elb's hovel of thoughts

Friday, December 30, 2005

Bloody shoe!

Update: The shoes have now been broken into :) Thanks Jenni for the little tip, but it was unnecessary! Next round though, I will bear it in mind!

The result of trying to break into my new shoes... it broke into my left ankle instead :(

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Ow ow ow :(

Roast Lamb Rack with Breadcrumb Mixture

Guess what yummy food I cooked recently during the Christmas season?

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Once its ready and individual chops carved out. Absolutely perfect and medium done. Sorry that you cannot see the pinkness of the meat properly, time and gastric constraints meant I had no time to bother with lighting the lamb properly.

Does anyone want the recipe? My own version, which I created from looking at various other recipes. Nothing outlandish, quite traditional and simple if you ask me.

Lamb rack (I used a piece of Welsh lamb rack approx 350g)
1 tsp crushed black pepper
Salt to taste
8 tsp butter
Breadcrumb from 1 bread
1 tsp rosemary*
1 tsp oregano*
1 tsp parsley*

* If fresh, double amount.

Season rack with black pepper and salt
Melt 4 tsp butter in a pan
Brown both sides of rack lightly
Remove rack from pan
Put onto a roasting pan
Mix rosemary, oregano, parsley, breadcrumb and the remaining 4 tsp of butter (melted) together
Pat the mixture onto the top of the rack
Preheat oven to 230 C
Insert for 15-20 minutes (I did 20, check out the results as above!)
Remove and allow to stand for several minutes
Put on little paper frills on the ends of the ribs for better presentation!
The best part: Cut and serve and eat!

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Before it is entered into the oven

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And once again, just to remind you how yummy it was! It was so tender and melt in your mouth. Mmmmmmm I can't wait to make it again, if not for the fact that lamb racks are expensive!

Monday, December 26, 2005

Boxing Day Sale Day 1 Report

Edit: I have decided to alter this post to cover my day in some detail.

6.50am: Alarm clocks go off. Yeah, one alarm clock, two mobile phones and an automatic triggering MP3 player alarm.

8.25am: Reach the Underground station. Waited 20 minutes for the stupid train to come. Very few people

9.05am: Arrived at Selfridges. As always, there is a long queue of ladies for designer handbags. Could not help but notice that a sizeable amount of them were of Oriental origin. Walked around the men's clothing area. Nothing much to shout about, at best some of the stuff were going for 30%, maybe 50% off if lucky.

9.50am: Tried on a pair of designer shoes. Liked it. 45% off. The guy who was sitting next to me saw it and wanted it as well; sadly for him I liked it too and it was the last pair of that size. Sorry mate!

10.15am: Examined Molton Brown products. Their sale offering: Exclusive 500ml bottles for the price of 300ml bottles. Might get some actually.

10.30am - 11.20am: Walked from Selfridges to Oxford Circus to Tottenham Court Road. Saw the crowd outside Apple @ Regent Street, and outside MNG waiting for the doors to open. Somehow I felt warm; I removed my jacket and walked clad only in my cotton shirt and long pants and drew a lot of glances. Haven't seen an Oriental immune to the cold is it? (Oh no my cover is busted!...)

11.20am -12.40pm: Grabbed myself a DVD Rewriter (my HDD is fast running out of space with the amount of pictures I keep taking) and something else. Started the walk back to Oxford Circus

12.40pm - 1.15pm: Noticed that there was some sort of auction going on somewhere near Cecil Gee. Only stopped briefly to have a quick look; others around me were unhelpful when I enquired what was going on. Popped by the Apple store to note that the latest generation of iPods were going for 10% off.

1.30pm: Arrive at Knightsbridge just to peer around Sloane Street (no way I could afford to spend any more money). As expected, all the designer stores were closed and covered up so that nobody could tell what was going on inside as they prepare for the sale...

2.00pm: Lunch @ Earl's Court

3.30pm: Home!

Summary: I am broke. Literally. Overspent by way too much. Not going out to the stores anymore for the rest of the sale. Yet to get a sling bag and a trenchcoat though :(

Shopping Tip: towards the last week of the sale, the REAL sales start: the prices drop to around 70% off as they try to clear unsold sale items! The danger is, most of what is left is pretty shitty.

Now, if only Malaysia does this... give us some proper 70% discounts dammit!

My Technological Involvement

So far throughout my life, I can recognize three technology phases that I have gone through. Actually, gone through is not the word because I still strive to maintain all three interests as best I can, but unfortunately the costs of subsequent'phases' gets higher and higher.

Once upon a time (okay well, I still am, but way less severe now), I used to be a computer geek. I would want to upgrade my computer constantly. I had my first computer around 10 years ago. It had an old 386 processor, a teeny screen, and a 1x CD ROM which had no in-built tray but a casing that had to be inserted; but it was sufficient for me to play Silent Hunter while waiting for the school bus to arrive. I still remember jealously watching my friends play MechWarrior II on their 486s.

Within the next couple of years, my parents got for me a Pentium Pro 200MHz system. It cost a princely amount of money back then. Within a couple of months, the mega price crash came tumbling out of the air. Unfortunately, MMX was also introduced after this; which meant that for another couple of years I was left behind again, unable to play virtually most of the new games (as a young teenager, computer games were a BIG deal) because they required MMX coding.

Then it was time to upgrade again. We got a 866MHz P3, which was a major boost. With a lousy video card (Voodoo if I remember), SoundBlaster AWE64 (I think, or was it SB Live! Value?). And a 2.1 Cambridge Soundworks system, complete with awesome plastic subwoofer (hey I was young; and I never knew that the JBL home system was actually way cooler).

Next was some 1.6MHz system; followed by a fully rigged laptop when I came abroad. But I was not satisfied: I spent some dough rigging together a system from scratch with help from a friend. Since then I have made several upgrades; it now consists of amongst other parts a 6800GT graphics card (which I admit is a white elephant; I have no time for games now :( ), Audigy 2 with 5.1 system (well okay I shipped the speakers home), and an ass kicking 19" 4ms ViewSonic LCD. I still miss the old setup of two monitors; you have no idea how CONVINIENT it is to do work with MS Word open on one screen and your research PDF documents on the other monitor!

The second phase was that of mobile phones, or handphone as it is more popularly known at SE Asia (you have no bloody idea how confused the audience gets (and how embarassed a Malaysian gets) during a presentation and the Malaysian presenter says 'handphone'). I started off with a 3310, like most good Malaysians did, which got quickly replaced with the 7110, then the popular 'butterfly' phone. Shit man, don't ask me which models are what. I'm surprised I can even remember the model number of my first two phones.

My last Nokia phone was a 7210, which I sold off. Since then I have used Sharp, Samsung and Motorola. Right now I use the Samsung d600 as my primary phone, with the Motorola v3 as backup for my second line. This interest has now waned. By the way, Nokia's L'Amore range sucks for the record.

My third phase lies in photography. I used to use the point and shoot film cameras, then migrated to a digital P&S in 2002. A 2MP Sony DSC-P2. I still remember how annoyed i got at the grain and how I could almost never take decent night shots. So I made plans to purchase a Fujifilm 8MP compact. I had discussions with various friends, some of who were prodding me towards a dSLR (albeit cautiously). C and Fazri did some of the final pushes, what's more towards Canon.

So I got an EOS 350D. Managed to get the kit written off as my graduation present (love you both!). What I did not anticipate next was the willingness to splash out on various add-ons. I have since added on (within a time span of less than 4 months) the 28-135mm IS USM, 50mm f/1.8 and Speedlight 430EX just to name a few. I even got the older 75-300mm IS USM lens but returned it due to unsatisfactory performance (well, at least on my part). My next plans are for either the 17-40mm L f/4 or 70-300mm IS USM. But at least I'm getting something back; you can earn money from photography.

What's next? I suppose cars (I suspect that that would have been the third phase had I not left Msia), but that depends where I would be for the next few years.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Considering China

Before a couple of days ago, if you had mention China to me as somewhere I might consider a career, I would have given you an are-you-crazy look. It would fly in at one ear and out of the other within a milisecond and I would have totally forgotten about it within the next. For the simple fact that I'm a banana (that's another word for I-know-nuts-about-Chinese), and I haven't had very nice experiences living with some mainland Chinese people. No manners and all that.

But things might change. As you all know; China is growing rapidly; soon to displace the UK as the 4th largest economy in the world. Many of the MNCs are looking for Western-educated Chinese (or at least a command of Mandarin) to work for them there, as I have experienced. But it is not just those facts alone; after all I did give those are-you-crazy looks despite them. No further details, sorry.

Maybe Shanghai. Yes, that might be the best place to go as it is the most 'international' Chinese city around. Which suits me because I have had a very long Western exposure, and I know someone there. But there are many things that need to happen and need to be achieved before that.

I don't know.

Ah well, time to start learning Mandarin I guess.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas @ Oxford Street

Alright well, these pictures were mostly taken last week, so they're slightly outdated but still relevant, because the Boxing Day sales are only 2 days away! (what a great opportunity for street photography, had I not returned the 75-300mm lens I bought... but then again I'll be too busy shopping myself ;) )

Anyway, some of the Christmas-y stuff that has been happening:

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Ice skating outside the Natural History Museum, South Kensington

They closed the whole of Oxford Street into a pedestrian only zone; no vehicles were allowed along it, but allowed to cut across:

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With some entertainment

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A news reporter gets ready but catches me taking a candid shot of him..

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The mass of people as far as the eye can see, doing their shopping on the weekend before Christmas.

I dread to think about the possibly even more massive crowd on Monday (hopefully they will all sleep in dammit), but wahey its part of the Christmas sale experience. Maybe I won't go at all! Anyhow, Selfridges sale starts Monday; Harrods Tuesday. Or so a reliable source tells me ;) The vast majority of the sale should start Tuesday!

Merry Christmas & Seasons Greetings to all!

*All the above pictures were taken with my new Canon EF 50mm 1.8. Planning to buy an L lens next.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Wien Part III: Miscellaneous

I would love to blog about the amazing architecture at Wien, but it would probably bore you to death. So I shall move on to some of the miscellaneous sights of Wien:

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An English evangelical mime troupe performs in the streets near St Stephansplatz.

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Tiramisu from one of the cafes at Vienna.

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An escalator for supermarket trolleys! (Hmm... all kinds of entrepreneurial ideas are running through my head. Argh! Probably by the time I have the capital, someone else would have taken it though :( )

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Some musical scores of various well established performers are to be found!

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A street band, compromising a banjo, an accordian, and a Russian balalaika. The guy playing the banjo was awesome!

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See how much they trust the people with their newspapers? When would the day that ever happens in Malaysia come?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Island Sexfest?

I got this little email earlier, read on and see:


If you read the stories written below by others, I will tell you my own
story exactly as what they said and witnessed by me:

Please Forward The Story To Everyone You Know:

I stayed in Pulau (island) Redang And Pulau Perhentian In Terengganu For 2 weeks due to my research and I observed a lot of things done by the local youngsters to the ladies visited there.

The VICTIMS were those who came alone or with group of girls only, most of them came with one female friend.

They acted as a normal driver of the boat for the resorts but they selected the lone or girls victims mostly the dumb Chinese girls and western ladies.

But if the girls were accompanied by guys, they will not dare to touch. When they reached the snorkeling area, they will 'HELP' the ladies by holding their hands to snorkel here and there? most of the Chinese ladies wear exposed and sexy swim wears and they will peeped their nipples and underwears from behind?

The worst part was they seen to bring along their local friends to join the club, to get one or two victims everyday? they gathered on jetty and looking at their preys. Then, they will guided the girls to a plastic containers with fresh water to wash them up, sometime trying to 'help' them by touching their body parts. They girls thought they were friendly and helpful but they have others intention.

After the girls were so busy to wash and clean up, the locals will at that time handed them mineral water (with something inside), the girls will not aware at the time and drank it. It happened everyday and I watching it everyday? Then suddenly the girls will allowed them to hold her hands and walked to the boats and go away to the resort and finally to the rooms??with the others local 'friends' followed behind 'TO JOIN THE PARTY'!!! Sometimes they will ask the local or western ladies do they like to have some sun block cream. Then they will apply some on their skin.
Once, to my surprise the lady naked her breast and let them 'played'. Then I knew what they applied was actually the 'Minyak Dagu ? Corpse Oil', one type of 'Jampi or Curse Oil' so that you will love them. They kissed her until she was bring to the room. SURPRISE!!! ( I think I and my fellow friends were handsome 100 times then the local guys?haha) Please remember Terengganu state , the Black Magic is strong over there.

Remember, I observed these for 2 weeks but cannot stop them, they have many many friends around, if I questioned them , I will be in trouble...over there. I hope every lady took precaution on this matter and forward it to everyone. Just let them know that if the drivers were so friendly and took advantages on them, they have to beware. I was so frustrated because the girls so dumb to trust them. I asked one of the victim and she said she didn't remember anything but She said she have some DREAM that she have sex with the locals,?. SEE !!!

Please read what written by others below. My story is true here ???.

Beware when you're going out snorkling especially ladies' & girls' team only. Boatmen would drug the mineral water when your are busy snorkelling. Later you passed out after drinking the water when you get back on the boat. There are insufficient evidence to prosecute them cause they cleverly done their job including dressing up victim nicely to original & don't leave any traces behind even ejected externally. And when the victims awakened they were told they had a short nap. Salt water further makes it difficult for them to discover on the spot until perhaps later.

This happened in Pulau Tioman and can happened any other places. Victims include Italian, American Japanese, Chinese, Arabian & even Malays.
Please pass this message on to all the world.


Cerita dari pemandu bot sendiri..

Kepada saudara / saudari yang diingati selalu,

Untuk makluman anda, maklumat yang saya dapat ini adalah amat berguna untuk dijadikan teladan anda semua. Saya diberitahu oleh kawan saya iaitu seorang guru di pulau Tioman tentang tindak tanduk pemandu bot yang berkhidmat disana. Bagi yang ingin pergi bersantai ditengah laut dan snorkling tu, terutama gadis perlulah beringat-ingat. Hal yang saya nak ceritakan ini adalah diceritakan sendiri oleh pemandu bot tu kepada kawan saya. Pemandu bot tu menceritakan dengan penuh bangga tanpa mempedulikan hal haram dan dosa. Kepada pemudi yang ingin bersantai ditengah laut, diingatkan pergilah berempat. Dan jangan kurang dari tiga orang. Untuk pengetahuan semua, pemandu bot ni akan meminta dan mengesyorkan gadis ? gadis (biasanya budak U yang ingin melancong) membeli air mineral dsb nya dengan alasan gadis2 akan haus ketika di tengah laut nanti. Dengan hasil perihatin tadi si gadis
ni pun pergi lah beli air mineral. Dalam perjalanan ke tgh laut, pemandu bot nampak bersahaja dan kita tidak tahu niat syaitan yang sebenar yang tersemat pada benak dan hati batu pemandu bot ni. Semasa berenang didasar yang cetek (Pulau Tioman),
pemandu bot akan memasukkan sedikit minyak jampi yang didapati dari bomoh pulau kedalam air mineral yang dibeli oleh gadis U ni tanpa disedari oleh mereka berdua (gadis tu la) dan dibiarkan larut dan sebati. Setelah penat berenang gadis ni pun naik ke atas bot dan segera minum air mineral yang dibeli tadi. Dengan tidak semena-mena gadis2 tu rasa pitam dan pengsan sekejap. Maka pada masa pitam nilah pemandu bot akan mengambil kesempatan membuka pakaian gadis2 tu satu persatu dan merogol gadis2 U tu tadi. Untuk pengetahuan, pemandu bot ni pandai. Setelah meneroka, merogol dan mengeluarkan airnya ( pancut \ luar), dia akan mengenakan kembali pakaian gadis dengan rapi. Setelah gadis tu terjaga pemandu bot akan mengatakan cik adik tertidur sebentar tadi. Setelah dua , tiga hari si gadis ni akan
mengalami sakit di kemaluan dan akan mendapatkan rawatan. Setelah diperiksa, DR menyatakan yang gadis ni dah tiada dara. Perkara ini dah dibawa ketengah. Pihak polis dah siasat tapi oleh kerana tak cukup bukti, kes ini lebur begitu saja. Bila di soal, penduduk kampong kat pulau tu, konco2 pemandu bot dan termasuk pemandu bot itu sendiri akan menafikannya. Yang sedapnya pemandu bot tu juga tapi yang akan bocor rahsia pada malam pengantin gadis malang tu la jugak. Sebabnya telus dan tak ketat lagi dah.

Jadi dengan itu, beringat ? ingat lah jika ingin pergi berseronok biar lah bertiga atau berempat. Sebab perkara jahat seperti itu datang tanpa diduga seperti tsunami. Perkara begini telah mencetuskan perihatin saya terhadap masyarakat sejagat. Kemana
kita pergi hendak beringat2 (termasuklah mana2 pulau di Malaysia atau didunia ni. Jadi sampai-sampaikan lah kepada anak perempuan, kawan2 perempuan dan semua orang perempuan Cerita yang saya sampaikan adalah benar dan diceritakan oleh pemandu bot itu sendiri kepada kawan saya. Pemandu bot itu mencerikan dengan megah dan
bangga. Macam dunia ni dia yang punya. Tapi bila mati tak ditanya terus kene azab. Dia bangga kerana berjaya meragut mahkota perempuan yang tak tahu dan leka terhadap keadaan sekeliling.

Pemandu bot ni kata dia dah tibai semua jenis ****Italian, American, Japanese, Chinese, Arabian, Melayu kita ni. Tapi dia kata hak melayu jugak best sebab susah nak dapat?.tapi sekali dah dapat yang lawa pulak tu??phhhrrrrrr!!! Best nyer kate pemandu bot tu lah.


To what extent are locals taking advantage of visitors? To be taken with a pinch of salt, anyone? Urban (well, island in this case) legend? Fact? I personally am skeptical about it, but perhaps there is something to it as well.

What I do know is that certain locals have bloody itchy fingers; did anyone see the way one of the Malaysians handled a Caucasian lady during the incident when a bus overturned into a ravine at Genting/ Camerons? The picture was published in a major newspaper; the lady was in fine condition, maybe a bit shaken, and a local had both his hands on her, taking advantage and unashamedly coping a feel.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Imperial College breaks free from the University of London

Imperial College (IC) has been under the spotlight a lot recently, for two issues: the 'dress code' that they introduced last month, and their plans to become independent of the University of London

Let me go through the dress code briefly, they introduced a 'no covering up the face' policy. This means no balaclavas, no walking around in surgeon masks, gas masks, veils, and the sort. This is mainly to help identify suspects if break-ins occur, etc. Which is fair enough except that some parties have taken offence at it, but I think that is because they can't tell 'face' from 'head'.

Is it necessary? IC has in theory, the resources that terrorists would love to get their hands on. After all, we have dangerous chemicals, biological agents, and nuclear facilities. I leave it to you to decide whether that is a good move or not.

On to the second issue: IC's decision to pull out of the University of London, approved by the council on Friday 9th December. How do this affect students?

When you go to interviews, or attend company presentations, you would almost definitely introduce yourself as a student from IC/LSE/UCL instead of 'University of London', unless well, the collective clout of UL is much better than your individual institution. Mention 'Imperial College' to a prospective employer, and they would be more likely to pay attention to you.

If you look at the UK or world university rankings, the various London institutions are ranked individually and not collectively as the University of London, unlike Oxbridge, where the various colleges there are grouped together as Cambridge and Oxford.

The biggest change (for students anyway) is that instead of UL degrees, the degrees would be issued by IC. Apparently that for all institutions, the name of your institution appears in a very small size beneath 'University of London'. I would wager that IC students would prefer more to see the words 'Imperial College' instead of 'University of London' prominently on their degrees. This is applicable for intakes from 2008 onwards, but if I am not mistaken, current students and those of the next intakes could appeal for an IC degree instead.

Negotiations for perhaps continued access to UL Union facilities and intercollegiate halls are under way. But frankly, IC pays 800 000GBP a year to be part of the UL, and it doesn't get much benefits for the price it pays.

Perhaps the loss of IC itself is not much of a big deal. But hearsay suggests that LSE and UCL, two other 'heavyweights' are also considering leaving the UL. If that happens, the UL is on the beginnings of a downward spiral.

Christmas & Birthday Wish List

I have drawn up my Christmas and birthday wishlist, including:

Several quality reads:

The Space Race (Non-Fic) by Deborah Cadbury 20GBP
Pushing Ice (SciFi) by Alastair Reynolds 15GBP
Judas Unchained (SciFi) by Peter Hamilton 19GBP
The Google Story (Business) by David Vise 15GBP
The World Is Flat: The Globalized World in the Twenty-first Century (Business) by Thomas Friedman 20GBP

Photography equipment:

Canon EOS 5D, Speedlight 580EX

A whole array of lenses, including:
EF15mm f2.8 Fisheye, 490GBP - for 'special effects' for certain shots
EF50mm f1.4 USM, 250GBP - for portraiture
EF100mm f/2.8 Macro USM, 390GBP - for macro shots
EF 16-35mm f/2.8L USM, 1045GBP - for wide angled shots
EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS USM, 845GBP - together with my EF 28-135mm IS USM, these would make the perfect travel lenses!

Or never mind, I shall simplify my photography request to one medium format camera, as suggested by Jon. My pick:

Hasselblad H1 with Digital Back, and full set of Leitz and Zeiss lenses - 30000 GBP

Electronic equipment:

Ipod Video 60GB Black
Etymotic ER4-P earphones
7.1 surround sound system

Okay, this list is starting to get a bit too much, I shall not include my M5 BMW as well :P

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Norwegian Salmon and Sea Treasures

Sometime back, I blogged about my little trip to Scandinavia. They can be found scattered throughout the July - October archives, if you don't mind a little digging around my blog's archives (11 links).

One of the entries concerned the Torget fish market at Bergen, Norway. Amongst the items purchased there was whale meat which I made a brief commentary about over here. Now I move on to other gastronomical delights of the sea which I purchased there:

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A packet of smoked Norwegian salmon*, a packet of gravet (Norwegian) laks (also called gravlax, grav lachs, etc depending on language, meaning 'raw, thinly sliced, cured salmon seasoned with dill and served usually as an appetizer'. Although J had some as her main meal at Gotheburg City.) and three glass jars of various types of caviar.

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A closer look at the gravet laks. I had to buy the jar of mustard and dill sauce separately, which I did at Oslo airport (by the way, they have FANTASTIC chocolates at the Gardemoen Oslo International Airport :) ). How was it? Delicious of course!

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The chunk of prime smoked salmon.

Forget the cheap supermarket variety, which tastes identical to raw salmon, forget the Harrods house brand of smoked salmon, which I thought was good until I came across this. There were cheaper ones of course (notice the national award label on this particular brand?), but I figured that I should get the best because I would probably never return to Norway again. NK 240 for 680 grams. Equivalent to around 20 pounds, or RM140.

How was it? The flesh wasn't all jelly like I anticipated, it was still rather firm, but it definitely had the salty and smoky taste about it and I was disappointed when it was all finished, it was THAT good :(

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Taken from an earlier entry, where Jack Sparrow himself packs my salmon for me ;)

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The three different types of caviar that came in a pack. I bought two packs. White is 'Arctic caviar', aka capelin roe. Those of you familiar with Japanese food may recall this fish as the 'pregnant fish' that they skewer, cook and eat whole. Black 'Norwegian caviar' is seahen roe, not dissimilar to the popular caviar substitute known as lumpfish roe.

Orange is 'salmon caviar', which is just what it is. Except that I found great difficulty biting into this as it was rather slippery, this had to be accomplished by crushing the grains between my molars. It also tastes different from ikura (Japanese salmon roe) and the Scottish ones.

Also sorry folks, I tried looking for pictures of the salmon post package removal, and I also misplaced pictures that I took of some proper Russian Sevruga caviar that I wanted to blog about (the kind that costs three digits for miniscule quantities, not like the cheapo caviar that appeared in the pictures of the post) , hence there will be no post about it. Unless the pictures mysteriously reappear somewhere.

* = Beware food labelling. If you want proper Norwegian salmon, look out for 'smoked Norwegian salmon' and not 'Norwegian smoked salmon'. There is a world of difference between both meanings. This applies also to various types of other food and is not limited to Norwegian salmon.

p.s. Jon: I need you to teach me about that BlogMap thingajigy!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Chelsea FC Champion's League Matchday Magazine 6/12/05 vs. Liverpool

I picked this up as I passed by Stamford Bridge on my way home (the match had just started, the programme stands were packing up, and the streets were extremely filthy and full of trash. Assholes, tidy up after yourselves and don't dirty my neighbourhood!

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The Chelsea FC Official Centenary Season Matchday Magazine 05/06! UEFA Champion's League edition, which doesn't seem like it because its against another English club. With a picture of errr, one of their players (I'm not a football junkie, see...)

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The programme retails for 3.00GBP. Why I bought it, I still don't know...

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A closer look at the top of the front page.

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Introducing the opposition ;)

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Report of the previous match vs Middlesbrough

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The squad rolecall, with other UEFA Champion's League matches listed, along with the Group G table at the back of the magazine.

Other parts included a Fixtures & Results section, a page dedicated to pictures of young Chel$ki supporters and a poster thingy right at the middle.

Friday, December 02, 2005

My quest for a new gym ends

After piling on the pounds for the past few months, I've decided that enough is enough, and decided to enroll for my local gym. Since I left my old place, I have refrained from going to the gym because of the exorbitant prices (both at Malaysia, for the short time that I was back, and in London, because it is bloody expensive). Instead, I was hoping that I could use the university's gym, which is not available for a couple of months more as it is undergoing construction.

This has resulted in expansion of my waistline during the short month or so which I was back in KL.

Friend (a day or so after after I got back): Wow! You've really lost weight haven't you!

The same friend, a month later (the week before I left KL): Patrick, you've put on some weight haven't you?
Me:*Cue sheepish smile*
Friend: I thought so, I can tell the difference!
Me: Blah, no big deal, I'll go back to the UK and go to the gym :P

Die. It was obvious that something needed to be done. The inavailability of late night high calorie mamak stalls here helped, as did plenty of walking compared with Malaysia, but no good. Stagnancy is not desired.

The gym had to be either near to my university, or near to where I am staying. Preferably nearer to my place, then it would be easier during the weekends and holidays. University gym? See above. Fitness First? Quite expensive; no branches nearby; I would have considered it if I were still staying at Knightsbridge. So one day I was at the small shopping mall near my place. I wandered around and came across David Lloyd's. The location was pretty good, above a supermarket, and I always pass through it on my way home everyday. Not to mention that its around 15 minutes walk which is reasonable. I tried to ask for a viewing, but I was told that I needed to make an appointment to view. Goodness.

They took over a week to get back to me, when I was about to resign myself to the fact that I was doomed to remain unfit. I have no idea whether because they work slow or are really very busy. Probably some psychological trick to make them appear important. Nevertheless I arranged for a viewing, and was blown away when I was there. Both by the facilities, and the prices (see further on). I have no idea though, whether the facilities were that good only at that particular branch (because it is just metres away from Chelsea, after all). They had the prerequisite changing area with lockers, a dining area, an amazing pool in an ambient wooden setting (if I recall correctly), with jacuzzi and sauna. And the classes look fabulous too!

And the gym, yum yum yummy. It was HUGE. Plenty of cardio machines available to go around, with plenty of resistance machines (WOOOOOOOOT!) and a large weight pumping section.

After my mind warmed up to the fabulous place, it was decision time. I was offered two packages: off peak and unrestricted time. Off peak meant 6.30pm to 4.00pm (last entry) on weekdays and post 2pm entry on weekends. Opening (full price) hours are 6.30am to 11pm weekdays and 8am (I think) to 10pm weekends. The prices? 150 GBP in membership fees, 51 GBP a month off peak and an asswhoppingemptymywalletrightawaysoicanbecomebankrupt 79 GBP a month for the full membership. No customized memberships unlike FF or my old gym (which I paid only 17 pounds a month for!!!) And a required 3 month notice for cancellation.

Then the bloody marketing ploy: If you join today, there's no membership fees. Shit. I hate being pressured to make a decision like that in 10 minutes. But anyway, I walked out a few minutes later 51 pounds poorer, after promptly submitting my resignation notice, which gives me until February to see how much I like the gym.

Induction this Saturday. With some chick called Danielle. Let's hope she's not a middle aged lady. I'm also willing to wager that the guy / lady next to me would most probably be wearing Prada sport, or something similar.