December 9, 2018

Tuscany (Florence, Siena, Pienza/SQ), Italy – Itinerary and planning (4 days) – part 1 of 2

I found a bargain back in January this year with Qatar Airways to Rome, so I planned for a trip there and just came back a week ago. It was a 2 week excursion (actually 12 days, if you minus out the long traveling time) – 4 days in Tuscany, and 1 week in Rome. My overall expenditure turned out to be lower than going to Japan (not surprising at all). Here’s the itinerary for you bastards who might be interested. Going to split the trip into 2 parts, one for Tuscany and another one for Rome. As usual, the customary disclaimer before you proceed…

– Actual travel time took 2 weeks. You’d need a day to get to Italy by flight, and another to come back. The place is fucking far. Refer to a map. If you choose to go by other means of transportation (other than flying), you’d need to allocate more time.
– Trip was done in mid November, considered winter season by the locals. This season has a relatively short day time. The itinerary takes account on that short daylight and compensates by starting earlier in the morning.
– This is an itinerary post, I’ll do a separate post for what I think about the places I’ve visited.
– This was planned based on 3 pax – my wife, my 12-yo daughter, and myself. I managed to hit 95% of what I’ve planned (with the exception of 1 particular day), with almost perfect timing accuracy. If you’re planning for a group of more than 4, this probably won’t work as well for you.
– The main objective is sightseeing and to experience both rural and urban Italy. The itinerary involves a lot of walking, with at least 11k steps (up to 21k steps) each day. That’s roughly about 8km – 15km of walking per day. If you have mobility issues, this is not going to work for you.
– The itinerary hinges on the assumption that you’d do your own planning/research on public transportation. You can choose to splurge on taxi or go easy by subway/bus, or even rent a fucking car/bike. Doesn’t matter. Just Google around for info. (for the record, the Tuscany part in this itinerary was done with a rental car – which according to me, is the most efficient way to get around between the places).
– If your religion prohibits you from visiting buildings or monuments of other religious faith, this won’t work for you too. (A lot of churches, including a visit to Vatican City).
– Some of the days are weather dependent, meaning, it cannot be done without a clear/blue-sky weather. You need to proactively check the weather forecast (when it’s within a week away) and shuffle the days around. I actually had to shift a few days around. One of my planned days did not happen and had to be substituted with an impromptu plan.
– I’m going to do something different with this itinerary sharing. Instead of including the time/hours like the actual itinerary, I’m going to just share the locations and let the readers plan it out on their own – as different assholes might have different ideas about spending time, so… why limit it?
– This is just my own planning and shared to give everyone an idea how to make it their own. It is definitely not the best, with individual preference, travel date and financial factors considered. If you think there are flaws with my planning, that’s probably because you suck or we simply have differences.

*warning: long post ahead…
Read the rest of this entry »

michaelooi  | places  | Comments Off
November 12, 2018

afternoon bus

The smell of diesel and grease. The feel of blackened rusty metal. The odor of sweaty PVC seats. The roar of old English engine. The engagement of an aging transmission. The jerking of a cranky clutch. The rattling of plastic panes. The G in a speeding cabin. The chatter of school children. The sound of chiming bell. The look of tired conductor. The coarseness of recycled paper. The smoothed surface of metal plate. The hissing of pneumatic pumps. The sweat of laborers. The noise of defective buzzer. The cacophony of traffic. The gaze of innocence. The bake of the sun. The breeze of relief. The fading thoughts of uncertainty. The pang of hunger. The silent songs in my head. The city that I love. The sight of my home.

michaelooi  | flashbacks  | Comments Off
November 8, 2018

mobile phone case

One of the many things I do not understand about most people, is why they feel compelled to put on a case for their mobile phones? I see a lot of people like buying expensive (and beautiful) mobile phones, only to ruin its appearance by slapping on a crappy looking case.

I’ve asked around. The rationale of people putting a phone case seems to revolve around the idea of insuring the phone from being damaged if it gets dropped or something. Well, if that’s the case (note the pun), then why bother buying an expensive + beautiful phone, if it’s going to end up with a case that makes it look like a brick anyway? Fucking escapes me.

Adding a case complicates matters. I believe in some ways, adding a case would skew the device’s thermal dissipation rate, and will likely affect the battery life. A case is also a magnet for grime and is filthy as fuck after only weeks of usage. I’ve seen people with very gross phone case before, I wouldn’t touch them with a 10 ft pole. And how would anyone know if the cheap case is safe for consumer goods? What if the plastic is made from a highly flammable material? I guess the thought of breaking one’s expensive phone screen is more dreadful than a potential 3rd degree burn…

You see, phone manufacturers spent millions to develop their products to look as good (and safe) as it should, and with reasonable durability with exquisite materials like metal chassis, tempered glass, non-flammable plastics, sealed enclosure (IP68 rated), etc. Trust me when I say, it doesn’t need a case. If your clumsy ass keeps dropping and damaging phones, then you probably need to worry about bigger things in life (or your phone’s not expensive enough). Slapping on a case just makes your clumsiness have less monetary repercussion.

I’ve never put on a case for any of my phones before. I use all of them as they were (naked), out of the box. It has been like this since my first mobile phone (1999) and all my phones were not diminished in value when I sold them for a new one. Sure there were scratches and dents (I dropped some of my phones before, like everyone else), but the phones held themselves pretty well and I think it adds character. I cleaned my phones regularly with wet wipes and on some occasions, with IPA wipes. Those were the pre-IP-rated times. Nowadays with glass surface and IP68 rating, I’d just wash my phone with soap and it’s always squeaky clean. Never needed a phone case.

*list of my phones: Nokia 3210 (sold to a hot chick), Nokia 8210 (sold to a phone store), Nokia 8250 (gave it away), Samsung X430 (sold to a phone store), Nokia 3120 (sold to a phone store), Sony Ericsson T610 (scrapped), Sony Ericsson K750i (bricked due to dead batt but, I still have it around), Samsung Galaxy S (sold to an old fart), HTC One M7 (still in use, as a night clock for my daughter), Xiaomi Mi3 (still in use in my lab to develop an app), Xiaomi Mi4i (sold to my wife’s colleague), Samsung Galaxy S7 (my wife’s using it now), Samsung Galaxy S8 (Samsung bought it back from me with full price after 1 year, long story), Samsung Galaxy S9 (current phone).

michaelooi  | thoughts  | Comments Off
November 3, 2018

smoking ban

I’m somewhat delighted that smoking is finally banned in restaurants.

[source]
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 2 — Come January 1 next year, there will be a smoking ban in all restaurants throughout the country, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng confirmed today.

Lim made the announcement while tabling the Budget 2019.

“Starting from January 1, 2019, there will be no smoking in all restaurants,” he said during Pakatan Harapan’s maiden budget speech.

Lim said he wanted Malaysia to be a smoke-free country, therefore the government will not allow smokers to light up in restaurants moving forward.

Last month, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad had tried to ban smoking in Parliament but saw his decision challenged by Sungai Petani MP Johari Abdul.

Speaker Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yunus then created a temporary smoker’s corner in Parliament.

But the question is, who will be there to enforce this rule? Who’s going to do anything if an asshat lights up a cigarette and puffs away?
Policemen? Council enforcers?
I’ve never seen them anywhere. And at most times, they themselves smoke in restaurants.
Enforcement is the key, people. Talk is cheap.

michaelooi  | snippets  | Comments Off
October 22, 2018

stay in touch with reality you dumbfucks

You know in the old days, whenever we want some prudent advice about life decisions or something important, we go to our family elders – like a grandfather, or the uncle who seems successful et al. (At least I know I did that, but you get the point) But times have changed now. People go to Youtube, or randomly pick up shit from viral videos in social media to determine their purpose in life. Just the other day, I saw one such video featuring a young good looking bearded fella who looked like he was from a Ralph Laurent poster, giving sagely advice about turning one’s career around like it’s childplay.

First part of the video, he kinda did a simple math on how much time do we spend at work in our life, which I thought was going well because I’d been thinking about that too. Then came the wrong part which almost made me convulse violently. He actually asked everyone (who’s watching the video), “to quit your job if you’re unhappy with it”. The idea is, why spend time in life being unhappy with a job that sucks?? “Just go out and do something you love as your job and VOILA!”

I was thinking, oh my sweet summer child, how innocent you are still in this wretched world… (I get to say that because I’m middle aged liao). You see, there’s no such thing as being happy in your job. Not for people like you and me. The odds of finding a job that you love and stay happy in it? Is lower than the odds of you finding a lottery on the ground, and strike the grand prize. You see, even if you are FUCKING FORTUNATE ENOUGH to find a job that you love, you still need to leave it all to chance for you to not get an asshole boss, contemptuous co-workers/customers or a degrading pay grade that can’t sustain the life that you need – which would in turn make you HATE the thing that you love before the job. See where I’m going with this?

The truth is, a job is never meant for you to be happy. They’re different thing from say, a hobby or an interest. If your job = hobby, then the job takes over the hobby (and it’s no longer a hobby). Before time, you’ll start to hate it, believe me. You do not seek happiness with a job. A job’s suppose to be the thing you need to do to survive. This job, is supposed to replace whatever your cavemen ancestors had to do with spears hunting wild game running barefooted across treacherous terrains and competing with deadly carnivorous predators, to survive. It is not meant to be easy. The harder it is, the more credits you earn. How do we cope with this as a multi-celled organism? You adapt, you cibai. The key of making this whole job thing bearable, is to adapt to the hardship instead of whining like a bitch ass cunt. You learn from your mistakes, and upgrade your skills to be better at what you’re doing. Your ancestors would have made sharper spears, and added footwear to make the hunting bearable. They did not go to find a job that “they love” because that would have meant dying of starvation. Similarly, your quest for a nirvana in career (finding a job you love and stay happy with it), will be like chasing after a non-existent fake dream that people created out of sheer boredom to spice up their homemade video… which will waste your already precious time in life… if you so choose to believe in that crap.

If you young people still have that wee bit of common sense in you, you’d have figured this out by now, when I talk some sense into you. Adaptation does not require you to look for a dream job, and to compete with asshats who are much better qualified than you. All it takes is a little attitude change in whatever you’re already into and not being so gullibly fucking stupid like that. Who knows, just one day, maybe, you would master the skill of adaptation, and find the key to being happy in any fucking job.

michaelooi  | enlightenments, work shit  | Comments Off