Sunday, September 1, 2013

Oils as moisturisers

Using oils as moisturizers has given me the chance to experiment with different things.  

One advantage to using oils is that off-the-shelf organic ethically produced oils are cheaper and more cost-effective than conventional moisturizers and commercial moisturizing oils. 

I went with information I found online, so I started off with coconut oil. It smells divine, but can lead to breakouts if you use it overenthusiastically. As I store the stock solution in the fridge, where it solidifies, waiting for it to melt is a pain in the ass. 

Then, my mum went on a shopping spree and came home with bottles of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). 

EVOO is marvelously slippery and you don't have to melt it, though it must be kept cool to prevent it from going rancid. It can also smell spicy, which might not be to everyone's taste (hur hur). It can also be expensive and lead you to think that it might be a better idea to just eat the stuff than smear it on your skin.

There's also a little known fact that sometimes, EVOO producers dilute it with grapeseed oil, or cut out the olive oil altogether but label it EVOO anyway. I like not having to worry about what's in my skincare products, so I've just gone for straight grapeseed oil*.

As it turns out, it's perfect for me. It's light, carries only a hint of grapes, and smoothes on like liquid silk. 

I just have to figure out what to do with the remaining half bottle of coconut oil.

* For all I know, even that might be cut with sunflower oil or what have you; short of analyzing it yourself, there's really no way of knowing for certain what you're using! 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

How to use what you have when you have it

So I was feeling frustrated about not being able to write whenever I wanted to because between working and emailing and freelancing, my mind would be as blank as the blog composer that loaded when I finally got around to remembering my password. 

Carrying an actual notebook around is a terrible idea because my handwriting has turned to shit. 

I had some time away from work and the laptop and the tablet one day, so I tried Bing-ing* a solution. 

I wanted a notepad/text pad app I could use to jot down thoughts exceeding 140 characters the moment they occurred. The app had to be saveable and text formatting-enabled. Ideally, it would also be cross-platform, so I wouldn't have to save drafts to email. 

Then, I remembered I was holding a Windows phone. It came with MS Office. 

Almost a year after I got it, I'm finally using my smartphone the way it was meant to be used. Somewhat. 

* Not sure if that will ever catch on.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Overheard during Ramadhan

An older Chinese man (C) strikes up a conversation with a younger Malay man (M) at the post office: 

C: Wah, now you're fasting huh? 
M: Yep. 
C: Wah, can't be easy, huh? 
M: Nope. But it's ok once you get used to it. 
C: Hm, that's true. 

A few seconds of silence pass before C speaks again. 

"Actually fasting isn't that hard whut. When I was younger ah, I couldn't afford to have lunch every day, so I just had breakfast and went to work lah!" 
M: You don't say... 
C: Ya lah, it's kacang,* man! 
M: Erm... 
C: But if you're a contract worker** and you puasa*** then I really tabik**** you lah! 
M: Yeah, that's pretty difficult for them, can't imagine how they do it. 
C: Yeah man, really respect them! 

* Small potatoes 
** Day labourer 
*** Fast 
**** Salute  

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Journal formatting tip: Nomenclature

Most of the time, scientific journals provide relatively clear instructions for formatting passages. While inconsistencies may exist between reference formatting guidelines and samples provided in their print articles, you can usually format the text with your eyes closed.

That is, until you encounter the British Journal of Haematology. Then, you are told "the main categories of headings are side capitals, side italics and shoulder italics".

Incredibly, the search engines (yes, all of them) yielded nothing but an unanswered forum query. 

To be fair, the guidelines suggest that authors refer to recent issues of the journal, but the indirectness makes it appear as if they're trying to get more people to actually read their articles.

That probably isn't true, but I think it can be improved. Typically, headings appear on a separate line from the main text. Thus:

This is a typical main heading

This is a typical subheading

Here is a section heading

This is a subsection heading

Sometimes, authors are instructed to place section headings in line with the text. THIS is what "shoulder italics/capitals" means! To wit:

This is a side capital heading*

This is a side italics heading

This is a shoulder italics heading. The text starts here.

Therefore, "side" and "shoulder" respectively refer to the "side" of the page and "shoulder" of the paragraph, i.e., in line with the text. Now it's easy, no?

* This might or might not be all caps/upper case, sentence/title case, or bolded; it depends on the journal.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Different perspectives

It's actually become a point of pride for me now to stay vegetarian. As vegetarian as I am right now, at any rate. The staff at Indian restaurants seem to get a kick out of it when Enfant Terrible and I turn down suggestions of mutton curry and the like "because we're vegetarian".

Most of the staff are vegetarian themselves, although a recent exchange I had with one fellow made me realize that not everyone is vegan 24/7.*

He: Today vegetarian ah?
Me: Yep, every day. You too?
He: Oh god, no, it's Friday.
Me: What happens on Friday... oh, non-vegetarian on Fridays?
He: On weekends. Whee!**

* Technically, it's impossible to be "pure" vegetarian because an amount of animal protein winds up in food during processing anyway. Anthony Bourdain said so.
** His expression said "Whee!"

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Man of Steel (2013): Fangirling

When I watch a film based on a book/comic/real life, I believe that there should be some leeway in terms of faithfulness. While it's true that a film would have been enriched if [character/scene/chapter] had been included, it wouldn't make a difference to me if I know nothing of the source material. Of course, I sympathize with the purists, but please, it's just a film. A film that almost all people who like men will enjoy staring at watching.

The best thing about Man of Steel is, in my wholly biased opinion, Henry of Cavill. Cavill is broad of shoulder, cleft of chin, and wavy of hair. He is also tight of butt and shapely of calves. May I also mention that he is quite handsome and has a smile that can light up a room and make your toes curl?

Why yes, I do like apple pie. Your apple pie. (Pic via Fiz Z Entertainment; the hi-res version is almost life-size [just kidding])

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Elder wisdom

An old chestnut* states that an eatery must be good if there are a lot of people inside. In Malaysia, this means that if there's a queue outside the place that spills on to the road, most people would bet that the food will blow your mind. That, or they're screening a live badminton final in which a Malaysian is playing. Or the place has a Groupon deal.**

I used to buy into this idea, but now I know 2 things:

1. People attract more people.
2. The quality of a crowded eatery depends on who is crowding the place.

Anatomy of a Malayalee banana leaf meal (how many types are there??) (by The Food Detective)

Monday, June 3, 2013

Local flavour

I remember writing a fluff piece, when I still wrote fluff pieces around 2011, about staycations. The economic downturn was still hitting the Americans hard, though I believe Malaysia was less affected, if at all. 

In fact, people are still talking about staycations. Whether you're cash-strapped or platinum-carded, the idea is appealing: take your vacation days but don't leave town. Hit your own town like a tourist. Pessimistically, that could mean "spend 3 to 4 times what you usually would for lunch/pay exorbitant prices for souvenirs (... what?)/get food poisoning or sunburn or both/squabble in the car or get carsick or both".

Furthermore, no hotel staff will make your bed, leave mints on your pillows, and there will be no cheerful "Good morning!" at the breakfast table because it's your own breakfast table and no one else in the family is on staycation. And you'll still have to do your own laundry.

via West Cobb Magazine

Friday, May 31, 2013

Dirty hippie rule

Do you realize that you needn't bother with remembering to clean your hairbrushes if you don't have any?

Rather than wondering what girl in her right mind would eschew a hairbrush, why not think about why we use them when we have 2 perfectly serviceable hands that can do the job instead?

I don't remember what I was surfing for at the time, but coming across the concept on a long hair forum (who knew??) made me sit back and think about what I'd been doing all this while. 

(I know it sounds self-centered, but it's my hair, dammit, I want to look good! And we can't all be Erykah Badu.)

Anyway, good on me. There is less frizz, I don't have to make sad jokes about taming the thatch anymore, I haven't been to the hairdresser in ages, and I have no split ends. This is a big deal for girls like me who have long curly hair, and who are apparently known as curlies (I hope there's a t-shirt or something for it out there).

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hair care for cheapskates

After trading in all of my skincare products for one bottle of coconut oil last year, I became leery of "traditional" self-care products. I've decided that the ingredient list shouldn't take longer to read out than it does to use the product.

Take shampoo, for example. The print on the sticker is such a pain in the ass to read because they have to shoehorn in flavor text that no one seems to read anyway and list what goes into that [magic ingredient]-infused anti-dandruff pro-hair shine concoction

I learnt from a soapmaker/chemist that the later an ingredient appears in such a list, the lower its concentration in the product. So, you usually don't get your money's worth for [magic ingredient], even though it might be splashed all over the front of the bottle.

The general wisdom is that the fewer components an item contains, the less likely it is to be harmful. With that in mind, I gave baking soda shampoo a go. I figured I had nothing to lose because the "scalp care" shampoo I was using at the time did not leave me with a happy scalp. I will end that TMI right there.

The amounts vary depending on the person: I have fine hair, so I dissolve a little less than half a measuring tablespoon of baking soda in 500 mL water, and 1 tablespoon of white vinegar* in 500 mL water to condition.

To be sure, there was some initial trepidation, but it passes the boyfriend test (and the kepochi brother test, and the fussy mother test) in that my head doesn't smell like a salad after a shower, so that's that. My hairdresser doesn't even broach the subject of a hair spa now, it looks so sexy and fabulous.

*Almost everyone says to use apple cider vinegar, but I'm stingy. I might try it though, when I'm feeling flush.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The grass is green wherever you're not

At first, I thought I understood why someone like avowed carnivore Anthony Bourdain generally loathes vegetarians. Cutting meat from my diet (though I sometimes eat seafood, dairy, and eggs) left me feeling lighter and more energetic. So much so that for about a week after the "change", I was always on the verge of shoving the meat-free life into other people's faces.

Can you imagine: "DON'T EAT MEAT. YOU'LL LOOK SO MUCH BETTER. LIKE ME." (excerpt from Antisocialista 101 [2013].)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Swear jar: Update

I had a swear jar. I would put RM1 in it every time I said a bad word. The first month I had it, I swore more than once a day on average. By the second month, the jar was full, so I took the money out and put it toward my Chachos habit savings.

By the third month, I'd gotten tired of reaching for my wallet every time I said "fucking hell motherfucker what the fuck do you fucking think you're fucking tryna do there? Don't shit me, asshole!" (RM8)

Actually, I got tired of eating Chachos.

(Did you know that short of trawling 20 food blogs, it's impossible to find a decent appetizing picture of corn chips? How can something as divine as corn chips be unphotogenic?)

Blue corn chips (by Baltimore Fishbowl)
There are exceptions: whenever I see crush du jour on screen ("OMG fuuuuuuck!") and when I see something stupid online ("what the fuck, motherfucker that is so fucking stupid!"). (RM4)

Okay, the bit about internet stuff isn't true. Now, whenever I see spectacular (bad, unamusing) stupidity, I think of that person being tied to a chair, Robert Pattinson reading Twilight to them (and he has to do all the voices and expressions), and Rebecca Black's Friday being played in between chapters.

Then I reach for a bag of Chachos.

(Values in parentheses denote the amount to be fined in today's post, obvs.) 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Creep version: Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)*

Here is an actual review.

It's impossible to be objective about Benedict Cumberbatch. It must be his eyes. 

You have a surprise for me??? (via cumberbab3)
They're varying shades of blue and green in different lighting, so while you're holding your breath as you watch his John Harrison cold bloodedly commit the most heinous crimes, a part of you is also marvelling how a wee thing like nature conspired to create what is possibly the most perfect fella you've ever seen. 

That's the part that makes you practically shake your boyfriend's arm off during his first scene. Oh, his first scene? He manages to look both menacing and winsome, which is the kind of look that makes girls like me clutch our pearls and cross our legs. Yes, mama always said to never trust a man in a trench coat, by god.

Also, those 4000 calories a day were worth it. I just wish he'd bent over that console a little longer because... ogh. Must remember to breath.

I don't know whether I like looking at him or just listening to him (more data are needed to verify this uncertainty). He could read a monograph on cardiac bypass procedures and I would pay attention. The ingredients list on the back of a box of cornflakes even. Can you imagine what it's like for the poor sod who has to take his order when Cumberbatch calls for takeout? 

I'm probably exaggerating though. I'm hopelessly biased. He should have gotten more screen time; he was so dazzling that he obliterated everyone else in every scene he's in. Cumberbatch could probably do the Vagina Monologues to a sold-out house.

*This post is brought to you with Enfant Terrible's complete, eye-rolling cognisance. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

Enfant Terrible and I watched a late-night screening of the movie I have been waiting for since last year. Gush about The Hobbit all you like, but I think even the most fervent Peter Jackson fan would be hard-pressed to justify splitting it into 3 long-ass movies in which the (current) object of my affection barely appears, if at all.

Don't mope, honey, "no colour" is your colour. (via SuperWhoLock)

Friday, May 10, 2013

Angry pasta primer

Mum has a casual approach to eating out: if you can afford it, and if there's no way in the world you can make it yourself, e.g., yam basket/deep fried squid/deep fried squid in a yam basket, then you shouldn't deprive yourself.

Of course, this shouldn't come at the cost of flavor, and after having one too many mediocre pastas, there is no fucking way I'm going to pay for another one at another faceless "mid-range" eatery.*

The problem with pasta at these places is that it's never al dente. Call me a food snob, but food that doesn't dissolve into a sticky paste that clings to your teeth as you chew it should be the norm.

Pasta always be al dente if you follow the cooking time; you can cook it a bit longer if you like soft food (I won't judge you). What it will never be, unless you boil the everloving shit out of it, is mushy. Even then, I bet it'd still taste good to you because you're not paying RM10 or so for the privilege.

"But," the kitchen n00bs cry, "Pasta sauce is so hard to make!" No, it is not. You have red sauce or white sauce. Red sauces are tomato-based and usually start with frying garlic, sauteing some vegetables, and/or browning some meat. They're simmered for a few minutes (or hours, if you're making a meat sauce), during which time you cook the pasta/write an angry blog/both.**

So, um, meat helps you build muscle. (Jai Courtney via Men's Health UK)

White sauces are dairy-based, and are more fiddly in that you usually make a roux (flour whisked into melted butter until it turns slightly golden)*** before adding cream/cheese/cream cheese.**** Then, you add meat or vegetables you'd cooked earlier.

If you feel ambitious, use "Italian" herbs. You'll know it's authentic when your sauce smells like Domino's. /sarcasm

*The top-range places won't let me in.
**No pasta was cooked during the production of this blog.
***If you're lazy time-efficient, combine the flour with the liquid ingredients, melt the butter, pour in the liquids, and simmer till it thickens. Or, just heat cream with whatever and use that.
****Don't use cream cheese.