Thursday, 27 December 2012

A Merry Trekkie Christmas

A Merry Trekkie Christmas

(Official event announcement reproduced from "Star Trek: The Exhibition"'s Facebook page without permission but in accordance with the principles of fair use.)

Aravind and I share the same love of Star Trek, Star Wars and Clint Eastwood movies, so when I heard that Star Trek: The Exhibition was coming to Kuala Lumpur, I decided that we would go there on Christmas Day.

If you are a Trekkie, attending the Exhibition would be like meeting good friends that you haven't had the privilege to have met in real life yet.

My main grievance with the Exhibition is that they have implemented strict rules against photography, which seems to me to defy logic and good economic sense. Fans want to have photos to remember the Exhibition by, and sharing these photos with fellow fans will only make others see what they are missing out on, and persuade those who haven't been to the Exhibition to make the time to go.

I don't see what the event company has to be so defensive about. Intellectual property infringement? Come on, there are replica toys, model kits and costumes out there in the market, and good quality images galore available in books and the internet. We can find posters and videos of every episode and Star Trek movie ever made.

Prohibition of photography in this situation is like not letting you have a photo taken of you on an amusement park ride in the belief that after your friends see the photos, they won't feel the need to go to the amusement park anymore. I can't foresee a situation in which an actual Trekkie might not want to personally go for the Exhibition simply because he has seen all the photos.

I think it is time the company behind the Exhibition reviews this ridiculous policy. Apart from that, though, I found the experience thoroughly enjoyable and would encourage all fellow Trekkies to go while it is still in town. Waves of memories will come flooding back, I assure you.

The event banners and pennants at the National Science Centre.

Our tickets and tag, so we could boldly go where no Christmas has gone before.

Aravind and I sitting in Captain Kirk's chair.

At the Bridge of the USS Enterprise NCC 1701-D! Aravind is doing something with the control panels. I am doing my Vulcan salute, as usual.

At the Transporter.

Aravind doing the Vulcan salute in front of Spock's Starfleet uniform.
"I have been and always shall be your friend."

I look creepy in this photo because I actually didn't want to have my photo taken with the Borg Sphere (cos the Borgs are the bad guys) but Aravind insisted. I was about to step out of this picture when he took this photo. We took these photos in stealth mode, so we could have something to remember the Exhibition by.

A replica of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D.

Star Trek: The Exhibition will be in Malaysia from 13 Dec 2012 until 31 March 2013.

Ticket prices are RM20.00 for adults, and RM10.00 for schoolchildren and senior citizens upon furnishing one's ID or other proof of age.

Level 2, Pusat Sains Negara, Persiaran Bukit Kiara, Bukit Kiara, 50662 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2092 1150
Fax: 03-2092 1250

Operating Hours:
9.00 am – 5.00 pm, open daily except Fridays.

Christmas Week Cellphone Photodump:

My Winter Solstice is finally complete. I have never gone a year without making tang yuen, although not the entire family is home. It's a bit sad that Winter Solstice has lost so much of its significance over the years. It used to be the time of the year after the harvest has been brought in that the family gathers for a hot meal.

I went back to my Taishanese roots this Winter Solstice and made a savoury variation of tang yuen.
This is a vegan version, and here's the recipe:
1. 2 cloves of garlic, chopped.
2. 1 carrot, grated or julienned.
3. 1 jicama (sengkuang), grated or julienned.
4. A handful (about 50 grammes?) of orange peel, either dried or fresh, julienned.
5. Shiitake mushrooms, soaked and julienned.
6. Fried shallots
7. Soy sauce
8. Pepper and crushed peppercorns, if desired.
9. Glutinous rice balls (tang yuen), pre-cooked in water until they float to the surface.

1. Heat oil in a wok. Fry garlic until the garlic is brown around the edges.
2. Add carrots and jicama. Stir-fry. Add soy sauce.
3. Add mushrooms, orange peel and pepper. Stir. Add water and seasoning if desired. The dish should not be dry. There should be enough gravy to soak the rice balls in.
4. Turn off heat. Transfer contents to serving bowl. Add fried shallots.
5. Add rice balls into the gravy. Consume while hot.

I received a notice about a fundraiser for the KL Performing Arts Centre from a friend, and obtained tickets to watch the matinee on Sunday, 23rd Dec, with Aravind and Nicole, in support of the performing arts. We believe the problem of lack of financial support for the arts is not unique to Malaysia. All around the world, when the economy is in decline, theatre and the arts are the first to suffer.

I used to be an active theatregoer and a volunteer at the theatre library in my undergraduate days. Over time, my passion for Malaysian theatre waned when the quality of productions started slipping. There weren't many producers, directors or thespians with the calibre and visionary spark of Faridah, Joe, Krishen or Huzir. If I were to purchase a ticket for a Shakespeare or Pinter play, I would expect the performances to reach certain standards and to adhere to the spirit of the play. Nothing could be worse than a Malaysianised remake of a classic play. Rendering a classic play in Malaysian English doesn't make it accessible. It just bastardizes the play, and makes it cheap and awful. You can't blame theatregoers for turning their backs on theatre and sticking to books under such circumstances. But I am and will always be a strong supporter of the performing arts. The performing arts keeps society vibrant, creative, alive and, well... human.

Capifruta Vocal Quartet performed a variety of songs, acapella fashion.

Young singer Charity presented two Broadway-style numbers, accompanied by Llew Marsh on the piano.

The ever-delightful KLPAC orchestra.

The performers taking a bow at the end of the matinee.

Aravind and I only had to work for half a day on Christmas Eve, so off we went to Ampang Jaya in the afternoon. I managed to bathe and tickwash 12 of the kennel dogs at the SPCA before it started raining again, and after that I cleaned the Catteries and cleaned out eye infections and ear mites in the cats. We spent the later part of Christmas Eve at the shopping mall and at the pub.

One Utama had a "Snowman and Friends In Pastryland" theme this year. I think retailers and merchants in Malaysia play it safe by making their Christmas promotions and decorations as secular as possible to encourage Malaysians to see Christmas as not a religious holiday but an opportunity to shop and to give gifts. I believe this is true of most countries, including China and India, where Christians form only a small percentage of the population.

A quick stop at Toys R Us to see if they had microscopes in stock for a certain little man who would be turning 7 next month. Here are a crocodile and a triceratops showing each other some love.

One of my favourite stores, Candylicious. I've never met a confectionery I didn't like. Aravind insisted on buying me gelato, and I have to admit it really was very, very good. That man spoils me rotten.

Merry Christmas and bright blessings for the New Year, from me and all creatures great and small.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Another Trip Around The Sun

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” 
 ~ Dalai Lama XIV

And so on the 9th of December, I observed my 34th trip around the Sun. I would like to express my gratitude to my family and wonderful friends for the lovely birthday wishes, messages, kind thoughts, cards, gifts and physical and cyber presence. You've made my birthday very meaningful and unforgettable.

The Week That Was:

A lovely birthday cartoon created for me by my immensely talented friend, T.H. Tang.

2nd Dec 2012:
Vale Malaysia's Volunteer Day.
I joined Aravind and his colleagues in planting trees at the Kepong Metropolitan Park. Aravind is in the fluorescent Fire Commander jacket, although there were no forest fires for him to put out. As part of the Emergency Response Team, he had to be in charge of safety.

5th Dec 2012:
Aravind and I had a 5-day staycation on the occasion of my birthday to do all the things I love best, which included ice skating.
This is what the school holiday crowd at the ice rink at Sunway Pyramid looked like.

5th Dec 2012:
No cameras were allowed on the ice rink, so I bought this photo off the professional photographers plying their trade there.

6th Dec 2012:
Aravind joined me for my customary birthday blood donation at the National Blood Bank.

6th Dec 2012:
They took more from me this time around because I've gained weight.

6th Dec 2012:
"Please take me home".
Little faces that greeted me as I was cleaning the SPCA kennels on a rainy afternoon.

7th Dec 2012:
Success! Managed to bathe and tickwash all the Mummy Dogs at the SPCA kennels before it started raining again! My entire staycation has been at the mercy of the weather!

7th Dec 2012:
The holiday season also means we will see a higher number of animals being surrendered to our shelter. Please spay and neuter your pets and make boarding arrangements if you are going to be away. Please don't surrender them to a shelter to be euthanised.

8th Dec 2012:
The semi-official event notice for the Kota Damansara Community Forest Society Green Community Day.

8th Dec 2012:
Volunteers cleaning up the forest trails and lake, and rehabilitating the stream and lake with indigenous catfish during the Kota Damansara Community Forest Society Green Community Day.

8th Dec 2012:
MNS Nature Guides registering participants for the Jungle/Ethnobotany Walks during the Kota Damansara Community Forest Society Green Community Day.

8th Dec 2012:
Teaching the Water Conservation Board Game to two bright boys, Aloysius and Alexander, at the Green Living booth, with ice cream treats courtesy of Aravind.

8th Dec 2012:
My early birthday party at Online Pub with some of my best friends!

8th Dec 2012:
My awesome candy covered rainbow cake, designed by Aravind and made by Laura of Baking For A Cause!

8th Dec 2012:
I've always wanted to know what a rainbow tastes like. This one tasted of vanilla and butter.

8th Dec 2012:
Lovely and meaningful red velvet cupcakes bearing the names of my canine and feline children past and present. This was Aravind's idea. The cupcakes were made by Jennifer's baking initiative, Buttery Bites, which raises funds for her rescued and foster dogs.

8th Dec 2012:
Colin Bala took this candid shot of me making a wish. You can be sure it was a pretty long wish that didn't leave out animals, marginalised groups, the environment or Liverpool FC.

8th Dec 2012:
Having fun at my party with my buddies Aravind, Mary and Ilyas.

8th Dec 2012: Lan and Serina came all the way here for my party! I was thrilled and touched. 

8th Dec 2012:
Aravind, Sasha and Audrey at my birthday party.

9th Dec 2012:
Official event poster for Santa Paws, a Christmas fundraiser organised by Jaya One Shopping Centre and the SPCA, to raise funds to neuter and care for the stray cats living around Jaya One.

9th Dec 2012:
Amber came to see Santa Claus but felt a little nervous when it was actually her turn to meet Santa, so Aravind and I had to come with her and assure her that Santa is really a very nice guy.

9th Dec 2012:
My SPCA buddies manning the SPCA booth. You can see Nicole has adopted a new poodle from an independent rescuer. The poodle was found with eye injuries but is fortunately recovering well, thanks to Nic's competence and care.

9th Dec 2012:
Amber chilling out with a new friend in the Off-Leash Playpen at the Santa Paws Christmas Fundraiser for Stray Cats. Amber loves children. Children love Amber. This toddler just walked up to Amber, petted her gently and then gave her a hug.

9th Dec 2012:
My friend Nik Waheeda stepped forward to help out as a volunteer photographer for the Santa Paws Fundraiser when I posted a last-minute volunteer appeal on my Facebook. Thank you so much for coming to help out, Nik. I hope you enjoyed yourself as much as we did.

15th Dec 2012:
Bath Time for the Pound Doggies! I love you, Pound Doggies. I won't give up hope that people will come for you. Until they do, you'll still have me.

15th Dec 2012:
A post-birthday vegan nasi lemak treat at Greenlicious, thanks to my dear friends Liza and Ilani.