Tok & Opah Irfan Comes A-visiting

31 January 2007 | Hisham | | Family Pics

Last Saturday, my parents (also known as Irfan's Grandparents) came to spend several days with us. It was the first time, they saw Irfan all dressed up ready to go to school with his memory bag prepared for battle. It was also fun for them to be seeing Irfan spelling out words, writing the alphabet and reciting bedtime and mealtime doas. His claim that W was an inverted M is quite amusing.

Watching TV


It's That Double Celebration Time of the Year Again...

29 January 2007 | Hisham | | Recent News

... where I wish my sister Sila a very happy birthday and my parents (and Irfan's grandparents) a very happy anniversary, both from Irfan, Ain & me.

May this year bring more joy and happiness into their lives.

They've been the best family ever and I wouldn't want my life with them in the past 34 years to be different in any way whatsoever.



29 January 2007 | sila | | Family Pics

A little bit of retrospective blogging: back to Mak and Abah's visit here. Even though it was early November, we had a nice warm-ish day, so we decided to head out to Miami University Middletown (MUM) tennis courts for a little exercise. Abah, of course, has been playing tennis (and playing it well) for 40 years. Hisham and I both learned to play when we were little, and I know I was never very good at it.

But I do love going outside, going to the courts, and getting some exercise (trying to beat Vin which I have never done yet - give me time!). So the four of us packed into the car, and took the short drive to MUM. We couldn't drive right up to the tennis courts (they closed the gate to the access road) so we parked the car in the car park a short walk away and walked on to the courts.

Beautiful fall day, beautiful day for tennis

Cracken's Collection of What?!?

25 January 2007 | Hisham | | Role Playing Games, Star Wars

Cracken's Collection of Crazed Crackpots Cover Clangs CowbellsIn the tradition of West End Games' series of sourcebooks such as Cracken's Rebel Field Guide, Cracken's Rebel Operatives and Cracken's Threat Dossier (all of which are books written in-universe by the fictional General Airen Cracken), I now bring you the non-official mini-sourcebook pdf for the Star Wars Roleplaying Game (D6 rules version)...

Cracken's Collection of Crazed Crackpots.

It's created 100% by open source software. The artwork was made with The Gimp, the layouts were done in Scribus, and some elements were saved in EPS and ported from Inkscape. And it's compressed into a zip file by Ubuntu's onboard archiver.

It's basically a book about some dangerous escapees from a nuthouse. Stats are included for D6 roleplaying goodness. Take it seriously at your own risk... and sanity. Apologies for not having the time to create a back page.

Oh, and Airen Cracken doesn't really appear until the end.

Right click and save at this here link. The zip filesze is 1.8 MB.


Yesterday's Birthday Cake

23 January 2007 | Hisham | | Family Pics, Food

Yesterday was Ain's birthday. I thought I could have the money to buy a present for Ain this year. But we spent way over our regular budget this month getting Irfan prepared for kindergarten. So, maybe next year.

Anyway, there was cake as can be seen in the photograph below.

And apparently Irfan ain't partial to yoghurt cheese cakes.

Which is good news, cause there's more for me! :-D


Bread for Abah and Mak

22 January 2007 | sila | | Family Pics

A quick review back to Mak and Abah's visit here last year. After all this while of looking at the breads I've been baking, I finally got a chance to have them taste my home made breads. Here's Abah and Mak's introduction to one of Vin's favorite breads, Raisin Orange Bread.

While I was making this bread, Abah was running around wondering when he would get to eat it! After all, with bread baking you have to knead the dough, let it rise, then shape the loaf and let it rise again (that's about the average way to bake bread, with 2 risings). Without the rising, the yeast won't make the bread nice and fluffy! Then after all this, the bread has to go in the oven to bake. Abah was just about ready to give up on the bread when it finally got out of the oven.

Abah and Mak smelling bread fresh from the oven

10 Reasons not to go outside

22 January 2007 | sila | | Family Pics

After about a week of rain and snow flurries and overcast skies (luckily it wasn't too too cold so no snow stuck), Friday was a sunny day. Cold and windy, but the sun was finally out and Vin and I took the afternoon off to go out and spend the afternoon together. Saturday wasn't a bad day either. But this is what I woke up to this morning and my heart fell.

Let's not be shy about it. Believe me, I don't make any excuses - I will say it out loud and say it strong.




I loathe it. I think that snow is the single most depressing thing in the world, and the one reason that I would think about moving. Here are 10 pictures of the scene I saw when I woke up this morning. The first snow of the season that has any kind of accumulation - looks like about 3 inches on the ground. Grrrrrr.


Illustration Friday: Super Hero

20 January 2007 | Hisham | | Artwork

It's been several ice ages since I participated in an Illustration Friday. So, here's one for this week. Created wholly with the Gimp 2.2 using the handy-dandy Wacom - after I finally figured out how to activate pressure sensitivity of the stylus. Which took me an hour or so.

The subject is "Super Hero", something almost ever child dreamed of being at least once in his or her life. So here is a kid acting out his fantasy to be a costumed crimefighter, hopefully without breaking a limb falling off the roof.


Lunch With Nanda

18 January 2007 | Hisham | | ACS Memories

Nandakumar has been a good friend of mine since I was 14. Form 2 was when this newcomer to Sitiawan traipsed into our classroom and sat close to me along with the usual suspects, Teik Sing, Khoots, Warren, et. at. Despite being good friends, we rarely see each other these days. Life positioned us where it was difficult to meet, and inundated us with many other issues to deal with that meeting Nanda wasn't the foremost on my mind. The last time we met was during Laskmanan's wedding before Irfan was born.

Until today. Ain and I met up with him at SS20's roadside restaurant. (It was my idea to eat there, I hoped he liked the food.)

He has to get back to work on shift at the oil rig next week. There were plenty to talk about and not enough time to talk about everything. We talked about how much fun it was to grow up in Sitiawan, old friends, playing Karateka at my home computer, tuition (and hijinks en route on bicycles), his first day at ACS Sitiawan and a whole bunch of other crap.

He reads this website once in a while so Heya Nanda! <waves>

One of these days, I think we have got to get the old gang back together for lunch / dinner / whatever. I suspect there'll be a whole lot of laughs and great stories to tell.


5 Favourite Movies - A Meme

16 January 2007 | Hisham | | Friends, Movie Review

Tagged by the Hijack Queen with her metahuman abilities to hijack any sort of forum thread - quite an impressive feat if I might add - I will attempt to oblige her with my top favourite movies of all time as of today.

The "as of today" statement is a proviso, cause the movies can sort themselves differently as time goes by.

If this was 20 years ago, there would probably be two hundred science fiction and fantasy movies crammed into just the five spots. Since this is the here and now I will cut it down to one movie per spot, and diversify genres somewhat.

Hey, you know what? Let's put in a mini-review for each just for the hell of it.


Irfan Goes To Kindergarten

15 January 2007 | Hisham | | Family Pics

Today was Irfan's first day at school.

He was awaken an hour earlier than usual and was thrust under a shower much to his displeasure. But after a warm bottle of milk, he was all psyched up at the notion of going to school and meeting new friends. Among the shadows in the back, Irfan's dad was hoping he'd learn about how to handle the darker side of humanity, such as jealousy, vengeance, rage and other disagreeable traits stemming from fear and the inablilty to deal with one's emotions. And certainly a bunch of 4-6 year olds will teach him how to deal with those.

Yes, they will.


Wil Revisits His Encounter At Farpoint

14 January 2007 | Hisham | | Misc Sci-Fi, TV
Ensign Wesley Crusher wasn't really my favourite character on Star Trek The Next Generation all those years ago. Not to say I didn't like him like a lot of the Wesley-haters that existed I later learnt, but I thought Data was much more an interesting character.

Wil expresses political viewHis actor Wil Wheaton on the other hand has been one of my favourite online personalities (and a wonderful writer) ever since I came across his website three years ago. In addition to his site, he also writes for Suicide Girls and TV Squad. (Also, he's my age and a comics & RPG geek too.)

I remember waiting for the premiere of TNG back in '88 on TV3. It arrived in full regalia complete with newspaper colour spreads and weekly "tune in to find out the answer" contest. I didn't care much about the extra trimmings. Being a Trekkie, all I cared about was the show itself. The premiere episode was "Encounter at Farpoint" two parter which introduced us to the new Enterprise and its crew - strangely enough led by a Frenchman who spoke in a perfect English accent, I thought. (But it was frakking Gurney Halleck, so I let it slide.)

Wil Wheaton recently reviewed "Encounter at Farpoint" at TV Squad and it's the funniest thing I've ever read. Not only he write with sarcasm and humour, he also writes as a Trekkie who just happened to work on one of the biggest TV events in my teeneaged years and with complete respect for the people with whom he worked to bring TNG to life on television.

Part 1 goes here and Part 2 goes there.

A New Playgound (On the Computer Desktop)

13 January 2007 | Hisham | | Linux

After I vowed to install Linux into this here home computer some time last October, this machine is now 100% Linux. The 100% part was because my old two hundred year old Windows installer CD had reached the end of its days and I needed an operating system quick. Why didn't I retain the old Windows XP already installed in the computer and go dual boot? I broke it fiddling with dual boot, thank you very much.

The Linux distro installed is Ubuntu 6.06 Dapper Drake. Although its original desktop environment was GNOME, I've installed K Desktop Environment (KDE) over it, effectively turning it into Kubuntu.

So cutting through all the techinical details for now, here's what the desktop and its associated applications looks like.


Bahamian Break

09 January 2007 | sila | | Family Pics

Christmas is a time for us to take a break. Get away from real life. Leave work behind and relax. Last year, we flew out to San Francisco and took a road trip up the coast north of San Francisco. This year, since we’d just done the road trip through the South West (it was 2030 driving miles total) so we decided we wanted to just go someplace warm and veg out.

So we went to the Bahamas! Wheeeeee! We were away for 8 days, staying at the Paradise Island Harbor Resort

Harbor Resort

Some Internet Stress Therapy For Everyone

08 January 2007 | Hisham | | Trawling The Net

Click on this link and I double dare you not to go "Awwwwww....."

Click it!!!



In a galaxy far, far away... Southwestern Road Trip Day 8

06 January 2007 | sila | | Family Pics

After a long hiatus, here’s the final part of the Southwestern Road Trip. Finally! I know! Forgot already. But here's the last part of the story.

Our final morning in Flagstaff dawned bright and early. We were packed up and ready to hit the road to head south to Phoenix. We were planning to be in Phoenix by lunch time to meet up with Vin's cousin Becky, and the drive would take about 2 hours total. So we decided to meander down to Phoenix by way of Sedona. We ended up hanging out at Red Rock State Park, visited Cathedral Rock (which Becky, Vin and I climbed in a previous visit), and then drove on to Phoenix.



Two Views Of The Same Page

05 January 2007 | Hisham | |, Linux, Recent News

Because I've using Firefox on Ubuntu 6.06 LTS to surf the net, here are two different looks of this website's index page. I have no preference on which is better looking, but apart from the fonts, there really isn't much difference, thanks to Ubuntu not being able to display the Trebuchet MS font. The original screen resolution is 1200 x 800.

The top is the WinXP Firefox with the Aluminum Kai 2 theme; and below is the Ubuntu Firefox on Ubuntu with the Ubuntu Tangerine theme.

Click on the thumbnails to view the larger images.

Last night however, the home desktop died a fiery death and I can't reinstall any OS. Not WinXP, not Ubuntu. (Thankfully, God created work laptops.) Thanks to a suggestion from Kris Vanderwater the Atlantean, I'm now downloading Knoppix ISO file to see if I can run the Knoppix Linux-based OS off the CD. However, if the old hard disk drive is physically damaged, I don't think I can install anything into the systems partition of the first hard disk drive... which means desperate measures (translation: money to be spent) will be required.


Shanes Spectacularly Shows Off His Joes

04 January 2007 | Hisham | | Friends

My pal Shane, seen here as a COBRA Crimson Guard commander, has the best collection of G.I. Joes I've ever seen. Now it's not just the quantity, but his Joe figures is used thoroughly in the photos Shane took and posted at his JoesDios page where he goes by the monicker, LordRaven. There are quite a number of excellently composed photos in his gallery.

Check it out here.


Irfan Breaks Teluk Batik Surf

02 January 2007 | Hisham | | Family Pics

Tuesday morning Tok Irfan took us all to Teluk Batik, my old beach stomping ground, for a picnic. Naturally like all my old stomping grounds it doesn't look a bit like what it used to when the old crew combed the beach for nothing in particular, swimming among the jellyfish spawn and getting painfully sunburned. No more easy access with the car to the edge of the sand. No more wide grassy area just short of the beach. No more walks through the wilderness to the neighbouring Teluk Rubiah (now a golf course instead of a desolate beach).

Upon holing up, Irfan immediately went for the water with me in tow, although he was reluctant to jump in immediately. But I held his hand and he waded in cautiously, giggling each time the waves hit him. He didn't complain at all when I took him out where his legs couldn't touch the sand. After that he pretty much just stayed at the shoreline, playing some sort of game with the crashing surf either jumping over it or fleeing away when it approaches.


A Snappy New Year To All

01 January 2007 | Hisham | | Family Pics

Another Gregorian year is over.

There were numerous message replies to it over text messaging, such as the fairly regular "Yep! Happy New Year!" to "I propose a moratorium on New Years for another 50 years", and the reply to my paraphrasing Agnes Skinner's "My bones are half dust" over how the years are treating us all, "You're lucky. Mine's part of someone's grandma's favourite sunday dinner china..."

You know who you are, regular blog readers.