GLOCCOVNAA is an abbreviation for 'Great Life of Conflict, Climax or Virtually Nothing At All'. That was the long and ridiculous name I came out for my blog when I was 18 years old. Do click on the colourful icons on the right to check out different types of posts in this blog.

31 December, 2012

Retrospectacular 2012

Hey kids, "Retrospectacular" is not a real word, so don't use it in your essay in school.

ret·ro·spec·tac·u·lar [re-truh-spek-tak-yuh-ler]
1. to refer; to contemplate; to look back on dramatically daring or thrilling event: a retrospectacular concert.
2. contemplation of the past impressive, large-scale display: another retrospectacular.

Usually when it comes to the end of a year, most of us tend to form a list of new year resolutions. Looking at my past resolutions, I can only make one conclusion: IT DOESN'T WORK! Last year when I was in Glasgow, I made a resolution to lose 5kg over 2012 after losing around 5kg in the first six months away from home. What's amazing was that I lost 5kg without doing any vigorous exercises or follow any strict diet plans. The only change was that I had to walk regularly to buy groceries and to lectures instead of travelling by car in Malaysia. I felt much healthier that time and was motivated to start a more intensive dieting and more frequent cardio exercise routine. So for the first 3-4 months of this year, I ate less fatty foods, more protein and did some basic exercise on a daily basis. To my surprise, I did not lose any weight whatsoever!!!
This was my standard lunch, one chicken thigh with soup.
I prefer a contemplation, a retrospectacular to looks at my past year. So only spectacular things will be in this list to keep it short and hopefully... sweet.

2012: Year of Culinary Experiments
In Glasgow, I had the freedom in the kitchen to make whatever I wanted to make, whenever I want to make. Of course most of the time we cook our regular meals there, but sometimes when I cook meals for myself, I tend to try out some of my own little experiments such as cooking Bolognese spaghetti with blue cheese, making Char Siew and Siew Yoke, mixing my own coleslaw and packing blue cheese and chicken breast sandwich. I found that many people think cooking is a chore, at times it can be enjoyable, especially knowing that there will be a tasty product at the end to satisfy my appetite.

2012: Year of Travelling
Sampling of places I've visited in 2012
I have visited 10 countries in my life so far, 5 of which I visited in 2012. I think I enjoy travelling a lot, probably more than I thought I would. You can read about them from posts under my #WalkALOT label. Every place I visited was an interesting story on its own that could be shared with my children the way my dad shared his Europe travel stories with me.

Places I visited this year are:
1. Edinburgh, Scotland.
8. Zurich, Switzerland.
2. St Andrews, Scotland.
9. Interlaken, Switzerland.
3. London, England.
10. Innsbruck, Austria.
4. Dundee, Scotland.
11. Munich, Germany.
5. Isle of Skye, Scotland.
12. Linz, Austria.
6. Glencoe, Scotland.
13. Vienna, Austria.
7. Cologne, Germany.
14. Paris, France.

Among those, I think my favourites are Isle of Skye, London and Interlaken. Isle of Skye and Interlaken for their breathtaking views and London for the atmosphere.
Isle of Skye gets my Number One recommendation!!!
2012: Year of Stress
I am sure everyone should recognize that the final year in university life is always the craziest, most hectic and chaotic time in study life. My study desk was like a place where I eat, sleep, study and mourn over the tonnes of material needed to study. In addition to the usual final exams were those mandatory essays, tests and presentations which also contributed to my boiling stress level. But all that effort paid off with the next...

2012: Year of Graduation
In kilt!!! 
After studying for close to four year of tertiary education, I have finally graduated with Master of Pharmacy. So now I am going to be an official working man already!!! One sad thing is that after studying for four years with the same group of friends, we have formed a strong bond which will soon be torn apart when all of us get posted to hospital all over the country. I am glad I had a bunch of great comrades who were all pursuing the same challenging goal.

Since I am starting a new phase of my life next year, I predict it will be even more spectacular... so may you have a


24 December, 2012

Kampung Dumbarton

Around Christmas time over a year ago, most of my housemates were going on holiday tours around Europe while only a hand full of us remained in Glasgow. I actually wanted to go for a Christmas holiday as well but I had to deal with my research project while everyone else was having fun. I can't complain since I had been relaxing for too long while others rush to complete their lab sessions. Now back to the main title which is my "Christmas trip". Dumbarton is a little town/village around 30km away from Glasgow. It may not sound far but the effort to get to the clinic there was ridiculously tedious. Why would I travel to Dumbarton if not to complete my research?

It was 7am on a Monday morning. There was no lecture, no lab sessions, no reason for anyone else to wake up at that time. I got ready for my journey with my laptop in my bag and left around 7.45am to Queen Street Station to catch the 8am train to Dumbarton Central. It was -4ºC outside when I left and I had to walk really slowly to avoid slipping on black ice *it snowed the night before*. That was the reason why I dislike snow, the fact that it will melt and refreeze into black ice, the smoothest and most dangerous surface to walk on.

The train ride to Dumbarton was just delightful. It was around 30 minutes of snow capped hills and a panoramic view of Clyde River, I enjoyed the whole journey. Throughout the journey, I had my earphone on blasting with my favourite KPop playlist. There were two train stations in Dumbarton, Dumbarton Central and Dumbarton East. At that time I only knew about the central station and already planned to alight when they announced "Dumbarton". Guess what? Dumbarton East was the station before Dumbarton Central. So the moment I heard "Dumbar..." while the music was still playing in my ear, I got off the train and realized I had no idea where I was.

It was 8.35am and I was totally stunned and worried that I won't be able to make it to the Hartfield Clinic in time for my 9am appointment with the local pharmacist. The next train was not going to arrive until 8.55am, so I would have to find my way to the clinic on foot. The station was totally deserted. There wasn't even a ticket counter because the station only had those sophisticated electronic ticketing machines. As crazy as it sounds, I walked out of the station, picked a random direction and hoped to get help from somebody nearby. Dumbarton has got to be the emptiest town I have ever been. How was it possible to walk for 5 minutes near the town center and not see a single person or vehicle?
I finally found a 24 hour convenient store after 10 minutes. The shopkeeper was very helpful and guided me to the clinic. The weirdest thing was that I had been walking in the correct direction all the while and I was almost there. It was really just a fluke!!! In fact I reached Hartfield Clinic at 8.50am and the pharmacist I was supposed to meet wasn't even there yet. Our meeting was simple and short. Then when I was about to leave, I asked her whether there were any tourist attractions in the area. She was a little dumbfounded by my question, probably because Dumbarton had little to no tourists. However after asking several other staffs, they recommended two places to visit, Dumbarton Castle and the Scottish Maritime Museum a.k.a. Denny's Tank.
The weather that day was very bad, it was raining while I was walking to the museum. Later it started snowing for a short while and then rained again when I was walking to Dumbarton Castle. The maritime museum, known by the locals as Denny's Tank, was built on the site of the old maritime research tank where ship builders test their ship designs with miniatures in the long water tank, scaled down to roughly 1/100 to gauge efficiency of various propulsion methods. William Denny and Brothers Limited, the company which operated in Dumbarton around the mid-19th century was famous for supplying clipper ships to many countries, some still used in New Zealand and around Europe. The most notable ship built is the Cutty Sark, now a museum ship in Greenwich, London. The museum was very informative and interesting, but it is a waste since I heard from the tour guide that very few tourist visit Dumbarton and even fewer visit the museum. So if anyone decide to visit Dumbarton or the nearby Loch Lomond, this place is definitely recommended.
On the contrary, Dumbarton Castle was a total disappointment. To be honest, I do not really enjoy castles very much, but I still think some majestic castles like Edinburgh Castle, Eilean Donan Castle and Stirling Castle are worth visiting. Dumbarton Castle was built on a huge rock known as Dumbarton Rock facing the Clyde River. It was said that it is one of the oldest stronghold in Great Britain, so it has a long history dating back to the 5th century. That was as interesting as it gets! To make things worst, a huge part of the castle was closed for restoration and repair works, so the £3.60 was a total rip-off!
I traveled back to Glasgow from Dumbarton Central around noon.
That's it! I did return to Dumbarton a month later but that time was strictly for my research follow-up only. Even a short trip like that could turn out to be a crazy adventure to me. By the way, I would like to wish everyone
We survived the end of the world!!!


20 December, 2012

H&N KaBoom!!!!

Remember this scene from the beginning of Star Trek VI.
I watched several documentaries of this crazy 2012 phenomenon a long long time ago when it was the hottest topic around, I think it was 2009 then. The Roland Emmerich movie was big in the cinemas too and Ivan and I managed to get free tickets to watch it weeks after it was released. Even then the cineplex hall was filled to the brim and both of us had to sit at the first few rows, bending our necks upwards for more than 2 hours.
Come to think of it, the movie is actually very entertaining. Obviously it was not an accurate prediction of things that could actually happen, but at least it shows a variety of human responses to a devastating situation. Some times when I read the news about people stocking up food in their shelters to prepare for D-day, I think to myself, if D-day is true, what difference can that make if the world is going to end? Do you think hiding in an underground shed with a bunch of supplies can prevent obliteration? Nice try!!! In fact over the course of history, Eschatology, the study of the end is common among religions. But in my opinion, why bother?
How cool would that be?
Since we are "going to die" anyway, I was thinking of cool ways to go. Would it be nice if destruction could be cool like in movies? There is this Japanese movie from 1968 called 怪獣総進撃, known in English as Destroy All Monsters which has all the famous kaiju monsters mashed into a huge brawl. Although the world didn't end in the movie, I am sure these guys would be more than capable of causing that if they wanted to. Hollywood movies in the past have been showing many scenarios that could lead to D-day too, remember Armageddon or The Core?
Can you tell I am fan of that Bruce Willis movie?
I almost forget the Terminator scenario. It would be crappy for us if we survive Skynet's nuclear escapade, but knowing that John Connor will be there somewhere in Los Angeles sending his father back to fight Arnold, then sending Arnold back to fight that guy from X-Files, then his wife sending Arnold back to fight that girl from Bloodrayne, and somehow look a lot like Bruce Wayne... That would be the coolest thing to ever happen!!! And yes, I am a Terminator fanatic too!!!

Who cares whether the world ends tomorrow?
As long as we have lived our lives fruitfully, we shouldn't have any regrets. Just look forward and come what may!!!


P.S.: I do not believe in this D-day based on Mayan calendar "shenanigan", so prove me wrong!
P.P.S.: Prepare for Facebook and Twitter to explode with #endoftheworld updates.
P.P.P.S.: Are you still reading this?

17 December, 2012

H&N November

You know the funny thing about my blog recently, I made a Christmas post before my November post...
Anyway November was the most eventful month I have had in a while. I went to Glasgow for my convocation, spent 2 weeks at home alone doing social networking and finishing some Buddhist video work. That doesn't sound like much but compared to the idling in the past few months, that was hectic!!!
Barony Hall is so grand!!!
So I planned a week long trip to Glasgow for my graduation ceremony and stayed with my mentee. Words can't really describe my feeling of staying back at my old house, cooking at my old kitchen and walking around Glasgow reminiscing the year I spent there. I also got to wear a kilt for my ceremony. How cool was that? The temperature outside was around 5°C and the breeze was blowing in my unprotected groin area... WOW! The ceremony was very grand, the hall was filled with families and friends and I invited Zamir and Guo Hong to the ceremony as guests as well. They also helped to stand in as my photographers of the day and did a wonderful job.

Just a few days before the graduation ceremony was my birthday. I had a chat with my parents through Skype the previous day and spent my day as usual. It was around 11pm when Zamir told me a friend was looking for me in the kitchen. Then I walked to the kitchen and they pulled out two birthday cakes to surprise me. I really appreciate their effort to celebrate my birthday when I was away from Malaysia. Thank you guys!
Thank you Zamir, Kang Wee, Seng Yang and Guo Hong :D
On the day before the ceremony, I met Kumar along the street while collecting my kilt and he invited me to join his family on a day trip to Oban the day after the ceremony since I was free. The tour took us to Oban as well as Inveraray, Glencoe and Inverarnan. The weather was horrible for the first half of the day, even until we reached Oban for lunch. Then after a short drizzle, the mist that was ruining all the photos were cleared but we were already on our way back to Glasgow. Kumar's family were all very friendly and their company was definitely a highlight of the trip.
Just hours before I reached Malaysia, my parents left for their India pilgrimage tour for 13 days. Of course this was not the first time I was left at home alone but it was really fun to have total freedom for 3 weeks including the Glasgow trip. I was so bored that I satisfied my time with social networking and also went for GSC free movie with Ivan and Rizdwan, this time was Skyfall!!! That's probably why I dedicated 2 recent posts to James Bond.

I think that's it! Hope you enjoyed it... read it while you can until next Friday #endoftheworld


16 December, 2012

Confessions of a Gameless Child

Ok! Gameless is actually not quite true in my case, so it should be

Confessions of a Game Console-less Child
When I was in my early primary school years, I was like every other kid in my school, not studying much and playing all the time. At that time I didn't know anything about video games, all I wanted to do everyday was to play finger games. Finger games are those we play one on one, some are more complex versions of rock paper scissors and some are special hand shakes. My favourite was called "Ji Gu Ba", a two hand combination of conventional rock paper scissors and 가위 바위 보 (kai-bai-bo), Korean rock paper scissors. *I just found that out recently*
Agumon from an old mathematics book

Then came my generation's video game age. I remember when I was 8-9 years old, my friends in school who had elder siblings would have played the PlayStation at home and were the cocky ones in school bragging about how Metal Gear Solid and Resident Evil were the best game in the world. Another group of cocky kids were those who had either Tamagotchi or Digimon Digipets. Most of them brought those to tuition classes to play since they were not allowed to bring them to school. I always wanted to have one myself but my parents told me "how can you take care of a pet when you can't take care of yourself?". There was also a trend to shade old mathematics exercise book pages with 8-bit pixel Digimon shapes. So I was the kid who would be salivating when a bunch of friends discuss their newest games and levels.

This look like my old GBC!
The other phenomenal game that time was Pokémon, both the GameBoy games and the trading card games. Everyone was playing Pokémon cards around the early 2000s. When my parents bought me my first deck of Pokemon cards, I felt like I was back in the "trendy" world in class again, or at least not an outcast anymore.  Around that time, my aunt gave me a GameBoy Color for my birthday. I literally felt like a superstar that year thanks to Pokémon. The GameBoy came with just one cartridge which had 101 games, among them were Mickey Mouse: Magic Wands!, my favourite game at that time. My best friend Guan Huan introduced a game he said to be "the best game ever made", which was Pokémon Silver version. He lent his cartridge to me after he finished the game and I was hooked for hours.

During one Chinese New Year, my family visited my dad's cousin and for the first time in my life, I played my cousin's "old" PlayStation *PS2 was out already*. We played the original Gran Turismo while the adults chat. That was the time I understand why everyone was crazy about it. If I am not mistaken, I played that racing game with him for the whole afternoon and I was still not satisfied.

More than ten year later, I still have an underlying urge to play video games. A few months ago I was watching several videos by James Rolfe a.k.a. the Angry Video Game Nerd and Pat Contri a.k.a. Pat the NES Punk about classic games and I decided to download a Nintendo 64 emulator to play Goldeneye and Ocarina of Time. Before that I also downloaded an NDS emulator to play Megaman ZX Advent and Digimon World Dawn and Dusk. It is just like reliving my console-less childhood, bringing out the fun and excitement from those naive years of the past.
the best Zelda game ever!!!
Am I the only person who still plays vintage games on my pc?
Am I missing out on more modern games?

I still play my League of Legends when my internet is not at snail speed. But whenever nostalgic feeling kicks in, I will always open my Project64 for a spin on Starfox 64.


13 December, 2012

H&N Christmas

What is the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to Christmas?

Santa Claus?
Christmas Tree?
Baby Jesus?
Small eyed me dressed as Santa?
I am not a Christian, in fact I am one who thinks that Christmas is just one big fat lie by parents to keep kids disciplined, which somehow evolved to a multi-billion dollar idea to sell gifts and toys. But I am not totally against this colourful holiday, I like to see those bright decorations and I love Christmas food. I am not really a fan of stuffed turkey, but I love the cookies and candy. Besides, Christmas is a holiday where family and friends gather to have a big feast together, how can I dislike that?
Cookies from last year's early Christmas party in Glasgow.
The best thing that comes from Christmas to me are awesome movies. I am not referring to movies like Santa Claus, Home Alone or Grinch, my first impression of Christmas movies is John McClane. I heard they are coming with another Die Hard soon. But of course Die Hard 1 and 2 are the only ones with Christmas themes and are awesome as always. I had the chance to watch those two movies at a young age and even after watching them dozens of times, the ending scenes of both movies where the John and Holly reunite with Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! by Vaughn Moore still puts a smile on my face every time.
Yippee Ki yay, mother@#$%er
oh ya! and Mr Bean!!! He is and will always be slapstick comedy god to me although he only had 15 episode of Mr Bean. Too little for a brilliant comedian like him. Where is Rowan Atkinson now? 
You know what is the perfect Christmas combination? No no, not nice gifts under a huge Christmas tree and beautiful decorated ornaments. I'd rather spend more effort on having a complete Christmas dinner with family and friends, munch on Christmas cookies while laughing at Merry Christmas Mr Bean episode, then after the kids go to sleep, start the Die Hard 1 and 2 marathon! Additional bonus if there is snow outside. *Sob sob sob...* I wish I am still in Glasgow now!
Snow can be so beautiful even near an ugly James Blyth Court.
On a side note, I just won 2 contests in a row recently. The first one was a second prize for The Big Bang Theory slogan contest by HyppTV and another was Nuffnang's Premiere Screening of Jack Reacher. Thank you HyppTV and Nuffnang!!! My parents kept saying that I somehow have luck with these competitions. My principle of joining competitions or doing anything for that matter is
"If you try, there is a chance.
If you don't try, it is impossible."
Now that I think about it, I also won tickets for Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol last year, also a Tom Cruise movie, what a coincidence! So if you are going for the Jack Reacher premiere screening, see you there!
50 and still going strong!

12 December, 2012

London Solo Trip #11 Aftermath

I don't hate you bed, I just have insomnia.
I read the past 10 posts about my London trip and I found that it ended on a bad note. When I returned to Glasgow, I didn't actually feel that down and unhappy, all I thought about was getting a rest. So the moment I got back to my room, I jumped straight to bed for a well deserved sleep. The weird thing was that I suddenly felt energetic and after staring at the ceiling for more than 15 minutes, I might as well be making good use of my time by unloading and reviewing my photos from my tiny red camera. Then when I walked to he kitchen to get something to drink, I found my kitchen and living room filled with packs of food. It was a total mess, almost as if someone had a chaotic party without opening any food.
Forget to introduce you to my makeshift coffee maker, I will go into that later.
Hours passed as I edited my photos with no urge to sleep whatsoever. Then my craving for coffee came and as soon as I finished a full cup of coffee, I started yawning and went to bed within minutes. *Another proof that coffee makes me sleep for some reason* By the way, you know the bad thing about sleeping in the morning, someone can just enter your room to wake you, especially if that someone doesn't have the habit of knocking. Where was I? Oh right, Chern Fei suddenly bashed himself into my room and woke me from my wonderful dream to make me prepare coleslaw for a barbecue party in the afternoon that he "supposedly told me yesterday" although I was in London then.
To be fair, it was a great getaway from the stressful finals we had less than a week before.
Great! Now I know why there was a mess in the kitchen and why I am still tired but can't seem to sleep in peace. Everyone was at the kitchen when I got out to make the coleslaw. The party was not bad, especially since it was planned just 1 or 2 days ahead. Almost all of the food in our kitchen and living room was used up over the day long party... and yes, it was from lunch all the way till dinner time non-stop feasting. They even organized several games, one of which I was not allowed to join because they said I would win... lol! How could I win every movie charades?
Charades on the lawn!!!
The other was modified Chubby Bunny, with cherry tomatoes.
So how was that for an ending to a 4 days 3 nights London Solo Trip? It took my mind off all the horrible memories of the previous day immediately. So now that I think about my whole trip, I have to say that it wasn't the best trip I have had, however I have gained more confidence in arranging an itinerary to be more flexible and less prone to mishaps like this one. My mom asked me a while ago whether I regretted travelling to and from London by bus, I answered very honestly "Yes". But it was an experience well worth the hardship, an experience of a lifetime I would probably never ever want to try again.


09 December, 2012

The Place for Bond-ing

As a Bond fan, I have been trying to incorporate Bond elements into my travels. While looking through my old photos, I found one in particular from long ago, when I was 3 years old.

My dad carrying me in Phuket.
That was probably the first time I ever visited a Bond location in my life. The photo was taken from Khao Phing Kan a.k.a. James Bond Island looking at Ko Tapu, the nail shaped island behind. We were touring Phuket, Thailand and this was one of the most popular destinations there. This was the location to 1974's The Man With The Golden Gun. In the movie, James Bond (Roger Moore) was challenged by the villain Francisco Scaramanga a.k.a. the man with the golden gun (Christopher Lee) to a gun duel at his secret island base. On the island, Scaramanga was accompanied by his little butler, Nick Nack (Hervé Villechaize) and one other unnamed henchman.
Notice Ko Tapu island behind them.
One film location that Bond movies use often is Venice, Italy. As early as 1963, From Russia With Love showed Bond in his first boat chase and romantic finale scenes filmed around those scenic islands. Then in 1979, Bond got an upgraded hover gondola for another fast paced chase scene in Moonraker. The 2006 Bond reboot Casino Royale shot a long romantic scene between the two leads as well as an action scene set in a sinking building along the Venetian Canal.
Bond (Roger Moore) in his hover gondola at Piazza San Marco.
Bond (Daniel Craig) driving a sail yacht near Rialto Bridge
When I was in London, I also took the effort to visit the SIS headquarters a.k.a. MI6 and Somerset House, which was set for both St Petersburg Square in Goldeneye (1995) and MI6 war office in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997).
Q (Judi Dench) looking at MI6 Building exploding as seen in Skyfall.
Somerset House used to show St Petersburg Square where Bond (Pierce Brosnan) and CIA Jack Wade's car breaks down.
Again used to show the War Office where Bond drives his DB5.
Scotland and its marvelous landscape was also used as film locations for several Bond movies. I visited the Scottish Highlands during a trip I made to Isle of Skye not long ago and the tour guide stopped by several film locations along the way including The Old Man of Stor in Isle of Skye, Eilean Donan Castle near Dornie and also Glencoe area. The Eilean Donan Castle, which is currently the most photographed castle in Scotland was shown in The World Is Not Enough as the MI6 Headquarters in Scotland after the explosion in SIS headquarters London at the beginning of the 1999 movie. The newest movie Skyfall (2012) was also shot in Glencoe in several scenes depicting Bond's heritage.
Eilean Donan Castle looks quite different with those antennas.
I was actually there twice, once in summer and another 3 weeks ago.
In my previous post, I mentioned that I visited Piz Gloria, Switzerland during my Europe trip to see the film location of my favourite Bond movie On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) where both the internal and external shots of the mountain top platform and revolving restaurant were used to show Blofeld's secret base disguised as an allergy research clinic. By the way, I noticed that the restaurant above was expanded.
Bond (George Lazenby) slides on the snowy platform while firing his machine gun in the climatic action scene.
The last one was actually in a minor scene of The Living Daylights where Bond (Timothy Dalton) went for a horse carriage ride with Kara Milovy around Vienna and passes many local tourist sights.
The horse carriage went pass Schönbrunn Palace garden, which was hosting a dance party.
I think that was all the Bond film locations I have visited. There are some other minor ones I have passed by but didn't take any pictures, so I can't really show here. Wait... I almost forgot Buckingham Palace which appeared in Die Another Day (2002) in a scene where the villain parachutes and lands in the front lot of the palace.
The most iconic location that I have been is a place that people think of whenever they think of London. What other symbol of London can be more iconic than the Palace of Westminster which appeared in many Bond films.
First time seeing it in Dr No (1962).
Then a dirty looking shot in Goldfinger (1964)
And in the opening boat chose of The World Is Not Enough (1999)
I wonder when I would be able to visit another film location anytime soon.
*Oh one other thing, the photos that you see before the screenshots from the movies are all from my camera's prospective, so my position may not be the one used in the movie. But I just want to show that I was there.*