Saturday, December 27, 2008

Ticket To Ride...

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And the board game craze is starting to set in... Started out with some pics that a friend of mine took with her gaming friends and I was thinking how fun it would be. I then played Star Wars Monopoly with Bao Yi... lost... but the hunger started to set in.

Spent some money and got Ticket to Ride and that was it. Played 2 games today and Bao Yi's officially hooked.

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The objective of the game was to built railway routes around a map (in my case, Germany) and complete as many destination tickets as we can. I got the special edition which also came with passengers that can be moved.

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All Roads Pass Through Hannover... :-D

At the beginning, Bao Yi & I found that there were quite a number of things to remember but after we got the hang of it (after 1 game) it was quite okay and started to enjoy it. There's a good review here.

Interested anybody?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year To You!!

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The video file above is hilarious and I was introduced to it from this lovely Blog by Beverly... It was so hilarious that I just had to add it to mine... Hope it adds a smile on your face this lovely day. Anyway, enjoy it cos' I rarely make a fool out of myself in this manner... ha ha... Hellllpppp... Christmas is making me weird!!

Seriously, I dunno why but somehow, no other holiday brings as much excitement and magic to me other than Christmas. At least I think so. For me, I actually prefer to celebrate Valentine's Day on Christmas itself cos' it has such a magical feel to it and the atmosphere is just so... erm... indescribable...

Christmas Carols, Christmas Songs, Santa Claus, Snow, Christmas Trees, Well-Lit Streets & Shopping Malls... Nothing compares...

As 2008 draws to a close and 2009 arrives, I'd like to take this opportunity to wish all of you out there a Very Magical & Merry... Merry... Merry & Loving Christmas.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Buy a Tee & Save Yvonne's Eyesight

We've all at one time or another grumbled over how unfair life is to us and how come others win a car or a lottery and why not us. Heck... my nephew & niece says that all the time when they don't get what they want and I'm sure pretty much all of us who have been to Chagar Hutang (Turtle Volunteer Camp) have grumbled about the mosquitoes. I know I have... especially the first trip back in 2003 where for some weird reason I was attracting all the bites!!

Few of us stop to think about how fortunate we are that we have never been in a War, never been hungry, have pretty much been able to travel around the country... Well a lot of us at least.

Well... Check out the following post which I've copied from Pelf's Web Site and lend a hand. It is after all, the season to spread some cheer and to give a gift of love.

Yvonne Foong is a 22-year-old Malaysian who was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis Type II — an incurable genetic disease in which tumors grow in the brain and spine — 6 years ago when she was 16. When you or your kids or your friends’ kids bask in the glory of being sweet sixteen which comes with party invitations, cook-outs, stay overs, and what-have-yous, Yvonne has to deal with the disease. And the pain. And the deteriorating health conditions.

Yvonne has undergone 5 major surgeries since that fateful day in 2002, the last being an Optic Nerve Decompression surgery on Nov 19th, 2008. And now that you are busy shopping and wrapping gifts for your family and friends, Yvonne is raising funds to save her eyesight by selling some Heart4Hope T-shirts. The T-shirt costs RM15 each, instead of the normal price of RM25 each. Postage is RM5 per kilogram."

So help spread the word and share some of your joy with Yvonne and Merry Christmas to All. May you be blessed with good health, good fortune, happiness and may you bring joy to your loved ones.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Starting A Family Tree

Like so many things that start out ever so harmlessly, my mom was asking me to look for this article that was written by her former teacher that named her so out of curiosity I googled my mom's name. The search result returned not only my mom but also my uncles and aunties from a site called www.geni.com and the rest as they all say is history.

2 days later, and with much digging around for information about ancestors, long lost relatives and erm... forgotten names... (this is too embarrassing to talk about so I won't elaborate), my family tree has grown into a jungle and although there are some missing links here and there, I'm quite pleased with the result.

You are able to invite your family members and they can add their extended family members and it goes on and on till before you know it, everyone's connected... as their tagline goes.

So fancy creating your family tree? Go give www.geni.com a visit.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Say "No" To Turtle Egg Consumption Is Now Online

The Say "NO" To Turtle Eggs Consumption is now online so it is now even easier for you to stand up and tell everyone that consuming turtle eggs is NOT cool.

The petition was started some months back using paper forms but to make it more convenient for everyone to sign the form, the Turtle Research & Rehabilitation Group (Pelf.. I got it right this time... :-D keh keh keh) has ported the petition online. As such, all you need to do is send the link to all your friends, colleagues, masters, slaves, employers, employees... everyone. If you have signed the earlier one, do drop by this link and sign it again as it has been revised to include an appeal to the Malaysian Department of Fisheries and the Terengganu State Government to ban the collection, sale and consumption of turtle eggs.

Although the collection of turtle eggs has been banned in some parts of the country, the sale is not and it never will be as long as there is demand. And the demand is not just from local villagers as tourists and dignitaries also want to have a taste due to myths surrounding the consumption of turtle eggs.

Why does it matter? Most of us feel that it's too little and we doubt the change it would make but it was just a century ago that African Americans were considered slaves but today, there is a possibility that the next American president will be an African American so nothing is impossible and as the saying goes, a little bit each day will go a long way so spread the word and do your part. These gentle creatures are a sight to behold. Ask anyone who has seen them and they will agree with me. Turtles are already in danger from the moment the eggs are deposited... Fire ants, crabs, birds, fishes, monitor lizards and many more. They do not need the ultimate predator preying on them as well.

Why eat turtle eggs? No reason whatsoever!! There is no value from eating turtle eggs. The myth that turtle eggs are an aphrodisiac (something that arouses/ intensifies sexual desire) is just that... A myth!! To drive one of the oldest creatures on this planet to the brink of extinction is too high a price just to prove this point. Studies have determined that turtle eggs are not an aphrodisiac... In fact, turtle eggs contain much higher levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) than a chicken egg. So consumption of turtle egges will have the opposite effect. Why? Well... an erection is caused by the rush of blood into your penis and cholesterol clogs up those beautiful little arteries and veins of yours thus reducing the flow of blood... So forget virility cos' it's flaccidity that you'll be faced with!!

So what can you do? Tell your friends about the campaign and head on over to The Say "No" To Turtle Egg Online Petition and sign the petition. You can download the icon at the bottom of this post (or what the heck... go create a nice icon of your own) and put a link on your Website/ blog or facebook or friendster and tell everyone that consuming turtle eggs is uncool. We can all make a difference.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Thought Bubbles Goes Pink

First of all, No! My blog has not been hijacked by Bao Yi (my girlfriend who for some reason loves anything pink). It's actually Breast Cancer Awareness Month therefore, Thought Bubbles goes pink... I've also been told to acknowledge her as she helped me identify the colours that I was using as I have this problem with colours so there... that's your acknowledgement. Thank You. :-)

A lot of us men brush off Breast Cancer as something that's not too close a threat but think again. People we care about and love are at risk. We all have mothers, sisters, daughters, grandmothers, friends, colleagues. girlfriends and wives. Most of us may not know it but even we men have a risk of getting breast cancer... well... call it chest cancer if you prefer but the fact is men can and have contracted the disease. Read more about it here.

The following are some information from the College of Radiology Website:
  • Breast cancer was the commonest overall cancer as well as the commonest cancer in women amongst all races from the age of 20 years in Malaysia for 2003 to 2005.
  • Breast cancer is most common in Chinese, followed by the Indians and then, Malays.
  • Breast cancer formed 31.1% of newly diagnosed cancer cases in women in 2003-2005.
  • A woman in Malaysia has a 1 in 20 chance of getting breast cancer in her lifetime.
  • The cumulative life time risk of developing breast cancer for Chinese women, Indian women and Malay women were 1 in 16, 1 in 17 and 1 in 28 respectively.
  • The peak incidence appeared to be 50 - 59 years old.
The following are information about breast cancer worth reading about:
So what can you do? It's Breast Cancer Awareness month so spread the word, 'pinkify' your blog or Web Site if you haven't already. Find out about breast cancer. Tell your loved ones what you have learned about breast cancer.

So how do you go about going pink? Register here and be counted.

Check out other Web Sites that have been Pinkified and read about what they have found out about breast cancer by visiting this link.

Add Go Pink Badges to your blog/ Web site.

Subscribe to Pink for October to keep yourself updated.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Star Wars is back and it is back with a vengeance. After the recent prequels including the earlier Clone Wars cartoons, the enthusiasm that I had for all things Star Wars kinda' faded due to disappointment. Don't get me wrong, a Jedi Starfighter will take out the USS Enterprise (Star Trek) anytime... even on a bad day... (Hope I don't get flamed for this) but I had very high expectations of Star Wars. After watching the prequels, one can't help feel that instead of bringing the Star Wars legend to a higher level, all it achieved was plug in some of the holes in the whole saga. Needless to say I left the cinemas without the 'high' I was hoping to get.

But anyway, that's in the past. After watching the first three episodes of The Clone Wars (TCW), I'd have to say that it has yet to disappoint. Part of this I feel is attributed to the focus on the battles rather than the relationships between the various characters which pretty much screwed up the prequels. This in turn can probably be attributed to the lack of chemistry between the stars.

TCW pretty much follows the events of Episode II and the previous Clone Wars cartoons back in 2003. For the uninitiated, the Clone Wars is the significant event in Star Wars history that led to the rise of Emperor Palpatine ending with the outlawing and subsequent extermination of the Jedi order.

TCW pretty much picks up from the the previous cartoons and centers on the adventures of Yoda, Obi Wan, Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano, Anakin's new padawan (Jedi disciple). Yoda was back to his former comedic self and this brought back memories of him in The Empire Strikes Back (TESB) which coincidentally is my favourite Star Wars movie of all time.

There's sufficient action to keep us on the edge of our seats and battle droids are providing much welcome comedic relief as well.

The graphics is also much better than the 2003 cartoons and this is a big relief. What I think is interesting is also the way it has embedded messages into each episode such as "Great leaders inspire greatness in others" and "Belief is not a matter of choice, but of conviction" which I felt was good.

The force is definitely strong in this one.

TENJEWBERRYMUDS

This is hilarious. To get the full effect, this should be read aloud. You will understand what 'tenjewberrymuds' means by the end of the conversation. This has been nominated for the best email of 2007.

The following is a telephone exchange between a hotel guest and room-service, at a hotel in Asia, which was recorded and published in the Far East Economic Review:

Room Service (RS): 'Morrin. - Roon sirbees.'
Guest (G): 'Sorry, I thought I dialed room-service.'
RS: ' Rye .. Roon sirbees .. morrin! Jewish to oddor sunteen?'
G: 'Uh..yes. I'd like some bacon and eggs.'
RS: 'Ow July den?'
G: 'What?'
RS: 'Ow July den? ... pryed, boyud, poochd?'
G : 'Oh, the eggs! How do I like them? Sorry, scrambled please.'
RS: 'Ow July dee baykem? Crease?'
G: 'Crisp will be fine.'
RS : 'Hokay. An sahn toes?'
G: 'What?'
RS:'An toes. July sahn toes?'
G: 'I don't think so.'
RS: 'No? Judo wan sahn toes?'
G: 'I feel really bad about this, but I don't know what 'judo wan sahn toes' means.'
RS: 'Toes! toes!....Why jew don juan toes? Ow bow Anglish moppin we bodder?'
G: 'English muffin!! I've got it! You were saying 'Toast.' Fine. Yes, an English muffin will be fine.'
RS: 'We bodder?'
G: 'No ... just put the bodder on the side.'
RS: 'Wad! ?'
G: 'I mean butter...just put it on the side.'
RS: 'Copy?'
G: 'Excuse me?'
RS: 'Copy ... tea ... meel?'
G: 'Yes. Coffee, please, and that's all.'
RS: 'One Minnie. Scramah egg, crease baykem, Anglish moppin w bodder on sigh and copy .... rye?'
G: 'Whatever you say.'
RS: 'Tenjewberrymuds.'

Monday, September 29, 2008

Oh Gross!!

Was entering the car park lift this morning when I bumped into the cleaner going on his rounds emptying the dustbins. They basically go from floor to floor carrying this big garbage bag and empty the garbage bins into the bag. Well... as I walked into the lift, he entered before me and was so nice to press ground floor for me as well.

Thennnnnnnnn I saw the glove he was wearing... which of course was the one he was using to empty the bins... And by emptying, I don't mean overturning the bin into the bag.... No No No.. They normally pick up the garbage from the bin with the gloved hand and stuff the junk into the black 'Santa' bag they carry... And there was this brownish stain on the glove.

And it was this same gloved hand that he used to press those little buttons on the control panel... So what's the lesson here? Ladies & Gentlemen... Wash your hands!! :-)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Steamed Pork Ribs With Soybean Sauce

This was really fast and easy to do. Very little mess as well. I bought a book a few weeks back from a Popular Book Sale at the Curve titled 'Fun With Pork'. I love pork. There's no other meat as good and versatile as pork. Think of roast pork (siu yok), BBQ pork (char siu), bacon, ham, pork knuckles... Need I say more?

I've never actually tried cooking ribs before. The thought of BBQ Pork Ribs has crossed my mind but never really got down to trying it so I was going through this book when I came across a recipe that looked pretty easy. Tried it out and it tasted a little bit like the ones that you get from dim sum stalls.

Ingredients
Group 1 - The Pork
200g Pork Ribs
10g Ginger
6 Cloves Garlic
1 Stalk Spring Onion
2 tbsp Soybean Sauce
1 tbsp Red Chilli (Diced)
2 tbsp Celery (Diced)

Group 2 - The Marinade
3 tbsp Plum Sauce
2 tbsp Dark Soy Sauce
1 tsp Sugar
1 tbsp Light Soy Sauce
2 tsp Sesame Oil
1/2 tsp Pepper
2 tbsp Oil
1 tbsp Corn Flour

Method
Rinse pork ribs, cut into pieces. Mix with marinade and set a side for 1 hour. Peel ginger and garlic, chop and mash. Place all ingredients into steaming tray and steam for 20 minutes over high heat. Serve. Now if that's not fast and easy, I don't know what is...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Grilled Chicken With Curried Celery & Mushroom Sauce

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Was playing badminton while at the same time trying to figure out what to eat for dinner and had a sudden urge to cook up a surprise for Bao Yi. Some time back I bought some meatballs and she didn't like them so I buried them in a curry gravy which she said made the meatballs palatable. Well... not just palatable... she said they tasted great... :-) I then experimented further... Bao Yi (like a few other people I know) didn't like celery. Well, she would eat them but she doesn't like them.

Thing is, I don't have any like or dislike for celery but it's basically a base ingredient for a lot of sauce/ stock base due to its fragrance so I do use them. Anyway, I chopped the celery finely and threw them with some garlic & shallots then sautéd them till they were soft then threw in the same meatballs, some seasoning and again the curry powder. Voilà, she was eating the celery like they were chocolate… Ha Ha.. ok… ok… that’s an exaggeration but anyway, was thinking of a curry gravy of some sort with grilled chicken so dropped by Cold Storage on my way back so here goes…

Ingredients
Group 1 – The Meat
2 Chicken Breasts
Cajun Seasoning
Garlic Salt
Olive Oil
Black Pepper
Fresh Thyme
5 Spice Powder
Port Wine/ Red Wine (To deglaze the grill)
Group 2 – The Sauce
1 tsp Curry Powder
Shitake Mushrooms (Sliced)
Shallots (Chopped Fine)
1 Garlic (Chopped Fine)
2 Celery Stalks (Use as much of the stems with leaves)
Low Fat Milk
Group 3 – Potatoes
2 Potatoes
Dried Rosemary
Bolognaise Seasoning

Alright, firstly wash the potatoes then cut them into small little cubes. This is to help them cook faster. You want them bigger, that’s fine. These potatoes will eventually be stirred into the sauce but you can either fry them or steam them first… The latter would probably be healthier. The seasoning’s there because I was watching Chef at Home and he actually dumped some herbs into the water used for steaming the potatoes so I tried that as well… Damn fragrant the air after that… Didn’t do much for the potatoes though… Maybe all buried within the curry gravy as well. Anyway, just chuck all the dried herbs into the water and let them boil. I actually steam the potatoes so the nutrients don’t get leached out into the water (which happens when you boil the potatoes).

While the potatoes are steaming, season the chicken breasts. Where the chicken’s concerned, you want to leave the skin on cos’ that’s the best part. (The heck with cholesterol) but remove as much of the fat as possible then pat dry. Sprinkle some olive oil and basically chuck all the seasoning, herbs & spices in and rub well. Chuck the thyme under the skin and rub the spices underneath that as well. When the remaining fat renders on the grill it’s going to absorb the flavours.

The potatoes should be done by now so take them out and brown them in the oven with some olive oil while you heat up the grill. I use a grilling pan instead of an actual grill.

Once the meat is done, scoop them out then deglaze the grilling pan with some Port wine. I love this cos’ it actually absorbs the flavour seared onto the grill into the wine so the flavour doesn’t go to waste. Add some water then let it reduce for about 3 mins.

In the meantime, sauté the shallots & garlic till soft then chuck in the celery. Sauté for about 3 mins then pour in the reduced meat liquid then let it simmer for about 3 mins then chuck in the mushrooms. Mix well then chuck in the potatoes and again, mix well. Sprinkle some black pepper, Cajun seasoning and curry powder. Mix well then pour in the low fat milk (this is a substitute for coconut milk/ cream) then chuck in the potatoes. You can add some fish sauce/ salt to your taste.

You’re done. It looks like a long process but all it took me was about 30 – 45 mins and it didn’t really create a big mess. The cost for two persons? Only about RM 30 and I have lots of celery to spare. You can actually add more milk so you get more gravy in which case you need more curry powder as well and trust me… Get some garlic toast and dip ‘em in. Have fun.

Mid Valley Photo Shoot

My first model shoot with the Mid Valley Centre Court decor as a backdrop. Ha! Ha! Yeah I know... Perasan... It was actually a fashion show by E'Tho. Well, enjoy the pics...

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Balik Kampung Theme
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Raya Spread
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And last but not least, my bestest, favouritest model... :-)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Thought Bubbles Cyberspotted

Keh Keh... Well.. technically, I am piggy-backing off the Turtle Research & Rehabilitation Group (TRRG) Web Site but oh well, it's still my few lines of fame :-) Certainly brings back early memories when I wrote in to the Star to write about the horrible conditions of the enclosures & cages in the Taiping Zoo. That's as far as I ventured into activism. Heh Heh...

I was in Form 4 (that would be back in 1990) and I actually written the letter and got all my classmates and friends to sign the letter. I actually signed the letter as A.L.F. which is supposed to be the acronym for Animal Liberation Front... Well.. that and ALF was one of my favourite comedies at the time. If you haven't watched it, it's about this cuddly Alien that crashes into Earth and loves eating cats... Yumm Yumm... An alien after my own heart!!

I do not know if that reached the intended audience but since then conditions in the Taiping Zoo has improved exponentially and it now has a night safari as well. I wouldn't be exaggerating if I were to say that it is better than Zoo Negara but then again, that's my opinion... So regardless if it had any impact, I guess I will just continue believing I have made a difference... :-) That and the hundreds of turtle hatchlings that have crawled to sea... Hope I have made up enough karma points to wipe out my sins... :-D

Monday, September 15, 2008

New DELL Battery

Yeah... As good as new... After close to 1 year of utilising my Dell Inspiron 1520 the battery was starting to behave like a handphone battery. Although it charges fully, it's noticeable that the charge doesn't last much longer than 1 hour. All the same, didn't pay much attention until I started getting the following message.

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Anyway, a quick call to Dell Tech Support by my colleague, gave them the Service Tag and less than 24 hours later, I got the following...
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A spanking new battery... I've told many people before that Dell Support is one of the best... Well, I'm now stating that publicly & officially... Hmm, maybe they'll stumble into this post and offer me a free Dell notebook. :-) But seriously, this is the second time I've called Dell for assistance and both times, they were friendly and as helpful as ever. My cousin has done the same as well. So has my colleague. With the standard 1 year warranty support package that comes bundled in, there are no questions asked, we just report and before you know it, they're at your doorstep. So next time you want to get a notebook or replace your present one, think Dell... It's affordable, support's great. You won't regret it. And No! I'm not getting paid for this...

Selamat Hari Malaysia 2008

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45 years ago on this day, 16 September 1963, Malaya, North Borneo, Sabah & Sarawak joined hands and formed Malaysia. Authorities has earlier planned for the formation of Malaysia on June 1, 1963 but it was later postponed to August 31, 1963 to coincide with the 6th Hari Merdeka but due to objections from Indonesia & Philippines with the formation of Malaysia, it was eventually delayed to September 16 of the same year.

Today, 45 years later it is my hope that we Malaysians irrespective of race, religion and background will be celebrating Hari Malaysia, hand in hand for many more centuries to come.

[History lesson courtesy of Wikipedia]

Sunday, September 14, 2008

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September 16, 2008. Malaysian D-Day?

Never once could I have imagined how interesting Malaysian Politics would one day become . To be frank, I enjoyed the US Elections more which is why prior to the March 2008 General Elections, I was actually following more of the US elections. Over there, democracy is at least like a democracy. You have political parties voting in their leaders and this is in turn based on the population voting in the candidate they trust most.

Even on election day itself, I wanted to avoid the rush so quickly went, had lunch and was back on CNN following the news of the US elections... :-) So much for patriotism... Little did I know the political tsunami that would arrive on our shores later that evening.

As we anticipate September 16 and our American friends await their presidential elections, one can draw similarities in both countries. The underlying hope that everyone has that it will be a better 4 - 5 years ahead. Where Malaysians are concerned, the hope that true democracy is in store and as well, a more transparent and democratic government will replace the cronyism & corruption of the past, propelling us forward to Vision 2020. In the US, the hope that democracy will shine through for all, the hope that Obama will be finally be the first African-American US President. Obama and our very own Pakatan Rakyat has one similarity... in that they in their own ways have gotten the younger generation enthusiastic and interested in shaping the nation's future and it is this single fact that has gotten me rooting for them.

My boss was asking me sometime back why I wanted so much for Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim (DSAI) to be the Prime Minister. My answer was simple... He gave me hope. The fact is, the recent general elections (GE) gave us one very important thing... Hope! First of all, I know DSAI is no saint but then again who in politics are? The fact is, it can't be any worse than it already is so why not give them a chance to prove themselves. The alternative can't exactly be that rosy. Prior to the GE most of us was content to just vote the opposition with the rationale of having check and balance (of course the ones we vote are capable ones of course... we don't pakai hantam (simply whack)) just so we can have representation in the parliament... Nobody had any notion that things were really gonna change. This pretty much accounts for the surprise when results of the GE trickled out.

All the same, it is still uncertain as to how things will pan out over the next few weeks but I'm thankful that since the elections, everybody has been pretty much been well behaved. This again I feel is one of the benefit that Pakatan Rakyat has given us a preview of. A country which is multi-racial in essence and not just in name. Prior to the GE, most of us would be cautious when we voice dissent and our dissatisfaction with the powers that be for fear of legal retribution and also ever so often has the racial card been played for the sole purpose of keeping a leash on the minority. This is sadly still the case most recently.

In the past, DAP & PAS as opposition parties have pretty much had a tough battle fighting the coalition government as both were seen as the extreme end on either side. It's not very far-fetched to say that PKR has become the glue that solidifies this partnership providing an avenue for the moderate Malays. And for an ethnic Chinese, it is really refreshing for me to hear a Malay leader preaching Muhibbah in the truest sense of the word preaching equality and fairness for all instead of just cautioning the ethnic minorities not to stir up unrest by questioning the rights of the majority. This in a great part has helped diffuse the tension that may have been a result of fear on both sides of the divide. It is my hope that this will continue to give us what can be truly described as a Malaysian Malaysia.

I am sure I speak for all my friends, Malays, Indians, Sikhs, Punjabis and Chinese when I say that there is no one questioning each other's rights. All everyone wants is a peaceful environment to raise a family and one where everyone is treated equally. After all, when we go to another country for business, study or to migrate, wouldn't we want to be treated on equal footing?

As it is, half of the country is governed by Pakatan Rakyat (PR). It is every moderate, right thinking Malaysian's hope that this new coalition will learn from history and avoid the temptation that is at present bringing down the Barisan coalition. PR has been given a very valuable opportunity to prove itself to Malaysians everywhere that it can do what BN has failed to do so it is now up to the elected leaders of the PR coalition to show us what they can do and show us they deserve another term.

Mongol

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A show worth watching if you like historically based epics. Think Braveheart, 300, Kingdom of Heaven and the like. Nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar for 2008, it's in Mongolian but the subtitles is pretty good. Mongol is a movie about the rise of Genghis Khan. The cinematography & acting was great. Some of the scenes kinda reminded me of 300 but overall, the movie stood out on its own.

Main complaint would have been that the entire story kinda felt compressed. I guess there was no way that the director could have squeezed the whole story of Genghis Khan's life into 2 hours and it kinda' focused on the main highlights of his life but probably could've stretched it a little bit more.

Considering whatever little I remembered from my primary school history which portrayed Genghis Khan as a barbarian the movie humanised him somewhat. The movie is factually thin and though the characters are accurate and most of the key characters in Genghis Khan's life are in the movie it's all very briefly covered and on occasions you get the feeling that the movie kinda skips...

Anyhow, it's still worth checking out.

Friday, September 12, 2008

You Don't Wanna Watch Zohan!!

It's been busy lately sorting out work... sheesh... How come work never gets sorted out? I'm always sorting... and sorting... and sorting...

Since The Dark Knight (TDK), I've been away from the cinemas... somehow no urge to go watch a movie cos everything seemed so boring after TDK...

But anyway, went for a movie marathon last weekend. Was strolling along Mid Valley with Bao Yi with the intention of catching a movie. Not only did I not get to watch the movie I was thinking of watching, I had to endure watching a movie that should never have been made in the first place. What movie did I want to watch that bad? Well... It wasn't exactly an irresistable urge but was hoping to catch The Clone Wars. For those of you who don't know, this will be the prelude to the Clone Wars TV Series... Anyway, they only had one show and we'd missed it so we ended up getting tickets for 2 shows back to back... Zohan (Even the mention of it sends a tingle down my spine) and Wall-E.

Anyway, Zohan in 2 words is 'brainless comedy'... It's not that it was lousy acting... Rob Schneider (The Animalistic Man Whore) is in there and Adam Sandler was okay but I was not much of a fan of this genre of comedy so... I guess it's just me. Those who love Jim Carrey, Leslie Nielsen and Stephen Chow would probably be rolling on the floor but it's just not my cup of tea. Wall-E on the other hand was nice...

The week before that watched Mummy 3 although... yes yes yes... everyone pretty much told me it was horrible... But I guess I was a sucker for punishment...

My verdict? Well... It was still watchable la... If not for the acting at least for the action. Considering how well (in my opinion) Brendan Fraser was in so many other shows, I was disappointed with Mummy 3. Somehow, I just didn't feel like he was in the show. So much so that the brother in law that I found irritating in the earlier Mummies did much better. Sheesh... even the abominable snowmen acted better. And I'd rather not talk about the son and the 'new' wife.

Dato' Michelle Yeoh (DMY) & Jet Li didn't really shine in the movie as well. Although DMY started out in action movies and is more than capable of carrying herself in a fight, I kinda prefer her in dramas as she has that regal, classy air to her and she shines much much better in movies like Memoirs of a Geisha and the Children of Nanking... Jet Li? Well... still prefer his chinese movies.

That aside, special effects was ok... So far nothing has been able to surpass the joke that was The Scorpion King... I kinda liked the appearance of the abominable snowmen though.. I've always like the idea of mythical guardian creatures... :-)

Some have mentioned it was probably the lack of the Weisz factor... and you know, I'm inclined to agree. The chemistry between Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz in the earlier 2 mummies was amusing and nice. This I suppose underlined the importance of a good cast and chemistry between the actors & actresses...

I can name several movies that sorta' flopped because of the lack of chemistry... The Star Wars prequels would be one... I mean... I am a Star Wars fan and if there's any show I would watch regardless of what people say, it would be Star Wars but sadly, there was no chemistry whatsoever between Hayden Christensen & Natalie Portman. The Dark Knight was a great movie... but they have also yet to find an actress to really fit in there... maybe that's why you never see the same actress twice in any of the batman sequels... Now compare these with films like Superman (Christopher Reeve & Margot Kidder), Classic Star Wars (Harrison Ford & Carrie Fischer), Mummy 1 & Mummy 2 (Brendan Fraser & Rachel Weisz), Remington Steele (Pierce Brosnan & Stephanie Zimbalist)...

That aside, caught some nice movies though outside of the cinema... There's Fly Away Home (starring a young Anna Paquin & Jeff Daniels), Never Back Down (Djimon Hounsou), Felon (Val Kilmer & Stephen Dorff) and The Great Debaters. The Great Debaters deserve special mention... It's a drama based on the true story of a college professor (played by Denzel Washington) who inspired his students to form the school's first debate team that went on to challenge Harvard in the national championship so go check it out...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Happy Mid Autumn Festival

Bao Yi's company is having chinese dress-up day in conjunction with the upcoming Mid-Autumn festival and she scrambled to get her qipao modified. Just got it by mail yesterday from her mom and she looked so stunning when she put it on that I just had to snap a shot... Well... several shots to be exact.

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That and and I know it's about time to update the blog so what better excuse.

The mid-autumn festival or otherwise known as the lantern festival or mooncake festival is most commonly associated by the sudden mushrooming of stalls selling mooncakes and lanterns. Gone are the days where lanterns were made of transparent coloured papers that use small candles and feature the animals of the zodiac. Well.. you still see them but nowadays, you see more and more electrical lanterns using batteries, plastic with sirens as well... And the variety... Spiderman, Batman... You name it... they've got it!! The most popular one recently has to be Kungfu Panda...

Anyway, the mid-Autumn festival falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month of the Chinese calendar (usually around mid- or late-September in the Gregorian calendar). This is the ideal time, when the moon is at its fullest and brightest, to celebrate the abundance of the summer's harvest. The traditional food of this festival is the mooncake, of which there are many different varieties.

Farmers celebrate the end of the summer harvesting season on this date and traditionally, on this day, Chinese family members and friends will gather to admire the bright mid-autumn harvest moon, and eat moon cakes and pomeloes together. Accompanying the celebration, there are additional cultural or regional customs, such as:

* Eating moon cakes outside under the moon
* Putting pomelo rinds on one's head
* Carrying brightly lit lanterns
* Burning incense in reverence to deities including Chang'e
* Planting Mid-Autumn trees
* Collecting dandelion leaves and distributing them evenly among family members
* Lighting lanterns on towers
* Fire Dragon Dances

Speaking of moon cakes I really have to recommend Fook Pan's Chocolate Mooncake. It's only available from their factory which is in this small little shoplot on Jalan Ipoh. Well.. .supposedly there are distributors that buy from them and resell but I haven't seen any so far so the best is to get them warm from the oven... To get there just drive to Jalan Tun Razak, turn into Jalan Ipoh heading towards Kepong and look for a signboard just before a pedestrian bridge (it's before the Shell petrol station) and it says Fook Pan Cooking School... The chocolate mooncake costs MYR 10/ piece... worth every bite!! And a good point to note is that they were the first to produce chocolate mooncakes. At least as far as I know and this was several years back and I always go back every year.

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Since then, I have seen chocolate mooncakes popping up everywhere but so far, none that quite tastes the same. 2 other ones that I liked this year is the Chocolate Maple Snowy Skin and Chocolate Citrus Snowy Skin... Anyway, you can call them at +60 3 4042 7676 or visit their Web Site for more details and a complete price list.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

HIC! HIC! HIC!

Ever had a hiccup that just won't frackin' go away? Well I had my first... Since yesterday night after dinner I had this danged hiccup that lasted an hour after which I was almost going nuts... I eventually swallowed 2 tablets Maalox Plus to get rid of the gas cos' I felt bloated with all the gas and I decided to try make myself puke... I didn't puke but the gas exited my stomach and Voila... it worked...

Problem is... it returned in the morning!! On my drive to work.. all of a sudden... HIIIICC!!! HIC HIC HIC HICking all the way to work!! You probably would have seen me in my car... head bobbing up and down every few seconds with an exasperated look on my face!! It went away again after breakfast but before you know it 30 minutes had not passed and it was back!

Anyway, desperation sets in... nothing works... I have tried a lot of cures in my time and none really so satisfactory... Among them drinking water... My girlfriend was actually asking me to take 7 big gulps of water and not thinking of the hiccup... needless to say, apart from feeling like a drowning whale, it didn't work... Somehow I have never been able to successfully scare myself silly and I don't have a paper bag handy (and I don't fancy suffocating myself as well by accident) so it's time to Google it!! And the first link I found worked and the good thing about it? No water, no cups, no nothing... Just sit in front of your computer and try it out... so here it goes...

Step 1: Start by inhaling through your mouth until your lungs feel full (when it feels like you cannot inhale any more). For overall best results, try to do this as quickly as you can. DO NOT LET ANY AIR OUT.

Step 2: Swallow. You are not really swallowing anything but it seems that without this act, it doesn’t work. DO NOT LET ANY AIR OUT.

Step 3: Now inhale some more. You don’t need to inhale a lot, but do get some more air in. It will start to get difficult to do this as you go, but keep trying. You obviously can’t suck in as much air as you did initially, but just a little will do (think of it as taking a “sip” of air). DO NOT LET ANY AIR OUT.

Step 4: Swallow again. This too will start to get difficult as you go. DO NOT LET ANY AIR OUT.

Step 5: Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you cannot swallow again. While it seems you can almost always suck in just a little more air, it is the swallowing that gets to be impossible. When you feel like you cannot swallow again, swallow again anyway. It will be hard to do, your face will probably turn red, and you may make squeaking sounds. But you CAN swallow one last time. By this time, your lungs should also be quite full and it should be difficult to get much more air in as well. While you should try not to let any air out, if you have really repeated steps 3 and 4 as many times as you can, you probably will end up letting a little out before you can take that last swallow. If you find that air keeps escaping out of your nose even early in the process, try squeezing it shut with your fingers.

Step 6: Exhale.

If it works for you like it did for me... Well, drop by this 30 Second Hiccup Cure link and say Thank You!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Let's Put A Smile On That Face!!

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Ladies & Gentlemennnnn..... The Dark Knight smashes it's way into box offices and I'm putting it right beside all those shows that I consider the best movies of all time. Among the things that I look for in a movie, it has fulfilled all of them with distinctions. Entertaining, action, special effects, humour, drama, story, plot... It delivered on all levels. Soundtrack no need to say lah... As long as you get Hans Zimmer... somehow, it can't go wrong...

Since Batman Begins, Christian Bale has pretty much replaced Michael Keaton as my favourite Batman. He's still not someone I would call the perfect Batman... Not the same way Christopher Reeve is identified as the one and only Superman or Alec Guiness as Obi Wan Kenobi... But he did great.

And Heath Ledger... Man... his performance gives me chills... In my opinion, the villains in this installment pretty much stole the show. Heath Ledger was simply amazing as the Joker... His portrayal of sadism and cruelty simply puts him right up there as one of my favourite villain of all time. And it's not just that, say what you will... but he even made The Joker classy. And Aaron Eckhart pulled off Two Face satisfactorily as well. His portrayal of Harvey Dent and his eventual 'fall to the dark side' earns him brownie points in my books. It's such a pity that Ledger died such an untimely death as I felt his performance should earn him an Oscar.

Christopher Nolan has pretty much pulled off with the latest 2 installments of Batman what I felt the earlier ones failed to do... Believable villains and a believable Batman. Till today, I still shiver when I think of the nipples on George Clooney's Batman... I almost expected they were gonna use it as a weapon... perhaps to shoot poison gas...

Maybe it's just different styles whereby the earlier installment by Tim Burton wanted to make the villains more comical but I guess I preferred Batman darker. Batman in another way is just not Batman... sort of like a PG-13 Predator vs Aliens movie...

Oh... And catch these few other movies of Heath Ledger... Knights Tale, Casanova, Brokeback Mountain, Brothers Grimm & The Patriot. Especially Knights Tale.

Rating... 20/10.

The Incredible Hulk

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Let's see... Was kinda eager to catch a movie after I got back from Redang... Had already missed Indiana Jones and choices that I had were Kung Fu Panda (Nah... Didn't feel like watching cartoons)... Hancock... Hmm... Nolah... Not really in the mood for comedies either...

Had kinda' set my mind on watching The Incredible Hulk queue to get tickets was like soooo long... Anyways, my girlfriend and I was having dinner when Lois called me up and told me she would be dropping by the Gardens so told her to get me tickets if she could... keh keh keh... Unfortunately tickets were kinda late in the night.. 11:30 show and it was only about 10 pm... Suan liao la...

Called Lois and checked if she was having better luck as she had crossed over to Mid Valley and was supposedly queuing for Kung Fu Panda and whaddaya know, Poon was in the queue.... and she was far ahead... So... to cut the long story short, got my tickets... didn't have to wait that late for a movie... Thanks Poon!! :-)

The movie was kinda ok... It was much better than it's predecessor a few years back (The one starring Eric Bana) but overall, I guess my expectations were much higher. Off hand, Edward Norton's an amazing actor. He wasn't that impressive in Red Dragon but was simply amazing in 25th Hour and of course, American History X.

Didn't have very high expectations of Liv Tyler though... Yeah she's a pretty face to watch but I didn't have that high expectations of her as an actress. No offence to all of her fans out there cos' that's just me.

I suppose when the whole show is banking on a character that's digital it's gonna be tough getting both the real and unreal to really jive. Unless if you're Peter Jackson of course... Gollum! Gollum! Gollum! And oh yeah... King Kong!! Btw, do you know that Andy Serkis played both? :-)

Anyway, again, show wise was okaylah... entertaining if I'm not too sleepy but I guess my main grouch is The Hulk was not as menacing as what I had hoped he would be. Yeah the effects were good... But still he didn't really strike it off as a truly menacing green monster.. more like a grouchy bully...

So anyways... I'd give it a 7 out of 10.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

It's Back!!!

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Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins and I'll bet that most of you heard it here first... keh keh keh... They have fortunately replaced Nick Stahl, the actor who played John Connor in Terminator 3 with.... *drum-roll* Christian Bale!! Who? Batman la!! The current installment will supposedly take place in the future. I've seen Christian Bale in a coupl'a movies and I'd say he makes the best Batman so hope he makes a more believable and less wimpy John Connor than the last one.

And nope... No Schwarzeneggar in the cast list. I think it's better that way. When? Early 2009.

In the meantime, go check out Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Not really that exceptional but still watchable la... Fills in the gap between T2 & T3... I'm kinda wondering if it'll eventually explain how John Connor in T2 became as wimpy as John Connor in T3... If for nothing else, go check out the babes...

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

PA's Homemade Pasta

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My girlfriend suddenly had a craving for pasta last night while I was getting the stuff for my siu yok & cookie recipe so got some Tagliatelle, some portobello mushrooms and pasta sauce. I normally make my own pasta sauce but in this case, was kinda lazy and wanted to do it fast so what the heck... got some mushroom (I have this thing for mushrooms... yum yummmm) pasta sauce.

Anyway, went shopping this morning and got some minced pork as well... can't do without meat, can we? I mean... vegetarians are good and all that but I don't see myself as a vegan... Nooooo way...

Anyway, marinated the minced pork, chucked it in the fridge and went about my business... When it was time to prepare dinner, I took out the ingredients and suddenly felt that the pasta was gonna be kinda empty so started scrounging around for more ingredients... I guess I kinda like it this way... looking around for what I have and tinkering around the kitchen... You'd probably notice that my kitchen is the nicest part of my house too... :-)

Anyways... it's pretty easy to prepare... Try it out...

Ingredients:
Tagliatelle (You can use whatever you like)
Olive Oil
Pasta Sauce
Garlic (Chopped Roughly)
Gourmet Chicken Sausage (1 should suffice... sliced)
Minced Meat (Marinated with cornstarch, soya sauce & fish sauce)
Portobello Mushrooms (About 5 Pieces)
Bacon (2 - 3 slices... cut as you like)
Port Wine (Optional)
Spices (Basil, Oregano, Thyme, Parsley) This is optional as the pasta sauce would already have it but I like spices in large quantities so what the heck

Directions:
Start boiling the Tagliatelle or whatever it is you prefer as it'll take the longest. About 10 - 15 mins...

In a wok/ pan, splash some olive oil and saute the garlic, spices, sausages, bacon & minced meat until it's golden brown and crispy...

Dump in the mushrooms... saute for about a minute and pour in as much pasta sauce as you like.

Turn up the fire and wait till it bubbles, let it boil for about a minute then add a splash of the Port wine to give it some zing... Stir, wait for it to bubble then turn off the fire.

Once the pasta's done, heat up the pasta sauce, drain the water from the pasta and chuck it into the sauce, stir & serve. Voila... shouldn't take you more than 20 mins.

Roast Pork From Hell @ Siu Yok

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I bowed to the temptation of Babe In The City's 'Siu Yok' (Roast Pork) recipe... Partly to try it out and partly to impress my girlfriend. Well.. it worked to a certain extent. She was impressed... :-) Unfortunately I was expecting better... To be honest, I doubt that any respectable chicken rice restaurant would serve it... Why? Cos' from the picture prior to cutting it... it honestly looks like it came fresh from the ovens of Hell... hence, I christen thee the Roast Pork From Hell... Looks aside, it was quite okay. Europeans may like it though... I could possibly get employed as an assistant chef at Deutsche Haus or maybe Bavarian Bier Haus... :-) Ok! Ok! Enough self flattery...

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At any rate, the taste was not too bad but it was kinda salty at the bottom. I wasn't quite happy with the crisp factor as well... Overall, I'd give it a 6 or 7 out of 10. I told Babe In The City that if anything I try fails, it's the fault of the recipe... ha ha... But oh well... I probably just need more practice... I suspect that it's due to the thickness of the piece of pork belly (too thick) that I purchased and also the uneven distribution of the meat.

What's interesting though is that I tried 'grease-proofing' my oven cos' trust me... once the fat starts cooking... it's not a pretty sight... And anyone who likes his oven clean as a whistle will be groaning in agony... Anyway, I lined my oven with aluminium foil and it helped that pretty much every part of my oven could be taken apart. Fortunately. it pretty much worked...

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Well... hope whoever tries it has more success than me... You can get the recipe from Babe In The City's Siu Yok.

Banana Oatmeal Cookies a.k.a Choc Chip Cookies

Bao Yi: Wah... The cookies nice oh... Got chocolate chip summore... Wah got so much summore...
P.A.: Niceleh... Follow friend's recipe wan. Can taste the banana or not?
Bao Yi: Huh? Banana? What banana? I don't taste any banana...
P.A.: Hmmm... Sure boh?

Well... that pretty much explains why there's an a.k.a Choc Chip Cookies... ha ha... Anyway, it tastes okay but I think I probably should have put more bananas or maybe I should have used some other type of banana.

I got the recipe from Yozora's Website but I doubt I did it justice. I actually increased the quantity as her recipe made only 2 dozen and I was trying to make more so I roughly doubled the ingredients. But all the same, it was relatively easy to make... and yes Yozora... I have seen the light... I need to get an electric mixer...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Almond Chocolate Torte

This no-bake thingie is catching... I suppose the convenience of not having to use the oven and the cleaning that follows. Unfortunately, for an amateur, it seems that whether I use the oven or not makes no difference cos' it takes more time than it says... :-)

This is actually the 2nd time I'm trying this recipe. If I remember correctly, the taste is pretty much similar as the first time but the first time I did not have a springform pan and I had difficulty getting the finished product out of the pan... Erm.. it pretty much looked like mush after I got it out. And having had this 'experience' maybe I should have deviated from the recipe a little... maybe a little more gelatin... Not sure if it would have made any difference in terms of firmness. Anyhow, I think it tastes great. Girlfriend thinks so too... sooo... pass lah... keh keh keh... Self praise is no praise but who the heck cares...

Well... try it out yourself and if you have suggestions how to make it firmer apart from chucking it in the freezer, do drop me a line... and by the way, how do you actually weigh 7 gm gelatin powder ah? My weighing machine (no I did not use the Ikea weighing machine).. it's a proper weighing machine and it doesn't give me that low a weight... Maybe I need a digital one... Erm... hint! hint. Anybody? My birthday's coming up soon... :-)

The following is what you need:

Ingredients:
Set 1
65 g sliced almonds, toasted. (Feel free to use as much as you want... It adds a great crunch to the finished product so I used quite a lot partly to give it a thicker base)

Set 2
224 g semi-sweet chocolate

Set 3 448 g cream cheese, softened
200 g sugar

Set 4
7 g unflavoured gelatin
60 ml cold water

Set 5
475 ml whipping cream

Directions:
You can do either one of the first 3 instructions as it's not affected by time. When you are playing with the whipped cream, you have to use it immediately so do that last.

1. Set aside as much almonds as you want as garnish. Chop the rest and use them to line the bottom of a greased 9 in springform pan.

2. In a microwave or heavy saucepan, melt the chocolate (Set 2) and stir until smooth. If using the hob, what you should do is have a pan filled with water and set another bowl with the chocolate into the pan of water and melt it that way. This way the chocolate will not burn. If you are using big chunks of chocolate it may take you awhile. Take the entire thing off the fire and let it cool a little.

3. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar.

Note: Once the first 3 are complete, start work on the following. 4. In a small saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over cold water; let stand for 1 minute. Cook and stir over low heat until gelatin is completely dissolved then beat into the cream cheese mixture (instruction no 3 above). Add the melted chocolate and beat until blended.

5. Lastly, start whipping the cream. Reason why I left this last is the first time I attempted this recipe, I kinda did this somewhere at the beginning and left it while I did the rest. What you end up with is mush... ha ha... You also can't beat it too much... just as long as the texture changes and is firm, you should stop and move on to the next step... Otherwise, the cream separates from the milk after some time and I think you will have low-fat milk...

6. Fold the whipped cream into the mixture.

7. Pour into the prepared pan and sprinkle with reserved almonds. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. I left it much longer as with the last time, it didn't really firm up very much except the surface. I'm not sure if it would help if you add more gelatin. Perhaps some of you can try it out.

If yours turns out like mush as well don't fret... It tastes better than it looks... at least, I think so. The original recipe says it takes a prep time of about 20 minutes and it will be ready in 20 minutes... For me, all in, it took me slightly over an hour. And this doesn't include the cleaning that followed. But again... it was worth it. Good Luck!!

Recipe courtesy of Rhonda Lanterman, downloaded from allrecipes.com.