Wednesday, October 28, 2009

180 - Catchy songs that play in restaurants

There are many times as I'm sitting in a fast-food restaurant, a pub, a bar, a club, or a high-end, fine dining establishment, when a catchy song comes up and plays as you're eating or drinking. You want to sing along, but you're half-hungry, as well. You want to mouth the words of the song, and see if your company is mouthing them, too, but you want to take a sip of your drink at the same time.

You end up doing a sort of half-chanting, half-consuming showcase, where you cut up your food while singing, but at the moment you would normally bring the fork to your mouth, you wait - you wait until one of your favorite lines go by, before you actually perform the act of ingestion.

Then you get tired of this routine. So you try and anticipate the breaks in the song, the intermissions, interludes and instrumental solos, and only guzzle up your food as fast as you can when there are no lyrics - only to find yourself struggling to swallow quick enough in order to make it for when the chorus of the tune comes up again. You want to sing, but food awkwardly dribbles out of your mouth, drinks go up your nose, you look weird, food is not being chewed, the food is ruined, the drink becomes ruined, and the song gets ruined.

It's even worse when you're dancing in a club. How are you meant to drink, and dance, and sing, all at the same time? The body is only capable of so much!

I absolutely hate it when this happens. It makes no sense for a restaurant to do that to its customers. Do you hate it too?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

179 - Chavs

So, I have to catch two buses in order to reach ASDA, which, if you didn't know already, is a British supermarket chain that sells foods, clothes, magazines, and miscellaneous paraphernalia. I need to go there because the stuff that they sell in the university supermarket is overpriced, and there isn't as much of a variety on campus. The ASDA in Canterbury is big, and they do a lot of good deals, the choices you have to pick from is great.

Basically, I was waiting for the second bus that takes me to ASDA. It came eventually, and I stepped on board. As the bottom deck of the double-decker bus was crowded, I decided to go upstairs.

Sitting in the front of the second storey of the bus, were these five chavs and chevettes - for all of you unfamiliar with those terms, a stereotypical chav is a British-made derogatory term for a young adult who often engages in rambunctious public behavior, and have little-to-no money and education under their name. A chevette is the female form of chav.

The first thing they did, was say, "It's Jackie Chan walking up the stairs."


One of these stuck-up morons was eating a packet of fries. For what seemed like no good reason at all, she would put one fry in her mouth, then take an alternate one and throw it down the stairs. To me, it seemed like she found it amusing in her own mind. But she wasn't laughing out loud, though, so maybe it was just 'cause she was bored?

She would eat consume one, then throw one on the floor, at the front window, or down the stairs. I watched as her friends didn't seem to give a damn about her littering. One of those friends was actually too busy sticking up the middle finger at random bystanders on the streets and in the windows of some buildings. I was trying to read a book, but this was simply too fascinating to me. I certainly don't think that all English people act this way, I've observed a few lunatic kids back in Hong Kong - but they were definitely some interesting specimens.

The girl with the fries started getting a bit full, I suppose, so she stopped alternating her ingestion and her disposal of fries, and instead, just stuck with throwing them down the stairs.

Maybe her arm got tired?

Because then she just threw the whole packet, still half-full of french fries, down the stairway.

To which my response is, "wow".

Sunday, October 18, 2009

178 - Running into an acquaintance

"How are you, Michael? Long time no see!"
"Yeah, yeah, I'm great. You?"
"I'm good. What are you up to nowadays?"
"Oh, nothing much, studying anthro—"
"Right, that's cool, man. I'm actually on my way to the bus stop. Catch up some time, okay?"
"Later, dude!"

Have you ever had these sorts of conversations?

If you have, it's probably because you ran into an acquaintance. Acquaintances are people whom you met at a distant time in the past and from that point onward, you are obliged by the rules of society to greet or give a nod to that person whenever you see them. It's a friendly gesture that carries with it all of that "common courtesy" poppycock, but if you're asking for my opinion, it's annoyingly pointless.

Chances are you met this person because you were just stuck together in a long queue at the supermarket, or because you shared the same high school, or because some idiotic mutual friend introduced you two at a large gathering, thus coercing you into 'knowing' this person you didn't wish to approach on your own, and from that initial exchange of names onwards, you and your acquaintance tacitly pledge to say 'hi' to each other for the rest of your life whenever you meet in the curiously coincidental lives we lead.

It's a small world, you may have heard. And you will have hundreds of opportunities to engage in these uncomfortable conversations.

Sure, we have known their names and faces for years, and we spend a great deal of time stalking them on Facebook, but to me, if there's nothing important to say, there's no need to say anything at all. This societal rule sucks, and we are people with our own lives to lead; we have things to do and places to be. We do not need to waste our times on these associates if there's nothing of value to be shared.

What do you think about running into old acquaintances?

Friday, October 16, 2009

177 - People who videotape lectures

The life of a university student is quite interesting. We are finally adults, responsible for our own money, time, property, physiological well-being, and general lifestyle, emotionally mature, with a supposedly more developed mental health, while also carrying the rights to marry, to vote, to work, to join the army, to drive, to travel abroad without parental consent, to drink, to smoke, to have sex, to gamble, and the list goes on. We choose how we want to live our lives, and in university, that largely includes the way we want to learn.

No longer must we conform to the timetable of high school, be obliged to attend classes, consult teachers about class content, have lunch at a reasonable hour, sleep at a reasonable hour, do our homework on time, or spend hours and hours studying for our tests. We are free of all obligations, our duties are for us to define. We can skip all of our lectures and seminars, we can forget about studying, get wasted every night, sleep in every morning, eat junk food everyday,
revise for our examinations at the very last minute, and give less than a rat's tail about our assignments. The only drawback about that game plan is the fact that we would fail at the end of the year, and that's quite a lot of money to send down the drain.

One key thing that you may find different, is the fact that you don't need to take notes down anymore - it's not required of us anymore - as adults, we decide if it's necessary for our tertiary education. We can just sit there, cross-armed the whole time and put the gift of memory to good use by listening intently, taking it all in and deeply engraving it in our heads, or we could leave an audio recorder on the lecturing stand for aural replay on a later date.

But if you really wanted to capture the entire essence of the talk, if you really wanted to experience the lecture like it was exactly once again, you could get a video camera, and tape the whole damn thing.

I thought I've seen some stupid things in my lifetime. This girl put a video camera on the lecturing stand, to tape the professor giving the talk, and the reason for this was that there was nowhere else to put the camera. With the soft, cotton-filled, round-edged seats in the theater, the chairs were useless when it came to balancing anything on top of one of them. She could have just held the thing in her hand the whole time instead, but she probably figured she needed both hands to take down notes. The one thing she didn't figure beforehand was the fact that the lecturer didn't exactly stay at the stand, or in any one particular place.

In fact, the lecturer moved almost everywhere except the lecturing stand. When the professor was standing on the right, the girl student was happy, and she sat there - not listening to the professor - but always eying her precious visual project to make sure she was capturing the video (i.e., being distracted). When the lecturer walked over to the left-hand side of the lecture hall, the girl would get up from her seat, and turn the camera towards him. And then the professor would turn, and walk back in the opposite direction to the right-hand side.

This went on for about ten minutes, and the girl had gotten up seven times. She finally figured - she would have to stop getting up and sitting down - so she found a plastic chair and sat right next to the lecturing stand. This only gave her easier access to her camera, and she would tweak the angle at which her camera was pointed repeatedly at around one tweak per minute. She wasn't even listening to the man. The guy was telling us very interesting things, about the Azande people of Central Africa who believe in witchcraft, who purify their newborns by holding them over smoke, and whose criminal justice system involves determining a suspect's innocence in a crime by observing if a poisoned chicken dies or survives after ingesting a toxic substance.

And this girl wasn't listening to any of this. She kept adjusting her lens, tending to her sacred angle that had to be pointed at the professor at all times. She was distracting two hundred or more other students, and let's face it...

Why waste one hour or more in the future by watching it on tape?

You can just pay attention the one time, the first time, and that's the only hour of your lifetime that that lecture would take out of your time. If you videotaped all of your lectures, you would effectively be taking the same course twice, spending twice the time listening to the same content twice, not forgetting the fact that you would have to spend additional hours more dealing with the technology and the hardware.

Why bother?

This is a classic case of people trying too hard, but achieving less.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

176 - People who argue on Youtube

Whenever I go on Youtube, I never watch a video without once reading a comment. The comments are quite the thing to get you burying your face in your head in shame of being a fellow human being and internet user, but occasionally, you may find some hilarious bits of text because people argue about pretty much everything to do with anything - whether it should've been President Obama or President McCain one year ago, whether it was fair or not that Heath Ledger should win the posthumous Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor (I think it was not), whether we should really blame the eruption of swine flu solely on Mexico, whether Michael Jackson did or did not molest young males at his home resort of Neverland (hasn't this topic been stretching on for a decade too long now?), or whether Kayne West is really getting the comeuppance he deserves for disrespecting Taylor Swift at the Video Music Awards (also painfully stretched out in my opinion).

I find that most of this debate is ridiculous. Which is better: Gossip Girl or 90210? Gay rights or the sacredness of heterosexual marriage? A Tibet that is free, or a Tibet that belongs to China? The best singer was: Adam Lambert? Or Kris Allen? Or Susan Boyle?! Will the Earth really end in December, 2012, according to the Mayan calendar?
What exactly caused that solar eclipse? kevjumba or nigahiga? Twilight or Harry Potter? Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer?

Most of the time, commentators contribute their 'carefully' thought-out points underneath movie trailers, news reports, excerpts from television, and even the personal video blogs of some Youtubers; they get so angry as they're arguing about all of the above (and don't even get me started on the multitudinous evolution-creationism altercations that are out there), and for most of the time (bare in mind, I said 'most of the time', not 'all the time'), the arguments aren't relevant, they are not written respectfully, they are not grammatical or punctuated or spelled the right way, they are unjustified, they are not meaningful, and they do not further anybody's understanding of the world around them.

I find it so pointless. You're all anonymous and you're all acting like assholes. You feed off each other's boredom, and amusement at the interlocutor, and it just goes in a vicious cycle.

Come on! Get a grip, Youtube community.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

175 - When someone criticizes you behind your back

It has come to light that I have made somebody uncomfortable on my blog by writing about them. I took a minor incident in which they did something that upset me, and I wrote about them as if I was generalizing their entire personality on the basis of their misunderstood intentions.

I've gotten to know a lot of you bloggers out there in my time writing here, and it has been interesting to observe how some of us allow our real-life family and friends to read our blog, and how some of us prefer keeping it a little secret to ourselves.

I want this to be an open blog, an honest medium in which anybody out there, whether they know me or not, can get to know the kind of person I am, and read about what I find annoying. It has helped my parents to understand what's going on through my head, to get to know the kind of person their child has become, without having a weird, awkward conversation, because with them divorced, and all three of us being very... interesting characters - it does get very awkward.

My friends get to know that as well, and they understand that it's difficult sometimes for me to say what I really feel, because I am afraid of that exactly - being judged, being called arrogant or hateful or short-tempered.

But this is how I am. I am arrogant and hateful and short-tempered.

But blogging helps it. Blogging here has made me more tolerant after I shut down my computer and walk out the door in the morning. I blog about it, and in real-life, my hurtful feelings towards others are all gone because I've let them all out of my system.

Last year, on the 28th of October, I said from the very beginning that I do not mean to offend anybody, or make anybody uncomfortable. If you know me at all, I rave about something, and as quickly as the thoughts came, the thoughts also escape my mind just like that. I'm not a person to hold a grudge, or obsess over what other people say about me, that's just the kind of person that I am. I'm pretty immune and insensitive to criticism, insults, or downgrading of my character.

But it's terrible that I have been insensitive to what another person felt. I have downgraded their character.

I suppose a lot more care into who or what I write about must be taken, even if it is meant to be honest.

I remember several years ago when I got pretty upset at the fact that people talked behind my back. I guess over the years, I've just grown to ignore such smack.

I think I've gotten carried away, forgetting that others are kinder and sweeter than that, and don't need to form that protective bubble, because they shouldn't have to with their good heart.

I don't mean to be mean here. Ranting about things - I've been told - is funny, and I thought I could use this to master the art of writing, while at the same time, entertain other people, and engage in conversation about our many pet peeves. I surely do not mean to upset anyone, it's all just fun and writing.

What do you think? Has anyone in your real life gotten upset by your talking about them on your blog? For those of you who keep your blog a secret - is it because you're afraid of such conflict arising?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

174 - Supermarket trolleys that have one bad wheel

When I was a kid, it was such an honor, such a joy, and such a privilege, when my mother or my grandmother, would allow me to push the shopping carts while they picked out the groceries. These carts made going to the supermarket an event that was highly anticipated, they were so unique in their existence, so designed for serving their particular purpose, an extraordinary, unrivaled contrivance, a metallic nest in which to safely lay your eggs, perhaps literally. In the early years of my life, it served as a fun mode of transportation, charging backwards for about fifteen minutes was like a roller-coaster ride in its own, but when you were finally permitted to take hold of the bar and move it for the first time, it was the first time you ever drove anything, which was amazing. To be given the responsibility of conveying all the goods down a dozen aisles (streets), while dodging the other shoppers (traffic), whilst arranging all the merchandise (customers) appropriately in your cart (Toyota), almost made you felt like an adult human being.

But then you grow to be a bit older, and you start to realize that it's not such a glamorous vehicle after all. So you find ways to make it fun, try stepping on top of it after kicking off the ground, treating it like a scooter... or perhaps employ your younger sibling and give him/her a fun, exciting, backwards thrill-ride.

The worst thing that can come up when you pull out the cart out of the whole line of trolleys nested within each other, is a shopping cart that has a busted wheel that just won't go in a straight line like the others. When you drive it, it cannot even be likened to a flat tire - it's paraplegia of the trolley, the wheel just wobbles, and turns the other way when you steer a specific way.

It's terrible. All your anticipation for a fun ride as a kid can be ruined in that instant your mother pulls out a dysfunctional cart, your need for some scooter practice unmet, your hope of giving a child a stimulating joyride crash-lands on the aisle floor as your trolley is revealed to be nothing but a scrap piece of metal with three wheels, the climax of your grocery-shopping journey ruined, your light at the end of the tunnel suddenly blocked, by a damaged wheel, or a dismembered hinge.

You know, they should really just throw out all the bad carts.

Tell me, don't you hate it too?


Hi, everyone. It's been a whole summer of disappoint on this blog, as I failed to continue writing on a daily basis. I feel like I'm starting from scratch again, having fewer comments then I used to, and having less blogs to read than I had back in the day, because other people have also dropped out of the habit, or otherwise, because people have stopped visiting my blog, thus giving me no links to theirs.

I would love it if any of you out there, all the regular viewers who come by but don't leave comments, to leave comments! They were extremely encouraging when I first began blogging almost a year ago, and they would certainly show me that I still have that support.

It doesn't have to be long, it doesn't even have to be coherent! (Seriously, just slam the keyboard or something.) I need to get back into this habit, I know I'm proud of it after I'm finished, despite it being difficult to come up with ideas sometimes, and I know that it's also great for practicing my writing.

Please, please, please - follow me, subscribe to me on your feeds, and comment!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

173 - The use of the word 'addicting'

There is no object in the world that can 'addict' you, they are addictive.

And so many people use both forms of the word to describe the most mundane things, like this chocolate, or that dip, World of Warcraft, Facebook, the Twilight series, or the color blue. Shut up, it's not nicotine, heroin or cocaine, so stop exaggerating your weakness for it. You love it, we get it, and that's enough of your general opinion.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

172 - When people copy down every little thing in lectures

Okay, so I can't take really take it anymore. I've been to five lectures, and I have found around fifty things to blog about. I don't know why it's taken me two weeks to finally visit this empty blogging space - I wasn't exactly busy. I guess I didn't want to put a negative spin on this new life - to look on the positive side primarily. I have mostly, as I expressed in my other blog, but it has gotten to me that people, just like in Hong Kong, can be incredibly daft here as well - so, get ready for a whole week or two or three on university life-related topics, 'cause man, university is annoying.


I've been to five lectures so far, and walking into my first one on Monday 28th was quite exciting. I was probably one of the last ones out of three hundred to walk into the lecture theater, so I had to resort to sitting in a seat high up at the back of the theater 'cause people had occupied all the rows in the front. I think sitting at the back of lectures will be the death of my scholasticism, 'cause all I could pay attention to was what the two-hundred-and-something people in front of me were doing.

Now, my first few lectures were quite mundane, as they were just introductory sessions that outlined what we would be learning for the rest of the year, what textbooks we would need to buy, how to access the slideshows on the university database, etc... The lecturer was using a PowerPoint to illustrate everything. I don't understand how other people learn - but to me, listening to the speaker speak is usually enough for me to gain a bit of knowledge.

What sickens me is how a lot of people in the lecture hall were copying every single thing down in their notebooks. What the Hell is the point of duplicating a PowerPoint that can be found on the Internet later anyway?

It also irks me because it makes me wonder how people are actually learning things in their head. On one slide, there was a quote: "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." This was said by Theodosius Dobzhansky. It was on the slide and I remembered it - simple as that. Why anyone has to write it down to remember something is beyond me - these people are my age, young, passionate about learning, clever enough to get into my university apparently, but they can't imprint something in their minds without imprinting it on a piece of paper?

What relevance does this quote have to anything anyway? When are you ever going to use it? Oh, wait, maybe you might in some essay, always good to make a note of something, just in case you need it for later.

But make a mental note of it, please. Stop relying on your fancy underlinings in highlighter pen to tell you what's important and what's not.

Seriously, though, you're copying just about anything on the slide show, though. Are you actually thinking about what you're writing down?

"Evolution is not a means of explaining the origin of life. Anthropologists are not concerned with the origin of life, however, the scientific explanation physicists theorize is the Big Bang.
- Ice and rock formed the planets 5 billions years ago – Earth forms as part of our solar system
- Steady cooling gives rise to hardened crust = first continents
- Bombardment by icy comets = Water (oceans)
- Volcanic activity released gases and water vapour = early atmosphere"

Why are you copying it all down? We are anthropology students, and it states clearly that anthropologists are not concerned with the Big Bang theory. Put down your frickin' pen! Who cares if it's the first lecture, who cares if it's the start of something new, who cares about making a thorough duplicate of what's on the big screen just because it's something to do after a whole summer vacation of not learning anything - what the lecturer is describing is not relevant - not, not, not, not, not, not, not relevant!

So stop copying it down! It's useless information! Try remembering it, instead, if you insist! And if you can't remember it in a year's time when it comes time to be tested on it, you can view the slides on your own computer, it's all uploaded on the Internet! What the Hell is the point of having a lecturer speak if all you're going to do is disrespect him/her by goggling at the PowerPoint and duplicating it on your own piece of paper like a drone? What is the point?! Argh!