Going home in three different places


December 2, 2014 8:49 PM

In November, my leave from work took me back to Perth for a week, Taiwan for 9 days and KL for 2 days. During this time, it felt like I was going home in three different places.

Perth

Snoop

Home is where my family is. I had not planned on going back to Perth this time as I was already planning to go back during the Christmas break. But Snoop’s surgery to remove some cancerous lumps compelled me to want to see him as much as I can. He is a 14 year old dog and our time together is limited, even more so now that I’m living in Melbourne.

I’m glad I made this trip back – seeing him bouncing around like nothing has happened put my mind at ease.

During the week here, I also caught up with all of my friends which I thought was quite impressive (yes, I’m saying that I have a lot of friends :P). And I got to spend time with mom and dad and Marvin. I like my life in Melbourne but I will always miss my people in Perth. Thankfully Whatsapp and Facebook makes it feel like that they are just there.

Taiwan

Tainan old street

Home is where my cultural roots are. I have been to cities in China – Guangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Now that I’ve been to Taiwan I can honestly say that I feel more at home there than those other cities. Outside of Singapore and Penang, which also have an ethnic Chinese majority, I can now add Taiwan to the list of places that I feel very comfortable being in. I felt that the people are friendlier than those in China and Hong Kong, and it also helped that in addition to Mandarin, most people also speak the dialect that both sides of my family speak – Hokkien.

Hearing it widely spoken evokes memories of my family and childhood, and feelings of warmth. It was very intangible but very comfortable. The look and feel of Tainan especially, a city south of the capital Taipei, are very similar to the older corners of Singapore and Penang. And the street food is equally delicious.

Taiwan will deserve another post from me here, with more photos. :)

Kuala Lumpur

Here on a whirlwind stop and spotted this. #wheninmalaysia

A photo posted by Marcus Ooi (@real_mooiness) on

Home is where I was born and had spent 14 years growing up in. Although the racial politics depresses me whenever I read about it, and I don’t foresee myself ever living here again, there was still something making me feel at home here. It’s not the maddening traffic, nor the heat and humidity. I’m guessing that it must be the food even though we can get very authentic and very good Malaysian food outside of Malaysia these days.

There was something intangibly comforting about eating Malaysian food in Malaysia, and seeing Malaysians of all races enjoying each other’s food. That gives me hope that someday like the food, the politics will follow suit and be less divisive, and be more binding and uniting.

And I also quite like that upon seeing my place of birth on my Australian passport, the customs officials will immediately switch to speaking Malay with me. A few broken phrases of Malay from me, and they smile and I smile. :)

And the sun comes out


October 12, 2014 9:11 PM

Loading

Sun shiny day.

View on Instagram

We have transitioned into spring in Australia, and the weather in Melbourne has gotten warmer but no less schizophrenic – the sun can be shining on you warmly and along comes a cold blast of air. The questions of whether to bring a jacket out, and when you are out whether to keep it on or take it off are persistent ones. I’m still getting used to it all.

During the winter months I’m certained that I went through a mild case of the SADs (seasonal affective disorder). I’ll be lethargic, and I’ll be depressed without knowing why or have a reason to. However, there was one legitimate reason in July and that was when we found out Snoop had multiple lumps on his body. Over the next few weeks after that, although I was not a mess I was not my usual happy self. And the way I usually handle my depression is not the easiest on myself as I prefer to deal with it on my own and at home – I don’t show it to friends and colleagues.

But good news is, our vet recommended a surgery specialist (yes, for pets!) and after two rounds of surgery we got all the lumps out – the first one cut out the obvious ones with an X-Ray taken to guide the surgeon to clean out the rest during the second one. I think I’ve mentioned the importance of pet insurance before because it’s really worth it. I ended up paying about $6000 and that’s roughly half of the actual bill. The price of unconditional love, right? And I will get to see him soon when I go back to Perth for a week next month. :)

July was also the month I started my new job and I’m happy to say that I’m really loving it. The work is varied, and I am trusted with and get to recommend IT-related stuff. Best of all the people are awesome. And I’m not gonna lie – the fact that there are more females in the office really livens up my work day. Only downside? Formal business attire means not-so comfortable shoes and more laundry and ironing. Small price for a more satisfying work life and a happier me during the work day.

Plus my social network has expanded and is still growing. So yeah I’m glad that the sun has come out – in more ways than one.

Sunny Melbourne

Well, this is awkward


September 7, 2014 4:02 PM

Well, this is awkward
(source)

As I age gracefully into my 40s, my skin has become thicker and I’m no longer mortified by situations that used to be awkward especially when they involve women. My reaction to them these days is always “fuck it” but back then, not so much. Here are some recollections that I have not painfully scrubbed from my mind … yet.

  • As boys are wont to do, we behaved strangely with girls that we like. We might tease them more and be more mean towards them than normal. I was like that with a girl until she caught me in a stairwell one day and asked me straight up, “what’s going on?” I reacted with feelings of incredulity (how can you not know?!) and yelled “because I like you!” Till this day, I remember this because lightning cracked and the skies started pissing themselves laughing. I’m not kidding.
  • I once said to my crush at the time, “so I heard you got a boyfriend now”. She looked at the guy next to her and said, “yeah this is him”. Ermahgerd. Where’s the nearest hole I can crawl into?
  • I made the error of breaking up with a girl on campus instead of off campus because I then had to walk back into the lunch hall and catch the death stares from her and all her friends. The breakup was pleasant in comparison to that.
  • Happily arranged a dinner date with a girl that I thought was interested, and then showing up to the place to see her sitting with two male friends. At least one of them was sympathetic. He said to me, “this was meant to be a date, huh?” Thanks for feeling me, my brother.

Yes, some of the women above may read this but I would like to think that they will be able to laugh with me about it. Otherwise, well … this is awkward.

Why pirating movies and TV shows in Australia is easier than doing the right thing


August 2, 2014 2:00 PM

The World's End movie poster

In the news lately there was this item about how the government is contemplating how it can reduce and prevent instances of copyright infringement, most notably when it comes to TV shows and movies.

Australia floats website blocks and ISP liability to stop copyright thieves • The Register.

As you might know, Australia is the biggest offender when it comes to doing the torrent thing:

Who's Pirating Game of Thrones, And Why? | TorrentFreak.
What Those Breaking Bad Piracy Statistics Actually Say | Lifehacker Australia.

So i recently conducted a study on why this is so using a very definitive and comprehensive sample size of one: me trying to rent and stream the 2013 movie “The World’s End“, and my only criteria is to be able to quickly rent and watch it when I want to watch it. That is, RIGHT NOW.

In Australia currently, these are the ways that you can watch a movie legally online or on your TV:

  • Free-to-air. Downside: erm, how long do I have to wait after it was released? Next.
  • Subscribe to Foxtel. Downside: pay a monthly bill of at least $74 to get their movie package which gives you access to other channels too granted but you cannot pick and choose which channels – they are bundled together, whether you want them or not. And you can’t rent just one movie. Next.
  • Subscribe to Quickflix. Downside: having to pay $14.95 monthly whether you wanted to watch a movie or not; can’t rent a single movie or pay as you go. Next.
  • Bigpond Movies. This looks more promising – you can rent individual movies without monthly access fees or charges. Bonus if you are a Bigpond customer as the download/streaming will not eat into your data allowance. This goes on the shortlist.
  • iTunes. Also promising – movies can be rented individually. Added to the shortlist.

A comprehensive read:
Australia's Best (Legal) Online Movie Services | Gizmodo Australia.

Now the fun begins. I went onto Bigpond Movies and this movie is not in their catalogue. Son, I’m disappoint. So then I went into the iTunes store and found the movie. The movie is available to be purchased but the “Rent” option was not available for it like it is for other movies. More disappoint.

What is the deal here? I’m sure I’ve read this somewhere before but I couldn’t find something online to back this up so this is purely how I remembered it – movies are released to the cinemas first, then to DVDs and DVD rentals, then to pay-per-view/Foxtel and then to free-to-air TV.

I do not know how online rentals figure into this but I suspect that here in Australia at least, it is after Foxtel has squeezed all revenue potential out of a movie first. So theoretically, online rentals are available before free-to-air but only after Foxtel has aired the movie. For how long, I don’t know.

And just to confirm that this is the case, I searched for another movie that was released around the same time, “This Is The End” and found the same thing – I can buy it but I couldn’t rent it.

Frustrated, I typed in “the world’s end torrent” and BAM – options aplenty. I can neither confirm nor deny that I then proceeded to torrent the shit out of it, but instant gratification was achieved albeit with a short delay of about an hour while it downl … *ahem* I said nothing, you saw nothing, move along now.

Yes I know that I could have possibly rented the movie by walking into an actual video rental place (remember those?) but:

  1. I have to find one near my place
  2. I have to get out of the house
  3. I will have to look around the shelves for it – it ain’t a new release so it would be tucked away somewhere not obvious
  4. FFS, I’m tired already.

So I’m very glad to hear that Malcolm Turnbull agree that the content providers are making it all too hard for people who want to do the right thing in Australia.

Turnbull to Big Content: Let your movies RUN FREE … for a fair price • The Register

One last thing: sorry Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright and Nick Frost, I really wanted to give you $5.99 to enjoy your movie.

When It Rains


July 20, 2014 1:07 PM

It’s been a while since I’ve written here. Sometimes not much happens but this past month isn’t one of those times.

New Job

Work during May and June was especially frustrating and it made me wonder if moving here was worth it considering that I’ve only been here since the beginning of February. Despite city life being awesome, and a social life that is starting to get more fun, work pays for everything and if work is not pleasant anymore then it is a problem.

Serendipity feels like it happens a lot in my life, and it did happen here again. An ex-colleague of mine was leaving his job and referred me to his manager. Had I been happy with my current job, I would not have went in for an interview. The fact that it is also just across the street from my current office was an extra incentive to just go see what’s on offer.

The interview went really great because with regards to the technical aspects of the job I was a shoe-in and they already knew that as my ex-colleague and I did the same job when we were working together. Culturally it felt like a good fit too. I was offered the role by the end of the day.

The place is more formal than the current place (hello business shirts!) but from my two days spent there for a handover with my friend who’s leaving, the people seemed nice and friendly. I start tomorrow. I’m excited and a bit nervous. However, after 6.5 years at my current job I felt ready for a change.

This is my new employer – Lincoln Indicators and I will be their new systems administrator.

Lincoln's letter of employment offer

Mom’s visit to Melbourne

Inside Oriental Spoon on Elizabeth Street, Melbourne

Mom was here for 2 weeks and it was swell. Although I cooked a few meals whilst she was here, she did most of it during her stay. It reminded me of home in Perth with her because I didn’t have to think about groceries or what to cook after finishing work. We shopped and ate out quite a bit. Her favourite places were Uniqlo and Wonderbao.

I wanted to take her to fancier places but she said not to waste my money. That’s my mom. :)

We had such a great time just being in each other’s presence that I was a bit depressed when she left a week ago. But any time is better than nothing. At my age, you’d realise that time with our parents is precious – time waits for no one and is fleeting.

My Car in Perth

Thanks to my brother my car has now been sold, after about 4 months on the market. Bye bye car. You’ve served me well since I got you in 2001. Many fun times were had and I’ve driven you a little too fast more than a few times. Shhh. ;)

Snoop has a new lump

I don’t want to end this post on a sombre note but chronologically, it is the most recent event as I was told just yesterday. Mom had taken Snoop to the vet because she was worried about the appearance of a lump on his chest. It turned out to be cancerous but we don’t know if it’s aggressive or if it was invasive locally or otherwise. We will know more once a chest X-Ray is done next week. As Snoop is 14 this year, the vet has advised me to be prepared for the end.

Of course I’m sad, and I haven’t even recovered from my mild depression since mom’s left either. I feel some frustration that I’m not there to deal with it myself, and a sudden urge to go home. However, I’m putting it in perspective. This will be the third time that Snoop has cancer and he has had a good run over this past 14 years. When the time comes I won’t be selfish – I won’t prolong his life unnecessarily with painful surgery and misery just because I will be sad to see him go, even as I’m choking up a bit from writing my feelings here.

There is a family trip to Taiwan in November that I already have leave for. I will be forgoing that and I will use that 2 weeks to be in Perth to spend with Snoop. Yup, time is precious and fleeting indeed. Go hug a love one today.

This is funny even though I'm not Christian
Ok maybe a little bit of levity is appropriate right now …

It’s always a good time


June 2, 2014 7:38 PM

Except for a few extended holidays and until I moved to Melbourne I’ve seen my family every single day of my nearly 40 year old life. This is the first time that I’ve been living away from them on a permanent basis. So the recent news of a friend losing her mother got me thinking even more than usual.

Times when a friend loses a parent always fill me with sadness and empathy for my friend, and it never fails to put me in a reflective mood about the short time on this planet that we are given with our loved ones. But being physically away from my own parents amplified those feelings more at the moment. It made me realise that I don’t tell my parents that I miss or love them as much as I do. Actually I don’t think I’ve ever said that. As Chinese, we are just never expected to say those things because we’ve never heard our parents say it to each other or to their own parents.

It’s hard for me to vocalise those words so I guess I just have to write them here. Mom, dad and Marvin – I’m glad that I don’t bicker and argue with you as much as I did whilst growing up, and I miss your soothing and comforting presence even if it was just us sitting next to each other not talking and staring at the TV.

The Ooi Family, circa 1980
This felt like yesterday

The old cliches are true – time flies and there’s no better time than the present to make the important people in your life know that they are important to you. Life is cruelly and freakishly random so don’t put it off and don’t wait for a good time. It is always a good time.

I’ll always be just average


May 10, 2014 12:51 PM

Mom and dad's 40th anniversary dinner
Mom and Dad’s 40th Anniversary, June 2013

My recent trip home to Perth during Easter has reinforced what I’ve always felt: that I will never be ambitious and career-focused because I value the people in my personal life more. I do not aspire to higher positions or more responsibility, and more money. I will always be just average at work, possibly above average at the most.

The high life or the powerful life will never be for me. I will leave that to the truly remarkable people who can forgo time with loved ones to focus on work, or the truly remarkable and fortunate ones who have it both ways.

Me, Simon, Kayo, Katie and Selina
3am supper after clubbing, April 2014

It is true that I moved across the country for my job. However, this is as far as I’m going to go. I am not going to move to another country for a job like a few of my friends have done. That will never happen.

Now living alone in a new city, I could have easily fallen down the rabbit hole of using work to fill up space and time. Instead I choose to fall down the rabbit hole of video games, Youtube and, blogs and news sites instead. The Internet is great – however did hermits stay sane before it?

So in summary, I embrace my average working life because my personal life is so much more enriching and satisfying to me, and I rather do over-time on that than at the office. :)