Friday, 27 November 2015

Monthly Bucket List, October 2015.

This post is long overdue. With so many things going on each week, there was just not enough time to post all the photos and write out my blogposts. Also, I became an aunt when CovertTwin's wife gave birth to a little girl, so I have been carving out as much time as possible to visit my little niece. To heck with home remodelling, drafting articles and blogging, I have a niece!

Just look at her, have you ever seen a cheekier face? I think she is going to be a right proper monkey, like me!

1. Make a new friend

I dropped by Corezone to pick up the prizes for the winners of our Earth Day Cleanup Contest and met Sharon, one of the business partners who ran the place. Nice lady, very smart and outdoorsy, makes me feel like a lazy lumpy couch potato, but that's my fault, not hers.

Our Malaysian Nature Society annual Festival of Wings took place in early October and I recruited Karen and her childhood friend Suan Lynn as volunteers for our Green Living / Firefly Conservation and Awareness booth since I was severely shorthanded.

A visiting friend-of-a-friend from New Zealand, David Titheridge, expressed his desire to volunteer with Beacon of Hope while he is in Malaysia, and so for 3 weeks I had excellent company to and from the tuition centre. His friendliness, humility and courtesy made him an ideal volunteer. I hope he comes back to visit us again soon. The children like him already.

Amit Kumar is one of Prem's friends who I met when I happened to swing by the Malaysian Nature Society HQ one Saturday afternoon. We found out that we have a lot in common so we will probably end up in random volunteering jaunts together.

2. Help a stranger.

One of the other volunteer teachers at Beacon, Zubaidah (far right, standing, in black headscarf and top), has a 16-year-old daughter has sickle cell anaemia and cerebral palsy, and I assisted with cash contributions and diapers and baby products.

I found out that Judy, a kitchen helper at the vegan stall in the food court I frequent, needed help getting her rescued stray cats neutered and spayed, so I took the cats to the SPCA for spaying and took care of them until they could be safely returned to her and released in her porch.

October meant time for another blood donation since my haemoglobin count was low in Sept.

I have also started volunteering for a new cause, Care2Run, as a mentor to get underprivileged children and teens involved in sports and outdoor activities. We buddy up with the youngsters twice a week, get them to do proper warm-up and stretching exercises, run for approximately an hour, and enrol them in charity runs and road races. It has been exhausting but exhilarating.

3. Eat something/at someplace new to me.

Lots of new-to-me eats in October:

(i) Kelantan food stall at Jalan Bellamy with Serina and the gang.

(ii) Colourful Thai dodol from Serina's latest work trip to Thailand.

(iii) Lunch at Organic Express in SS2 with Dee Lu and Sharon.

(iv) Friday lunch at Oriental Garden Vegetarian Restaurant at Kelana Mall.

(v) Checked out O Bean, a new veg restaurant in Damansara Jaya, with Arnie and Karen.

(vi) The new Ikea vegan meatballs rocked my world. Absolute crack.

4. Go someplace I've never been.

(i) Westin Hotel in Bukit Bintang with Aravind for a work event.

(ii) CoreZone, a outdoor equipment store in SS2.

(iii) Organic Express vegetarian restaurant in SS2.

(iv) Oriental Garden vegetarian restaurant in Kelana Mall.

(v) O Bean vegetarian restaurant in Damansara Jaya, which I went to with Karen and Arnie.

(vi) Visiting my new baby niece Hailey (!!!) in a part of Subang Jaya I have never been to before.

5. Learn something new.

So in October I became an aunt, and I learned how to hold a one-week-old baby. I'm pretty fearless at it now :) I love Hailey, she brought a ray of sunshine into our lives. I am going to be the best aunt possible.

6. Declutter and cull 100 items.

In October, I spring-cleaned parts of the parental home and removed lots of old magazines for recycling, rotten stuffed animals for disposal (hardest thing I ever had to do. I thought my heart was going to stop beating while doing it. My brain kept telling me they are just toys, but my heart wept goodbye to my old friends. It felt awful) The stuffed animals that are still in good condition will be given to children in indigenous communities who don't have many toys. My toys will get dirty, but at least they will get played with and be loved.

8. Give up something for a month.

Buy Nothing New -- tried it, loved it, nailed it, will continue doing it. I made my own Halloween decorations, costume and favours without buying anything new.

9. Letter to the Editor.

I submitted a letter to the press on shark fishing in Malaysia on 7 Oct 2015. It was published in several news sites on 9 Oct 2015.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Illusion Visiting Mini Exhibition at the Petrosains Discovery Centre

Petrosains: The Discovery Centre, is one of the national petroleum industry's most effective greenwashing and marketing tools. That's right, people, get the kiddies while they're still little and impressionable, and let them know how amazing and indispensable fossil fuels are!
While I am not a fan of the oil and gas industry, I do think that Petrosains has certain entertainment value and educational merits, one of them being that it hosts travelling science exhibitions, such as Illusion, a science and art exhibition from Dublin.
I was in that part of town on a particular Saturday morning and so I persuaded Aravind to attend the exhibition with me. I paid for the admission tickets to the mini exhibition (priced at RM15.90) and we made our way to the annexe without mowing down any of the preschoolers who seem to visit Petrosains by the busloads on a daily basis.
The most frustrating thing about this exhibition is that only the signs that are in Bahasa are in plain sight. The English-language signs are visible only under UV light, and tiny UV flashlights were suspended on equally tiny cords next to the signboards. We didn't understand the rationale behind this. Yes, it's supposed to be a little like a game of hide-and-seek, but the remarkable thing is that half the UV flashlights were not functioning or out of batteries.
Oh joy.
Aravind and I can read Bahasa just fine, but woe betide the hapless non-local, non-national-school-educated visitor who wants to find out more about the exhibits and installations.
Why must people make things so unnecessarily complicated for themselves and others? What next? Are they going to make us crawl through tunnels upside down with high-pressure jets of water aimed at us to get to the English language signs?

There were however, quite a number of intriguing installations which we rather enjoyed.
Bottle Magic, Jeff Scanlan, USA (2000) -- the bottles were not cut or altered in any way, and no, the bottles were not blown/constructed around their contents.
"All the Universe is Full of the Lives of the Perfect Creatures"
Karolina Sobecka (2012)
This is an interactive mirror that tracks your head and face movements and replaces the reflection of your face with the holographic image of an animal. Aravind's reflection is that of a German Shepherd dog or wolf. I got an ungulate of some sort -- a deer or ibex or something.

"Delicate Boundaries"
Chris Sugrue, USA.
Not for the mysophobic or entomophobic.
Motion aftereffect illusion. This is actually a mural on a completely flat wall.

"The Point of Perception", by Maddie Boyd, UK.
Now this I did like. It created a sense that I was looking out a window into a dark mess of wilderness behind Petrosains. Quite nightmarish, but in a pleasant way, like when you know you can wake up anytime you want.

Lots of exhibits involving mirrors and projected images suggesting things that aren't there or are something else.
"You. Here. Now."
Ian Wilcock, UK.
A brilliant portrait system that creates a pixelated portrait of the person standing in front of it using a mosaic of images harvested from the Internet. It's easier to stand in front of a mirror or camera, but not half as fascinating.

A virtual barbershop that uses the stereo effect to create the illusion of sounds coming from different parts of the room. Ingenious and witty.
A proper old-timey zoetrope! With a surreal animation of a corpse or something snaking up and down the wall. Uncanny.

They weren't kidding when they called it a 'mini exhibition'. We were done looking at all the exhibits in an hour. For the price of a cinema ticket, I'd expect something that would keep me occupied for at least 2 hours.

Still, it could be that we are adults, and the interactive science and optical illusion workshops (which would make our visit worth the ticket price) are targeted at schoolchildren.

Would I recommend visiting this exhibition? Yes, if you have RM15 burning a hole in your pocket, are able to read Bahasa (since the UV flashlights that would enable you to read the English signs often do not work) and have children young enough to benefit from the interactive workshops.

It was all reasonably entertaining for adults like us, but most of the exhibits are static ones of images such as the Penrose triangle and vanishing black dot, and of the 'which of the dots is bigger than the other' variety that you find in the 1970s edition of the Children's Britannica.

Still miles better than visiting our National Art Gallery or National Science Centre with its outdated exhibits, but also rather like picking up the shiny expensive cracker next to your plate at Christmas and pulling it to find only a tissue paper crown, a riddle and a cheapie plastic ornament in it.