More Thanh Words

"My name is Thanh and I'm a Blogger". Now that I have admitted to that, I can say that I'm a stereotypical "geeky" Engineer who enjoys sci-fi books and movies and into all things technological. I also love music and have a passion for FOOD. I'm a social person and like to talk to people. I hate people who are fake or overly aggressive. If you're also into some serious discussion, with a pinch of sarcasm and a dash of real emotion, then please read on.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Neglected Musical Treasures

I really really love music and listen to it all day basically. I must have my ipod transmitting to the radio while I'm driving. Then at work, I usually have my headphones on listening to music on my PC if I'm working at my computer. If I'm doing work elsewhere, I usually bring the ipod along.

My musical taste is very elctic. I'll give anything a go and listen for a few days before I decide if I like it or not. If you've ever been in a car with me where I have my ipod on shuffle, you'll know how varied my musical taste is. One minute you'll be listening to a current pop tune, then it'll be an old classic rock tune, then some opera and finally some country. I'm constantly asking people what music they like and then go and listen to it.

I follow The Age newspapers online music blog Noise Pollution and last week they featured some neglected musical treasures. There was definitely a lot of good songs that I had never heard of before. I had heard of the artists but just never knew of the songs. I guess that's why they're neglected treasures. Go on, have a listen, they're really good songs.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Name, Age, Sex

So you've got a form to fill out. What's the first three questions you generally see. Name, Age, Sex. The name part is obviously needed. The Age and Sex part used to never bother me, until I spoke with a work colleague on Friday.

Since my birthday is coming up, I had innocently asked an older work colleague how old his was. He said that he makes it a point not to tell anyone his age. I asked him why, as usually women don't want people to know how old they are but men don't really care. His answer was unexpected. He said something along the lines of, "What does age have to do with anything. This is my small way to get rid of ageism."

I didn't really understand so I asked him to elaborate. He was saying that ever since he was young, he always felt that our society as a whole was ageist. For example, kids get put through the education system due to their age, not their mental ability. Why is this? Because it's easier for the Government to deal with. Doing this though, it limits the mentality of all people from a young age already. You are taught to socialise with people your own age and anyone else is "different". If kids were sorted into classes due to race, there would be a huge outcry, but yet somehow age is ok.

He kept elaborating and discussed other forms of prejudice that I never even realised MIGHT be there. When you fill out a form, why do you need to put what sex you are. Most people will fit into either male or female, but in 99% of forms, why is that needed. Why does buying a DVD online require you to say whether you're male or female. Why does obtaining a library card mean you have to categorise yourself? What purpose does it serve? He asked me any situations where disclosing your sex on a form is actually necessary. I could only think of in a medical situation where dosages of drugs may be administered. The second one I thought of (tongue in cheek) was for car insurance, boom boom. Don't shoot me ladies, I'm just joking.

If forms required us to say whether we're Asian or Black to get a library card, there would be uproar. Yet society (myself definitely included) has accepted things as they are and not question anything. He said that only when the feminist movement started was it illegal to ask a women whether she was married or not when interviewing for a job. Before that, it was the norm to know whether a woman was married or not, despite it having no relation to the job at all. So to make change, you need to push for it.

This really did get me thinking how we just live our lives from day to day conforming to so many small things that we feel are insignificant. But in reality, they are all small ways of making us submit to the controlling authority. We really are like sheeps following the herd, with no sheep in particular knowing where they are going yet the whole group is going somewhere. Have you ever experienced that? I definitely have. You're with a whole group of friends and you all seem to be walking in our direction. Finally someone asks, "Where are we going?". Its then when everyone replies "I was following you" and hear back the same reply.

So from now on, I will try to remind myself to occasionally think about things before I do it. You might not be able to change it, but at least knowing about it will give you options on what you may or may not want to do, rather than just being a sheep. Baaa Baaaa!

Cricket World Cup Champions 2007 - Australia

Being a loyal supporter of the Australian cricket team, I have to congratulate them on yet another world cup win, despite this tournament being quite boring. In this world cup, they were not challanged in any match at all. They won so convincingly that it's almost detrimental to the sport in general. But you can only play as good as you possibly can and its up to others to catch up to you. Nobody bemoans Roger Federer for being so good, so it's not Australia's fault that there was lacklustre interest in the whole world cup in general.

The final itself promised a lot but failed to deliver, at least on Sri Lanka's behalf. Like the games between Australia and England, New Zealand, West Indies and in particular, South Africa who talked it up, Australia was just far too good.

In the final, the magician known as Adam Gilchrist once again reminded critics what he is capable of and what he has built his reputation on for all these years. His 149 run from 104 was absolutely breathtaking. The sixes he hit were so clean and the drives for four were so powerful, it was just awesome. Those wonderful shots helped keep me awake through the night while I was watching the match.

Then when it came time for Sri Lanka to bat, the bowling was just too good from Australia. Glenn McGrath showed that he is still great in "old age" and was the leading wicket taker in the tournament. There was a brief moment when Sangakara and Jayasuria were batting that there was a slight hint that Sri Lanka could win, but as usual, Australia put out that flame quickly.

In terms of the tournament, it was just all wrong this time. The group stages where each team played only 3 matches meant any small slip up would be almost fatal. It turned out that way for Pakistan and India. Then the Super 8 stage just went on FOREVER. Even being a cricket lover, I was just saying, "Get on with the semi finals."

The small crowds did not help to make me enthusiastic about the matches. The ICC or whoever was in charge of pricing and banning people from bringing instruments to the grounds made some big mistakes. And to play only one match at most a day was crazy. At least two or maybe even three matches can be played each day and hence shorten the whole tournament time frame.

Here's hoping that the next world cup will be staged better and make for more exciting contests with the top nations getting through. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Ireland and Bangladesh, but one lucky win from them resulted in nations such as Pakistan and India not making it to the Super 8. The two minnows were clearly outclassed in the Super 8's and it was not good for the sports biggest showcase.

If the rest of the world don't start picking up their games soon, I could be writing in four years time about a record fourth Australian world cup victory in a row. As much as I would love to write that, I want to see them challenged and watch some exciting games.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Homer vs John Howard

The two following videos on Youtube are hilarious, each in their own way. Try to pick which guy is Homer from the Simpsons and which one is John Howard, our fearless Prime Minister.

Monday, April 23, 2007


Sarchasm - The chasm that exists between the person being sarcastic and the receiver who does not understand it.

That's how I feel sometimes, that I give out too much sarchasm. I'm way too sarcastic for my own good, but I don't mean it in a harmful way. If you look up sarcasm in the dictionary, the definition is given as "A cutting, often ironic remark intended to wound". But that's not the only use of sarcasm. I use it in a humourous way, as mentioned in Wikipedia article. Maybe I should say that I'm ironic rather than sarcastic. Whatever I do, sometimes people misread it. They don't see the different vocal intonations that I use and how I over emphasize the words. It just goes right over their heads.

I know now that with some people, I can be totally sarcastic as they fully understand it and do it a lot themselves. However, with other people, they see the sarcasm as me being mean. I just have to pick and choose when I can be sarcastic. I will only tend to be sarcastic now to people who I know understand it and don't take offence. It's quite hard for me since I'm so used to being sarcastic around my friends who do similar back.

It's even worse to be sarcastic via email. I have gotten into quite some trouble when I thought that I was being sarcastic in my emails since I put in a lot of smiley faces :-) and laughing hehehe hahaha. But some people still don't understand this. The problem with emails is that there are no vocal tones or facial expressions even. People read the emails and put their own personality into it. So if someone is serious, they read the email is serious. If someone is sarcastic like myself, I read serious emails from people as sarcasm and hence reply similarly. For example, one friend wrote an email about some information to another friend. That other friend replied with the simple one word response, "interesting". The first friend thought the second friend was being smart and didn't appreciate the work he went to get the information. However, I later told him that he had misread the second friend's sincerity with his own sarcasm. Hence you need to be very clear when using sarcasm in emails as it is easily misunderstood.

Basically, I have learnt to control my tongue more and not to make what I think are humourous comments but others may take the wrong way. In fact, just today someone told me "enough sarcasm", even though I was just making a comment and wasn't even being sarcastic. It was just that they expect it from me so thought I was being smart. I'm slowly learning and have tried very hard to correct my faults.

Movie Review - 300

I watched 300 recently and from seeing the traliers, I thought I was going to hate it since it would be another effects heavy movie with no story. The movie was heavy with effects, with the whole background all being computer graphics I think, but the story was quite strong also.

The movie starts off with a backward narration from Seachange's own Diver Dan, David Wenham. I can't remember any of the character's names, except Leonides (spelling possibly incorrect) the king. Wenham tells the story of the day that a group of 300 (hence the movie name) warriors stand up to an army of hundreds of thousand, and cause a lot of damage before dying honourably.

The movie is based on real history and this effort from the Spartans did cause the rest of Greece to take note and later on rebel against the Persians, as shown in the movie. Some elements of the movie are probably fake, such as all the weird creatures and "people". But overall, the main story of Leonides and his courageous men translates quite well.

The acting is quite good, with a lot of grunting and growling from the Spartans. There is also so much 6-pack abs on display that you would think it was an ad for a gym or something. What I don't get is why they don't wear more clothes in the cold weather and where they got the wax to get rid of all the hairs on their chests. Apart from that, the sword fighting action is spectacular in it choreography. It's also extremely gruesome, with lots of scenes of people getting beheaded and skewered and amputated. It's not one for the weak of stomach.

Overall, I liked the movie and found myself cheering for the Spartans and hoping they would win, even when fully knowing that they die in the end. But they did win since they inspired so many other people and their sacrifice was for their people.

Rating: ****

Monday, April 16, 2007

It Can Be A Small World Sometimes

Sometimes the world can seem a large place, but other times, its absolutely freaky how small it can be. Previously I had written a post about Six Degrees of Separation and how each person in this world is somehow linked to every other person in the world through six other people.

I have a second story to add to that Six Degrees of Separation post now. It's a couple of unrelated events (well the common thing is me) that has happened in the past two days.

The first story is less spectacular. So yesterday I had gone to the comedy festival with some friends. One friend, Harinder, brought along his friend Charles. I had met Charles once before but otherwise didn't really know him. After some talking, I found out that Charles actually went to the same uni as me (not that strange since Monash Clayton does have lots of students) and we even did the same course during the same year (a bit stranger) but yet I didn't know him at all. After more talking, I happened to mention my surname and Charles asks "Do you have a sister." And I said yes. Then he asked her name and where she used to work. I told him that was correct. It turns out that my sister's first job after uni was also where Charles had worked temporarily. Pretty strange eh.

Where my sister used to work was also where my other friend Kevin used to work. He had in fact told me about the position since he was going to be leaving and advised me to apply. I told him the job wasn't for me but maybe my sister would like to apply. I told my sis about the job on the same day that she said she had got a job interview, so we didn't think twice about the job I had told her. Months later, I find out that my sister was working at the job Kevin had told me about. This was because Kevin came to my place one time and saw my sis, and he starts talking to her. Only then did we all know that my sister actually knew Kevin since he went back to the old work place occasionally to help out. Kevin didn't know that that was my sister and my sister didn't know that Kevin was my friend. Only then did we know that the job Kevin told me about months ago was the same job my sister had applied for. Small world wouldn't you say.

Tonight though, I can top that story even. I was chatting on MSN when someone sends me a message. I didn't know this person so asked who they were. She said her name and was looking for Thanh. I said that was me. So I asked her how she got my contact. She said it was through her friend Justin, and I asked which Justin. It was my friend Justin that I went to the comedy festival with. So anyway, I say I don't know her, and maybe she was looking for another Thanh, not me, Thanh Do. At the mention of my surname, she then asked if I went to Cabramatta Primary School, which I said I did. Then she said that she also went there and might have been in my class. After some more discussion, it turns out that we were in the same class. Unbelievable. She was only at the school from grade 1-3 while I was there from grade 2-4 and yet we managed to be in the same class and "bump" (cyber-bump anyway) into each other over MSN by accident. The fact that she remembered my name is even more unbelievable. I have a terrible memory for names. I'm good with faces but terrible with names. I couldn't remember her at all, in fact I can't remember anyone's name from before grade 4.

I go and dig up my old school photos from grade 1 but I can't recognise which one in the photo she is. We didn't have names printed on those photos, so I don't know who is who. Her current photo doesn't help much since its pretty hard to spot most people's faces from when they're young. But we'll probably chat some more in future and that might jog my memory.

So there are my two stories of how small the world can be sometimes. With the advent of the internet, it's even easier to bump into people. You just never know who you will meet. The fact that I now "know" so many people all over the world from their blogs is a testament to how small the world can be. I hope one day to meet you all in real life and share a coffee and some cake (mmmm cake) with you.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Comedy Festival - Peter Berner

I went to the comedy festival to see Peter Berner with my friends Adrian, Charles, Harinder and Justin. Our first choice was to see Ed Byrne (great reviews and preview video) or Adam Hills (of Spicks and Specks fame and good reviews) but they were sold out. So "we" (not me) chose to see Peter Berner (of Einstein Factor fame) instead. There is a reason why his show was still available last minute, it wasn't that good.

We had arrived 15 minutes late to a one hour show due to some organisational problems and the obvious parking problems, made worse by some organisational problem. I'm not laying blame, but you know who you are Mr Organiser hehehe. Regardless of how fast you drive, Murphy's Law always dictates that you cannot make up time from leaving late, something else will delay you.

So we got to Victoria Hotel and quickly got our tickets that we already paid for so couldn't not watch the show. We walked down to the room and initally when we first entered, I said in my mind "Oh no". All I saw were rows and rows of empty seats. I thought we might be the only people there. Luckily as we entered the room a bit more, I could see that the front half of the room was at least sort of filled. We took our seats at the back and began to watch.

Initially I didn't really get the jokes since they were related to what he said earlier I assume. So I thought it would get better once he did some more material. It never really got much better. There were some very funny parts where I laughed out really loud, but those were few and far between. The rest of his material was very predictable and not that funny to me. I looked around the room and I think some other people had the same opinion. There were quite a few folded arms around chests, indicating "I don't like this" body posture. Only a couple of people in the front few rows, a woman especially, were laughing at everything, even things that weren't jokes. Maybe they were the ones who really wanted to see Peter Berner as their first choice and hence find him really funny. Either that or because you are at a comedy festival event, you are expected to laugh more.

I just found myself thinking when it was going to end because I was bored. I never really got into it. I guess being late and knowing that 1/4 of my $28 ticket had already disappeared didn't exactly put me in the best mood. But Peter Berner's observational comedy wasn't that enlightening. It followed a main theme of what he wanted to teach his son and one particular prop. But the observations were very obvious and I was doing the punchlines in my head before he did his punchlines. The one section of his show that was a bit more risque was his best stuff, but that only went for a short bit.

Hopefully I might be able to go and see Ed Byrnes next week and have a good laugh and truly experience what the best the comedy festival has to offer. I probably wouldn't recommend Peter Berner's show unless you are a real fan of his stuff, in which case you would go regardless of what I say anyway. Save your pennies for some other acts.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Peak Hour Driving - Unspoken Rules

In my continuing series on driving, today I would like to talk about peak hour driving and the unspoken rules that exist, concentrating on a couple of topic.

The first topic concern those of trucks. I, and probably a lot of other people, don't like getting caught behind trucks because due to their size, they will inevitably drive slowly. This means that many cars try to overtake trucks as soon as possible.

To try and overtake trucks require the cars in front of you to also drive quickly and overtake them first. This means there is an unspoken rule that when the truck is stopped in the left lane at a light, you only go to the middle (when there are 3 lanes) or right lane (when there are 2 lanes) if you intend to step on the accelerator real hard when the light changes and quickly overtake the truck. This manoeuvre has to be quick because all the cars in the right lane still intend to turn left after a few hundred metres so everyone needs to quickly overtake the truck and then change lanes back to the left side.

Some people though do not understand this rule and spoil it all for everyone. They go slowly and block all the cars behind them, thus meaning everyone else cannot pass the truck and have to change lanes back behind the truck and go slowly waiting to turn left. Take note if you're one of these people. If you're going to go so slowly, slower than the truck, you might as well stay behind the truck and give the rest of us the chance to go pass the truck.

In peak hour traffic, the chance to turn right at a green light is very limited. Hence, when the lights are still yellow, you KEEP GOING. Generally most people know and will keep turning right when the lights are yellow, in most cases, one or two cars even sneak through when the light has just gone red. Usually the light only stays green long enough for about 2-3 cars to turn right before it turns yellow. When there is a queue of 10+ cars waiting to turn right, if you stop when its yellow, you are denying another 3-4 cars from turning. This means if you're at the back of the queue, you might have to wait 3 sets of lights, which is probably 10+ minutes. C'mon, some of us have to try and get to work on time, and since we left it to as late as possible, we need everyone else to co-operate and keep turning when the lights are yellow hehehehe.

Finally, the last unspoken rule is that if traffic is going at a crawl, you should leave a gap if possible to let cars turning left or right from a side street to go. It could take forever to get out of a side street if no one lets you through. I'm sure we all know the frustration when we are the ones that have to do that. So why not let someone else through so they can return the favour next time. It's not like the traffic is going anywhere anyway. Its just crawling so stopping for a second to let a car through is not going to delay you at all. If traffic is moving fast, of course you can't, and in fact shouldn't stop, because you will only cause accidents.

So those are some of the unspoken rules I think that exist, or should exist, between drivers during peak hour traffic. If we all do these things, everyone will get to where they are going faster and be much happier people. :-) And that concludes this community message, hope you all can apply it soon.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Kill A Mosquito A Day

I think I've heard before that Mao Ze Dong implented a campaign where he urged the citizens of China to each kill 10 flies a day to get rid of the pest. Well, I now urge the netizens of the blogosphere to "Kill A Mosquito A Day" and get rid of these disease carrying pests.

I've always had this personal hatred of mosquitos which borders on extreme. I very paranoid when I know there is a mosquito around. I just can't sit still if there is one buzzing about. I have to try and kill it. Otherwise, I feel like it is on my skin even when it's not.

Hence, can you imagine my paranoia yesterday night when there was a mosquito flying in my room all night. I didn't get any sleep at all. Every time I went to sleep, things would be quiet for a while before "Bzzzzzz" the mosquito would go flying near my ear. I would try to slap it and slapped my own face so many times. I even turned on the lights twice to try and find it and kill it. I kept getting woken up and could see the clock go from 11pm to 12am to 1am etc to finally 4:30am. I was then so tired that I got a little sleep till about 6:30am when I had to get up extra early today for a training session, which turned out to be cancelled. I have about 5 bites all up on my face (2), hands (2) and leg (1). They're so itchy right now and all red.

I am definitely going to go buy some of those electrical mosquito repellent things. So next time another mosquito is in my room keeping me awake, I'm going to turn that thing on extra high and kill that stupid mosquito. I'm also on a crusade to try and kill as many mosquitos as I can each day. So join me in ridding the world of these blood suckers and "Kill A Mosquito A Day".

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Responsibility Weighing On My Mind

Don't you just hate it when you know you have to be responsible for something. It's this dark cloud that weighs on your mind and refuses to go away. Take now for instance. It's the most beautiful day outside. I want to go outside and do something, even ride my bike, which I haven't done in ages. However, since I know that I have to do some official business work first, I just can't relax. The person I'm suppose to meet is currently not contactable, and I don't know when they will be available. So I'm unsure as to just go out and have fun or sit here and wait for a call.

Responsiblity is such an evil monster that can weigh down my mind. I wish I could be totally irresponsible but that's just not me. I hate that I feel I have to be responsible and do the right thing. It's just the way my parents have brought me up. It is probably also part of my genetic make up too I guess. Whatever the reason, I know that when I have to do something responsible, I usually can't forget about it until I complete that task.

For now, I will wait 30 more minutes, and if the person doesn't call back, well thats too bad. I will just have to reorganise another meeting time and try and push it out of my mind today and enjoy myself. I'm sure once I go out and start having fun, I will forget about it, until when I come home again.

Death of Blogging...Again

I saw yet another article in the newspaper today about how some analysts think that blogging is slowly declining and how it is a dying fad. It was quite an interesting article as it interviewed some of the earliest users of blogs and showed what their current status with blogging is.

I don't think that blogging will completely disappear. I've been blogging for just a year now and will continue to do it if I still find it enjoyable. Obviously, like any other new popular thing, there is huge initial uptake. There may be exponential growth, but nature has shown us that this cannot continue. Once the numbers reach a saturation point, it will level out to an equilibrial state. Some people that start a blog might find that they don't like it after a while or just can't be bothered. But others that do enjoy it will keep going. There will always be some enthusiastic people who would like to express an opinion about something and for now, the blog is one of the easiest and best way to do that. It may not even be about expressing opinions, its just a tool to keep in touch with friends and family and that is something that humans will always need.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Small Business

Small business is probably the toughest job you can have. There is so much pressure on you as you know that its all your own money and everything you do will go towards the success of your business.

A job can be stressful, but at the end of the day, its just a job and most people tend not to take it home. A small business though, it you're baby and you want to look after as best you can. You put in lots of effort in the hopes that it will grow, just like a baby, and become a big independent thing.

A few months ago, I had hinted that I had something in the works, well, it was starting a small business with my friends on the side whilst still working as a research engineer. It has been far from smooth sailing, but also hasn't been the roughest seas. A lot of the recent stress I've had has been related to this business and problems that have occurred.

I've learnt some very valuable lesson in these few months.

1) You should never work with friends unless you really know their working style beforehand. Small things can really get out of hand and the finger of blame starts to quickly get pointed. Mix in some money and friendship and you generally have a recipe for disaster. Our small business has already seen some personnel changes since it just wasn't working out.

2) Worrying achieves nothing. Just deal with each problem as it comes and find solutions. I always thought I dealt with work problems quite well, but when it came to my own money on the line, I got so stressed. In the early stages, everytime there was a problem, I would go into full on panic mode. I would try to solve everything within that day or otherwise I wouldn't sleep too well. I would ring one of the partners and say "There's a crisis". For a while, I would get teased with "So any crisis today." Slowly, over about two months, I really got quite stressed and didn't sleep well at all. At all times of the day, I would think about the business and all the things that were going wrong. I've since broken out of that phase about two months ago. It all built up to one night where there was a massive stuff up and I was so angry I phoned the person who stuffed up and gave them a full on blasting. Then I told myself "What's worrying going to do, it won't fix it." From that point onwards, something has snapped in my mind and I now deal with problems in a much more relaxed manner. My life has again reverted back to its almost carefree state. There are still occasional anxious moments but they last only a minute before I try to find a solution.

3) Some customers are bastards, and that's putting it nicely. Whenever anything goes wrong, its always your fault, even when its not. People will try to take as much advantage of you as they can. The mighty dollar really does rule. There are some good people too and dealing with those people are a joy. It makes the job that much easier and less stressful.

4) The modern myth of selling via the internet and making it big is just that, a myth. Selling online is so hard, there's so many fundamental problems just like selling in a shop. It's hard to get people to trust you when you first start and you need to slowly build trust with your customers and suppliers.

5) Suppliers always take your money quickly but are slow to deliver the goods. Its constant chasing of everything. Everyone is always so busy and there's always bigger fish to look after. Why would they care about your small order when a much larger client is waiting.

6) There's a lot more paperwork involved in running a business than I thought. There's so much tax documents that you fill and good record keeping is essential to price items properly and know your own profit and loss results. Good record keeping is also required for tax purposes.

7) Communication is vital. Communication amongst your partners and customers is without a doubt the most important thing you must do. Poor communication leads to mistakes, and mistakes lead to loss of money.

So these are a few of the things that I have learnt so far in 4 months of running a small business. It's already been a very smooth learning curve since my business partner has had years of experience and has helped me so much.

So you may be intrigued as to what business I am doing. Below are the vital information.

Name: Gotek Enterprise
Email: Website: (under major construction, prices all wrong)
Products Sold: Memory Cards (SD, Memory Stick, CF, XD, MMC etc), USB Flash Keys, MP3 players, MP4 players, Computer Peripherals, Digital Photo Frames etc.

You can get an idea of what we sell by looking at our Graysonline sale which runs till this Thursday 5th. A look at the website will also give you an indication of what we sell, just ignore the prices. Send me an email if you wish to buy anything and I can give you a price and availability.

I hope that if I work hard at this business and it becomes a success, then I can become a full time food critic and write exclusively for my food blog I Eat Therefore I Am. This activity is otherwise known as becoming a glutton and eating all day.