Senin, 30 April 2007

0 Blogs We Love: Zen Habits

Zen Habits WINS the AwardI haven't promoted his site as much I should, but the Zen Habits blog has absolutely exploded in its first few months in the Blogosphere (I hate that word).

In what will be the second time I have actually recommended an entire blog (1st was Get Rich Slowly last year), Leo at Zen Habits has an unmatched knack for writing concise tips that will help your life and increase your productivity levels.

For a look at what he's written, take a look at a handful of his most popular posts:
  1. Top 20 Motivation Hacks
  2. Become an Early Riser
  3. Discipline is an illusion
  4. A Permanently Clear Desk
  5. My Morning Routine
  6. My GTD Implementation
  7. Clear Out Your Email Inbox
  8. How to Declutter
  9. How I Save Money
  10. How NOT to Multi-task
  11. Top 10 Productivity Hacks
  12. Purpose Your Day
  13. 10 Habits for Financial Success

Add him to your daily bookmark or subscribe to his feed. I am telling you, it's good stuff - even for a tip hog like me!

PS - Leo had no idea I was writing this and I wasn't slipped a fifty to do it. In fact this is a new monthly series on Dumb Little Man. If we are absolutely impressed by a blog and we think it will change your habits or improve your life, we'll post about it. If you think your blog is good enough, let us know. However, if you're good I'll notice you.

0 Landscape Futures

I'm increasingly fascinated by the ways in which climate change works hand in hand with, and even directly leads to, geographic change, or the physical alteration of existing landscapes.
What interests me even more, however, is the idea that landscape change can sometimes come first – a volcanic eruption, or a redirected river – sending the Earth's climate out of wack.

[Image: Lake Agassiz, an ancient glacial lake whose draining may have changed the global climate].

Roughly 13,000 years ago, for instance, Lake Agassiz, a gigantic freshwater lake "bigger than all of the present-day Great Lakes combined," broke through its ice dam and flooded up the St. Lawrence Seaway, roaring directly into the Atlantic. As a result, certain oceanic currents shut down and the existing pattern of global temperatures changed in a matter of months.
Or another example: 55 million years ago, the "volcanic eruptions that created Iceland might also have triggered one of the most catastrophic episodes of global warming ever seen on Earth," New Scientist reported last week.
In other words, the formation of Iceland was "accompanied by violent volcanic eruptions that built layers of basalt rock 7 kilometres thick." (!) All that new rock packed "a total volume of 10,000,000 cubic kilometres, enough to build a proto-Iceland in the newly-born north Atlantic."
In the process, though, this "huge volcanic eruption... unleashed so much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere that world temperatures rose by as much as 8°C."
The effect "was disastrous for most life... killing off many deep-sea species."

[Image: The completely unrelated, but nonetheless beautiful, Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica].

On the other hand, these sorts of changes can obviously work both ways: climate change comes first, affecting rainfall, thus forming deserts where there were once great plains – or any variety of other global warming scenarios.
In an article in The Guardian last week, Mark Lynas explained how the Sand Hills of Nebraska were once part of a vast desert, larger than the Sahara – "an immense system of sand dunes that spread across the Great Plains from Texas in the south to the Canadian prairies in the north," Lynas writes.
But if you overlook the existence of federal irrigation projects, and other government water subsidies, the only major difference between then and now is 1ºC.
In other words, it's only one degree cooler today than it was when huge sand dunes roamed across North America.
Meanwhile, Lynas goes on to explore how, with every jump of only 1ºC in the average planetary temperature today, wildly different landscapes become possible around the world.
The one possibility that truly blows me away – and even makes me want to make a science fiction film, or write a graphic novel, or even publish a BLDGBLOG book of short stories set in this insane new landscape – is this: once Europe is 4ºC hotter than it is today, "new deserts will be spreading in Italy, Spain, Greece and Turkey: the Sahara will have effectively leapt the Straits of Gibraltar."
Imagining the cities of northern Italy buried in sand – with Renaissance statuary chest-deep in dunes...

[Image: The Sahara desert, waiting to spring upon the unsuspecting streets of Paris... Via Wikipedia].

Lynas continues:
    In Switzerland, summer temperatures may hit 48ºC, more reminiscent of Baghdad than Basel. The Alps will be so denuded of snow and ice that they resemble the rocky moonscapes of today's High Atlas – glaciers will only persist on the highest peaks such as Mont Blanc. The sort of climate experienced today in Marrakech will be experienced in southern England...
And so on.
However, I don't mean to celebrate the annihilatory effects of global climate change here; I simply mean to point out that: 1) some of these changes are deliriously surreal and, as such, they're actually quite fun to think about; and 2) a very, very strange future awaits our descendents, should anything even remotely like this come to pass.
Actually, 3): it's also worth pointing out that, today, a novel set in an abandoned Rome, crawling with sand dunes, would be considered a work of science fiction – but, in one hundred years' time, such a setting may be much closer to social realism. In other words, literary genres will also be forced to adapt in an era of rapid climate change. (This same topic is actually discussed in BLDGBLOG's forthcoming interview with novelist Kim Stanley Robinson).
Finally, all of these speculative landscapes of the future have already begun to inspire something of a new golden age for international law. The future of Canada's "Northwest Passage" is a perfect example of this.
As ice continues to thaw throughout the Canadian Arctic, a fantastically convenient shipping route, reaching from the Atlantic through to Asia, is taking shape. This route cuts right through Canada's sovereign terrain – but, with such huge sums of money at stake for international trade, will the Canadian government be able to maintain control over the seaway...?
The question, then, involves whether the Northwest Passage should be considered a "transit passage" – and, thus, subject to Canadian law – or an "international strait" – thus, outside of Canada's reach.

[Image: The Northwest Passage, as imagined by Sir John Ross, 1819].

According to a recent essay in the London Review of Books, "Canada claims that the passage constitutes Canadian internal waters" – but the United States, perhaps unsurprisingly, "insists that the passage is an 'international strait'."
However, the essay goes on to explain that treating the Passage as an international strait – which means it will be free from Canadian regulations, controls, and other legal constraints – may actually pose unexpected consequences in the realm of international security.
Anyway – etc. etc.
Basically, what I think is cool here is that large-scale terrestrial transformation in an era of rapid climate change is already beginning to impact upon fantastically mundane questions – of law, property, sovereignty, and so on – showing that no matter how sci-fi a situation may likely be, you can always find some way to fit it into human legislation.
In any case, I'm sure I'll be returning to this topic soon.

0 A way of life


Blonde?


Ash-green?


Black?


Light Brown?


Dark Brown?

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.


Blonde.


I really, really miss my blonde hair...! =( =(

I do! Being blonde is not as simple as being Scandinavian or acting like one. It is a whole lifestyle and attitude!

It screams "Look at me!!" and it says, "I take care of my appearance", and it exclaims, "I am fun and girly and probably materialistic, well, I mean, I know how to enjoy life you know - with or without you".


Wow... This might be my most bimbotic post yet.

I don't even know how I did it, but that paragraph was like extremely superficial yet appeared deep at the same time.

Hahahaha!!!


Bonus photo

Mike being forced to go blonde, at least once, for me:


That was fun times in sunny California!

By the way, in case you wondered, the whole "being blonde is a way of life" thing does NOT apply to men. At all.




~ You know you have reached the peak of vanity when you stay awake at 4am thinking of whether or not to go blonde again. ~

p/s: Many of you are probably going to say that I don't look good/look very weird in blonde hair, but irregardless! As I said, it is a way of life, not just a colour!

p/p/s: I know there is no such word as irregardless, but it's supposed to be spoofing Mean Girls, you idiots. Just relax and stop being a prude.

0 The architecture of solar alignments

[Image: The solar-aligned ruins of Chankillo, Peru; via the BBC].

The Chankillo ruins, near the Peruvian coast, made the news a few months back when they were discovered to be an ancient solar observatory.
According to NASA, some archaeologists "have nicknamed the ruin’s central complex the 'Norelco ruin' based on its resemblance to a modern electric shaver."
Just southeast of the "electric shaver," however, are a series of structures called "the Thirteen Towers, which vaguely resemble a slightly curved spine."

[Image: Photo by Ivan Ghezzi, demonstrating solar alignments with the "slightly curved spine" of the Thirteen Towers; via the BBC].

Quoting NASA:
    The Thirteen Towers were the key to the scientists conclusion that the site was a solar observatory. These regularly spaced towers line up along a hill, separated by about 5 meters (16 feet). The towers are easily seen from Chankillo’s central complex, but the views of these towers from the eastern and western observing points are especially illuminating. These viewpoints are situated so that, on the winter and summer solstices, the sunrises and sunsets line up with the towers at either end of the line. Other solar events, such as the rising and setting of the Sun at the mid-points between the solstices, were aligned with different towers.
The BBC quotes a man called Clive Ruggles, professor of archaeoastronomy in Leicester, England: "These towers have been known to exist for a century or so. It seems extraordinary that nobody really recognised them for what they were for so long."

[Image: Like some kind of machine embedded in the surface of the earth, it's the Chankillo Observatory. Courtesy of GeoEye/SIME, via NASA's Earth Observatory].

For all that, though, the surrounding landscape at Chankillo is itself just extraordinary; you can't see it in the images above, however, so take a look at this image – or even at this huge version of that image, or even at this truly gigantic (3.4mb) version.
Meanwhile, I'm a genuine sucker for solar-alignment theories involving landscapes and architecture; in fact, I was just talking to someone about this the other day.
Yet I'm even more of a sucker for unintentional examples of such things – like houses with pitched gable roofs that accidentally line-up with the sun every summer solstice...
I've talked about this kind of thing on BLDGBLOG before – but that doesn't mean I won't do it again.
For instance: one day, a science writer in her late 30s gets an email saying that she's being sent to report on iceberg calving off the western coast of Greenland.
She takes a boat, along with some climate scientists and oceanographers, and they find themselves inside the region of study by the second week of June. Icebergs are flowing past the ship on all sides; no one can believe how many there are. Measurements are taken; the icebergs continue to drift.
The days grow longer.

[Image: Via Wikipedia].

Then, on the morning of the summer solstice, our science journalist can't sleep. She's been up all night, flipping her pillow over and back, shoving the blankets off then pulling them tight again, etc. etc.
Finally, she gets out of bed and wanders out onto the deck of the ship – where she sees the sun of the summer solstice just hanging there.
Incredibly, though, a perfect line of drifting icebergs – ten, twenty, thirty icebergs – stretches out, one after the other, toward the horizon. The effect is uncanny; it looks as if the icebergs have been deliberately placed there, sculpted into an unbroken line by unseen forces – and right above them, of course, is the summer sun, casting a reflective line of golden light from one icy peak to the next.
It's as if, for that precise moment, from the deck of that particular ship, for that one woman alone, the Arctic seascape has been arranged to line up with the solstice.
In any case, I think there should be an ongoing competition – or at least some kind of internet archive – for photographic proof of unexpected solar alignments: four times a year, perhaps – on the solstices and equinoxes – you go out and search for weird alignments of the sun...
In a small town outside Albany, the windows of every house in one particular cul-de-sac light up, the sun shining straight through house after house, in a perfectly straight line, as if they'd been built for the purpose, a monumental solar observatory the exact size and shape of suburbia – till one family closes their curtains, and the effect is gone.

(Earth Observatory image found via del.icio.us/pruned).

0 How to Improve your Body Language

Body LanguageA lot depends on the the subject matter, but my gosh, I sure am a fidgety talker. When I speak to people my legs are constantly restless (when sitting), I tend to fidget with my pen, etc.

What does this mean? I don't know but I am sure it has something to do with some underlying insecurity that will be identified by a shrink during a mid-life crisis. The key is that I know I am doing these things and that I can practice to improve my body language skills.

How do you look when you are talking to people? Have you ever thought about it? The Positivity Blog lists 18 things to look for and correct. If you are a great speaker, then use these as ways to perhaps identify how confident the 'other' person is.

"Improving your body language can make a big difference in your people skills, attractiveness and general mood."

Here are a handful:
  1. Don’t cross your arms or legs – You have probably already heard you shouldn’t cross your arms as it might make you seem defensive or guarded. This goes for your legs too. Keep your arms and legs open.

  2. Have eye contact, but don’t stare – If there are several people you are talking to, give them all some eye contact to create a better connection and see if they are listening. Keeping too much eye-contact might creep people out. Giving no eye-contact might make you seem insecure. If you are not used to keeping eye-contact it might feel a little hard or scary in the beginning but keep working on it and you’ll get used to it.

  3. Don’t be afraid to take up some space – Taking up space by for example sitting or standing with your legs apart a bit signals self-confidence and that you are comfortable in your own skin.

  4. Relax your shoulders – When you feel tense it’s easily winds up as tension in your shoulders. They might move up and forward a bit. Try to relax. Try to loosen up by shaking the shoulders a bit and move them back slightly.

  5. Nod when they are talking – nod once in a while to signal that you are listening. But don’t overdo it and peck like Woody Woodpecker.

18 ways to improve your body language by The Positivity Blog
Photo misfitgirl

0 Let's Fine Tune Your Resume

Back in January we mentioned how a great cover letter was absolutely mandatory when submitting your resume. Not having one nowadays simply shows you aren't serious about the job.

BUT, a good cover letter and a poorly formed resume doesn't help you too much. So, let's tweak your resume a little. If you want to trudge through duplicated content, ebooks, and spam sites, go ahead and use a search engine for some tips. If you want to jump right in, start with this handful of sites.

  • Ten Easy Ways to Improve Your Resume: "Eliminate "responsibilities" words from your resume vocabulary. Never use expressions like "Duties included," "Responsibilities included," or “Responsible for” on your resume. Why? Because your resume should be accomplishments-driven, not responsibilities-driven. Anyone (well, maybe not anyone…) can perform the duties listed in a job description. Job-description language is not what sells in a resume. Accomplishments-oriented language tells employers how you've gone above and beyond in your jobs, what makes you special, how you've taken initiative and made your jobs your own."

  • Give your resume a face lift: "Even if you can’t hire a fancy designer and are stuck with Microsoft Word, a few tweaks can turn your blasé resume into an elegant and functional showpiece."

  • 21 Ways to Improve Your Online Resume: "Content! Keywords!
    Since most employers sort resumes electronically, keywords and specifics that demonstrate your abilities, your accomplishments, and your past experiences are crucial to getting their attention."

  • How to Write a Masterpiece of a Resume: "To write an effective resume, you have to learn how to write powerful but subtle advertising copy. Not only that, but you must sell a product in which you have a large personal investment: you."
Sites containing free sample resumes:
  • Susan Ireland: Get ideas from these 90+ sample resumes by occupation.
  • About.com:These sample resumes and templates provide job seekers with examples of resume formats that will work for almost every job seeker.
  • Vault.com: These resume examples for many different occupations and industries.
Photo: Daoist56

Minggu, 29 April 2007

0 Happy Birthday to ME!!!!

Very sad, this year Saddam Hussein died otherwise he can celebrate his birthday with me! I mean not WITH me per se of course, like in his own little hiding hole but at the same time as me.

Anyway, my life is just full of drama.

On the night of 27th, Kelvin, Qingqing, Mike and I went to JB at like 11pm for some, erm, dvds.

Of course, as it turns out when we reached the dvd shop we didn't buy anything because we had a guilt trip and it dawned on us that piracy is just wrong. WRONG, PEOPLE! Don't steal!

Ahem.

So, we went across the road to have some food.

After gorging, we crossed the road to get back to the car, and Mike told me to run coz there was a car coming.

I was in a bad mood (due to Mike being generally grumpy due to his lack of his sleep) and out of the corner of my eye I saw a slow moving car and didn't speed up at all but instead proceeded to cross the rest of the road in what can be described as a slow lumbering fashion.

As expected, my life flashed before me as the LOUD honk of the Malaysian car sounded.

Actually, I don't know how other people who almost died react, but I was quite tired and when I turned and saw the car was real close to me, all I did was think, "Huh? I thought this car was moving slowly??" With a slightly wide-eyed look.

And it was supposed to!

I mean, it's a small road, not the bloody German highway with no speed limit. Autobahn! I'm so smart.

So anyway, the fucker who almost took my life (23 years ago Momo had a hard time squeezing me out) wound down his window, and shouted at me in Mandarin,

"YOU DON'T KNOW HOW TO SEE WHEN YOU CROSS THE ROAD IS IT?"

(Actually he didn't almost kill me, he was like 2 feet away)

I don't know why I like to pick fights, but I just shouted back, "FUCK YOU!"

and showed him my finger.

I guess I exploded coz it's really kinda annoying to have almost died and then yet have some shout at you.

I mean, c'mon, fine, it is maybe my fault to cross in a slow stupid manner, but I've already had the fright of my life, and additionally, almost got deafened by your honk, still not enough meh?

THEN STILL SHOUT AT ME!

Somemore the fucker so fucking ugly, like a piece of ugly fuck can. Stupid low-class middle-aged Chinese guy.

So, after I shouted at him, he told me to point my finger at my mother or something rude like that, so I smiled at him and pointed my finger at him once again.

Instead of being honoured since a gorgeous supermodel like myself will never be caught died talking to him under normal circumstances (social suicides, my dears!!), he got down of his car and thundered out of it, shouting various Hokkien vulgarities at me.

His girlfriend tried to restain him but he got down anyway.

And till this day I fantasize about how he would try to get off his car in the middle of the road, and while opening the door to get down, an oncoming tank would knock him senseless, thus ending his life.

I'd then kick his corpse and throw the la la I ta-baoed on his face while his girlfriend weeps. I'd then kick her for bad taste, and throw the extra 10 ringgit I had left over my shoulder as I leave.

But that didn't happened.

So that guy got down of his car, and I was rejoined by Kelvin, QQ and Mike when drama ensued (various scoldings by me and that guy, with Mike trying to stand in between us).


Within a short while, we were joined by a group of other people, Malaysian Ah Bengs, who were good-naturedly asking the fucker what happened.

The fucker shouted at the Ah bengs, "YOU ALL HER FRIENDS IS IT?" and the Ah Bengs replied, "No, we from the DVD shop... They our customers la, got anything can talk mah..."

While the fucker proceeded to scold the super sweet DVD shop guys. So nice of them, honestly! They didn't have to help us!

It's damn funny. I was too boiling mad to remember what happened, but at one point the fucker started shouting at Mike too, asking him,

"SINGAPOREAN IS IT?"

to which Mike replied "Yes." since it is really too troublesome to explain, "Nah, I'm from Dallas, which is in Texas, USA, but I used to be born in... blah blah and I am here working in Singapore, just passed by JB for some la la."

And so the fucker said,

"Singapolean big fuck izzit?" in the broken English I typed it as.

And Mike couldn't understand what the fuck he said, which would have been hilarious if not for the fact that I was so angry.

Stupid uneducated fucker.

I shouted at him,

"NI YAO ZHEN YANG? XIAN ZAI NI YAO DA NV REN SHI MA?!" (What do you want, you want to hit a girl?)

and he replied,

"WO YAO DA NI YOU ZHEN YANG?!" (So what if I hit you?)

The DVD shop boys restained him, and after this we walked away since it really isn't wise to pick a fight in other people's turf.

How gross, for a man to try to pick a fight with a 42kg (fine, 43.5) girl! *roll eyes* Oh yes! Because the girl has a chance to win!

Hope he dies. No, I'm not just saying it. I do hope he dies.

On the way back the girls hypothesized about how to verbally abuse him more, while the guys talked about how they would have beaten the fucker up. (Mike, "I'm a leftie, and people never expect that...")

Sigh.

Such a dramatic birthday.

Wanbao is trying to report the fellowing story, no doubt completely lifting it off to (zero writers' intregrity) fill up their trashy incompetent pages.

Which is STUPID, since... THE FOLLOWING STORY IS COMPLETELY FICTIONAL. Yes. I made it all up.


Speaking of sickening guys, that day Qingqing has a horrible encounter with a Bangala!

She was at City Plaza alone, taking some money out of the ATM, and this bangala asked her for some change, which she said she had none, and walked rapidly outside.

The bangala followed her and when she was outside, he GRABBED HER!

He held on to the back of her arm from behind her, and he said, "You, go Geylang with me."

NABEY!

ANGRY!

HATEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!


How are we girls not supposed to be wary of bangalas you tell me????!!!!!!!!!!



So QQ turned around and slapped the bangala.


EWWWWWWW SO DIRTY!!! I don't wanna touch him!

And poor QQ, she was just in jeans and a tee or something! Not like she dressed like a whore or what you know, it's just that she got the sort of face that looks like you can bully her.

So the bunch of Ah bengs from the cellphone shop came up and started shouting at the bangala, and the bangala, according to QQ, "ran away super fast".

Haha, bangala running away very fast sounds very funny.

(QQ said to help her thank the Ah bengs on my blog coz she was so traumatized she just ran away without saying her thanks)

From the above two stories we can see that Ah Bengs are very nice people.

So anyway, on the 28th, Shuyin and Wanyi came over to my place to surprise me with a birthday cake, homecooked food (green curry, brinjals, tea eggs, french loaf) and complete with a recorder-blown Happy Birthday song!

Happy or not?!!!

My friends are sooooooo super sweet can.

We gossiped and talked auntie-talk till 5pm, when the girls left and Mike brought me to St Pierre's for a super yummy dinner costing him $155.

I am super lucky I didn't get killed afterall.

Imagine Shuyin and Wanyi come, then actually I died already. Damn stupid.

Ok, pictures soon ok! Very busy.

Love!!!


p/s: No offence to Malaysians since you can be quite sensitive. I'm just talking about that particular guy.

Sabtu, 28 April 2007

0 Pay-to-Stay Imprisonment

"The California prison system," as reported by The New York Times today, is "severely overcrowded, teeming with violence and infectious diseases and so dysfunctional that much of it is under court supervision." As such, it is a system "that anyone with the slightest means would most likely pay to avoid."
Luckily for them, they can now do so.

They can pay-to-stay:
    For offenders whose crimes are usually relatively minor (carjackers should not bother) and whose bank accounts remain lofty, a dozen or so city jails across the state offer pay-to-stay upgrades. Theirs are a clean, quiet, if not exactly recherché alternative to the standard county jails, where the walls are bars, the fellow inmates are hardened and privileges are few.
For fees ranging from $82 to $127 per night, inmates can apparently stay for up to four years. The NYTimes reports on one "prisoner," in particular, "who in her oversize orange T-shirt and flip-flops looked more like a contestant on The Real World than an inmate." They quote her: "I haven’t had a problem with any of the other girls. They give me shampoo.”
In what is surely the set-up for a new blockbuster comedy – starring Jim Carrey – we even learn that many pay-to-stay convicts are actually "granted work furlough, enabling them to do most of their time on the job, returning to the jail simply to go to bed."
There are obvious – and entirely justified – complaints: for instance that this system simply transforms the Californian penal system into a new kind of sociological adventure tourism, favoring those residents of the state with enough disposable income to avoid showering alongside gangs of neo-Nazis – totally violating any concept of punishment or rehabilitation in the process.
At the same time, though, sociological adventure tourism opens up a fascinating range of future business models that we would do well to think about, and prepare for, before they come to pass.
Pay-to-stay loans, for instance, or jail'otels – or even some weird outer Hollywood casting agency where you can try out for substitute imprisonment on behalf of paying clients. Should you be accepted, they'll take care of your student loans and buy your family weekly pizzas. Though I'm sure you can already be hired to go to jail.
Read more at The New York Times.

Jumat, 27 April 2007

0 Results: Online Savings Account Interest Payment

We've all heard how great these online banks are with their huge interest rates. Well, last month I took the plunge. I deposited most of my tax return into an online savings account that earned over 5% interest.

Today, I get to see the results:

Online Savings
If you can see that picture (blogger is not great at large images), you'd see that I deposited $7,600 and a few weeks later my earned interest was $28.06. That is huge compared to the $1.20 that I was earning at the bank down the street. Assuming I don't touch this money, I'll earn $336.72 per year and that is BEFORE we factor in any compounding.

I still have a debit card that draws money from the account if needed and I can easily (for free) transfer money in and out as I please.

If you have money sitting in a normal savings account somewhere why haven't you opened an account like this yet?

0 Solid Sites that Provide DIY and How-To Videos

As we head into the warm weather months, many of us are going to hop onto the DIY bandwagon. Since I am the kind of guy that would rather watch a quick how-to video as opposed to reading a book of instructions, I have bookmarked several sites that visually show you how to get projects done. Yes, we are talking about video clips as opposed to stick figures and diagrams.

If you are looking for a project or need some help on a current one, there is a good chance the following sites will have something for you.


Video DIY
5min is a place to find short video solutions for any practical question and a forum for people wanting to share their knowledge.




Video DIYAbout.com has a video library that is simple to explain. They have a ton...everything from scrambling eggs to staining furniture.


Video DIYExpert Village is a repository of how-to videos and articles featuring advice from recognized experts in their fields.


Video DIY
SuTree is an online index and library for free video-based lessons, tutorials, lectures and how-to's.




How To VideoVideoJug is every aspect of life explained and illustrated through an ever-growing number of common sense, informative, helpful and entertaining videos.

How To Video
From ViewDo: "When the written word won’t suffice, and a picture can’t quite get the point across either, a ViewDo gives you the detail and perspective you need to get the job done."




Honorable mentions:
These sites maintain DIY categories and I have linked directly to them. They are listed down here because, according to me, they are not robust and/or are not the site's focus. There are lots of sites that have some form of DIY category so I limited this list to a handful.

AOL DIY
YouTube
Grouper
Revver

Have you guys found any other sites that have good project videos? If so, list them out in the comments.

- Mark

Rabu, 25 April 2007

0 Change your DLM Links

I am cringing already but I have to ask.

I am a stat guy and it kills me to see that Dumb Little Man took a statistical hit simply because we changed URLs (from dumblittleman.blogspot.com TO dumblittleman.com). We managed to do it so that we didn't lose a single subscriber, but, you know...we need stats.

If by chance you have previously linked to us, please swap out your link by simply removing the ".blogspot" from your link. As we make our move towards world domination, this will certainly help.

If you bookmarked us using del.icio.us or some other bookmark site, don't worry about it.

Thanks a lot,

Mark @ Dumb Little Man

0 Ancient Lights

[Image: Via Wikipedia].

"Ancient lights" is a colloquialism for the "right to light," guaranteed under English law, whereby windows that have seen twenty years' worth of "uninterrupted" daylight cannot be blocked by the construction of new buildings.
Or, as Wikipedia explains it:
    In effect, the owner of a building with windows that have received natural daylight for 20 years or more is entitled to forbid any construction or other obstruction that would deprive him of that illumination. Neighbors cannot build anything that would block the light without permission. The owner may build more or larger windows but cannot enlarge his new windows before the new period of 20 years has expired.
"Once a right to light exists," we read, "the owner of the right is entitled to 'sufficient light according to the ordinary notions of mankind'." Even better, British courts apparently "rely on expert witnesses to define this term."
Whether "this term" refers to sufficient light or to ordinary notions of mankind is hard to tell.
In any case, the Royal Institution of Charted Surveyors, or RICS, suggests that you should never "settle for living in the shadows."
The RICS believes, in fact, that "many people are allowing adjacent buildings to block their natural light, unaware that they have a legal right to it. Light blocking can be classified as a ‘nuisance’ alongside noise and air pollution and culprits range from large new commercial developments to a neighbour’s building extension or a new garden shed. Even a tall hedge can be a problem."
The tone of the RICS abruptly shifts at this point, however, as they begin to explain how you can actually prevent your neighbors from acquiring ancient light rights. There is a "need for vigilance to prevent neighbours acquiring a right to light," they warn; after all, such an acquisition "may hamper future development and investment possibilities" on your own property.
"It is possible to prevent a building acquiring a right to light," the RICS explains, "but despite the procedure being simple, it is rarely used." The "procedure" involves a man called Vinnie, and he –
The actual solution is a kind of ghost architecture. In other words, following consultation from the RICS, you draw "a notional screen of unlimited height," along with other "imaginary legal partitions," around your home, thus defining the light rights of your property.
You then ring your neighbor's doorbell, hand him an envelope, and explain what you've been doing. He nods quietly, ceases construction on his new guest bedroom – and then throws a brick through your window.
You retaliate.
The other neighbors soon join in, choosing sides, talking strategy, letting the air out of your car's tires and stealing your newspaper. Within a week, the quality of life on your street has plummeted; there are threats, loud noises, and an unexplained smell...
Meanwhile, "[i]n the center of London, near Chinatown and Covent Garden, particularly in back alleyways, signs saying 'Ancient Lights' can be seen marking individual windows."

('Ancient Lights' found via del.icio.us/fakeisthenewreal).

0 10 Things you Better Know When an Aging Parent Falls Ill

You know, nobody around here is getting any younger. As my parents have recently passed the 60-year-old mark, I am ashamed to admit that I wouldn't know what to do if one of them had a medical emergency. I know how I'd feel, but standing up and taking care of the situation is something entirely different.

The That's Fit blog points to Mayo Clinic's 10 Tips that can better prepare you for the inevitable day when you are called upon:

  1. Names of their doctors. If you don't know anything else, this is probably the most important piece of information. Why? Chances are good that your parents' doctors can provide much of the rest of the information needed as well as more details about your parents' specific health histories.

  2. Birth dates. Often medical records and insurance information are cataloged according to birth date. This can improve communication in an emergency or a crisis.

  3. List of allergies. This is especially important if one of your parents is allergic to medication — penicillin, for example.

  4. Advance directives. An advance directive is a legal document that outlines a person's decisions about his or her health care, such as whether or not resuscitation efforts should be made and the use of life-support machines.

  5. Major medical problems. This includes such diseases as diabetes or heart disease.

  6. List of medications. It's especially important that a doctor know if your parent uses blood thinners.

  7. Religious beliefs. This is particularly important in case blood transfusions are needed.

  8. Insurance information. Know the name of your parents' health insurance provider and their policy numbers.

  9. Prior surgery. List past medical procedures, such as cardiac bypass surgery.

  10. Lifestyle information. Do your parents drink alcohol or use tobacco?

You want to know the terrible thing? At this moment, I am only able to accurately answer a handful of these. Are you any different?

Aging parents: 10 things to know for an emergency [via That's Fit]
See also: .pdf worksheet available to track these answers

0 Top Secret Recipes

Top Secret RecipesI know, I know. We do a lot of talking about diet and fitness and now I am going to throw it back in your face with some artery clogging temptation.

My daily blog tour this morning pointed me to My Financial Journey where they shared a pretty cool site. Top Secret Recipes lists an enormous amount of restaurant appetizers and main courses and actually tells you how you can whip up the same dish in your own kitchen.

If you are craving some Ultimate Nachos or a Slurpee, just punch it in and get your recipe. I will warn you that some of the recipes are only available after paying, however there are a lot of freebies to be had.

If it is any consolation for the health nuts (like me), you can substitute items contained in the recipes with some healthier alternatives. It may not taste quite the same but...

Top Secret Recipes [via My Financial Journey]

0 How Paint Color Affects Your Mood

Painting RoomsI have not hidden the fact that it's tough for me to make decisions on just about anything. This is perhaps best illustrated when visitors come over to the house and see bare walls. I know I want "stuff" on the walls, I just have no idea what would look good.

In fact, kids rooms aside, most of our walls are still white and we've lived here for 5 years! When and if painting the walls becomes a priority to us, colors are a huge issue. As if blending and transitions weren't enough, we also have to worry about the mood the colors impose on people.

Yes, the mood. The Romanian blog Freshhome goes into detail on the moods that colors illicit and what you should consider before painting that hallway maroon.
"Blue brings down blood pressure and slows respiration and heart rate. That’s why it’s considered calming, relaxing, and serene, and is often recommended for bedrooms and bathrooms. Be careful, however: A pastel blue that looks pretty on the paint chip can come across as unpleasantly chilly when it’s on the walls and furnishings, especially in a room that receives little natural light. If you opt for a light blue as the primary color in a room, balance it with warm hues in the furnishings and fabrics."

Room Color and How it Affects your Mood by Freshome
Photo: mattjb

Related:
How Much Paint is Needed?
How and Where to Hang Artwork
Plan Your Room's Layout

0 How to Buy Produce

Don't Squeeze the Fruit!I actually enjoy going to the grocery store. It gives me a chance to really pick out what I want as opposed to hoping my wife remembers my granola bars. In her defense, she has two kids with her so I can see how she'd forget (Get in, get out...FAST).

Anyway, the produce section is a comedy act every time. From old ladies to single men, people are picking up fruit and vegetables doing a variety of tests to evaluate freshness, juiciness, etc. Frankly, I am a squeezer. I squeeze the fruit but I have no idea what I am trying to find or eliminate. I guess if the fruit bursts from a squeeze, it's no good.

Listed here are several points from a blogger that goes into nice detail on their site. In the end you can save some time and money when you are purchasing your next cantaloupe (or whatever it is you buy).
  • Good produce weighs more than you expect

  • Good produce smells good

  • Good produce has a firm cut end

  • Good produce is not the biggest

  • Good produce ripens with its friends

How to buy grocery produce by baselle's Financial Diary.
Photo: Ladylong

0 Fine Tune your Sleep Habits

Sleep
Most people believe that you need 8 hours of sleep to completely refresh your body for the next day. While I am a believer in sleep and love it, my work, Dumb Little Man, husband and father duties generally only allow for me to get 5-6 hours on average. All in all, that's what I believe I need.

On the opposite end are the people like Donald Trump whom I believe claims to sleep for 3 hours each night, from 1-4AM. I am not sure that I could keep that up very long.

Whether you are sleeping for 3 or 10 hours each night, getting to sleep quickly and staying in a deep sleep is important. To fine tune your sleep habits, take a peak at these articles from the National Sleep Foundation.
"Getting enough sleep refers to the amount of sleep you need to not feel sleepy the next day. If sleepiness interferes with or makes it difficult to do your daily activities, you probably need more sleep. Although sleep experts generally recommend an average of 7-9 hours per night, some people can get along with less while others need as much as ten hours to feel alert the next day."



Photo: fooishbar

0 Tunnels, mines, and the "upwardly migrating void"

[Image: Scotland Street Tunnel, Edinburgh, as photographed by Nick Catford].

It's always worth checking in to see what Subterranea Brittanica have been up to – especially when they've been to such places as the Hanover Chalk Mine or the Scotland Street Tunnel – so I thought I'd take a quick look at some of the things now up on their site.
First of all, starting with the Scotland Street Tunnel, we find ourselves in Edinburgh, walking down through a former railroad tunnel that "measures 1000yds in length, 24ft in width, and 24ft in height with a gradient of 1-in-27 towards the north. The roof of the tunnel is just below street level at Scotland Street," they write, "but is 49 feet deep at St. Andrew Street and 37 feet deep under Princes Street."

[Image: Scotland Street Tunnel, Edinburgh, as photographed by Nick Catford].

In their field notes, our guides at Subterranea Brittanica quote novelist Robert Louis Stevenson:
    The tunnel to the Scotland Street Station, the sight of the trains shooting out of its dark maw with the two guards upon the brake, the thought of its length and the many ponderous edifices and open thoroughfares above, were certainly of paramount impressiveness to a young mind.
Not surprisingly, the site was re-used during WWII as an air raid shelter, forming what's referred to as a "hardened emergency control centre."
Post-war, then, the tunnel went on "to house... a traffic office with centralized traffic control. The traffic controller had telephone links to all signal cabins, goods yards and major stations and offices" in the city. This latter function partially explains the brick structures that were built inside the underground space.
Awesomely, we read, in the 1970s "the tunnel was used for growing mushrooms" – before it was then "used as a location for monitoring natural radiation."
Don't eat those mushrooms!

[Image: Scotland Street Tunnel, Edinburgh, as photographed by Nick Catford].

Many more images of the tunnel – all of which were taken by Nick Catford – including a lot more information, can be found at the bottom of this page.
Meanwhile, there's the Hanover Chalk Mine in Reading, England.
Access to the mine, we're told, can be "arranged via the [local] caving club." You physically enter the space by way of "a 50ft fixed steel ladder in a narrow vertical shaft below a locked iron cover."
In other words, you lift the iron cover – and descend into the surface of the earth.

[Image: Hanover Chalk Mine, as photographed by Nick Catford].

However, if I may be allowed to mis-use a quotation from architectural theorist Mark Wigley (who was recently interviewed by BLDGBLOG): "These hidden layers are not simply below the surface. They are within the surface itself, knotted together to form the surface."
Wigley goes on to describe – in an essay that has nothing to do with British chalk mines – the "possibility that the ground... might actually be... the concealment of an abyss."
Which reminds me of an oft-quoted line by Jules Verne: "Look down well! You must take a lesson in abysses."
In any case, the Hanover Chalk Mine was apparently "rediscovered" in 1977, after which "a new lining was installed in the shaft, and the workings inspected and surveyed."
Subterranea Brittanica themselves found that the mine "is generally very dry, with no obvious evidence of water seeping in through the ceiling or standing on the floors."

[Image: Hanover Chalk Mine, as photographed by Nick Catford].

However, judging from small piles of rubble, some structural instability in the walls apparently relieved itself long ago through a partial collapse; this partial collapse is beautifully referred to as "an upwardly migrating void" that may yet cause "other collapses of the surface."

[Image: Hanover Chalk Mine, as photographed by Nick Catford].

Though it's divided up into northern and southern branches, each excavated for slightly different purposes, the mine has not always been a mine.
"One or both of the interlinked northern mines," we read, "are known to have been used for the secure storage of documents by Reading Council during World War II, and two corrugated iron shelters, a brick-built stove and chimney, and tea-chests are said to remain below ground. One of the shafts reportedly contains timber staging, and one is said to be 70 feet deep."
So where did all this chalk come from?
In his fantastically great book Earth, writer and natural historian Richard Fortey takes us on an imaginary aerial tour of the planet, drifting in a full circle around the globe.
During the tour, Fortey describes how we look down from great heights at the vast folded belts of continental plates, from buckled ridges and alluvial plains to tropical islands, Himalayan plateaus, and Pacific trenches – including, at one point, the ancient chalk landscapes of southern England.
Quoting Richard Fortey at great length:
    Imagine flying higher and higher, until we can see that all the fine hotels and monuments and endless suburbs of London lie in a bowl of strata of Tertiary age. The River Thames is now no more than a silvery line following the centre of the bowl. Beneath these strata – mostly soft sands and clays – there are older rocks again; the white Cretaceous limestone known as the Chalk reaches the surface north and south of London on open downs, where sheep were once universal... South of the London Basin, the Chalk frames the Weald, which was the major source of iron in medieval times and now is thick with groves of sweet chestnut burying ancient hammer ponds. From high up, most of what you see is forested. Climb higher still and we can see that the Chalk, again, forms the white cliffs of Dover – to many English people perhaps the most sentimentally significant piece of geology there is. From this height we can see that the Dover cliffs are of a piece with facing cliffs in France on the other side of the English Channel, which is nothing more than a geological afterthought, breached by the eroding sea just a few thousand years ago. Geology knows no national boundaries and from here we can even make out the Chalk extending far across France, to underlie the endless plains in the north, where the grain that goes into making 100 million baguettes is grown in fields that have neither hedgerows nor apparently any end. And could we but follow the Chalk around the world we would find similar white limestones stretching from the Canadian Shield "all the way through to Texas and Mexico," as [Eduard] Suess said, to the Black Sea and well beyond in the Middle East. Chalk rock records one of the great transgressions of the sea onto the continents, one which happened close to 100 million years ago, and which painted great slabs of the world white for eternity with the sediment it left behind.
It seems a little strange to use the word "eternity" there, in a book that is, ostensibly, a very literate demonstration that nothing lasts forever in the world of tectonic geology; but that's a minor quibble.

[Image: Hanover Chalk Mine, as photographed by Nick Catford].

I think it's more important simply to point out that these rocks, seamed with flint, so ready to form caves and pockets beneath the everyday landscape we normally walk upon, thinking more often about what lies ahead than what lies below, have an incomprehensibly specific and ancient history behind them.
If it wasn't for lost seas, nearly saturated with life, slowly depositing meter upon meter of organic matter in quiet bays and inlets and coves, this chalk would never have formed – and, of course, this mine would never have existed.
These photographs thus capture the almost unimaginably distant side-effects of landscapes that no longer exist – side-effects which have themselves come to form landscapes, in fact the very terrain that grounds our present era.
The history beneath that ground is indeed a kind of abyss.
Finally, while you're clicking around through Subterranea Brittanica, don't miss the artificially underground surreality of Barons' Cave.
"Nobody knows how old The Barons' Cave is," we read. "The oldest reference to it dates from 1586 when Camden describes 'an extraordinary passage with a vaulted roof hewn with great labour out of the soft stone.'"

[Image: Barons' Cave, as photographed by Nick Catford].

The various photos of Barons' Cave are well worth checking out – including close-ups of graffiti left by visitors who missed one another by hundreds of years.

(All images in this post are by Nick Catford, who holds the copyrights, etc. etc., and deserves loads of credit for the amazing work).

Selasa, 24 April 2007

0 Please don't break up with me

Don't dump me ok? Don't leave me for other regularly updated albeit mediocre blogs!

I tried so hard, I did!

But the cb Midplaza Hotel in Manhattan had a shitty internet connection, which costs $10 USD a day and I had to go to Gillian's room to use it... so yeah la, not very convenient.

But here I am! Finally got back home and slept off the jetlag.

78 photos.

And one new tattoo.

One day, I randomly suggested to Qingqing, "You wanna get a same tattoo with me and KK? Something small la, like a tiny star or heart or something."

QQ kept quiet, so I thought she wasn't agreeable to it, which is quite normal mind you, since most people won't agree to a tattoo just on a whim like that.

I prodded, "What you think?"

And she said, "Yeah I want! I am thinking where to put it."

Ha! Damn steady one ok! Then she suggested putting it behind our ear.

KK was told about this idea the day after, and she was damn enthu about it, so here we are at the tattoo parlour, all getting our second tatts. Sigh. Such zest for life!!

Digressing, tattooing is fucking addictive ok?

Honestly, I was asking the girls if they were gonna have more tatts, and they all said a loud, "YES."

Hahaha! The thing is, we all have no idea what else to ink, but just know that we are not "complete" yet.

I think I know why.

Once you get over the fact that having a print on your skin forever is not that big a deal, you realise you have a fucking damn lot of skin you can customise to your liking, and man, it's honestly quite overwhelming.

And that's why most people don't only have one tattoo. It's addictive!

Mike told me not to get more coz it seems to him that I am getting further and further away from what I was when he got together with me (nose job, tattoos, un-blonde hair, not tan anymore), but he is so siao can, I thought men are naturally polygamous - so he should be happy that it would seem like he got some new chick(s) to have sex with, no?

Back to the tattooing... When we reached Parkmall, I said I think I'd rather do a heart than a star, and the girls got very mad at me!!

They said what's the point of getting a "same" tattoo if I am getting a different design from them?

Bah. So I got the tattooist to draw the star on me with a marker.


Something like this! I'm sold.

The other ear had a heart, and it looks awful.


QQ, pre-tattooing


KK with marker-drawn tattoo


excited!


Qihua sms-ing while waiting

Grrrrrr

Parkmall's tatt parlour was such a BIG mistake. The owner (I think), Joseph, was not around, and we all got done by the apprentice, who is shitty to say the least.

He has no sense of proportion! You'll see.





Looks ok?


NOT!

It's a fucking distorted star can!

And he can't even see what's wrong with it (it is soooo obvious), and I had to take a picture, enlarge it on my cam, and point out to him that the star is neither symmetrical nor straight.

After he touched it up it was better.

God! Never again.

My snowflake tattooist Jeremy Tan is sooooooo much better.

My turn!

I wanted a fat pink star:



The pen-drawn star mock-up was sooooo distorted I made him reprint and redraw it.

This kinda thing cannot be shui bian (easy-going) one ok, even if I only paid $50 for it. And I was told $50 was a rip-off.


My pink star...!!

This time, it REALLY HURT.

It hurt so bad I had to crush Mike's hand while he was colouring it in. On a scale of ten for pain, this one's like 5/10. Which is quite bad because the snowflake was 2/10!

I think he really pressed too hard on my skin, my snowflake had like nooooooo blood at all, but my star...


Very bleedy


Mike is the only one uninked now


We are chio!




Ha!


This is before the scab came off...

Now the star's a baby pink colour.

I know! It's not very well-done. I'm gonna go get it touched up by my snowflake guy.

That's it about the tattoo!

Random photo:


Mike being cute

Gillian's birthday!



Mike and I on our way


At this nice French restaurant


Choosing dishes


All of us, with Mr Tan (G's dad) blurred out coz he wants his privacy


Birthday girl with Rozz Joey and Bryan


They got engaged when G was 22! I am 23! MIKEEE!!!!!!!!!


Horrible raw-ish scallops. Hate raw food


The dish is almost finished, but this is the BEST salad I ever had!

Warm prawn salad. YUM


Mediocre foie gras


Mike + me


Us girls

Being a director, Gillian knows she must know and master all sorts of expressions.

For example,


"This one, my cake ah?"


"Must be joking right, nah bey, so small like ant."


"Heh? Answer, anyone?"


"OK la, I try to make do with this."


"I want more cake!"


Of black


And boots






And love + stars

Random photo:


Kelvin acting like Ikea ape


My new pink highlights/extensions!!


With make up and on my way to Dr Georgia Lee's Superstar party!!!


Held at the glamourous poolside of Marriott hotel


Stripper waiters


The girls with fellow star blogger Joe Augustin!




So much fab food it is scary!


In front of the smaller stage


This one Rozz had her eyes closed but my hair looks mighty fine!


Better


Look!


We were trying to mimic the poster behind. :D


David Gan, Cynthia Koh, Ivy Lee, Chen Han Wei


Grabbed over by Joe






Me and Paris Hilton!






(On left, Dr Lee)








So many gorgeous people!!

Entertainment was provided, such as...




A real-life fire blower!!!

He said his fire sticks are "Fire Satay"s and they are delicious!

Do try this at home, stupid people, and try to die from it.


Tarot card reader. She talks quite a bit of nonsense I think.


The pool side is sooooo beautiful


And lastly, a photo of Rozz, Dr Georgia Lee, and me!

I am sooooo sleepy now, good night!

Super busy.

Anyone got a recording of my MSU question?
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