Sunday, January 20, 2013

Space... the final frontier || Star Trek (The Exhibition) at Pusat Sains Negara

A last minute trip to KL became the catalyst for an impromptu excursion to Pusat Sains Negara. The radio had been heralding the great Star Trek Exhibition for weeks now, and I was sure that the kids would enjoy it especially given their fascination with anything space related. Of course, they had no idea what Star Trek was, I gave them the basic summary in the car on the way over. People. Spaceship. Lost. Cannot get home. Aliens. The End. 

Dinner conversation

My parents were also excited about the trip. Although, I would not classify them as Trekkies, suffice to say, they knew of the show. In fact, initially my dad passed on the trip because he had a mountain of student papers to mark but upon hearing that the exhibition was about Star Trek, he promptly decided to tag along.

We were quite relieved to see that there were not many people around, quite a different scene from the last time we were there for Dinosaurs Alive! and after catching the short but interesting Science Demonstration we finally managed to shepherd the kids up to the exhibition gallery (no easy task, given that PSN has so many interesting exhibits and games everywhere). I was prepared to journey where no man had gone before as continuously promised by Captain Kirk.

Cool morphing picture of us in the transporter "Beam us up Scotty"
Souvenir photos

The exhibit itself in a nutshell, was a bit of an anti climax. There were 3 stations where we could take souvenir photos (Captain Kirk's chair, the bridge and the transporter) but personal (read: iPhone) photos were strictly of limits. This is standard procedure, I guess, and necessary to generate the lucrative mementos photo market but it was a shame as it would have been nice to take pictures of some of the displays especially the big replica of the Starship Enterprise. Secondly, most of the exhibits were strictly  only for viewing, there was minimal interactive elements. Most were just replicas of costumes, movie posters, and a timeline of the entire Star Trek franchisee, including the not so famous reboots. There was far too much reading of fine print involved, not that much fun for young kids. Although, I have to say, the kids still enjoyed looking at all the strange props. The adults, however, were underwhelmed. 

I guess I expected stars, galaxies, planets, spaceships, aliens, anything that could make the experience feel like we were in deep space. I wanted to be blown away with spectacular visually stimulating displays of outer space in all its majesty. Of course, I should have remembered that the Exhibition was about Star Trek and not about the cosmos but in my head I had assumed that they were one and the same. There should have been giant screens playing the memorable scenes in a loop (instead of a just a 24 inch one), the control panel on the captain's bridge should have flickered or twinkled or done something, anything when we touched them, there should have been guides dressed as Trekkies taking us through the history of Star Trek instead of just a timeline poster, aliens, cyborgs and robots should have been life sized and moving about instead of merely plastic heads behind thick sheets of glass. Suffice to say my head was spinning with countless ideas on how they could have made the Exhibition a thousand times better, but at the same time I would have to concede that it was quite a decent one.

Cool science show
Flight exhibit

Although the kids had quite an enjoyable time browsing through an exhibition of a tv show they had never seen, the real fun did not start until we started exploring the rest of PSN. They loved the interactive exhibits and we managed to enjoy the Flight, Music and My Body exhibits as well as play in the huge ball cage and rocket playground. Thankfully, there was a surau there because the kids really did not want to leave. Tired and hungry but still eager to check out the rest of the exhibits, we finally decided to call it a day at 4 pm. Hopefully, we'll be able to come back next time and have more educational fun. All together now... I LOVE SCIENCE.

Awesome rocket playground
My Body exhibit
Big Piano (Like Tom Hanks)- Music exhibit
Crane- Yousof figured it out!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Nefertiti by Nick Drake

Basic plot

Rahotep, a young Medjay detective from Thebes is summoned to the new capital Akhetaten. In essence, it was a death sentence for if he failed to complete his assignment, he and his beautiful family would be killed. The Great Changes have plunged the whole of Egypt in turmoil as the old Gods were banished to make way for the Sun God. At the helm of this new religion was the most famous and beautiful woman of the ancient world, Nefertiti, and her husband Akhenaten. However, Nefertiti vanishes just days before the biggest celebration of the new capital is about to take place. Rahotep has only ten days to find her or be sent on a one way trip to the Otherworld.

What I liked about this book

I chose this book because of it's mysterious cover and the fact that I am a closet history buff. Plus I enjoyed "The Mummy" movies, and ancient Egypt was an interesting era. The story itself lended a novel twist to historical fiction by incorporating element of detective thriller into the plot. The main character Rahotep is portrayed as the Medjay pioneer in forensic science, a young upstart developing strange techniques on his quest to solve mysteries. Of course his innovations are not taken seriously by those around him (reminds me of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow in that sense). With his back against the wall and the hourglass sand running out Rahotep has no choice but to use all his ingenuity to navigate the sprawling maze of the city, the political intricacies of ancient Egypt's rich and powerful to find a missing Queen. With the threat of a most torturous death looming over his head, he has no choice but to succeed but almost no hope of doing so.

What I disliked about the book

I find little fault with the book except that some parts seemed too well orchestrated, in the sense that, at times it was slightly too obvious which direction the author wished to direct us. Some of the smokescreens and red herrings seemed, to me personally, manufactured or conjured and did not manage to truly throw the course of the investigation while maintaining the illusion that the main character was on track. Instead they felt like momentary diversions from the main plot, and I found myself tempted to simply skip to when he was back on track. I guess, I believe that truly great mysteries should leave you constantly guessing and the reader should never anticipate the twist but simply be propelled against it unknowingly. However, this minor flaw, probably experienced only by me, did not detract from a very good story.

A quote I liked from the book

There are no monsters. Only men.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Lessons from my father

As I sit and think and try to write down the many lessons he has taught me over the years, I find myself ill equipped to do so. The list is far too long and any jottings that I may eventually produce would surely not do him justice. My father is a remarkable man. I may be biased in saying this, but I believe it to be true. 

He started from the most humble of beginnings, as a poor boy in a remote village in Sarawak, but ended up a Professor Emeritus in his chosen field, still as humble as he was when he started. So perhaps, one of the biggest lessons he has taught me is never to give up, despite the odds. 

He treats everyone with the same respect regardless of their station in life. He is as comfortable among his peers as he is with his supporting staff and random people off the street. So perhaps, one of the biggest lessons he has taught me is to look beyond a person's title or exterior and recognize the value each person adds to my life.

He has never been one to make grand gestures of affection, instead often doing just little things to show he cares. Be it a gift from a foreign land or a bunch of fresh flowers from the local wet market. No matter where he is, he keeps his family with him. So perhaps, one of the biggest lessons he has taught me is to value my family, for they are my greatest treasures.

In truth, I have perhaps disappointed him in more ways than I care to mention. Surely, he wished a different life for his only daughter than the one I am living now. At this time when he deserves to sit back and do nothing, I have caused him worry and uncertainty. Even through this he has been my rock, unwavering in his trust that everything happens for a reason. As he held my hand when I first learned to walk, he must do so now, as I learn to walk again. So perhaps, one of the biggest lessons he has taught me is loyalty. That those who truly love us will never leave us.

Happy Birthday Abah


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