Adventures in solar cooking

on Thursday, December 11, 2008
Reuben just finished what he considers the grand pearl of all his creations, a solar oven. It would work great here, except for the fact that it's mostly cloudy these days. Dependent on the weather, he tries at every opportunity to make use of this new solar cooking device. I don't have an oven, so I also think it is a great idea. Let the sun do all the cooking. I see a lot of potential in this when January comes and the sun's blazing all day long. He got permission to put the oven up on the roof. Notice the waterfall in the's only a trickle because we haven't had much rain lately.

The first thing we tried was shortbread cookies. On a sunny afternoon, one pan of cookies took about an hour. Too bad my recipe was bad; the cookies were no good :(

Christmas explosion

I went to the post office this morning thinking that I had received a package but I ended up taking home THREE enormous parcels from my mom. It cost her $50 for shipping alone!! Now I feel bad. But I heard jingles from inside one of the boxes so I got really excited.

These boxes exploded Christmas cheer all over my dining table:

It was just like Christmas morning, except 2 weeks early. I listened to "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas". Now I have Christmas stockings, Christmas cookie cutters, Christmas Peeps, Christmas decorations, Christmas chocolate, Christmas candy canes etc. Oh the Christmas joy! Plus the taco seasoning that she always sends me, which comes at just the right time (chicken tacos tonight!) So much for a 'simple' Christmas.

My Christmas tree looks a lot better now.

Oh Christmas tree

on Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My Christmas tree was finally unveiled tonight. Actually it's been sitting there for awhile, but I only now got around to putting the red lights and the ornaments it is officially done. I was at the mall the other day and I found this cute little charlie brown tree for 10 ringgit...about 3 US dollars. A Christmas tree for less than a Starbucks frappachino! Here is my tree going down the grocery belt:

Those malls are just so dang hard to resist all that Christmas stuff when they are decked out in all their Chris
tmas spirit. It sucks you in. So here is this tree of mine, and there are exactly five presents under it. My sister got a package to me early and it included four Christmas presents and one birthday present, which also found its way under the tree. I just got a package from my mom but it's waiting for me at the post office.

Now that the tree finally sits in all its festive glory, I get to enjoy it for about one week before we head off to KL. I don't understand those people who go out and chop down their tree on Christmas Eve. It would be a great family tradition and all, but then you get to enjoy the tree for one whole day. One day wouldn't be enough for me.

14 days till Christmas!

Taj Mahal for the poor

on Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What the heck. It seems as though some idiot had a brilliant idea to build a life-size replica of the Taj Mahal in Bangladesh, of all places. This guy, a Bangladeshi film-maker, decided to spend $58 million dollars saying: "I am doing this only for the poor. They cannot travel. They cannot see this historical wonder."

You're doing this for the poor, Mr. Ahsanullah Moni? You think seeing the Taj Mahal is really going to make a difference?

$58 million dollars could go a long way in a country where 55% of its people (not counting children under 5) are illiterate. It could go pretty far in the lives of people who earn about 10% of what Americans do. Some estimates say that 40% of Bangladesh lives below the poverty line. I don't know if the poverty line they're talking about is absolute or relative, but it's certain that if these people are in poverty even by Bangladesh's definition, they're pretty dang poor. Let's not forget that the Western world's well-drilling craze of the past few decades basically destroyed Bangladesh's water supply, polluting it with arsenic. Maybe $58 million could go towards that damage and the resulting health problems. It makes me sick to think that this person is so jaded to think that a building in and of itself is going to do anything. Yes, it might be pretty to look at. And yes, it will bring foreign tourists in, which will in turn bring $$ to the country. That's great.

It reminds me of the UNs bright idea in the 80's to build a $73 million conference center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Like a huge conference center for the rich expats is really going to improve the lives of Ethiopia's urban poor. It's just another way to segregate themselves even further from the poor, or in Graham Hankocks words, “so that they can stand on the 29th floor and watch the rest of the country starve to death”. Ouch, that's a hard punch.

Wangari Maathai, Kenyan nobel peace prize winner says that sustainable development, in the minds of the poor, is simply survival. That's all they care about. They don't care about a Taj Mahal, they don't care about a huge conference center, they just want to feed their families for one more day. They don't care about long-term development and how the country's GNP is going to be in 20 years, because they're so caught up in surviving TODAY. I wish the UN and the other big aid bureaucracies could understand that.

It's a shame that so much money, resources, and time has been spent on this, instead of actually looking at what the poor really want or need. Take a poll of the people in that country and see what they really want. I would be very surprised if they said, "nope, I don't want money, food, clothing, or shelter, or anything that would make a better life for myself and my family. But what I really want is a Taj Mahal".

Whatever. I, myself, have not even seen the Taj Mahal. And I don't think that fact has significantly lowered my quality of life. I hear it's beautiful though, if not quite the tourist trap.

Great idea, Mr. Ahsanullah Moni. Let's see if the poor people of Bangladesh can even afford a bus ticket to come see it.


I woke up at 3am this morning from a bad dream, and now I can't go back to sleep. It was one of those dreams that you wish you could fall asleep again so the awful story would come to an end, instead of ending so abruptly. Ugh the tragedy!!

After making sure that none of the 4 channels on my TV are on at this hour, here I am back at my computer. With my new favorite hot drink of the season, hot chocolate with a cinnamon stick. Deliciously festive.

And I'm staring at my newly decorated Christmas tree (a plastic 3-footer sitting on a table) decorated in red lights with no ornaments as of yet.

I've been making a huge deal out of Christmas this year. I think that the craft-making and the decorating (although I don't have much to decorate with at this point) is sort of a coping mechanism for me. It's one thing that is familiar, one thing that is similar to how Christmas would be at home. But because I know that it'll never be the same, this season has taken a huge toll on me emotionally. I get myself worked up thinking about home and all that I'm going to miss. That if Christmas isn't going to be just like it has been for the past 24 years, it's a failure.

I need a kick in the pants. Hello...I of all people should understand that Christmas is not about the crafts, it's not about the decorations, or the tree. Christmas CAN be Christmas (and it is celebrated through most of the world) without all this crap. Christians worldwide (besides the Western world) don't celebrate Christmas with Santas and Elves and reindeer and chimneys because, frankly, that's not what Christmas is about! Most of the world doesn't have chimney's, anyway. The rest of the world doesn't care about eggnog lattes or Starbucks peppermint hot chocolates (with the peppermint sprinkles on top!!) And let us not forget that most of the world could live for a week off of the cost of one of these drinks, plus maybe a muffin.

But this is what Christmas is so often made to be. I think that people believe in the principle of Christmas without all of the stuff. Every year, people say that they want to cut down on the commercialism and celebrate what this season is really about. But on December 23, they're just as frantic as everyone else to get their shopping done, to buy the perfect last-minute presents. I have made it to be this way too, because I have made a huge deal about the "stuff". The stuff that Christmas isn't about. Even if I didn't put up a Christmas tree, and even -God forbid - if Starbucks didn't bring out their red cups this year, Jesus still would have been born. Thank God. And thank God that the rest of the world doesn't depend on these things to celebrate the birth of Christ like we do. I don't think Jesus drank his hazelnut lattes out of red cups.

So what can I do this season? What can I do to make sure that Christmas isn't depressing, and that I don't miss out on the Christmas that is celebrated HERE by wondering what could have been. It's going to be a day to day struggle for me, to intentionally get my mind off of home and into the present moment. To remind myself that here, Christmas won't be bad, it will just be....different. Reuben's mom works at a Childrens home and I get the chance to celebrate Christmas with his family and with the kids this year. How cool is that. Ok so these kids aren't my own family and my own nieces and nephews that I miss so much. But they, just like any child, need family. They need someone to celebrate Christmas with, someone to make those cherished Christmas memories with.

"I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do." ~Edward Everett Hale

Part of me dreads Christmas but most of me is also excited to see what the holiday will bring. To, in my own little way, bring the focus off of the empty traditions and onto what really matters.

By the way, my cinnamon hot chocolate is delicious, particularly at 4:30am.
on Sunday, December 7, 2008
sim·plic·i·ty\sim-ˈpli-sə-tē: the state of being simple, uncomplicated, or uncompounded

Simplicity is a virtue. Not simplicity for simplicity's sake, but because "God made man simple; man's complex problems are of his own devising." (Eccles 7:30) Not to be simple of mind; Proverbs calls that man a fool. The proof of inward simplicity is in how you live. You can think about how much you want to live a simpler life and admire people who do, but that doesn't really get anywhere unless you pursue it yourself, inside AND out. It really is like St. Augustine says: "The best apologetic is a life well lived."

This all comes about because of none other than the Celebration of Discipline by Richard J Foster. There were a few extra mattresses floating around in my place tonight so I decided to move one of them into the living room to sleep in there. And then I got to thinking how ridiculous how many rooms and mattresses I have for so few people. I already have a mattress for myself, and yet I wanted a different one to sleep on. I had, in my apt, 6 mattresses for only one sleeping girl. I thought it rather selfish as I know that there are people around here who could probably use one. So I thought this moment would be a good time to skip ahead to the books chapter on "simplicity".

This is a crazy world. We fill our lives with worthless stuff because we believe that those things will give us some sort of value in life. "We buy things we do not want to impress people we do not like". Most of our society has no ability to see through all their stuff and into the things that give true meaning and value. Henry David Thoreau (author of "Simplify, Simplify!") says: “Our life is frittered away by detail." This how materialistic our culture has become, and because of it, this is also how we are. We cannot escape it.

The Bible talks all the time about the dangers of wealth. The love of money is the root of all evil, "He who trusts in wealth will wither" Prov 11:28, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth" (Matt 6:21). James says this: "You desire and do not have; so you kill. And you covet and cannot obtain; so you fight and wage war." (James 4:1-2). He's blaming murder and war on our selfishness and want for more and more stuff.

This is where simplicity comes in. Again, not just simplicity for simplicity's sake, because that would be legalism and I think we would become very judgemental. Not simplicity to prove to others how noble you are. But simplicity for the sake of getting us out of this selfish, materialistic mindset. Intentionally choosing to put God before our wealth. I'm not going to write it all down here (it's rather long), but Foster uses Matt. 6:25-33 as his main point: "Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well." (v. 33)

Our culture has its own reasons for living simply: Going 'green', and empathy with the poor are two of those. However, if you look at what Jesus says, these are not reasons why we should practice simplicity. But by putting God FIRST, these things will come out of our lifestyle. BECAUSE we love God we should steward the earth. BECAUSE we love God we should care for the poor and the needy. FIRST, seek the Kingdom. And TRUST God with everything you have and everything you need. If God really is who He says He is, then "Do not be anxious about tomorrow." Simplicity is freedom from all this worry about all our stuff. Knowing that, in the grand scheme of things, it really doesn't matter!! Simplicity is not a burden; it's a joy to find release from stuff - from the mindset of needing and wanting more and more and more. Simplicity means living with less, but living more intentionally. "Outwardly Simple, and Inwardly Rich." From Celebration of Discipline: "Experiencing the inward reality liberates us outwardly. Speech becomes truthful and honest. The lust for status and position is gone because we no longer need status and position. We cease from showy extravagance not on the grounds of being unable to afford it, but on the grounds of principle. Our goods become available to others. We join the experience that Richard E. Byrd, after months alone in the barren Arctic, recorded in his journal, "I am learning....that a man can live profoundly without masses of things."

I love living out a suitcase. I have just what I need, nothing more. It stresses me out to come home to so much stuff (Although I appreciate my closet full of clothes much more) - stuff that I know I don't need, but can't seem to part with. It's not about envying other peoples' stuff, but enjoying what you have! And appreciating everything that God has given you. What would life look like if we had only what we needed. Well, I guess it would look like the lives of most of the world.

I want to try to put some of my old pictures on here from the past couple of here are a few things that I appreciate about Minnesota (Grand Marais):
Fall colors

Flip Flops and Hot Chocolate on freezing cold days

And the perfectly roasted marshmallow


on Thursday, December 4, 2008
Roughly 1.5 billion people in the world’s consumer class – who drive automobiles, own refrigerators and televisions, and shop in malls – consume the bulk of the world’s fossil fuels, metals, wood products, and grain. A newborn in the US requires more than twice as much grain and 10 times as much oil as a child born in Brazil or Indonesia – and produces far more pollution. In fact, a simple calculation shows that the annual increase in the US population of 2.6 million people puts more pressure on the world’s resources than do the 17 million people added to India each year. – “State of the World”, Worldwatch

What to expect this holiday

on Wednesday, December 3, 2008

This will be my second Malaysian Christmas. My first was Christmas of 2006. So what will the holidays be like for me this year? I'm not quite sure, but I at least now have a better understanding of a Malaysian Christmas.
Malaysians celebrate Christmas at the mall:

One mall in KL even had fake snow, made of bubbles:

They make Christmas trees out of beer bottles:

Even though I don't know what to expect this Christmas, I know what NOT to expect for this year (as opposed to last time):


Hair/Intenstine Soup:

Brad Pitt (I think the billboard has since been taken down):
And monkey attacks:

Oh, life in Malaysia.

Christmas refugee

A story written by a Myanmarese refugee boy:

"...My school was miles away from my house. Even though I had to walk to school I never gave up because I want to be a scientist. I believe Myanmar will be a rich, peaceful and democratic country in the future so now I’m working hard in my studies. I left Myanmar because of the unfair government. One day when we celebrated Christmas we ran out of engine oil so my dad went to the town and bought some oil. While he was away some of the police and soldiers came and ordered us to stop the ceremony and asked who was in charge of it. Two pastors were arrested. I was so worried for my dad and searched for my dad. Fortunately I found my dad on the way. I told my Dad what happened and from that day he left the village. We faced many problems, the soldiers were searching for my dad and threatened us. They forced us to do hard labour. Later we managed to contact my dad who was in Malaysia so we left our country to join him.

My mother, brothers and I took a bus from Myanmar to Thailand. We stayed there for 10 days. Then we went to Malaysia by bus, boat, and on foot. On the way we were very hungry and thirsty. We didn’t eat for 5 days. And we were really, really cold and shivering. It took 20 days to get to Malaysia. We were so happy to see our dad in Malaysia. We feel unsafe here because we don’t have any documents. So we have terrible nightmares everyday. When someone knocks on our door at night we run and hide under the bed. My hope for Myanmar is to be a developed country so I am trying my best. When I am relocated to another country I will study hard and be educated so I can serve my country as much as I can. Please pray for democracy in Myanmar."

And another story from a 13 year old refugee:

"I fled the Burmese government because of the unjust rule in my country. Everyday soldiers were searching for my father. They accused him of celebrating Christmas without permission from the authority."

Both of these boys are refugees because of Christmas. Celebrating Christmas forced them to flee their family and their country. Not for lighting their tree or hanging their stockings or going to see Santa in the mall, but for simply recognizing and celebrating Jesus' birth.

Although I'm sad that I will miss a greater part of my traditional Christmas celebrations this year, at least I have the freedom to celebrate it as I choose. Not the freedom to go see Santa or make Christmas cookies, but the freedom to celebrate the birth of our Lord. So may we appreciate Christmas so much more this year knowing that others are persecuted for it. Let's be grateful for the freedom we have to express our faith in such a way.

Happy Thanksgiving

on Thursday, November 27, 2008
Thanksgiving. It is during days like this that it really hits me that I am most definitely not in America. Nonetheless, it has still proven to be the most delicious day of the year. The extent of my autumn-ish decorations was this glorious fold-out turkey that my mom mailed me. It sat happily on my bookshelf, next to my twinkle lights. This year, there are no leaves changing color (although my fern is dying so it's turning brown), and no Turkey Trots races to run (although I ran for an hour in the morning).

This year was different. I celebrated Thanksgiving dinner with Americans, Malaysians, Koreans, and Brazilians. Diversity makes for an even more delicious holiday, when everybody contributes something to eat. For example, this was the first year that I have eaten kimchi for Thanksgiving.

But here's what would happen if I were at home for Thanksgiving. this is me reminiscing, again.
Because my family rarely has any family or visitors from out of town, this holiday mostly all about the food. We start the day early with the traditional Treece holiday breakfast, served for Easter, Christmas, birthdays, and any other special occasion: butter marshmallow things (there is no technical name for them, but if you have ever eaten them you know they are DELICIOUS) and something else a little more obscure: vienna sausages. Although they are nothing more than SPAM rolled up like little Smokies, my family grew up loving these. They were a special treat for us, only served at breakfast on special occasions. I only found out recently (like, this year) that most people regard these as "camping food" or perhaps better known as, "survival food". But I don't care what other people think; camping food or not, they are a Treece family tradition and I love them. Anyway, back to thanksgiving. After breakfast, we sit around, watch , probably golf (also a holiday Treece tradition, thanks to my dad) and wait for the appetizers to arrive. We even have a typical order that our food comes in: first the Ranch dip with the potato chips. Then, the artichoke dip. brother and I will sit on the couch and gobble it up until it's gone in like half-an-hour; in the meanwhile my mom tries to convince us to use napkins and not spill on the coffee table. Every once in awhile we have the occasional cheese-ball, but they're the store-bought kind and NOT delicious like the Ranch dip or the artichoke dip. Sigh. After appetizers are over I usually try to to help my mom in the kitchen, but I just end up stirring something and munching on everything. The turkey's already in the oven. The table must be set with mom's bird-china and have the cornucopia and thanksgiving Precious Moments statue in the center. This is mandatory, routine: every year, same table decorations, without fail. We usually can't wait very long so we eat at 4 or 5pm. Sometimes we have real wine, but I much prefer Martinelli's sparkling apple cider: another Treece holiday tradition. We give thanks, then we eat. The stuffing that was cooked inside the turkey always goes first - of course, because it's the most delicious. Oh, I forgot one more thing! The cranberry sauce. The kind from the can. None of this 'chunky-real-cranberry-stuff' but the gelatinous kind that just plops right out of the can and into the bowl. That way you can just slice it off onto your plate...brilliant. Another Treece tradition. I'm not really sure what we usually do after dinner, I'm usually in a food coma so it's all a blur. But we end the night with pumpkin pie (although I've finally discovered, after all these years, that I don't really like pumpkin pie).

After all that is said, however, I called my parents and learned that they ate Thanksgiving dinner out this year. This is breaking Treece-family tradition, but I guess it's a bit different when you only have to cook for 2.

I heart Seattle

on Sunday, November 23, 2008
I have a love/hate relationship with Seattle. Because I feel so strongly about this issue, let's talk about the things that I hate first.
Winter. The rain. Not that Seattle even comes close to the total average rain of other US cities (it's not even one of the top 10 rainiest cities in the US). This just means that it is more spread out and we have more yucky days of pseudo-rain: drizzle. Did you know that seattle has an average of 226 cloudy days a year. That only leaves 139 days of sunshine. Granted, those days of sunshine are glorious, but still doesn't make up for the other crappy 226 days. I lived in Seattle for three years in college. But unfortunately, I was never in Seattle for a summer, or any other time when the weather was actually nice. Let me do some math: If I had a 3 month summer break during school, that was about 90 days of sunshine in Seattle that I missed. Subtract that from the 139 days of sunshine per year that Seattle averages, and that only leaves me with 49 days of sunshine a year. 49 days of sunshine per year X 3 years = 147 days of sunshine in Seattle during my whole college life.
Can you feel the bitterness. Seattle is a great city, but the weather doesn't contribute anything to that. Perhaps this is why I love the tropical climate so much. Winter quarter during school was the worst. Winter quarter spans from January to March - this is the time when it's dark by Oprah time (4pm - my life revolved around this time for several years of college). I hated going to class in the dark. I hated waking up in the dark. But I especially hated waking up knowing that it was going to be another one of those cold, cloudy days...and knowing that I had 200 more of them to go that year. Again, maybe that's why I love living near the equator....the sun always rises and sets at almost the same time, the whole year. None of this dark by 4pm crap.
So I'm thinking about moving back to seattle. But after having lived in the tropical climate for this long, I don't know how I would take it. It all comes down to this: I hate being cold. I can't keep myself warm, and that oh so constant drizzle and mist that the entire city of Seattle is enveloped in for 226 days a year doesn't help the situation. I have a t-shirt that says I 'heart' Seattle except the 'heart' is replaced with a rain cloud. This embodies my feelings about this. This is the only picture that I could find of in CO springs.
Seattle has it's own unique charm, excitement, and activities that makes it appealing to live there. Seattlites have found their own way to cope: they just hunker down in in the nearest Starbucks and cozy up in their North Face fleece jackets with their egg-nog latte. Or perhaps at the nearest REI. Seattle at its best.
However, I have absolutely no reason to complain. I'm not even in Seattle, and I haven't even been there in a year or so. There's no drizzle/mist rain here, it's all torrential downpours. I very much prefer this. The rain comes, and then it goes. It doesn't wait around. So I have nothing to complain about, really. All is well with me in the weather world....for now.


on Thursday, November 20, 2008
It's not even thanksgiving yet, and Christmas is already looming over me. Ugh. The Holidays are the most depressing time of year for me when I am away from home, but when I AM home they're the best. I grew up celebrating every holiday. EVERY holiday.

Every easter we dyed eggs and I received a ginormous easter basket at breakfast. And every year, I would swap some of my lesser-candy with my brother in exchange for something infinitely more delicious: peeps. Going along with tradition, I got a package of peeps from my mom this easter (picture on right is yellow peep on my balcony). I am happy to report that they arrived safetly, unlike last year's tragedy in Kenya...the ants got to the peeps and cadbury eggs before I did (see pink peeps on right with missing faces)

St. Patrick's Day was celebrated by wearing green (of course), eating corned beef (but only sometimes- my mom knew that no one else liked it except my dad), and making sugar cookies cut out like four-leaved clovers with green frosting. Delicious. Who else celebrates St. Patricks Day? No one else I know. But my name means "Ireland Forever" -supposedly- so I feel a special bond with this green celebration. Plus, I really like the color green.

Valentines Day was also celebrated by making sugar cookies - this time they were heart-shaped and the frosting was dyed pink. My mom would make me a batch and express mail them to me when I was in college....but they usually didn't even last a day. Come to think about it, we made some type of sugar cookie for almost every occasion. When you're a kid, of course you do all the class parties and hand out valentines. The first valentine I got (that I remember) was from a kid named Mark in 2nd grade. I had a crush on him and we would play footsie under the table. He gave me a valentine with the picture of Michael Jordan on it...these were back in the days when he was still cool and still in the NBA, of course. I'm ashamed to say that I still have this valentine, tucked somewhere away at home to remind me of those younger Tacoma days. Anyway, I still make valentines. Well, not this year (my valentines day was rather uneventful), but all throughout college I made valentine cards for my friends. How crafty am I.

For my mom, Fourth of July meant pulling out the stars-and-stripes sweater- even though it was July and 100 degrees out. I think that lately she purchased something slightly cooler yet no less patriotic. Since fireworks were illegal, we would always get those black growing-worm things and sparklers. My brother and I would write our names in the sparklers and blacken the back patio in black-charcol-worm-dust that my mom would complain about. Sometimes we played croquet in the backyard, or maybe badminton. Whatever it was, I always lost to my brother. Every year we have hamburgers, iced tea, and potato salad, all eaten on the back patio. One of my favorite meals, ever. Then my friends and I would usually go watch fireworks. This year I spent fourth of July in Borneo. There was no such celebration, and I think that everyone forgot about it and it wasn't even sad. I'm so disappointed in myself for missing a holiday. I'm such an awful American.

Halloween! I think that this year was the first year that I haven't carved a pumpkin.. alas there are no pumpkins (at least the orange, round kind) to be found here. I should have found something else to carve. Anyway, I have carved pumpkins for as long as I can remember (although I don't remember handling sharp knives when I was little) , roasted pumpkin seeds, and gone trick-or-treating. Because my mom usually sewed our costumes when I was little, we were very creative, especially my sister Kerry. One year she dressed up in a burlap sack and went as a 'tea bag', and another year she went as a garlic clove.
I thought that the latter was such a great idea, so my mom re-created this costume last year for halloween.... Madie and I really stood out at the party. She dressed up as a black lady (not very PC). My costume was accented with a garlic necklace. One year, just a few years ago actually, Madie, Laura and I decided to invent our own costumes: Madie was "leftovers", wrapped in foil, silverware, and old food, Laura was a newspaper (easy costume), and I decided to go as a Q-tip. It was hard to trick-or-treat with my hands and head wrapped in toilet paper, but at least I was warm! Nobody understood my costume.
The first Halloween I can remember, I was dressed up in my footie-pajamas, wore some ears, and I was called a 'bunny'. One year I was a princess, one year Jasmine from Aladdin (very COLD costume!). So boring and unoriginal. I'm surprised that I never insisted on going as Ariel from the little mermaid. In college, I found an old pair of lab overalls, slapped on some goggles and grabbed an erlenmeyer flask or two, and I was a scientist. I always instisted that one is never too old to trick-or-treat, but I think that I am changing my mind. When my own friends are starting to have children that they themselves can take trick-or-treating - that means I'm too old. As much as I would like the free candy, I'll just have to find some other way to get it.

Penang Bridge Run.

on Monday, November 17, 2008

I did it! After 3 months of torturous training, I finally finished what I set out to do....The Penang Bridge Half Marathon. Actually, they lied when they said it was a half marathon. In reality, the race was 15.5 miles, 2.4 miles longer than a true half. Or, 2.4 miles of pure torture.

After a week of 'tapering' (my favorite part of training) and carbo-loading (also a running perk) my body was so ready to run...even at this ungodly hour (I woke up at 2:30am). I made a new playlist on my ipod for this race and this, I decided, was going to make all the difference. And it did! I decided to usher in the holiday season by starting off with Celine Dion's Christmas album (my favorite). It was just right for my pre-morning, reflective mood. I love the peace of the early morning. No traffic, no motorbikes, no noise...just the pattering of footsteps and my breath. I wish I had the discipline to get up early enough do my runs while it's still dark, but my late-night routine doesn't pair well with that.

It was 30 minutes before I was even on the bridge, or at least over water...the on-ramp is long. The marathoners (who had started at 3) and the men's half-ers took all the water ahead of us (so selfish!) and there was nothing for the first 45 minutes. But luckily I carried my own gatorade with me, so water was never the issue. It was great to be on the bridge, for one thing, because this is the only time in the year that it closes, but also because you get great views of the water and of georgetown. The Penang bridge itself is 13.5km long (the 3rd longest in Asia), but that includes the on-ramps and everything....the distance over water isn't that long. The half-marathon is 25km, so obviously we didn't go the whole distance, but we the course turned around at the toll-booths, marking the half-way point.
Luckily, I was still feeling great! Maybe I got motivation from the people that were dropping like flies around me. Asians are overambitious exercisers. So many people who entered this race were way out of their league. Now, I think it's great that they're trying and all, and I don't expect people to be able to run the whole time, but I saw people start walking from minute 1. Seriously? I mean, if you can't even run 60 seconds what makes you think you can last 15 miles? People were running with full backpacks, with regular, definitely not for running or even walking, shoes. I even saw a guy wearing crocs. And in true Malaysian style, half of the young people were carrying their cell-phones and texting each other.
But I managed to not let it all get to me and I just zoned out in my new ipod playlist (after Celine, that is). One of my favorite things about a long run is that you get to EAT in the middle of it. Energy. My favorite is the Jelly Belly sport beans but you can't get them here, and all we could find are those icky Power gels. Actually, the tangerine is pretty tasty but I don't like the idea of having to suck down a gel. I consumed three during the course of this race. The strawberry banana flavor is NOT recommended.
The run would have been 100% glorious had it actually been a real half-marathon. Because I was feeling good for the first 13 miles or so, and then the pain started to hit my just about the time that the real half-marathon should have been over! Unfortunately, I had 2.5 miles left! I've always been an injury-free runner, but I've noticed as I've started running more distance that my legs start to break down after about 8 or 9 miles. I'm always training on the roads, and my knees which are absorbing all this pounding start to ache. For this race, the pain really started to hit at about mile 13. This is also the point that I met the sea of orange: the fun-runners. Ugh. So I spend the last 30 minutes of the race fighting not just my own aching body but also the hoards of walkers that were doing a 5 or 10-k or something...I don't really know. All I know is that they liked to stop right in front of you and also enjoyed walking in rows so that you couldn't get through them.
By this point of the race, my ipod playlist had ended and I needed some fast-paced more motivating music. Rhianna it is, then. It works like a charm, every time. Thanks, Rhianna... Please don't stop the music.
In the end it took me exactly 2 hours and 54 minutes to finish. And I didn't care what time I finished in as long as I gave it my best. This is the longest I have ever run and I'm proud of myself for it. I got a little teary eyed at the finish line, mostly because I was worried about collapsing and I felt a little bit lost and overwhelmed in the sea of salty and sweaty bodies.
It took about 2 liters of water to re-hydrate myself and I was faint from hunger. After wandering around the tents for a little bit and considering going shopping (hey, we were at the mall, afterall - a Treece never turns down shopping), Reuben and I left to eat some wantan mee for breakfast.
We must have timed it right, and luckily I got home just in time to watch Hannah Montana.

My farm

on Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I didn't expect to have so many pets when I moved to Malaysia. Most of them apparently came with the apartment, although there's no mention of them in the contract.
Let me introduce a few of my friends:

Mr. Gecko and family - Mr. Gecko and his cohorts prowl my walls and leave poop everywhere. Last night I was frightened by a large noise that came from the kitchen. I turned on the light to see what happened and I found Mr. Gecko in my sink, licking away at some tiny scraps of tuna leftover from last night's meal. He is large enough that he knocked over one of my dishes in the sink - hence the noisy commotion. He guiltily stared at me for a few seconds and then scampered away to seek refuge in the silverware holder. I wouldn't let him get away with that so I scared him out of the kitchen. Some nights I hear him rummaging through my cupboards.

I actually stepped on him once. It's a very strange sensation to feel something squish in between your bare feet and the tile. He survived unharmed. He also fell on my shoulder one time, too. I've gotten pretty accustomed to seeing them around my place, but I don't like to be surprised like that.

The second of my live-in roommates is Mr. Jumping Spider. Like his friend Mr. Gecko, he also has a camaraderie. He's pretty skittish and doesn't like to be near me. His brothers like to hide in my clothes and in my bed. I have no picture of Mr. Jumping Spider because he wouldn't let me get that close to him (he's quite small), and I wasn't about to google "spider".

The third and most recent addition to the family is Hammy, the abandoned hamster. I found him one morning in the trash. He was a sad sight so, out of the goodness of my heart, I took him upstairs to my place. At least he can die in peace, I thought. I decided that wasn't up to the hamster challenge (I have an inherent aversion to things that bite - and Hammy definitely had that tendency) so Reuben took him in and nursed him back to health. I am pleased to report and today he is happy and very healthy, thanks to Reuben and his special animal-attracting powers. He can turn any vicious creature into a tame and pleasant pet. This is Hammy. He loves eating peaches and shredding toilet paper. He also like to work out on his wheel-to-nowhere.

What am I doing.

on Wednesday, September 10, 2008
I told myself I would never make one of these.

I like writing and I like reading other peoples' blogs (people that I know, not those wierdos floating out in cyberspace) but I've never been too keen about getting on the blogging-train.

Perhaps this is a sheer moment of weakness for me and I'm feeling very procrastinatory right now.

Maybe I just made up a new word and wanted to share that with the world.

Whatever the reason, this is my new blog and I have nothing else to say. Maybe I can come up with something else if I procrastinate long enough.

Enjoy this wonderful blog I have just created. Maybe once in awhile I'll have something good to say.