No Impact Man: The Documentary

Can you live with sustainable zero impact on the environment for one year?  Well a New York based family of three did.

Watching this one the first day of 2013 does provide some perspective on our lifestyle.  While I cannot imagine living without going on holiday or buying things which will make me happy, I do think it is necessary to review our lifestyle to ensure we are not wasteful.

I highly recommend everyone to watch this documentary and reflect.


Do you see your parents often enough?

My parents touched down in London last weekend and so we played host until we sent them to Liverpool yesterday. They are visiting until mid October but mainly they are here to help my sis with her confinement. Yes, we’re going to be aunt and uncle again… and yes, it’s gonna be another boy. ūüôā

Recent meetup with an ex-colleague got me thinking about the frequency of seeing my parents. Basically we were comparing notes on how often we go back to Malaysia (this friend is living in USA now) and he made the following comments:

  • Average life expectancy of Malaysian is between 70-75 for men and 75-80 for women.
  • Assuming that our parents are in their’s 60’s now, that means they have an average of 10 yrs to live.
  • If we only visit once a year, that is an average of seeing our parents 10 times!
  • That certainly put things into perspective.

    Now I know it’s not about the amount of times we visit, it is the quality of time spent together. However in order to achieve good quality time, we have to create that opportunity to meet/ visit. Good thing that my job allows me to go back to Malaysia once a year.

    Does this makes you think twice when you’re deciding whether to go on holiday somewhere new or go back to hometown?

    Another milestone achieved.

    In the blink of an eye we have been living in the UK for almost 5 years now. ¬†That also means our visa is expiring and time to apply for ‘Indefinite Leave To Remain’ (UK permanent residency). ¬†My parents calls it ‘becoming the second class citizen’.

    New requirements are imposed every now and then to apply for the ILTR. ¬†Besides the standard submission of documents, we have to pass the ‘Life in UK’ test. ¬†Prior to Oct 2011, only those applying for British citizenship need to sit for this test. ¬†The test is suppose to test our English proficiency and knowledge of life in the UK.

    The test itself is relatively simple Р24 multiple choice questions must be completed within 45 minutes.  All we need to do is read 5 chapters of the official handbook and memorise key historical dates and statistics (e.g. population, minorities).  Average time taken to finish the test is 10 minutes and that includes checking all questions several time.

    However the time taken to sit for the test itself takes so long!!  Not only does the supervisor have to individually verify your identity by asking several questions and check your ID (to prevent fraud), after the verification they have to manually login to each desktop TWICE (one for practice run and another for the actual test) before we can start the test.  This whole process itself already took one hour. So even though the guidance says the test takes 45 mins, we were in the centre for at least 2 hours.

    After the test we’re not allowed to leave until we get our results. ¬†This is because they do not keep the results and there will only be one piece of paper provided as evidence that you’ve passed the test. ¬†So if we misplace the paper then we’ll have to re-sit the test again and pay another ¬£50.

    We sat for the test last Friday and we passed. Phew!

    I found a link to a sample test, feel free to test your knowledge of life in the UK here.

    Art or Rubbish?

    Damien Hirst, known as one of the most prominent artists of his generation have become widely recognised through his art such as the shark suspended in formaldehyde (The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living 1991) and diamond skull (For the Love of God 2007).

    His works have generated a lot of publicity (rightly or wrongly) and have also earned him a lot of money throughout his active years. There’s been lots of discussion in the art industry whether one can really classify his work as art.

    So when I found out Tate Modern will be hosting his exhibition, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to check it out. The exhibition is the first major survey of his work to be held in London and trace the development of his career. Visitor will get to experience some of his most iconic works. Read the word ‘experience’. Surely indulging in art is an emotional experience rather than a physical one. So I was quite curious to see what is in stall for us to experience.

    Highlights of the exhibitions, includes:

  • Spot Paintings.
  • Various animals preserved in formaldehyed (fish, shark, cow & sheep).
  • A Thousand Years, displaying the lifecycle of maggots hatching and developing into flies, then feed on a severed cow’s head on the floor. Above the cow’s head is flies circling around with some meeting their end on a insect-o-cutor; others survive to continue the cycle.
  • In and Out of Love, in a specially maintained humid environment, white canvases are hung on the wall with embedded pupae. Butterflies hatched from the paintings, flew freely around the room, fed on sugar water and flowers, mated and laid eggs. -This is my favourite-
  • Black Sun, an round display with its surface densely covered in clusters of dead flies. -This makes me sick!-
  • For the Love of God, a platinum cast of a human skull encrusted with 8,601 flawless diamonds, including a pear shaped pink diamond located on its forehead. It costs ¬£14 million to produce.
  • So while I enjoyed some of this works, I came out of the exhibition thinking whether it’s worth so much money. Clearly I dont quite appreciate it enough to invest in his art. But it also trigger a secondary question, if there’s no investments then no one would want to be an artists… does that actually prevent human’s creativity and innovation?

    I dont think there’s a black and white answer to this question. I like some of his work enough to classify it as art while having doubts on others. Maybe there is no need to have an answer. Maybe art is so subjective that its purpose is only to trigger a debate. This I think he has done well.

    You can visit Tate Modern now to check out his works until 9 Sep (diamond skull can only be seen until 24 June) and decide for yourself whether it is really art or rubbish.

    Animal Inside Out

    That was literally what we saw in Natural History Museum (NHM) this morning.

    Few years ago, I came to know about Body Worlds from J and went to see the exhibition in Singapore.¬†Body Worlds¬†is a¬†traveling exhibition¬†of preserved¬†human¬†bodies and body parts that are prepared using a technique called¬†plastination¬†to reveal inner¬†anatomical¬†structures. The exhibition’s developer and promoter is German anatomist¬†Gunther von Hagens, who invented the plastination technique in the late 1970s at theUniversity of Heidelberg.

    Instead of looking at human specimens, this exhibition is dedicated to animals’ anatomy. We saw lots of different types of animals but the most impressive was the elephant, ostrich, shark and giraffe.

    Unfortunately we were not able to take photos in the exhibition. BUT they exhibited a camel in the entrance of NHM.

    Dav and the 3 headed camel.

    I would highly recommend going to this exhibition if you’re interested in animals and anatomy. Dav and I truly enjoyed it.

    Dav found this cool iPhone app, over the weekend and started playing with it. Basically you can animate your photos.

    First you take a video and make sure only one object is moving. Then you select which part of the photo to animate and choose a colour profile. Viola! The photo is ready in less than 5 minutes.

    Here’s my first attempt at making an animated photo. In the picture are my team members.

    Nissy & Faith

    Here’s something Dav made over the weekend.



    Boxed: Fabulous Coffins from UK and Ghana

    Timeout was promoting this exhibition on their website. Since it is free and its on our way to Waterlook station, we made a pit stop to have a look. It  is quite strange. The exhibition features coffins both from the Nottingham factory and from from the Ghana workshop of Paa Joe. (Source: BBC)

    The lion was my favourite.

    The cockscrew caught our attention too. We figure this is way too small for us…

    More pics can be viewed on my Flickr. Would you custom made a coffin?