Saturday, 26 November 2005

A fortnight (almost) offline

For the last two weeks, I was (almost) entirely disconnected from the online world. My Internet connection was down, possibly due to a violent late afternoon storm that happened while I was napping quietly.

It's not because the people from my ISP was unresponsive to my predicament. I purposely called them a few days later after I realised it was down because I was busy preparing for the new semester. In fact, the technician came to my house in less than 24 hours after my complaint call was made. Kudos, TMNet, for the improved service quality.

The two weeks (almost) without any Internet made realise one thing. Although before I was online nearly everyday (reading my favourite sites, occasionally emailing or IM-ing or IRC-ing or blogging or downloading manga/anime), I seem to go well without the urge to rush and find a PC with Internet access and get online.

I did however spent some time online at the computer lab just before class started the other day, just to kill the time. Hence 'almost' part.

In other words, now I'm quite sure that I'm not addicted to the Web. A fortnight offline didn't bother me much. Alhamdulillah.

New semester

Ah, the new semester. There has been changes this time around, apart from the new lecturers, the new subjects and the new schedule. I'm now a full time student, which means that I have classes every night from Monday to Thursday. Which also means that I'm charged with double the last semester's fee.

I'm taking two subjects that I'm not really good at: finance and economics. I'm not good with money. I'm the worst person to talk to about how to get rich or ways to expand the wealth. Even primary school children are more adept at money-making then I am.

At least I still get to be in the class with the beverage/coffee machine in it. Alhamdulillah.

New possible (and somewhat crazy) career option

I should stop watching the National Geographic channel. It seems that almost every time I watch it, I start to get unusual ideas that gets me all fired up and wanting to actually do them.

Like for example, the other day I watched a ShowReal Asia episode that briefly featured the falconers of Xingjiang. For about a whole 10 to 15 minutes, my jaw just stayed dropped due to awe.

Those birds looked so magnificent. I just couldn't take my eyes off them, especially when they're in flight with wings spread wide. In my best Crocodile Hunter impersonation I muttered the man's most famous words, "...gorgeous..." Although the Golden Eagle seems as the top bird in the game, I'm eyeing the slightly smaller but equally formidable falcon.

If things things don't work out with management school or any of my future undertakings, I could scrape every sen I have, fly to Xingjiang and become a falconer myself. A cool job, albeit one which my mother will not be too happy about.

Mental note to self: stop watching the National Geographic channel. Or stop coming up with crazy thoughts when watching the National Geographic channel. Insya-Allah.

Monday, 7 November 2005

Bats, blood and brotherhood

First of all, let me welcome you back from your kampung or Hawaii or wherever place you have spent your Eid or Raya at. I hope you had a wonderful time during the blessed days.

The other day, I watched an episode of Human Instincts called Real Life Heroes over the Discovery channel. It talks about the science behind feats of heroism in humans and nature and what causes them to happen. The instinct to survive in times of direness is astonishing, and often in these circumstances, humans and even animals can act in ways that defy believe.

The show highlights stories of strangers helping strangers, friends putting their own lives on the line for the other's sake and family going all out for each other. But for me the part that caught my real attention was the one about the display of altruism by vampire bats.

Vampire bats, in case you still haven't figured it out yet, are the type of bats that feed on blood. Mostly cattles, horses or pigs blood, but on rare occasions humans are also said to be preyed upon. Found in South American countries, these flying mammals are built as stealth and agile attackers. They are light and attack when their victims are asleep, making them blissfully unaware that their blood is being consumed. They also do not actually suck blood, they instead puncture a hole through their victim's skin and lap up the blood that comes out. Their saliva contains draculin, a subtance that stops blood from clotting.

Another thing about these flyers of the night is that they cannot go two days straight without blood. If so they could die and this where the fascinating part comes in. It is discovered that vampire bats often help their family or friends or cavemates who are unable to get a decent shot of good ol' blood by actually giving them some of the blood that they have collected. They regurgitate the blood that they lapped up and give it to the 'blood-thristy' ones through an act that appears to look like a kiss. In exchange, the receiving party returns the good favour by rendering grooming services. A case of one good deed deserves a good-looking fur.

According to scientists, this display of compassion and altruism is quite rare in the animal kingdom. This has certainly painted the vampire bats in a new light (although light may not be something they would actually like very much).

Sure, vampire bats may not win the title 'World's Most Cutest Animal' easily (by normal standards of cuteness, anyway) and they turn out to be such caring creatures towards one another. They are also found to be intelligent and it has been recorded that these bats can respond when their names are being called (some children should take a lesson from this).

Subhanallah. Who would have thought? Not me, that's for sure.

Wednesday, 2 November 2005

Eid mubarak

Syawal is dawning upon us as we bid farewell to Ramadhan. I wish that Allah will reward all your efforts during the past holy month and may this new one bring joy, peace and success to everyone everywhere. Amin.

Please forgive any mistakes that I've done to all of you in my writing or in real life. Eid mubarak. Selamat Hari Raya, Maaf Zahir Batin.
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