excellent song Get Lucky, a collaboration with Pharrell and Nile Rodgers. The album which the song came from, Random Access Memories, won Album of The Year and more at the 2014 Grammy Awards.

Oh here’s a cute Lego version too.

Supercute and supercool dancing bear in all of his fabulosity

I’ve been meaning to post this.

Last Friday night was Fap Friday Night, and my trusty go-to is Tumblr, where I came across this guy and his moves. I must have watched it twenty times in a row. I was hypnotized. He’s so incredibly adorable, in every way, but especially with that sweet, joyous smile right at the end. So cute.

What’s even better is that he has his own tumblr site. In the video below he has briefs on, but please note the website itself (j-mobear), which the link below leads to, contains nudity and is therefore NSFW.

Get ready to get hit by some gloriously fabulous moves.

If I have half his talent, I’d probably be confident enough to hit the dancefloor. I haven’t danced in years. I’m a terrible dancer, haha!

I can’t seem to find his name on his site, but here’s a cute photo of him. Cat person! Yay.

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Update 29 October 2015: It just occured to me I forgot to credit the Divine Miss M for teaching me the word ‘fabulosity’, which I first heard from her 1999 song ‘I’m Beautiful’.

The Tiny House as an option for refugees

The best option of course is to have the bleeding stopped at its source. Western powers and other armies of the world coming together in a cohesive force and wiping out ISIS once and for all. European Union countries despatching humanitarian contingents with aid to the various countries (whether in Middle East or North Africa, et al.)  from where most of the refugees have come in a endless stream, to try stem some of the flow by working together with the governments of those countries.

If I accidentally cut myself and find myself bleeding away profusely, I don’t get busy trying to endlessly mop up the mess of blood pooling around my legs, because I’d eventually lose too much blood and then faint and die. I would try to bandage the wound first. But of course that makes me an idealist.

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By now the refugee crisis in Europe have reached a staggering level, with Germany alone expected to receive 800,000 asylum applications this year, representing 1% of its population. As if that’s not bad enough, recent albeit unofficial reports put the arrivals at a higher figure. And then consider that, whatever the figure for Germany or other European countries, it still pales on a global basis because Europe apparently hosts around only 16% of refugees. It is developing countries that are hosting about 4 out of 5 refugees, according to a UN report I came across. Therefore the vast majority of refugees are suffering horribly in camps because the majority of countries generously hosting them are poor themselves and not providing adequate care to their own citizens. From this report, I read that the top 5 countries hosting the most refugees are Ethiopia at No.5 with 236,000 refugees in 2014 alone, Iran, Lebanon, Pakistan, and Turkey at No.1 with 1.2 million refugees admitted in 2014 alone.

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I wonder if a Tiny House is a feasible option to consider for some of the refugees, for the countries that can afford to arrange this. I’ve always thought they were a great idea for the homeless in any city in the world, but I wonder if the Tiny House model could be applied on a much bigger scale for refugees now residing in tents and other camps. I got to thinking about this after watching a news segment about how the ones already in Europe are struggling to cope with the cold weather and a fast approaching winter.

Thinking out loud:

  • How low can the price of a Tiny House go? Especially if the parts are ordered on a massive scale to bring the price down?
  • If one costs $5000, building 1000 will set the government back $5 million. That’s nothing in govt. spending, but hundreds of thousands of refugees are involved here. So maybe build the first 1000 Tiny Houses and see how it goes from there?
  • And if the private sector and rich individuals get involved in chipping in to help with the cost? How many thousands more can be built?
  • Each unit would ideally house four persons, so at least 1 double bed and a futon that can be unfolded to a mattress to sleep another two.
  • The refugees themselves will be the manpower to build the houses. That’s a win for the government in cutting costs, and a win for the refugees too, regaining some dignity after having to be in such a desperate situation. Win-win.
  • The Tiny House is not just temporary housing to protect the refugees and other homeless against the elements, but should be meant to be a ‘permanent solution’ for those granted asylum status. This is bearing in mind that refugee situation can stretch into years or decades. The sooner they are settled in a warm home, learn the rules and laws of the land, learn to speak and write the language, learn the required skills to work, the sooner they can be less of a burden and contribute to the country.
  • Which means the Tiny Houses would have to be durable and should have some semblance of a real home
  • Toilets. I guess waste management will be the biggest headache in terms of cost.
  • Ikea! Get Ikea and their designers to come up with designs. And design and architectural students to come up with affordable, sustainable and durable designs.
  • Areas zoned to set up ‘villages’ of these Tiny Houses, the layout carefully planned so inhabitants can have access to community centres, schools, grocery shops, public transport, etc, that are set up to serve a cluster of villages.
  • When the infrastructure of these villages and their inhabitants have settled down in the future, option-to-buy to can come into the picture. Maybe that’s too far into the future, but I’m just thinking that hopefully some years from now, the situation with the countries at war (e.g. Syria) will have improved, with the help of the European countries affected (e.g. Germany), so that some of the refugees can return home as I’m sure many want to. No one doesn’t love their country. But for those staying, the option to buy could be looked into.

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I’m more into ‘traditional’ designs as opposed to modern especially minimalist ones. But the following Tiny House looks beautiful.

This is an amazing video of this guy in China, Ma Yihe, President of Yingchuang New Materials, and his 3D printed houses. Somebody managing a refugee crisis centre in Europe and anywhere else need to check this out seriously to see if this can be applied to their centre. 10 houses in 24 hours?! Just in time for winter!

An interesting video about a guy and his family in America and their dream of building a Tiny House. They bought a camper, stripped that totally right to the base and started from there. It took a year and this is the journey from start to finish.

I have so much respect for this lady Jenine Alexander. Never again will I brag about sewing my own curtains. Armed with heaps of ingenuity and determination, and a lot of hard work, she built a house!

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I have admired the Tiny House idea ever since I came across it years ago. It’s the ultimate fantasy for me when it comes to future residence. To own a small patch of land somewhere in a country like Malaysia, Italy or New Zealand, an area just small enough to have a Tiny House and a kitchen garden to grow a bit of my own herbs and vegetables. Yeah, okay, the fact that I’m shit at gardening does dent a bit the romantic fantasy bubble in my head haha, but I can always learn to be good at it.

My dream Tiny House looks something like this black beauty below

or like this

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Related (Refugees):

Related (Tiny Houses):

Some interesting information about the Tiny House Movement in the American context, presented in this beautiful graphic from custommade.com.