Sunday, October 30, 2005

Mars Day Mayhem

By the time I finished tinkering my blog, there isn't time to sleep. Khai Meng will be coming at 6.15 to pick me and Shy Peng up for MUET exam. It was already already 5am, time to prepare to go.

Soon, we're ready to go. I had muffins I bought yesterday for breakfast, while Shy Peng had a can of tuna. We waited... and waited... and waited....... By 6.30am, we called to check on Khai Meng. He was still in bed. lol, are we taking turns to oversleep?

When he got here at 7am, he explained that he was sick since last night. He suspected the worst: Dengue. Uh oh... hope he's wrong, and hope he can still drive properly. Last time I had dengue, I can't even gather enough concentration to play games, and surrendered to the pounding headache. He was having a headache too.

When we got to the school where the exam is supposed to be held, Li Qian was already there, but nobody else except the security guard was there. Not knowing where exactly we're supposed to sit for the exam, we picked a spot and waited. Mysteriously, about 7.20am, people started coming en masse. Have they arranged to come at the same time, or are they all used to last minute rushes?

The exam itself was too easy. The first paper was the reading comprehension paper, 2 hours. Finished in 45 minutes and slept off most of the remaining time. Khai Meng and Shy Peng finished early too, and went out. I don't know about Shy Peng, but Khai Meng went out to puke. Li Qian and me waited for the exam to finish.

After the paper, was a writing paper, with a 30 minute break in between, which I spent on games. Following that is yet another break, then the listening paper. My verdict? Pushover. Even my sis can take this on any time and still end up in a respectable band.

After the exams, Khai Meng sent us back to the hostel. I arranged for my by parents to fetch me at 11pm and my bags to be sent to Shy Peng's place, to be picked up by my parents later. Shy Peng's mom provided me transportation to a bus stop near Bukit Jambul. From there, I took a taxi to Chung Ling. Omg, that trip costs me RM20! And the guy didn't even use a meter.

*Feels cheated*

Why Chung Ling? Because now, Mars is as close as it could get in 15-17 years, although not as close as few years back. So, the Chung Ling and USM Astronomy Club put together an all day event, which is supposed to end at midnight with a Mars observation.

Since I was late, I missed the bottle rocket workshop and launch. I remember my brother making a 4 stage bottle rocket for a competition, out of soda bottles (pity him and his friends, for binge drinking soda), silicon sealant, super glue, pieces of copper pipes, and various other stuff. Too bad, the bicycle pump used to pressurize it during the competition broke down. Too much pressure I guess, lol. Good thing these kids get to use a compressor.

When I arrived, there was a spetrohelioscope making session. There were no tissue boxes left for me to work on, but everyone was given a piece of mirror so we can make another one at home. The idea was to bounce light off the mirror onto a piece cut out of a CD. The CD acts as a diffraction grating, bouncing off light onto a paper screen and dissecting it into the familiar 7 colours. Very clever design by USM. I was told that a search on the Internet found nothing similar. Maybe they should patent it or something, lol.

Spectrohelioscope making session



Double cool~~

After the session is finished, everybody left for dinner. I don't know any places to eat nearby, but I managed to make friends quite fast, lol. However, most of them are yet to open at 5pm so we walked a fair distance before actually sitting down and eat.

When we got back, there was supposed to be an astrophotograpy talk, but too few were present. Only 2 people. So, the talk was canceled and we chatted instead. Chun Keat (the speaker, who also presented the astrophotography talk at the Penang Caring Society Complex) said that if he had 5 audiences, and 20% actually listens, that's good enough. lol, we have 2, myself included.

Later, more and more people arrived, but too late for Chun Keat to do his talk. Its Mr Teoh's turn. He has recently returned from an astrophotography trip to Mongolia. After a brief talk about his observatory, he related his experience with the Mongolians and the sky there. lol, they slaughtered a sheep to welcome Mr Teoh and his gang follow astronomers. And to show sincerity, and that the sheep served is fresh, they slaughtered it right in front of them! We were told it was so fresh that the flesh doesn't have that typical mutton smell, and the feces didn't smell either! Must be because of its diet of fresh organic grass, lol.

During the presentation, I finally understand why our galaxy is called the "Milky Way", or "Silver River" in Chinese. The photos were stunning!

After the talk was a planetarium show. A machine was used to project a model of the night sky onto the ceiling of a dark room. Of course, a spherical roof would have been better, but this is just a simple show. More participants arrived.

Note the machine in the middle, on the quad-pod stand. In case you're wondering, the chair nearest to it is my seat.

Planetarium show in progress. In the middle is the planetarium machine. Don't worry about the red steak of light in the corner, and the red light near the machine. Its just the laser pointer. Can you spot the big dipper? Its the 7 dots right on top of the machine.

Around 8pm, show's over and everyone adjourned to the observatory. Unfortunately, Mars was hiding behind the clouds. The more we wait, the more people left. Still, there is little sign the clouds are breaking soon. Hopes were so high that when a star was spotted, people would shout "Hey! I can see a star already!!!". But still, the clouds didn't spare Mars.

The time was spent looking at the middle train station on Bukit Bendera (ei, can see people walking!) and walking around, chatting... ect. Whatever that burns time. Some people directed all sorts of questions at Dr Chong, who was delighted to answer them. I have also heard that after Chung Ling's observatory was founded, many schools have expressed interest, even confirmed, to build their own observatory. Each one wanted a bigger telescope than Chung Ling's! Sadly, in America, virtually every respectable school has an observatory of some sort. We're just getting started.

Chung Ling Observatory. 1st school run observatory in the Northern region. Probably whole Malaysia too. Wish I was born a few year ealier and reside in Penang, lol.

An 11" SCT, worth USD9000. That explains all the security cameras I see all over the school. My.... this school is rich!

It looked like any chances of seeing Mars is scant. Chun Keat offered me a ride back to the hostel, so I called my parents asking them to fetch me tomorrow while I wait a little longer. In the end, no luck. We packed up and moved, leaving some of the more enthusiastic ones to stay overnight. Wow, I've just found out how heavy a telescope mount could get while helping. Its really, really heavy, and I was told that was considered light! I wonder why haven't I seen a mount made of carbon composites.

Sigh... back to hostel...... without seeing Mars. But first, supper at Nasi Kandar Subaidah, and I'm not the one paying the bill! Dr Chong and another amateur astronomer was there too. I ordered "Roti Merdeka" just like last time, expect I managed to finish it this time. The rest, who have finished or almost finished their meals, can only marvel at the portions and ingredients of the dish, and decide to try it next time. After the meal was over, we walked out of the premise. Someone commented "12.30am, it should be directly overhead by now."

*Looks up. Curses at a bright orange dot in the sky*

Well, I reached my hostel, although unplanned. My clothes are already home, so I'll have to use whatever I'm already wearing. Thank goodness the towels and toiletries are still here. Well... at least I get to spend yet another night downloading a new game, but little else. Too tired (duh? I didn't sleep last night!).

PS: In case you think I was taking advantage of people by ordering a huge plate, it was only about the price of a chicken chop. Quite affordable. I'm no bloodsucker!

Sigh. Mars. God of War.
It must was drawn sick pleasure from watching us suffer.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

House (my blog actually, not an actual house) warming party!

Hey! How do you folks like my new home? Cozy isn't it? All future blog entries will be posted here, continued from my previous blog. The previous blog will still be kept (but not updated) for old times sake. C'mon, that was my first blog ever! Ok, now gather round my brand new sofa, story time is about to start.

I woke up at 5.00am, so I could start studying at 6am. Imagine that, I'm supposed to enter the exam hall at 8am, and I've just started studying. I studied in the study room so the lights I needed so dearly (I couldn't afford night vision goggles) won't disturb Shy Peng. Oh ya, I broke my toothbrush while brushing. Good thing I had a spare.

By 7.30am, I'm at college, studying while waiting for the convenience store to open its doors, so I could get breakfast of course. Meanwhile, study, or at least until I decided to throw my books aside and start chatting and joking.

The Biology paper was average. I'm surprised at the way corrections are made. They actually reprinted the whole page and distributed is separately. That didn't happen in SPM, and in a few cases, there are still mistakes after correction. Fortunately, I wasn't around to see that happen.

Once again, I get the corner seat, except this time, it was too far from the window to get a view. To make matters worse, someone I really dislike was sitting immediately to my right, but for once, he's the least of my worries. Why? Because a conveniently located air vent was blasting my feet with Antartic breeze. I could have swore it was pumped all the way from some major snow storm in Antartica.

At the beginning of the exam, I kept sneezing. Actually I was sneezing shortly after waking up but it stopped for a while, just long enough to find my seat. Then, I was shivering in cold, and later my teeth started chattering. How am I supposed to write while I'm shivering? Well... at least the words are still readable. Good thing I've got strong teeth too, otherwise it might have shattered after all that chattering. I could hear the invigilator snickering as he collected my papers. So sadistic!

After the exam is over, I simply refused to take off my jacket until I reached the hostel. Next time, I'll be wearing long johns. Maybe gloves too if I can write properly with it. Before going back to the hostel, I also took the opportunity to gossip about how everyone did in the exam, and had lunch.

Apparently, since the corrections were made in the part of the exam paper we're aren't supposed to do, some poor soul actually did those questions, which will not be marked. Reminds me of the a story Leela told her class, about a student who is frequently absent ended up doing the wrong Chemistry questions. Leela had to write a letter to BOS explaining what happened. Now, a student who frequently falls asleep in class does the same mistake.

For a people to be without History, or to be ignorant of its history, is as for a man to be without memory-condemned forever to make the same discoveries that have been made in the past, invent the same techniques, wrestle with the same problems, commit the same errors; and condemned, too, to forfeit the rich pleasures of recollection.

-----Henry Steele Commager (1902 - 1998)

Went back to the hostel for bed and games. When, its dinner time, I went to college, only to find the canteen closed early again. Since it was only 5.50pm and the weather looked promising, I walked to Relau for my dinner. I also bought tomorrow's breakfast and some noodles in case I missed dinner again. In the meantime, I couldn't resist thetemptationn to buy some chocolates :D
Back in my room, its the chat, sleep, chat routine again.
While talking about blogging with Lydia, I fed up with Friendster blog. I dumped it in favour of's flexibility in layout and templatess. So, that's why we're here reading this. Of course, I'll try to come up with a newtemplatee. MsFrontpage has proved useful in tackling HTML codes. Took we a while to place my chatter box and hit counter on the right spot.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.