Archive for 2018

May 1, 2018

Japan – Kyoto / Kawaguchiko / Tokyo

I know this is a long overdue post, but I finally managed to get over my laziness and muster some effort to write about the Japan trip. So what do I think about Japan?

Hits (like):
Kyoto : All my best days in my Japan trip were spent at Kyoto. Mix of city and traditional Japanese landmarks, if you have to choose a week to spend at either Tokyo or Kyoto, go for Kyoto. All the listed places in my itinerary are awesome, but especially worth mentioning would be that Kiyomizu-dera Temple and Nijo-jo castle. Both places are fucking amazing and mind blowing. It is said that Kyoto has shit tonnes of temples so, what I experienced here might be just the tip of what’s more awesome. If I get to choose again, I’d cut out Tokyo to spend more time at Kyoto.

Kawaguchiko : Kawaguchiko (a lake side town) is a great place with killer views too. I was here for Mt Fuji, as it was my lifelong dream of witnessing Mt Fuji from the base with my own eyes (when I saw it from the plane back in year 2000 while en-route to USA). Most people opt for a day trip here, but don’t be like them hippies. Put 2 – 3 days here to roam around, it’s worth the time. There are plenty of places to hike in the vicinity of this town, and they’re mostly outdoor. But there’s also a roller coaster theme park here if that’s your kind of shit (those coasters look quite intense) but this is even more awesome because at every dip and scream, you get to see the majestic Mt Fuji laughing at your ass for being such a pussy. Mt Fuji is just so surreal. (our hotel was just right next to the theme park and full view of Mt Fuji)

Disney Resort at Tokyo : I’m not a fan of Disneyland but I had a blast this round at Tokyo Disney Resort (combination of 2 theme parks – Disneyland and DisneySea). With proper planning this time round and also the blessing for having a very organized crowd, we managed to hit 18 rides in Disneyland and 15 in DisneySea. We spent a total of 13 hours at each park, from dawn till dark. Sure the tickets were expensive but it was well worth spending than at a shittier Tokyo city (which you should give a miss).

Nakamise Dori 仲見世 and Senso-ji Temple 浅草寺 at Tokyo : Both located at the same area. Nakamise Dori is a shopping street teeming with souvenir stores, food stalls and art stands. Starts at Kaminari-Mon, which is a big ass gate, ends at the Senso-Ji Temple – all in 1 stretch of happening road. It reminded me very much of a night market in Taiwan, only that it is much smaller in size and is throughout the entire day. What’s most important is, it doesn’t cost a thing to enter the place and the temple.

Payment machines around Japan : I’m a big fan of its payment machines. You know, you enter the restaurant, instead of having a server waiting for you to check out the menu, you do that at the side before entering the restaurant, make up your damn mind, place the order at the vending machine and the machine spits out your order coupon, then you go get a seat. Server gets the coupon, and you get served. How about that? Very organized and there’s no need for communication (unless necessary at all). It resolves the problem of getting the wrong order and waiters songlap-ing the $$ from cash register.

Misses (dislike):
Tokyo in general : Tokyo in general is a shithole. It’s overcrowded as fuck and if you’re unfortunate enough to hit the public transportation at the peak hour, you’re in for a nightmare. If you’ve seen videos of platform workers stuffing commuters into a jam packed train like sardines, yes it’s all real and I’ve experienced it myself. It was a fucking insane experience. Transportation is also expensive in Tokyo (albeit well established), most of its day-passes are very limited and simply does not worth the value unless one goes to shitloads of places within the same day. I allocated 1 week for Tokyo. Bad call. Tokyo at most, only needs 4 days. 2 of them at Disney Resort (only if one has not been to a Disney theme park). I’d have cut out Tokyo if it wasn’t for Disney (for my daughter).

Entry fees for almost all the places of interests :A lot of the temples require entrance fees or cover charge, and if you’re planning to visit shitloads of them, they could add up. While I understand the need to maintain these places, I can’t fathom why these places can’t be funded through other means? Like sales of trinkets or through donations (oh they have that as well). It makes me feel that visiting Japan is all about money. In Penang, none of our temples inside the UNESCO area require entrance fees. Those POIs that require fees, are usually cheap and they give you a bang for the buck, not like a small parch of shitty rock garden or something like that.

Bus driver duties : Japanese bus driver is equipped with a microphone, and for some fucking strange reasons, he is required to talk to his bus commuters like he’s a DJ or something. Like when there’s an interesting area that he drives past, he’ll go “Hey guys that’s where my friend Tamaukasi lives, he’s still a virgin with a lot of doll pillows” in Japanese. Or maybe something like “This is the last stop guys, better get off the bus if you do not want a wasabi root shoved up your ass”. Gets fucking annoying after a couple of turns.

No hablo ingles : The general Japanese public do not speak English. This is especially inconvenient if you’re in a restaurant with no English menu. Online apps with the camera translation aren’t helping either. Their flawed engine would translate a dish to something like “chicken tits motorbike winter”, or something worse. So most of the time, we’re reduced to sign language. There’s a time when my wife had to sign to the Jap chick at a convenience store to buy ‘menstrual pills’, but somehow it got translated to cigars (for some reasons, my wife didn’t think of using Google translate FROM English to Jap writings).

Neutral (meh…) :
The Japanese people : The Japanese people aren’t as polite/friendly as everyone says (overrated). Well, not the way I like it, I should say. They’re not generally rude, you have to give them that. The only rude encounter I had was at the immigration. The overall Japanese society is apathetic to everyone. They don’t give a fuck about anything, unless they have to… which then they’ll be polite about it. They’re obliged to sound/act polite and it’s very rote. It felt fake, and there’s no feel of sincerity to it. Most of the time, it made me feel uneasy. Fake smile, fake bow, fuck me. I prefer them to be rude but sincere than a fake courtesy. If you want genuine politeness and courtesy, you should check out the Taiwanese. My favorite people on Earth. However, I also have to say that the streets in and around Tokyo/Kyoto/Kawaguchiko look very secure and feels very safe. I haven’t seen any loiterers or vagabonds or people peeing on the streets like what I saw at USA/Germany/Indonesia/China/Malaysia.

Food : I have always liked Japanese food. I don’t know if this is just me but, with the exception of that fantastic Houtou noodles at Kawaguchiko, and some expensive sushi at Tsukiji, the general Japanese food at Japan isn’t any better than the Japanese food at Penang like many said it is. There are good ones in Malaysia that are even better than those at Japan, true story. So, that sort of failed to justify the pricey food there… My wife and daughter are of the same opinion.

michaelooi  | places  | Comments Off
April 17, 2018


If you’ve been following this blog, you’d know that my mom took her own life after battling a bout of depression a few years ago. She did a lot of planning to take her own life, right to the details on how she wanted her funeral to be handled and the location of the receipt for the niche to put her ash. I had to go through her suicide notes, and the most difficult thing that I had to contend, was to learn that she’d been planning for her death all the while being normal to us and I was unknowingly appointed to handle the aftermath of her death. (she did say sorry to me in her notes for that).

One of the things that I had to do (that wasn’t part of the note), was to dispose of the car she died in. It was parked at that very location for many days, way after her funeral. I was the one who bought the car for her, and drove it back from Perak from the used car dealer. Wasn’t a great car but, was practical. The morning that my mom disappeared, we were toiling in worry to search for this car, and none of us found it until the gardener noticed it hidden in a basement with the engine running and inside it, my mom’s body. The car was in a mess when we got back to it after the funeral. Its interior was filled with the odor of gas fumes and it had broken glass in its interior (rescuers had to break the window to get to my mom). Out of obligation, one of my mom’s brothers offered to sell off the car for us, so he drove it off to a used car dealer somewhere and was disposed of for an insignificant sum of money. Out of grief, I did not feel like taking the money so, I donated all of it to a charity organization. I never saw that car again after signing the documents at the used car dealer that day.

Fast forward 7 years later, about a few weeks ago… this car made an appearance right in front of our apartment’s guard house. My wife Emily was the first to notice it, and she alerted me. “Dear, I saw your mom’s car outside our apartment! How did it end up back here?”
“That’s just a sheer coincidence”

It made a few more appearances outside our apartment compound, and was no longer seen again… until a week ago, it was parked at a parking lot right across my car. Apparently, the person who had bought the car that my mom died in 7 years ago, moved to the apartment unit at our ground floor, which has a parking lot right across my parking space. What are the odds of that happening? So many people in Penang and so many apartments to move to, and it ended up right across where I can see it all the time. And now, I get a grim reminder of how my mom looked like when she was in her rigor mortis state whenever I get home from work every day… I just hope my mom won’t appear in it and flag me over to have a chat… Because that’s just wrong, that car is no longer hers, goddamn it.

michaelooi  | experiences, personal  | Comments Off
April 4, 2018

plan for success

One of the important things that I always do as an engineer, is to have a contingency plan for my work. If you do not know what that means, it means that I always have tricks up my sleeve when shit goes bad. I believe in this like it is my religion, and also believe that all engineers should do it (have a backup plan for your plans). I use this motto not only for my work, but also for my travels and my life in general. Shit can never go too wrong for me, and I am proud of this.

Anyway, my manager disagrees with me on this. One fine day, I was altruistic enough to share my plans for a test development work for a project (along with its contingency) with a global team of engineers in a conference, and post the meeting, my manager pinged me through the instant messenger in a concerned manner. He told me – “You should not plan for failure. There’s no room for failure, you can never fail. You should only plan for success”. It’s not verbatim but, you get the idea how dumb that sounds. I surely have plans for success lah, duh… like whooping beer and wagyu steak to celebrate it, right? But that was not what that cibai meant. I was initially confused with what he was trying to tell me so, I quipped back a shot in the dark reply to him – “I wasn’t planning for failure. I was planning to not fail. In case shit goes wrong – which it always does in engineering – I would ensure that I have a backup plan, and therefore, not fail entirely.”

But because he failed his English, he couldn’t comprehend that and proceeded to give me a lengthy lecture with his irrational reasoning. I couldn’t understand half the shit he was saying and I had to explain to him about Murphy’s Law in the simplest form that I could. He ended up not being smarter but, being sore in the ass because I wasn’t docile enough to go with a ‘yes boss’ stance and deign to make his day by giving him the opportunity to feel important. *flips double bird*

I don’t quite remember how exactly this got resolved but, it ended up with me doing whatever the fuck I want, and there was absolutely nothing he could do about it (because he doesn’t know how). So, that confrontation amounted to nothing but wasted time and spending resources (electricity, bandwidth and space time utilization) for a non-value added purpose. I guess he didn’t plan for this (failure to convince me to be stupid)… and had to rue the day he was born.

michaelooi  | work shit  | Comments Off
March 19, 2018

a day in life…

A certain Monday in March.

Validation Senior Engineer, age 40.

0515: Wake up to the sound of my phone alarm. Sometimes I do it a few seconds earlier, before it beeps. Monday is a no-meeting day, so I wake at 0515. If it’s a meeting day, I’ll have to wake earlier.

0515 – 0545: Put the phone to charge, then off to take a dump and then shower. Dumping takes up about 80% of the time, shower takes just a short while. Put the shaving brush to soak and sprinkle some water into my shaving soap to bloom throughout the duration of the shower.

0545 – 0605: Shake off the excessive water from shaving brush and load it up with shaving soap, then give the face a good lather. Shave 3+2 passes. 1st pass with the grain, 2nd pass across, 3rd pass against, and final 2 with criss cross. Baby butt smooth shave.

0605 – 0635: Dress up and grooming, aftershave, deodorant and toilette. Then I’m off to make my first mug of coffee for the day. This is the time I spend on catching up my messages on the phone. I get anywhere between 20 – 100 messages every night. This is also the time my wife wakes up to prepare the ingredients to be cooked for dinner.

0635 – 0650: Off I go to work. Journey takes 15 minutes. Would be shorter if I take the direct route, but usually, I take the freeway route. Reason: Less gear change, and less stop. Longer distance but I get better fuel economy. The route is also flood proof. Guaranteed to make it to work.

0650 – 0655: Get a good parking spot. Most Company T asswipes have not made it to work yet. It’s at least a couple hours too early for them, ergo I always get the good spot. Walk from the huge ass carpark to the lab.

0655 – 0730: In the lab to setup my notebook. It goes to a docking station hooked to various probes. One of the probes requires a reset every time the OS goes for a fresh boot. This is the time I catch up on work emails. I get about 20 – 50 emails a day. Jot plans and priorities for the day on my scrap book. Redundant shit gets tossed out of the attention.

0730 – 0815: Breakfast at the cafe – at this time it is basically still empty. An antisocial colleague usually joins me but we do not usually talk a lot. This is also the time for my 2nd mug of coffee (free by Company T) and for me to catch up on my mobile game – Marvel Future Fight something something.

0815 – 0930: Back to the lab, on my first plan of the day – that is, to prepare for a management review slide that is going to be shared with some big dogs seeking for global support to run some shit in the factory. It requires some reference from a few sources of materials that keeps the shit tight, and simplified to a level comprehensible even by the dumbest cocksucker in a gay den. While doing the report, I occasionally pan back and forth between emails (distractions), making the whole process longer than it should have been (I usually take around 15 mins for a few slides’ worth of report).

0930 – 1030: 2nd objective of the day – to sort out the inventory mess that has been overdue. One of the lab compliance managers started tripping balls, and I’m getting aggravated in turn. Got to dig out some of the chip components off a server platform, and tally the figure with my self tracked record. The record is good, and all the parts are accounted for. The manager can go fuck himself from now on.

1030 – 1115: The server platform with the dug out chip components gets a new upgrade job, in preparation for a design-of-experiment that was committed to another team. The experiment will decide if the new software stack is able to support a bunch of old probes that were used in an older platform, in a desperate bid to save some funds from getting spent upgrading the software. The upgrade job requires inspection of the chips (with a lame ass magnifying glass, courtesy of my management’s stinginess), precision positioning in a novelty custom designed socket and some screw jobs for the platform to be rigged to a customized pan. One of the socket has some grime in it, took me some time to determine that the shit is harmless. The custom upgrade job is left incomplete to make way for lunch (which is more important than anything else).

1115 – 1230: Off for lunch. Any time later than 1130, all will be left are scraps and pieces. Way to circumvent the overcrowding situation is to shift the time a couple of brackets earlier. This is the time I socialize with my team members (not all of them). Also the time for me to whack my 3rd mug of coffee.

1230 – 1300: Back to the lab, I typically spend around 30 mins to dick around – catch up some news and private emails. Sometimes, to continue on the Marvel Future Fight game.

1300 – 1400: The custom upgrade job completes around this time. Before the design-of-experiment job can be started, a baseline has to be establish to ascertain that the platform is healthy with its current config. Hook probes to the upgraded platform (with old software stack). Expected to work fine. Includes a couple of firmware flashes with power cycles, a formatting and then partitioning job. It is an hour’s worth of script run. If installation has issues, it’d have taken longer to debug and get it right. But of course, my installation always works the first try. ;-)

1400 – 1500: Call in to a brainstorming meeting called by a supporting team. Some dudes in the board factory and chip factory need some guides to get shit done right. Much of it involves replying calmly to a series of paranoid questions by people who have no clue what they’re doing. In an honest world, this would have warranted a practice of what we learn in MMA and practice on those guys. I inherited a task from the brainstorm, that is to draft an IKEA like manual to those engineers lest they imagine everything wrong.

1500 – 1515: A colleague panics and requests for help on his server platform giving errors. I verified its power and confirmed that the regulator did not croak, much to his relief (there’s a history to this case). A quick diagnosis, outdated firmware. I drafted a procedure for him to follow for the upgrade, as I am tied to other more important shit that needs to be done.

1515 – 1520: Email updates. Send a cancellation for a meeting that is not going to happen on Wednesday. Shoot off a few emails on some follow up items from the week before.

1520 – 1540: Uninstallation of the current (old) software stack commences. While waiting for that to complete, get into discussion with another colleague about the IKEA step-by-step guide task that I needed to do for the factory folks – tentatively tomorrow. Need his help to hold some of the stuff while I take pictures. It’s a 2 person job. He’s fine with it

1540 – 1630: Uninstallation completes. A pang of laziness hits me, and decided to continue this chore tomorrow. Said a ‘fuck it lets do this now’, whips out phone and started documenting shit for the IKEA guide. Realize that I need to dismantle another platform’s contraption to be able to continue. Dismantled and summoned colleague over “We’re doing this now.” Completed 50% of the work and leave lab for home. Anytime later than 5pm, hell’s going to break loose and going to be caught in a jam.

1630 – 1650: Drive home. Take the similar freeway route, it’s simply the less gay way to drive. I receive an invitation from my friends to join them for a tea break, I have to decline.

1650 – 1740: Today we’re going to fry rice with 1 soup and another novelty dish (pork liver). This is uncommon because we normally dine with 1 dish if it’s fried rice. This is because we need something to fall back to if my daughter Regine doesn’t like the liver. The pot of soup’s already there, prepared by Emily from the morning. I just need to boil it for 2nd leg. For garlic fried rice, I dice a whole bulb of garlic as aromatics, add some diced long beans (by Emily in the morning), and some pork. Then I toss that wok with some rice wine and soy sauce, no egg. Wash the wok, julienne some ginger, sauteed with sesame oil. When the wok’s super fucking hot, add in dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, wine and finally, the pork liver.

1740 – 1750: I still have time to clean up everything in the kitchen, and settle for a quick shower.

1750 – 1805: Leave home to fetch Regine from her daycare class, which dismisses at 1800. Being there at 1805 is advisable according to my inner self, as most annoying parents would have left the place with the kids, making the traffic easier and the whole affair less stressful.

1805 – 1820: Journey back home with my girl Regine. We’d talk about our days in the car, and discuss about the annoying things that her friends did at school. I occasionally dispense some advice that a parent is obliged to give (but never followed them myself when I was her age). At times, we’d discuss about the songs we hear on the radio too.

1820 – 1920: Catch up on my puter. It’s paying bills time, and also some travel planning shit that I’ve had going for sometime, for a vacation planned in November. While on the computer, I’ll have the Marvel Future Fight switched on to farm some of the important things in the game. Emily gets home from work around 1900.

1920 – 2000: Dinner time in front of the TV. We’d play awesome TV shows of yesteryears I downloaded from the internet for Regine. We’d done Fresh Prince, now we’re doing Malcolm in the Middle.

2000 – 2130: Usually I have a choice to either play a game (of a city building simulator that I am currently working on), or watch one of the hundreds of program I downloaded, or read a fucking book. I chose to blog instead, but something about the webhost that impedes the blogging plan – the mod_security rule is making me lost progress and unable to save the draft of this post. Drags for a couple of email exchanges before it gets fixed and this post posted.

2130 onwards: Plan for some light reading before calling it a day, tomorrow will be an even earlier start.

A day in life.

michaelooi  | flashbacks  | Comments Off
March 10, 2018

lost dreams

One of the rookie engineers in my team offered to drive to a group lunch, and we had some light chat in the car to keep things less awkward. You know, with the age gap and all that. But for some strange reasons that day, he chose to lament what must had been lingering in his mind for a long time, but had no one to express his thoughts to…

“You know, if you have a 100k followers Instagram account, you’ll be paid handsomely for a product review on your account?”

Old ass me didn’t know that of course. I know that a lot of bloggers or Youtube account owners get paid shitloads for to pimp out products and ads. But this was something new for me.

“Really? I know about Youtube, but I didn’t know about Instagram.”

“Yeah, I’m talking about, getting five figured payout each month”

“Seriously? Now I know why I get so much spam from random strangers…”

“That’s why a lot of young people nowadays wanted to strive a 100k Instagram account, instead of something useful, like a proper career”

I was surprised that coming from him. Because in my thoughts, young rookie people are ignorant and apathetic. They listen to stupid songs, and they do stupid attention seeking things like selfie in front of an oncoming train or breastfeed a kid while doing yoga – all for counts and hits in their social account website. Now it all makes sense.

“That’s a good point actually. I once asked a friend’s kid, what he wanted to be when he grows up, he told me a ‘Youtuber’. Back in my days, kids wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer! Like, what happened to the world?”

“Yeah, that’s what I’m trying to say. People wants to do stupid meaningless things now instead of real dreams.”

“I hear you, man.”

People used to have dreams. But something has gone terribly wrong and now, the new generation no longer have dreams. The possibility of being able to earn money via hits and counts with an online account, has shaped them into desperate whores, who’d do anything to get more followers in the virtual world… and this has paved the way to social decadence like spreading fake news and partaking dangerous activities (doing stunts on top of high buildings, destroying properties, etc) much to the amusement of their similar minded ‘followers’.

michaelooi  | ramblings  | Comments Off