Sunday, November 29, 2015

Double confirm

I had a perfect plan for today: go for morning mass followed by a colleague's wedding after that, have my lunch there, and then go for my Japanese class. Of course I prepared plan B for a very likely event that I woke up late: skip the mass. Obviously I woke up late. I woke up at 830 and I was still thinking that if I could finish my bath and brushing teeth by 9, I would still be able to attend 930am mass. When I was done bathing, I realised that morning mass should be at 9am and not 930am. Oh well...

I guess God did his divine intervention again today. My mum sent me random messages as usual but she reminded me that today is first week of Advent. That was the reason I ditched my plan B. I went to my colleague's wedding first but unfortunately, the bride and groom did not appear yet. It was supposed to be from 1030am - 2pm as per the invitation card but I did not meet my colleague until I left at 11am. That was the latest that I could wait so that I did not miss 1130am mass. Lucky there was another colleague who was also early so I could ask her to help me pass my angpau.

The mass that I attended happened to be a Confirmation Mass with about 120 confirmands. Add another 120 grandparents and the church was packed to the brim when I arrived. Even on the second level I had to stand. I guess I should not be complaining since at least I got to stand against a wall.  It was very hot and uncomfortable. It is bad for me to say this but I think I felt less warm and uncomfortable when I saw the people around me felt more bothered with the heat and discomfort.

The guy next to me also kinda reminded me of myself. He was next to other 3 friends but seemingly only spoke to the person next to him. The conversation was kinda awkward too: "Are you going to have lunch with us after this?" and the guy said no because of parents or something. I can socially awkward in certain situations and often I will try to run away from social gatherings. Well, I honestly don't know why looking this kind of thing gives me comfort. I am weirdo.

Anyway the Confirmation Mass was really a blessing a disguise. That's why I say that everything that happened today was because of God's divine intervention. Although I did not feel anything Advent-related, the homily really struck me hard. If you don't have a vision in your life, your life will feel empty. What you do daily will not serve as missions to eventually achieve your vision and they will just become mundane daily work. If you have a vision, you will have the passion to do your daily activities as they serve as mission to achieve your vision and hence you will achieve your personal success in life. I say that the Archbishop's homily was really good. He did not only say the spiritual things but related those spiritual things back to the worldly things.

Hmm.. actually I do have a vision for my life: I just want to go to Heaven. Ironically, I don't know or perhaps I choose not to do things which will bring me to achieve my vision. It seems that I am just waiting for my time to go from this world by going through the motion. I don't give a damn about career and I am just working to earn money and to enjoy the money. Rinse and repeat. I hope that what I heard today will become something life-changing and not only being thought-provoking.

The mass also made me realise that perhaps having baptism and confirmation together is not a good idea. I was baptised and confirmed at the same time as I was baptised as an adult. I actually did not recall anything about my confirmation! I only remembered things about my baptism. I read back my blog post after my baptism and I wrote that the chrism oil smells good. Sadly I cannot even remember how good the smell is. Basically I don't remember anything about confirmation. I am wondering if I can be confirmed again. After all, we always say we want to double confirm things right? Haha...

Oh ya the guy next to me who reminded me of myself actually offered a handshake during the exchange of peace. May God bless him for offering handshake to a random stranger T_T I am usually to shy and awkward to even bow and smile to strangers during the exchange of peace. Most of the time, people only pay attention to their own friends or families and ignore the strangers. That is the sad reality of our church.

My Japanese lesson is getting more challenging T_T but I am still enjoying them. I really think that having no examinations and learning at my own pace with no stress is a very good learning experience. It does not stress me out or burns me out. For example, I was busy for the past week that I had no time to revise. I was a bit lost today but it is okay. I think I should be able to have more time to catch up this week. As an adult learner, I think examinations are not good. It is really a one size fits all approach and those who do not fit into such approach will just be left out or left behind.

It is quite sad to think that I had negative perceptions with music as well as Mandarin. I went for organ lessons for many years and I stopped just before I moved to Singapore. I actually like playing music. In fact, when I go home for holidays, I often dream about waking up late for my organ classes when I have my afternoon nap on Wednesdays. I like music but I really have no talent. I was struggling in the last 1-2 years before I stopped the lessons altogether, although the reason for stopping was my moving overseas, as I just had no talent for the improvisation and hearing components of the examinations. The last 2 examinations that I sat for made me really stressed because I was scared of failing. I had no problem with playing the music of my choice as well as sight reading but I really could not do the hearing. Similarly with my Mandarin module. Because of the semester system, the pace for the second module was too fast for me and I simply lost it. I barely passed the module (although I S/U-ed it). I did not mind continuing but since I already lost halfway the second module, there was no way I could follow the third one. Hence I stopped. Bleah.. hopefully my desire to be able to go shopping in Japan alone is strong enough to sustain my interest in nihongo o benkyou shimasu. Lol..

I was ready to miss AFA 2015 again because of my tight schedule for the past 3 days. I forced myself to end work early on Friday so that I had the chance to at least go for awhile. I did and I was pretty disappointed. I actually finished walking around in just an hour. I reached there about 6pm and I was surprised to see so many Nendoroids being sold out T_T That was only the first day leh!! I actually wanted to get Haikyuu's Tobio and Hinata Nendoroids ($45 each) as well as the playsets for Nendoroids ($35 per set). I was tempted to try some Ichiban Kuji but most of the interesting prizes were already won! Some of the Kujis, like the Natsume Yuujincho, were already fully redeemed. Like what the heck?? Only the first day leh!! There was no interesting or extraordinary display or experience zone that would draw crowd interest. The only interesting I saw was Titan cosplay o_0 which was basically a man wearing beige underwear with stupid expression. It was part of the show on the mini stage. Oh well =x The only good thing was that it was not as crowded as Saturday mornings because usually I go on Saturday mornings for AFA. It was the first time I went home empty handed too!! Most of the items can be found in the physical shops at cheaper price. In the past, usually I would discover something unexpected: be it very old items for clearance sales or very new items which were not at the shops yet. None of these things this time.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Here we go again...

I am out of office for the whole week to set up a temporary clinic at Marina Bay Sands Hotel for the upcoming ASEAN Para Games (APG). I guess that this is the closest I will ever be to staying at MBS and the only chance that I get to see how MBS suite room looks like. This is like a continuation of my involvement in SEA Games a few months ago. With everything being similar and at a smaller scale, it has been less stressful for the planning.... until the final leg of the planning o_0

This time, I was only given 5 days to convert an empty hotel room into a dispensary. Well, make it 3 since training was planned on Thursday. In comparison, I had about 2 weeks to prepare for SEA Games and for that, there was already existing counter top, existing desks, and cabinets. Now it is just an empty room and I had to decide where to put what and I even had to move the furnitures myself!
From this
To become this mess that I have to tidy up
Inventory was also more complicated with 2 different lots this time: 1 being the remainder from SEA Games and 1 being the new one. It was chaotic trying to consolidate everything. It was made more complicated when I realised that someone removed certain things and added in more things in the remainder lot from SEA Games. Basically I did not receive the quantities I was expecting and I had to recount the whole inventory. If previously I had 5 more people to help me, I had zero this time around. After settling all the drugs, I realised that ziplock bags and plastic carrier bags were not delivered. They were the other half of what I need for my operations.

Fridge was another problem. In the email, I was promised with the same fridge that I got previously. There was a communication breakdown and I was given a fridge without temperature monitoring. The temperature monitoring only came on Wednesday and the fridge was not reliable enough with the temperature kept changing depending on what being placed inside. With the fridge not ready, I had to delay all my cold items until then.

On training day, the pharmacy was only about 70% ready. I was worried that the nightmare I had previously would be repeated so I was glad that it did not happen. After the havoc I created last time, the other party assigned an assistant director for this one and things seemed to be much better. Previously, all the questions asked during the training were complaints. This time around, the questions were clarifications on how to do things. I was also happy that the consensus was not to set par level for the drugs and we will just order based on our gut feeling. Hehe.. one less thing for me to do.

Yesterday was the most 'relaxing' day in the past week as I only needed to print labels so that people know where things are being placed at, wait for the person to fix my printer, collect morphine, and wait for the fridge items. I even had the chance to have a 'luxurious' lunch at DC Comics Cafe. The price is quite high but honestly I think the quality justifies it. I will surely come back another time, perhaps on the last day. I am not a fan of Batman although I ended up ordering Batman-themed food and drink. I was looking for something chocolate-y and that was how I ended up with Oreo Milkshake. For the main meal, if I did not remember wrongly, this was a Wagyu burger. Well I may be wrong. Nevertheless, the meat is big, even bigger than the bun size. The salad dressing is amazing (I never ate vegetable that enthusiastically!) and the chips is a good change from usual fries. Total damage is $42.
Oreo Milkshake
Batman's burger
Today is the first day of operations but I asked the volunteer students to come for their briefing today. I got a mixed feeling lol. From their photos and communication through email so far, those who seem unconvincing so far turn out to be quite okay in person and the reverse is also true. Haha...

I am so tired.. I actually took an MC on last last Friday because I know I could not afford to fall sick this week. After 1 week, my nose is still running. I always got KO-ed at night and always skip my facial treatment. Gosh... Can't wait for another 5.5 hours before I can go home and rest. But hey, no matter how bad things are going, I keep reminding myself that this is still better than facing FONs. Haha.. Let's aim for 0 patients again today.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Bakuman (Live Action)

Can a manga about characters aspiring to be mangakas be interesting? I had that doubt about Bakuman manga. However, I took the plunge and bought the manga because I like the art style and I did not regret it. Although the synopsis is not too appealing, the story itself is quite engaging thanks to the interesting characters and behind-the-scenes moments behind manga industry in Japan.

When I heard about the live action, I have mixed feelings. I feel excited because Bakuman is unique and I would love to see it as a movie. However, similar to the manga before I read them, I feel apprehensive as  I don't know how they can make actors acting to draw mangas to be interesting to watch.

The main story of the movie follows the manga: 2 high school students, Moritaka Mashiro and Akito Takagi, team up as mangakas by combining their talents with Takagi as the story writer and Mashiro as the drawer. Mashiro likes his classmate, Miho Azuki, who is aiming to become a seiyuu. Despite liking each other, they make a promise to be together when Mashiro is able to produce top manga and Azuki will be the seiyuu of the female character of the anime version of the manga.

The live action gives me the same sense of wonder as the manga to see the Shonen Jump office and the manga making process. The manga drawing scenes are not as boring as I imagined as the movie tries different ways: from real pencilling, 'fake' pencilling in which the drawings on the papers are changed to animated graphics, to the martial art fights to depict the friendly rivalry between Money and Intelligence (by Mashiro and Takagi) vs Crow (by Eiji Nizuma).

Other than those, everything else falls flat. Why? The biggest 'failure' of the live action is the poor chemistry between the actors while what makes Bakuman manga unique and exciting to read, despite the rather simple and unexciting plot, are the characters. Mashiro in the movie is not talkative like in the manga so the balance and dynamic between him and Takagi is somewhat missing in the movie. Nizuma in the movie is not eccentric like in the manga. The relationship between the people in the movie are professional and awkward instead of a more personal friendship like in the manga.

I think the main reason for the poor characterisation in the movie version is because the actors are way too old to depict 14-15 year old high school kids. They are not bad actors but they just no longer have the innocence and spontaneity to act as teenagers who may exhibit some over-the-top expressions. In the movie, Mashiro is too 'cool' and it makes Takagi's enthusiasm around him rather awkward. In the manga, Azuki is pretty and sweet but in the movie, Azuki is pretty but not sweet. I find her expression rather cold at times. Nizuma is just like any ordinary guy as he does not have everything that makes his character so unique in the manga. My biggest disappointment, however, is Mashiro's uncle. He is a friendly and likeable uncle in the manga while the movie version is too crude. In the movie, he looks unkempt rather than overworked.

The movie ends with a one-time success when Money and Intelligence was ranked number 1 -while Crow at number 2- and there is no follow up on Mashiro and Azuki!!! Mashiro was undecided to do a manga and he decided to do so because of the promise with Azuki and the movie does provide the closure on this aspect. Bleah...

I think the movie does not do justice to the manga. It is still bearable to watch though as the elements which make Bakuman manga unique and likeable are still present in the movie, especially if the main reason of getting hooked into the series is because of the behind-the-scenes of manga industries. Watching the movie is like a self-justification for me to splurge my money on anime-manga related things, especially artbooks I find even more appealing than figurines. I am actually supporting the mangaka for all their hard work so it is money well spent, okay! Lol. Say no to piracy to respect and appreciate these mangakas! Although at the same time I also hope manufacturers of figurines and merchandises also price their things appropriately. They are charging too much for sub-par quality and that is why there are people buying pirated stuff etc.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Suikyu Yankees

Inaba Naoya is a cry baby whose life was changed after he was saved from bullies by a yankee from Kasu High School. He grew up abroad but that did not stop him from aspiring to study in Kasu High School one day -his hero's alma mater. He returns to discover that Kasu High School is frowned upon by the townspeople as school of the hopeless and pales in comparison with Suiran High School which brings good name to the town for being the no 1 water polo teams in Japan. Not wanting the legacy of his yankee hero to be over, Naoya decides to save Kasu High School by bettering Suiran High School in water polo.

My opinion:
As a typical high school sports comedy drama, Suikyu Yankee has plenty of tried and tested formula to follow but in an attempt to differentiate itself from others, it successfully butchers all potential good things which can come from such genre. The title itself is an irony as there is very little water polo actions and the only yankee thing throughout the whole 10 episodes is Naoya's hair.

It is the very first series which feature water polo and they fail to capitalise it. The struggle of forming the team, finding a suitable training location (which obviously ends up in a water tank of sea aquarium), and the summer training camp are too similar too Water Boys which happens to be another Fuji TV drama from a decade ago. The practice scenes do not feel unique to water polo and it seems to be just a fanservice to have the boys in speedos. The matches are so short and not inspiring: they show neither how difficult it is to play water polo nor how intense water polo matches can be. The final match is made worse with the fact that Suiran is playing 'dirty'. I find it disgusting for a no.1 team to resort to such when playing against a bunch of amateurs. No matter how they want to spin the story, having 1 genius + 6 beginners in opposing team should not and cannot be a major threat against a no. 1 team. The most terrible thing is that all Goda's dirty actions are not punished until the end. 

The team bonding is also quite poor and each team member's reason for joining the team is weak. These undermines any potential emotional parts about team spirit and camaraderie. The victory over Suiran is rather tasteless and feels ridiculous for a team of amateurs which have only played for few months can win over a no 1 team in Japan. It feels kinda lame as I don't see any struggle or development from Kasu's team to be better in water polo and hence I cannot empathise their joy to finally overcome Suiran. They even fail to incorporate the yankee's never give up spirit and that makes all the inspiring words from Kurosawa (the yankee who inspired chibi Naoya) pretentious.

There is way more romance than usual high school sports comedy J-drama at the expense of the screen time for development of the water polo team. I think it does more harm than good.

The only unique and good thing that Suikyu Yankees handle uniquely is the sports rivalry between Ryuji and Torao. Instead of going the usual pathway of who is better as an ace, Ryuji realises that he won't compete with Torao. Torao is a better floater (i.e ace and scorer of the team) while Ryuji is better as a playmaker to support floater. Instead of competing with Torao to be the better floater, Ryuji decides to focus on his strength as a playmaker and will make Naoya a better floater than Torao. 

The characters are generally very one dimensional and there is very little character development. Most of Kasu water polo team are childish who take turns threatening to quit when something bad happens. Yes, even our main character is also guilty of doing that. Ryuji feels more like a sore loser rather than someone who gives up because of poor self-confidence. We also have the baka trio whose main contribution is providing comic relief and make up the number of the water polo team. Surprisingly, Chiaki is the one with more significant character development and maturation despite the initial outlook of joining the team for childish ulterior motive of impressing the teacher. That is a good surprise there. 

As much as I like Nakajima Yuto as Hey! Say! JUMP member, I think he can't act as a yankee. I mean he has this good boy vibe that he can't shake off., no matter how much he tries. But if you consider his character as a good boy trying to act as a yankee at school, then he acts pretty well. I also find it disturbing how Ohara Sakurako (who plays Nagisa) reminds me of Maeda Atsuko while Yamazaki Kento looks like a hybrid of Sato Shori and Nakajima Kento from Sexy Zone. Lol.

My afterthoughts:
Suikyu Yankees really reminds me of Water Boys albeit it feels like an inferior copycat of Water Boys. Water Boys series are one of the first few J-drama series that I watched -although I never write any blog on them as the drafts are still in a word document in my laptop- and Suikyu Yankees makes me want to rewatch them. I watched Water Boys almost 10 years ago and I feel emo to realise how old I am :( It is quite amazing how my preference still has not changed and after watching sports school drama, I still feel pang of jealousy that I never had the chance to play sports during my school days. Sigh if only I could turn back time...

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Flower Dome

Today I will be writing about work. My branch continues on with the trend of 1 pharmacist leaving each year. This time, it is my boss' turn. The good news is that my previous boss who was transferred 2 years ago will be back. Sian.. I could sense that something was coming as she offered to treat all of us for dinner last week with a weak reason for our contribution for JCI audit. There was nothing to thank us for as the audit is part of our job and we were just doing my our job. My suspicion that someone is going to leave became greater when another colleague suggested for a dinner either only on 6 or 7 December. We don't usually have dinner together so it is very weird to have dinners on 2 consecutive months. Thus when she told me that she wanted to say something in private on Wednesday, I knew what was coming: either I will be transferred and she stays or I will stay and she is leaving.

It is very sad :( I am the last man standing from the original combination that I enjoyed from 3 years ago. Honestly I am not surprised considering how much working environment has deteriorated as compared to a few years back. I am personally thinking of leaving but I still have 10 more months of bond. A bond is a like a promise and I am not going to break it.

A part of me feels hopeful that the old boss will be able to get hold of technicians better. Because of the age gap, naturally people are more scared of her. However, it is still bitter sweet that she is only back because my current boss is leaving. The 3 of used to be working together and I have a lot of fond memories. Sigh.. If only she is back in exchange of my not-so-useful colleagues.

I just attended my company's Culture DNA day today. My colleague kept teasing me that my photos were everywhere. It is an overstatement. My name is in 3 different projects and that is the reason why my photos a bit more often than others. I honestly dislike this kind of 'competition' as I am a sore loser. I know I should have been grateful as the project that I anyhow submitted won $200 (Merit Award) and I have another 2 project within the top 10 ($400 each). I should not let the disappointment for none of the top 2 clinched the Best Project Award ($600 or just $200 more) ruined the whole thing but I can't help but to feel shit when seeing the winning project.

Anyway my main goal of attending the event was for free entrance to Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay. No way I will pay using my own money to enter it. The only thing I like is that the temperature inside the Dome is quite cooling. Other than that, everything looks so fake. It is nothing like the beautiful flower field pictures that I usually see in calendars. Bleah.. I am still amazed that there are so many tourists want to enter this.

I just discovered that there will be an OVA for Kuroko no Basuke. Can't wait for it!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


Haikyuu! caught my attention since a few years back since it has mixture of the things I like from anime/manga series: school theme, sports theme, and a sports which is not basketball or soccer. I was waiting for Elex Media Komputindo to release the Indonesia version of the manga before following this. That does not happen until now. That is why I was paying more attention towards Kuroko no Basuke. Currently the second season is showing in Japan but that is not the reason for me finishing the first season over the weekend. Lol. I watched this because it is available for streaming at the same website where I watched Saint Seiya; Soul of Gold earlier.

There are no surprises for Haikyuu! as there are limited plot options for school + sports genre. The story begins with Hinata Shoyo being impressed while watching a short volleyball player dubbed "Small Giant" jumped to spike during a match in TV. Fast forward to Hinata's first encounter with Kageyama Tobio during a match in their junior high school which ended with Hinata's team loss. After graduation, Hinata and Kageyama ends up in Karasuno High School Volleyball Club. Being rivals, they have to learn to work as a team and it starts Karasuno Volleyball Club's adventure with the super rookies duo.

I may be biased -because I come to know Kuroko no Basuke first- but I see too many similarities with Kuroko no Basket: super rookies duo having to learn to fight as a team, a match with rival school, the return of great players who go missing during the initial match for various reasons, competitions at the Interhigh which ends with a loss and the story continues in season 2.

In the midst of similar series in which the characters have special inhumane techniques, Haikyuu! bravely does not follow the same suit: the characters are all normal players without superhuman abilities during the match. Honestly, that makes the matches somewhat more uninteresting. Despite that, team development, team bonding, and the emotional roller coaster during the matches are still top notch and I am still looking forward to the second season. I admit that it is an amazing feat to still able to craft such plots even without superhuman abilities.

Another formula that Haikyuu! breaks away from are arrogant antagonists who wants to crush everyone else and schools which are undefeated champions an so on. For example, Toru Oikawa from Aoba Johsai -which eventually defeats Karasuno- is very likeable and I am not surprised if people can even be rooting for him instead. Haha.. This approach makes the characters, the story, and the rivalries more down-to-earth and relatable.

Haikyuu! has a lot of potentials with the characters which are sadly not fully developed. The characters are quite one dimensional: we have the cheerful main character and the socially-awkward genius, strict and feared captain, caring vice captain, a kind hearted with thug appearance senpai, reluctant ace, cool manager, the benchwarmers and so on. The only missing element is an injured player. The interactions between the characters are very superficial and I don't really feel that they are well united as a team. I really hope that they dig the characters deeper and develop relationship better for the second season.

Overall, I think Haikyuu! is so so at the very best. While I don't find Haikyuu! bad, it is not good enough to pique my interest to get the figures of their characters. That may be a blessing in disguise as I have no space for new figures and new series. Having said that, I still bought the artbooks, I will definitely be watching the second season, and I am still hoping that Elex Media Komputindo will release Indonesian version of the manga. And most importantly, Haikyuu! is good enough to have the privilege of being the 1000th post for my blog. Lol :)
Final shot to end season 1 with all members of Karusuno. Another similarity to Kuroko no Basuke? Haha..