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, January 28, 2008

Australian Open 2008 - The Djoker Aces Them All

Wow, as usual I find myself saying "it's been so long since I last blogged." Everything is just so busy nowadays. I don't know where the time has gone. I've finally found the time to write about the Australian Open. I actually went to the centre court day 3 night matches, but was glued to the tv watching tennis for two weeks so decided to write it up once the whole tournament was all finished.

Firstly, what a great tournament it was this year. So much drama and some thoroughly enjoyable matches. As you may know, Novak Djokovic won the men's championship and Maria Sharapova won the womens. It's a changing of the guard on both the mens and womens side. It's probably good for the game to have new champions but I'm such a Federer fan (see here, here, and here for proof) that I wanted him to keep winning.

The mens finalist of Novak Djokovic "The Djoker" and Jo-Wilfred Tsonga "Ali" was thoroughly deserved. The two of them played the most aggressive and totally amazing tennis thoroughout the tournament. Djokovic's experience helped him over the line in a very entertaining final. He was able to withstand the firepower from Tsonga and most of the crowds support as well. Djokovic has proven that he is no joker and is now a genuine contender for every title. He has joined "the two" in Federer and Nadal. He can now be mentioned in the same breathe as those two and has separated himself from the rest of the pack. It's up to the rest of the players to catch up to the top three.

There is now pressure on Federer and Nadal to hold their places at the top of the tree. As of late last year, Federer's form has dropped slightly. But like the great man said himself, he has made it hard for himself but setting such a lofty standard. Now when he loses one set or a match, there's so much talk that he is losing it. This is so strange to me. Even when the great Pete Sampras was dominating the sport, he would only win one or two grand slam a year. Now Federer has been winning three each year and yet people still talk about his fallability. He may have lost a couple of matches last year to Nalbandian, but he did come back and win the Masters Cup. This year, he made it to the semi finals, his 15th consecutive grand slam semi final. For anyone else, that would be an amazing feat, but yet it's not good enough since its Federer. That makes me so mad.

Anyway, I look forward to The French Open now to see what will happen. Federer must be fired up to win it and Nadal will have fierce competition in Djokovic. Nadal hasn't been as dominant a force lately, especially on surfaces other than clay. His style is made to look almost docile when player big hitters. This all adds up to make the mens side much more interesting.

On the womens side, it also has heated up. With the Williams sisters unable to just turn it on and dominate, there is a new crop of champions. The fact that they are all leggy glamourous players has probably helped boost the profile of women's tennis. It's now a battle of who can play but also look the best. Think of "Aussie" Ana Ivanovic, Maria Sharapova, Nicole Vidisova and Maria Kirilenko. The focus is as much on their looks as there tennis. But unlike Anna "the original" Kournikova, these girls have managed to actually win tournaments. No one can argue that Sharapova is just relying on her looks. If looks (to and coming from Maria) could kill, Maria has it. There is so much intensity in her play and she is not out there to please the crowd like Kournikova use to be. Sharapova is out there to win. All her childhood hardship is showing through as she has worked hard and struggled to get where she is. I guess that is one reason for the explosion of great players from the Eastern European countries. They have had to fight for what they got, making them all so mentally tough.

Finally, here are a few photos from my night at the tennis.

Anna Chadvataze.

Igor Andreev.

Andy Roddick.

Maria Sharapova and Lindsay Davenport.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Indian Cricket Tour Controversy

I have to put in my two cents worth regarding this controversy about India pulling out of the final two tests. Again, this is another incident of how the media can blow things up so big that it then causes the poeple involved to react and make it bigger.

What is the actual controversy? Is it the racism issue with Harbhajan? Is it that Australia won again with some dubious umpiring? It's probably a combination of the two things that had got the Indians fuming. Losing tends to have that effect. I wonder what would have happened had India won. Should Australia then kick up a fuss.

Firstly to the racism issue with Harbhajan. We will never know if Harbhajan said racist comments to Symonds. I don't see why the Australians would bring that up for no reason. I will admit that they sledge quite a bit, so why would they have to change from that and resort to this. And it's not Harbhajan's record is very clean. He may be incited, but he could easily sledge back with a million other things. This is the nature of the sport, like it or not.

The second issue of Australia not playing "in the spirit of the game", I think that is unfair too. Sport is played with as much heart as one can, and the Australians do that. The fact that some umpiring decisions went their way this test happens to everyone. If there was perfect umpiring decisions all the time, that would be called a computer game. You get some calls your way, you don't some other days. You can't blame Australia for that. You can say that the Australians pressured the umpire, but so does any other team. Some Indian batsmen stood their ground when they were clearly caught and did not leave. Should that be seen as not playing in the spirit of the game too.

And how can you deny a team from celebrating. For goodness sakes, you've toiled for five days and come away with an amazing victory. What are you going to do, just stand there. This is sport played at its toughest. Not many sporting events drag on for five days. It's only natural to celebrate a win so monumental. NBA players celebrate a slam dunk with as much vigour, why aren't they chastised. If you want genteel, go and watch golf or lawn bowls. Even in golf when something big happens, there fist pumping and shouting.

India's threat to pull out of the tour is just blackmail. They carry so much power in the cricket system and are now using their power to get what they want. They already have Bucknor removed from the next match and want Harbhajan's suspension to be removed. If the ICC bow to that completely, then it throws the whole system into chaos. Who can listen to anything the judicial system imposes if one can just change it by throwing some weight around.

As for calls for Ricky Ponting to be sacked, that's such a laughable suggestion. What has Ponting done to deserve that. All of a sudden, one sporting match has spoiled a whole countries reputation. Isn't that a bit of a overstatement?

If people want sport to be fair and played in the spirit, they shouldn't watch it. Sport nowadays is all about money and marketing. Without financial support and gain from companies, no sporting events would happen. This means all people relying on sport for their income, must do everything they can to succeed. No one remembers second place. All sportsmen are guilty of some arrogance. It's just that when it comes from the winners, it seen as being worse. People love to cut tall poppies down. It's just the natural way that human behaviour dictates we behave. How can we move up unless the ones above us fall down.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Will To Win

I was watching the second test between Australia and India in the cricket today. Australia was chasing their 16th consecutive test win in a row, a world record. It seemed unlikely that they were going to win, yet managed to pull it off with only an over left in play.

It's amazing how some people (and teams) have that will to win that almost seems inevitable. They create things and make it happen. It's a drive that I wish I had as that is what success is derived from. For example, if I had more drive, I would have lost the weight I wanted to already instead of saying it all the time. But that is a flaw I know that I will have. And there are many people in the same category as me. Otherwise, there would be a lot of fit everywhere. Instead, we are in a minor epidemic where most deaths in the next decade will be related to being obese in this country.

People who really have that drive to win that come to mind are Serena Williams, Roger Federer and the Australian Cricket Team. All these people just seems to be able to will themselves through tough situations and seem invincible. Even when they are down, you always feel that they can come back. It all comes from having a very strong frame of mind. Most battles are won and lost in the head, not the body.

I envy those people and wonder how it would feel like mentally to be in the state of mind that they are in. It must feel like a world where you have control over much more of your actions rather than being dictated them by everything else around you. I think it would give you a much bigger sense of ownership about your own actions and drive you to achieve even more and maintain that control. What would happen though when they started to lose that control?

The Truth Will Come Out

There's an old Chinese saying that translates to "If you don't want someone to know about it, don't do it". It means that lies will eventually surface and the truth wil be revealed. I had a revelation about an old "friend" recently.

Luckily it was in regards to a "friend" who I was already seeing another side to and had well and truly separated myself from. We don't even talk anymore and this revelation makes my decision to not associate with him look even better.

I was just casually chatting with some other people about a boat. It turned to technical stuff about boats and I remembered that this old "friend" used to own a boat. I relayed the story of how his boat sank because he forgot to put in the drain plugs. This brought another friend to say that this old "friend" tried to sell him that boat, for cheap too. I asked whether he knew that the boat had sunk before and all the electrics and motor was shot. This other friend didn't know about that at all. It was this revelation that made us both see how deceptive this old "friend" was. How many friends do you know that will try to sell you something shonky and cheat you basically. If you know any of those people, get away from them now as they aren't you friends. Friends do not cheat each other. With friends like that, who would need enemies.

It amazing how after quite some time, that this little lie came out purely by coincidence. And what would be even more coincidental was that a few days later, yet another friend was telling me about how deceptive they thought our old "friend" was. This did not come by from any prompting from me at all. We were just talking about a totally unrelated topic and this old "friends" name popped up. I was really shocked this time as I thought that they were best friends. He said that was far from the truth and was only what I saw on the surface.

So if you plan on doing anything deceptive, think about who you are doing it to. If it is someone you plan to stay friends with, don't do it as the truth has its way of coming out and biting you back in the buttocks.

Excuses From Friends

I think you can definitely tell when you start to drift apart from friends. The defining moment for me is when friends start telling you little white lies and giving excuses from attending things. I always say, if you don't want to do something, just say no. I've been implementing the "no" thing more and more since sometimes I just don't want to certain things. I would have said yes in the past and gone begrudgingly and unhappily. But age has taught me not to waste my time doing that.

When friends start giving excuses and conflicting stories of why they don't want to do something is the moment they aren't really a good friend anymore. Good friends don't need excuses. You just say no and the other person will accept it. Only when you feel you are obliged to give a little white lie is when the dynamics between friends has changed.

It's always strange how you can just so easily drift apart from your friends. I have written about it here and here. It probably just means that in your current state, you don't need them as much anymore. It also goes the other way where you drift closer as well. It's just a matter of what your needs are at a specific point in your life. Those friends who you keep for life are meant to be and are the ones who you can rely on most for anything.

Of late, a friend of mine has become more and more distant and is giving excuses for why they can't attend things etc. When we all meet up, it seems like there's not much to say anymore. It always seem like this person is bored to be around, in which case I think it's better to just decline things. I wouldn't put myself through having to be fake. I think what has happened was that this person used to only have us to hang around with. Now that they have other friends, they might be feeling that we didn't have as much in common as we thought, which could be true. I know of late it is only ever us calling this person and never the other way around. Anything that we "old" friends get invited to is just a secondary and last minute thought after we have invited them first.

I will see how things pan out but it may be that we have lost a friend from our circle of friends. This would be said, but such is life and I'm sure we'll all make and lose many friends throughout our lives. They all serve a need during a specific point in time, and for that we will be greatful.

Beowulf 3D

*** May Contain Spoilers ***

I actually watched Beowulf a good month ago. I saw the 3D version of the movie at IMAX with a group of friends. I've never been to IMAX before so that was the primary drive to watch the movie there. I had heard from others that the IMAX experience is really cool. And since this movie came in a 3D version, it seemed like the perfect occasion to go to IMAX.

We pre bought our tickets to the film, in case there were no tickets left. We needn't have worried as there were still quite a lot of seats left despite the movie only being out for a week. This turned out to be a sign of how good the film is. News about films spread really quickly now with mobile phones and sms.

The premise of the film looked good. It was one of those "epic" movies of heroism and good and evil. I had high expectations as the trailer looked really good. I thought it would be something like the movie "300" that had been realeased a bit early in the year. I thoroughly enjoyed that film and its epic nature. The computer animation type style of "300" really worked with use of it to choreograph some really brutal fight scenes.

In Beowulf, the computer generated fight scenes were good technically. The 3D effects of the fight scenes was unbelievable. You could see and almost "feel" things whizzing past you and around you. That part of the film was done to perfection. However, it was not supported by the storyline.

Although the fight scenes were technically good, they lacked any passion as the whole movie's storyline was just lame. I kept waiting for it to get dramatic but it never happened. The movie started off with potential as a town that was being terrorised by a monster was looking for a champion and hero to save them. Cue the entrance of Beowulf, a strong warrior who was going to save the town. That's when all potential in the film ended.

The film tried to play it dramatic and funny at the same time, but failed to achieve either. The silly childness jokes and Austin Powers camera angles to hide Beowulf's manhood during the fight scenes was childish and totally not in keeping with the seriousness that the scenes demanded. Then when the film did get serious, it was just this slow unravel of man versus Beast.

The only slight surprise was that there was more to the Beast than meets the eye. The Beast in this case was played by the very seductive Angelina Jolie. But in its true essence, the Beast was man himself, and his constant greed to retain power. The movie drags along with Beowulf basically in the control of the Beast. He is in power but is yet powerless. His life drags along, same as the story. The side story with Beowulf and his wife doesn't do anything either.

In terms of the acting, that was pretty abismal too. Ray Winston as Beowulf was a parody of himself. His awful accent and delivery of dialogue was so unintentionally hilarious. Angelina Jolie played her part adequately but was given such a one dimensional character that she couldn't do much with it.

This movie is definitely not worth paying money to see at the cinemas. The 3D part of it is unbelievable, and if you really want to experience that, then its worth going to see. Although, you would probably be better off seeing some documentary at IMAX instead.

Rating: *1/2 + ** for 3D part.

New Year 2008

Wow its been a long time since my last post on Dec 10. This would officially be the longest time between posts since I started this blog. It's not that I've run out of things to say, it's just that life has been so busy this last month.

Work wise, it has been an ultra hectic time. We are trying to finish a project so were working weekends even, a rarity for me. Each day was sort of blurring with the next. There was no clear differentiation between the work week and the weekends. I remember coming home one Sunday from work and thinking, what will I do this weekend. Only when I turned on the TV and Sunday programs were on did I realise it was Sunday night already and I would be going back to work.

Personally, its also been a very busy time with many parties to attend, host, and trips to go on. There was also my attempts to make macarons for Christmas presents that took up a lot of time.

Well it is a new year now and again there are new hopes and dreams to look forward to. My ever recurring resolution to lose some weight will start soon, only to fall in a heap when Winter kicks in I'm sure. My also ever recurring dream to be a millionaire and retire will also hopefully come true. I doubt it very much, but here's hoping.

What I did want to write about was that during the Christmas and New Year period this year, I really thought about how it would feel to not have friends and family around. During these festive times is when you really notice friends and family. Although people will complain about having Christmas lunches with their relatives, I think they would miss it if they were all alone with no one to have Christmas lunch with. It's always the case that we take those closest to us for granted. Not everyone has family and friends who they can spend the holidays with.

I know that I have probably said it more than once on this blog that I really need other people around me. I do not like solitude at all. I am getting better at dealing with being by myself sometimes and also doing things alone, but I will never like it. Therefore I really appreciate how lucky I am to have others to enjoy festive times with. Hopefully, I will always be able to keep those special people close to me and remember to let them know that I appreciate them. That should be my primary resolution for this and every other year.