Saturday, 28 November 2009

The Lord God Made Them All

As the gap between this book and the previous book Vets Might Fly (in the series it's actually Vet in a Spin, but I never wrote about it) was a very wide one, I wondered if I would still be captivated by these books. I reached for this one nervously only to prove to myself that the Herriot charm still has its hold on me.

No longer a stranger to farmers and folks of Darrowby (a fictional name of an actual town called Thirsk) of Yorkshire, Herriot reunites us back with familiars faces, and I'm not just talking about the two-legged ones. The animals, amazingly, are excellent at unmasking who we humans really are through the ways we deal with them.

Take for instance the Walt Barnett, the town's richest man. Known for being a tough no-nonsense businessperson, Barnett revealed his softer side when called Herriot to look at his cat, Fred. Fred's predicament moved Barnett to tears, something he sees as an embarassment. In Herriot's view however, Barnett's display was very admirable. 

This book also documents two international journeys embarked by Herriot as travelling veterinarian, one is onboard a livestock-filled ship bound for KlaipÄ—da, in present day Lithuania, and another similar mission via airplane to Istanbul, Turkey. The first trip is written in more detail since it was longer, and it made me want to experience a long distance journey onboard a ship, although I hope I don't get caught having dinner while there's a storm raging, I prefer not to chase after my food when it rolls across the table.

As for the Herriot charm having stronger effect on me, I blame him for introducing his two lovely children in this book.Young Jimmy has grown up and very much taken by his old man's profession. He did become a veterinarian later in life. As a little boy he got a kick from going along his father to the farms, opening gates so their car can drive through and went about the place to announce to the owner that they've arrived. Little Rosie makes her appearance as well, taking over her elder brother's role when he started going to school. Herriot steered Rosie into going to medical school to heal people instead of animals. He was concerned for her about other things that comes with the business of veterinary, like having chased by an angry bull or kicked by annoyed cow. The physical aspect of the job may not suit a female practitioner in the long run.

And this ultimately leads to the final book, Every Living Thing. I won't speculate on what may be in store ahead, but I surely don't like the feeling that I have when I'm about to reach the end of something good.

[ Read this too: Todd Wisti visits The World of James Herriot museum ]

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Eidul Adha Mubarak 1430H!

Salam, everyone. Especially to our fellow Muslims performing their Haj and Qurban, may Allah accepts our good deeds. I'm taking a time off to mull over a few interesting opportunities. Hopefully they'll turn to something worthwhile, insya-Allah. Those travelling home, have a safe trip and joyous days ahead with family and loved ones.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Akutagawa's In a Grove available for download

In a Grove is an early modernist short story consisting of seven varying accounts of the murder of a samurai, Kanazawa no Takehiro, whose corpse has been found in a bamboo forest near Kyoto. Each section simultaneously clarifies and obfuscates what the reader knows about the murder, eventually creating a complex and contradictory vision of events that brings into question humanity's ability or willingness to perceive and transmit objective truth.

Over at Feedbooks I found this short story by Akutagawa Ryunosuke, which is included in Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories, but titled In a Bamboo Grove. Two other short stories, Rashoumon and Hana, are also available there. My recommendation is to start with this one, it's the most compelling of the three (but feel free to disagree). All the stories are set in medieval Japan.

[ Written once upon a time ago : Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories ]

Friday, 20 November 2009

Inkscape project: newspaper article mock-up

It's been ages since I last played with Inkscape. This is my mock-up of a Sunday newspaper article that I did not too long ago. In the process I picked up on a few things such as:
  • using align to make the sides of text bodies align properly
  • using rulers to divide to page into sections
  • finding out that Inkscape doesn't do drop caps (not yet, but hopefully in the near future it will)
Overall, a fun project where I explored how Inkscape handles text.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Micro and not micro

A question floating in my mind often lately: are there any differences between blogging and microbloging?

I find the idea of a microblog very interesting.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Lightweight file exploring with Snowbird

If your machine is a bit dated like mine, you'll notice the occasional time lag when opening a large folder or drive directory. We have to wait for seconds or minutes before Windows can display every file within.

I once tested a folders merge software that was supposed to combine two or more folder into one. I didn't realised at the time that I also made two mistakes. The first one was choosing huge folders with a lot of files in them for the test. And the second was I stopped the merging process before it was finished (after realising the first mistake). I ended up with a huge number duplicated files, over 1000 of them. While most of them are small in size, their total size is about 1GB.

Trying to find and delete them using Windows Explorer was taking too much time. As I mentioned just now, it took about a minute on average for my slow machine to display the files. The slowdown happens because the process of displaying the large number of files was eating up a lot of the available memory.

To speed things up, I decided to use Snowbird. Snowbird may look like a skinny cousin of Windows Explorer, but you'll be smiling ear to ear when it flies into action.

Snowbird doesn't offer a lot features other than the basic file functions of search, open, copy, paste, delete, rename and properties. No thumbnail for previewing image and video files or FTP connection or other fancy stuff. Which is great for the job of finding and displaying large number of files instantly. I only wanted to delete the duplicated files.

To my own surprise I finished the job in just minutes, instead of days as I thought if I were using Windows Explorer. Snowbird definitely soared beyond my expectation. It's very fast, minimalistic and lightweight in terms of memory usage. Snowbird a standalone .exe app that doesn't require an installation.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Untukmu Umat

Agama itu nasihat. Manusia itu pelupa. Logik mudahnya, manusia perlukan agama agar tidak terlupa. Lupa yang bagaimana? Bukan lupa di mana letaknya kunci kereta atau tarikh ulang tahun perkahwinan. Lupa yang penting-penting seperti tanggungjawabnya sebagai hamba Allah SWT dan umat Rasululllah SAW. Lupa kunci kereta boleh dicari atau diganti, lupa tarikh ulang tahun perkahwinan boleh dipujuk dan disogok. Lupa tanggungjawab jawabnya beratlah soalan-soalan yang menanti di Hari Kemudian.

Sebagai anggota spesis yang amat pelupa ini, saya banyak mendapat banyak ingatan setelah membaca Untukmu Umat, oleh Ustaz Zaharudin Abd Rahman.Ustaz Zaharuddin adalah salah seorang pakar rujuk dalam bidang kewangan Islam yang aktif mengajar serta menulis buku dan melalui laman web beliau.

Buku ini banyak menyedarkan saya tentang kehalusan dan ketinggian Islam sama ada dari segi maksudnya serta pelaksanaannya. Perkara yang disentuh termasuk bersangka baik, soal aurat wanita, sikap seorang pelajar dan pekerja Mukmin, perbezaan pendapat di kalangan ulamak dan kesedaran kita terhadap hak-hak Allah dan Rasul. Isinya pelbagai, sesuai untuk bacaan umum dan pelbagai peringkat umur. Seperti yang Ustaz jelaskan, buku ini adalah kompilasi artikel beliau yang telah pun diterbitkan di laman web

Tulisan Ustaz Zaharuddin banyak menjawab persoalan yang menghantui saya selama ini. Seperti bersangka baik, bilakah kita patut bersangka baik dan bilakah pula kita patut ada rasa syak? Apabila prasangka kita membabitkan tindakan seseorang, sangka baik terjatuh antara dua hukum. Harus apabila kita dalam keadaan di mana kita perlu berhati-hati seperti ketika memandu di belakang bas, dan kita sangka yang bas tersebut mungkin akan membrek secara mengejut. Hukumnya pula haram sekiranya prasangka kita datang dari rasa dengki, benci dan niat buruk untuk menjatuhkan seseorang.

Ubatnya? Daripada hadis riwayat Tabrani (no.3227, 3/228),
"Tiga perkara lazim yang sukar dibuang oleh umatku: menganggap sial, hasad dengki dan bersangka buruk." Lalu seorang lelaki bertanya, "Apakah yang boleh menghilangkannya wahai Rasulullah?" Jawab Nabi, "Jika kamu datang perasaan hasad dengki, beristighfarlah kamu kepada Allah. Apabila kamu bersangka buruk, janganlah kamu membenarkan sangkaan itu, dan apabila kamu menganggap sial berlaku, abaikan dan jangan endahkannya."
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