Friday, September 30, 2011

The Fight Against Fakes

"Chanel-inspired bag". "Celine-inspired Luggage Tote". "Marc Jacobs-inspired tops". Designer-inspired this, branded-replica that. It's the fight against the fakes. "Inspired" seems to be the new clever lingo for counterfeit designer knockoffs that are aplenty in many online shops and actual boutiques alike. My vocal condemnation of buying designer knockoffs has earned me the title of being a snob but I don't care, because it disgusts me.

Photo credit: AP Images/Bebeto Matthews

It disgusts me not because I'm a luxury snob whose favourite pastime is labeling people who buy and use designer knockoffs as cheap. It disgusts me because these people are actually supporting a vice business of piracy that isn't as simple and harmless as buying a couple of fake designer bags.

People know where to get their fake LVs and Chanels. People also know what's "AA Grade" of counterfeits but what many don't know, however, is where these fake knockoffs come from and how some of these fake stuff have destroyed lives.

With real designer goods, you know they are made in workshops manned by skilled craftsmen or produced in proper factories where staff are paid a decent acceptable wage. Counterfeits, on the other hand, are very often a result of child labour exploitation operated by organized pirate groups.

Dana Thomas, author of the book Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster, launched an investigation that unveils the dark and sordid underbelly of the counterfeit trade.

"It is estimated that up to 7 percent of our annual world trade — $600 billion worth — is counterfeit or pirated; that fakes are believed to be directly responsible for the loss of more than 750,000 American jobs; that everything from baby formula to medicine is counterfeited, with tragic results; that counterfeiters and the crime syndicates they work with deal in human trafficking, child labor, and gang warfare; and that counterfeiting is used to launder money, and the money has been linked to truly sinister deeds such as terrorism."

And the more disturbing and heartbreaking fact is found in an excerpt of the book.

"I remember walking into an assembly plant in Thailand a couple of years ago and seeing six or seven little children, all under 10 years old, sitting on the floor assembling counterfeit leather handbags,' an investigator told me... 'The owners had broken the children's legs and tied the lower leg to the thigh so the bones wouldn't mend. [They] did it because the children said they wanted to go outside and play."

The report is ghastly to say the least. Clearly, these are things a lot of fake goods supporters don't know, or so I hope at least. The whole condemnation of fake designer goods is clearly more than a couple of rich snobs slamming fake goods supporters or luxury companies protecting their market share and intellectual properties. By buying designer knockoffs, you're inherently supporting a vicious trade of human exploitation. 

Now, would you still want to call me a snob for despising fake luxury goods? I really hope not. 

Read more here

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Kim Noble

It is often said that tragedy is a source of creativity. Some of the most creative and talented people were/are those who suffered some kind of personal tragedy, be it in the form of life's misfortunes or mental illnesses, or somethings, both. Between the two, mental illnesses seem to yield the most brilliant artists the world have seen.

If there's such a somewhat disturbing thing as the common mental illness that's linked to producing the most amazing artists, authors and musicians et al, it would probably be Manic Depression or Bipolar Disoder. Cue in Vincent Van Gogh, Ernest Hemingway, Kurt Cobain, Virginia Woolf, Nina Simone.....the list goes on. A fact not unknown to the many who appreciate these amazing talents. Then there's a whole different category. The creativity genius of the Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD).

Introducing Kim Noble. The very talented MPD artist with over 13 different personalities. Having spent 20 years in and out of hospital, she discovered her gift in painting through art therapy. Not just hers, but also many of her different personalities within herself are gifted painters, each with their own distinctive styles and voices.Within five years of starting to paint they have already had seventeen successful solo exhibitions and participated in an equal number of group exhibitions. Kim was also the first Artist in Residence at Springfield University Hospital in Tooting, South West London.

People with MPD develop different personalities in themselves (usually during childhood) as a coping mechanism to trauma. Kim's MPD was a result of her extremely traumatic childhood where she was a victim of a trauma-based mind control programme called the Monarch Programme for 13 years. (Read more about the Monarch Programme here).

The paintings from the different personalities in Kim are incredible. Incredible not only for their artistic excellence but also the haunting stories of physical, sexual and mental torture and abuses they tell.

This piece, titled "Symbolic or What", is indeed ... symbolic. Two girls (or two personas of the same girl) avoid stepping on the checkerboard floor due to the presence of a snake. The appear to be covering their genitals, implying that the snake is phallic symbol. The painting also attests to the great psychic power of the checkerboard pattern on victims, a trait that was probably part of the programming.

This one, entitled "Golden Kaballa", uses the same basic layout as the previous image but replaces scenes of trauma with occult symbols and the central figure with the kabbalistic Tree of Life. Each one of the Tree of Life's colourful spheres, named Sephirots, are used in Monarch mind control as "compartments" to store alter personas. The outer layer of the work contains the name of each of the ten spheres of the Tree of Life with its associated Hebrew letter.

This piece is named "Ted's legless". "Ted" is the small Teddy Bear sitting on the floor. Young mind control victims are often given Teddy Bears by their handlers to make them develop an emotional attachment to them. This attachment is then exploited by the handlers to create emotional trauma.In "Ted's Legless", Ria's handler rips off one of her best friend's legs while forcibly holding her on the ground. The trauma causes dissociation, which is represented by the transparent version of the girl. Haunting words are inscribed on the wall: "Help Me Please" and "Pratt was Here".

"The Naming" is an auto-portrait of Kim with one eye that was removed from the face and placed above her, bloody, which conveys the violent nature of the process. Once again, mind control is symbolized by the loss of an eye which appears to have been replaced by a text/poem that was probably used to program her.

These are some of her work and looking at Kim's disturbingly beautiful paintings and the blood-curdling stories behind had me literally in tears. Her art pieces not only chronicles her traumatic life, it again reaffirms the grotesque human race and the atrocity human beings are capable of inflicting on one another. Depressive to say the least. If only a magic wand could make all these go away. Kim's more detailed story is available here

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Notable Quotable

 My problems in life

I am awfully greedy; I want everything from life. I want to be a woman and to be a man, to have many friends and to have loneliness, to work much and write good books, to travel and enjoy myself, to be selfish and to be unselfish… You see, it is difficult to get all which I want. And then when I do not succeed I get mad with anger.

- Simone de Beauvior

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lust vs Must


The Louboutin Cork Slingback Pumps


Pedder Red Cork Pumps 
(they're a hell lot easier to walk on and more comfy too)

Monday, September 26, 2011

I left my heart in Bali

The island of gods

padi fields.....nice breezes....infinity ayam........pristine beaches........Potato Head....Frangipani....offerings to gods....

I left my heart in Bali

Friday, September 23, 2011

Notable Quotable

"If you are irritated by every rub, how will you be polished?"

                                                                                                                                             -- Rumi

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Eating Tree Bark

You've heard eating tree bark as a survival tactic for fighting starvation. According to my dad and a couple of history books, back in the days of China's Cultural Revolution, it was a common sight that villages were filled with trees that were robbed of tree bark. The tree bark was feasted upon by the famine sufferers in creative ways like cooking it in sauce or eating it neat for the even more unfortunate ones.

Decades later, scientists in another part of the world are stripping tree bark for a totally different reason. The French Pine Bark, to be precise, is now a much sought-after ingredient for one of the most powerful antioxidants available. Otherwise known as Pycnogenol (pronounced as pig-no-gene-nall), it has been hailed miracle supplement by many.

My friend, Princess, happily skipped to my desk one day proclaiming that he has jumped onto the Pycnogenol bandwagon and will soon be young and gorgeous again with the health and beauty promises it's supposed to deliver. Hope in a tablet it seems! Then suddenly, I found myself at the GNC check out, dishing out hundreds of dollars for a year's worth of Masquelier's French Pine Bark supply.

It seems like there are a big selection of Pycnogenol and I guess when in doubt, always get the original one. The Masquelier's French Pine Bark is the original formula founded by Professor Jack Masquelier who is the pioneer researcher for Pycnogenol.

Here's why I'm paying hundreds of bucks for tree bark:
  • improves overall health with powerful antioxidants. It is 20 times more powerful than Vitamin C as an antioxidant
  • helps strengthen capillary walls
  • reduces the appearance of unsightly veins
  • healthy veins support nutritional support for the heart, legs, eyes and all vital organ by assisting circulation
  • protection against the breakdown of skin collagen 
  • reduces wrinkles
  • improves skin suppleness
  • improves skin tone
  • assists vision
  • increases energy and vitality
It does sound like miracle in a pill doesn't it? It's been more than a month of French Pine Bark popping and though I don't think I see major improvement in the beauty front compared to say Imedeen, I do see and feel some result healthwise. Yes, see, because I bruise less from my pole dancing class despite I'm doing more classes more frequently. And no, it's not because my legs get used to bruising cos there will always be bruises anyway. Since I've started the French Pine Bark, I bruise less significantly and the bruises go away quicker. It's probably got to do with the blood vessels strengthening effects I think.

I also get a wee bit more energy I THINK. I'm just as tired as usual but then I do feel that I have say 20% more energy, considering that I haven't exactly been sleeping well at all the last couple of weeks.

Princess, on the other hand, said he feels less tired too and French Pine Bark ups his alcohol limit and he didn't get drunk as easily. A search on google confirmed there's such an effect apparently.I don't see his eye bags receding but then I'm sure health wise, we have both benefited from it.

Verdict? Go for it for better health and leave beauty benefits to Imedeen, botox and good creams. I'll probably take it long term anyway. Well, I did buy a year's worth after all. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Coming of Age, Version 2.0

Coming of age is always a big thing in every culture, first and third-world alike. It's a whole big shebang of celebrations in a myriad of ways across the globe. The lucky first-world ones get big dos like Debutante, Bar Mitzvah, Seijin no Hi and the likes. Completed with lots of eating, drinking, merry making and sometimes lavish gifts no less. Then, you have the scary, NatGeo-worthy extreme versions common among tribes where freaky and inhumane rituals like getting your clitoris snipped off sans anaesthesia or a saucer forced into your mouth mark your passage into adulthood.

Regardless of its form, one thing is clear. Coming of age is a big fucking deal. The Grand Poobah of life's milestone, possibly ranked high just after birth and death. It ushers and shoves you into adulthood where exciting times and experiences await.

Well, exciting indeed, because you're about to learn the ways of life as an independent and hopefully self-sufficient person. An avalanche of life's different experiences ahead. You'll soon find your place in the working world, feel like you're walking on super glue often, relish the magic of your first love, suffer the pain of a heart broken (hopefully not too many times), enjoy the freedom of financial independence, get a couple of slaps in your face or set backs. A mishmash of everything good and bad, happy and sad.

In short, you'll come to realize that, well, life does suck which makes me wonder why the hell does the whole coming of age warrant such celebrations when the many challenges, set backs, growing pain and hardship you're about to face as an adult are anything but celebratory??

Having survived my 20s struggling to make sense of life while learning to play the game of life and dodge its curve balls, it seems like I've come to a nice spot where I've finally felt comfortable in my own skin. The drowning seems to be gone, treading water is easier and now I'm swimming and managing pretty fine at the deep end of the pool. So how about a toast now instead? A tippling toast to celebrate being comfortable in my own skin? My little second "Coming of age", Version 2.0 perhaps?

With the fading youth and collagen came a wrinkle or two, as well as some pretty priceless lessons and realizations. My pseudo philosophical musing and reflecting have made me discover some of the things I enjoy now that I'm on a comfy spot. So being comfortable in my own skin is like this:

  • You realize the whole concept of self love isn't some shitty mumble jumble self-help book conspiracy as real as a unicorn. You've finally accepted who you are and be proud of who you have grown into. You enjoy being the person you've developed into and take pride in being you. No more hoping you were as pretty as so and so, as rich as what's her name, or as lucky as someone else. You love YOU.
  • You have a better sense of your core values.
  • You're happy at where you are in life.
  • You realize you don't have to and don't want to please everyone. You focus on yourself and not what other people's perception of you. You're self-ish (self-focused) but not selfish.
  • You don't take everything so damn seriously anymore. You're more relax with things.
  • You no longer take rubbish from people. You know your boundaries and set them well with gusto.
  • You're finally kinder to yourself. No more excessive beating yourself up and you're more forgiving toward yourself. Always a lesson, never a failure.
  • You have made peace with your own flaws. Your insecurities don't seem to bother you as much.You're able to joke about them, make fun of the flaws and at times, even come to love and appreciate them. Lack of height? No problem, being petite makes me look younger. Chubby cheeks? Good, I'll age gracefully. No boobs? Not an issue, I won't look fat, clothes fit better and they're cute perky ones that won't sag till my waistline. Get the idea?
  • No more talking big or trying to impress. The last time I talked big and made up things to impress people, I was probably 15 or 18 trying to fit in. My 20s was spent trying to establish where I stand socially with the constant need to impress and be accepted and respected. It's tiring to say the least. Cue in the 30s, well, I don't give a damn. Now, that's just the way it should be.
  • You count your blessings and give thanks and gratitude to the things you have. I thank the universe I have a comfortable life and a roof above my head every night when I slip into my nice warm bed. In my youth, I asked the universe for a Chanel 2.55 and asked the universe "Why the hell me?"
  • You understand that you don't always get what you want and that it is okay (though at times annoying) to not have what you want. 
  • You thank your set backs because they're your perfect teachers in life.
  • You're finally able to see how some set backs are indeed, blessings in disguise.
  • You're rid of that sense of rivalry to outdo your peers, your friends, your colleagues, everyone. You know your own goals and what matters to YOU and now how it looks to others. You dance to your own beat and it makes you happy.
  • You're a lot more humble than you were 10 years ago because you've come to realize you actually do not know everything or anything for that matter.
  • You're more relax and in control of what life is gonna offer

    My coming-of-age motto which I put up on my desk.

    So, this much I know and I wonder what and how the next decade of my life would be like and the lessons that come along. Now that we're not drowning in the deep end of the pool and are swimming pretty fine, let's hope we'll soon be synchronized swimming like a dolphin, or even better, be able to walk on water. You never know.  Meanwhile, here's a virtual toast to all of us who have made it thus far intact. Sante!

    Tuesday, September 20, 2011

    The art of decorating

    For years, my mom has forbidden me to decorate the apartment where I live alone here. Mama said she decorated the place first and the ownership belongs to her and my dad (on paper), so living here rent-free strips me of any decorating rights.

    Only that, mama forgot she's decorated the place more than a freaking decade ago and everything looks dated, and I have to live in a place that reeks of the early 90s. Since she lives thousands of miles away, I'm taking matters in my own hand to give my place a makeover. Limited funds means it'll be a slow process and it'll be a-section-at-a-time upgrade.

    While hatching my evil plan, here's my decorating almanac - Domino, The Book of Decorating. It's the most awesome interior decorating book with lovely inspirations, practical tips and advice to help you design the home that makes you happy. The beautiful cover scores extra points too. A must-read for anyone planning for some home improvement.

    Monday, September 19, 2011

    Jewel Rocks

    In Bali, you Eat, Pray (Play in my case), Love. You lay by the beaches, many for you to choose from. You take walks in the padi fields in Ubud, you eat eggs cooked by burying them in the soil at the foot of Mt Kitamani volcano, you taste the mouth-watering beef rendang and other Indo delicacy but you don't quite shop there.

    Unless batik, surf garbs, bottle openers in the shape of penis, painting and art stuff are you cup of tea, there isn't much chance for you to swipe your plastic and splash your rupiah for a bit of retail therapy. You're in Bali. You're supposed to enjoy the wonders of nature on this island of gods. The one exception (for me at least), is Jewel Rocks. Tucked away in Jalan Drupai in Seminyak, my favourite store in Bali sells gorgeous handmade jewelry with their famed beaded bracelets and necklaces that are pretty coveted world-wide.

    Inspired by travelers and global trotting, Jewel Rocks makes the prettiest beaded bracelets and necklace with a myriad of material from crystals, brass, silver, tibetan gold, thread, wood etc etc. A note of warning: if you love beaded bracelets, you'll experience a case of hysteria when you walk into their quaint little shop with their big collection of original designs, all handmade with love in Bali. It was Christmas morning for me.

    After regaining my composure and sending off the boy to the very lovely Vienna Cafe across the road (excellent place to chill), I ended up with 2,800,000 Rupiah worth of loot and a big smile.....yes, it's ridiculous, but my insanity wasn't unfounded with the boy buying up 2 of bracelets (for his friends) because they're so beautiful. And yes, Rp 2.8 million because these aren't your a dime a dozen cheap stuff from the tourist souvenir stores. These are well-made pieces with high grade stones, crystals and pure silver that let you remember your Bali trip with.

    My Stash
    Photos don't do them justice really. They look so pretty and colourful that looking at them makes me happy

    The simple tassel silver necklace which I got a lot of compliments wearing. Works really nicely on white or gray tops

    The only regret is that I didn't buy more. I was contemplating buying more to sell on my blog but well, not sure if that would work in these days where mass-produced lower-price stuff takes favour for many people. So maybe next time. I'm so gonna raid the store next time and I hope it'll happen really soon too!

    Saturday, September 17, 2011

    Bali Bender Part 2

    First it was Ubud, then off to Seminyak I went for the second part of my Bali trip. The Elysian was the luxury abode for my three days in Seminyak. Seminyak rocks and it has a lot of my favourites:

    Fave Shop: Jewel Rocks 
    Fave Haunt: The Potato Head
    Fave Cafe: The Junction
    Fave Surf Spot: Legian Beach (just right for non-frequent surfers like me)

    I absolutely cannot wait to go back.

    The Elysian
    There's a reason why it's on the Bali Luxe Guide. Luxe villas and facilities aside, the service is impeccable (though still isn't as good as the Komaneka in Ubud). The front desk staff greet you by your name every time they see you. The spa treatment wasn't shabby despite it isn't some famous spa spot but for a in-hotel spa, the massage was really good (especially I got one after surfing).

    Nice entrance with bamboo flanking the drive way

    The common pool at The Elysian. Very nice cabana

    We got upgraded to a 2 bedroom villa with a spacious modern living room. They have Apple TV too in all the rooms and villas

    And the bedroom. With an open bathroom concept. Huge tube right smack in the middle (reminds me of the Four Seasons at Jimbaran Bay)

    Another view of the huge boudoir

    Lovely private pool with outdoor tanning bed and day bed tucked at the corner

    Ku De Ta
    The once cool hangout for all the cool and beautiful people in Bali seems to be no longer the cool place it used to be when I first got there about 6 years ago, it's full of Euro trash with bad tan. Time to move to The Potato Head.

    The Junction Cafe
    Very cool cafe built of plank wood. Cozy and warm ambiance with good food that surpasses my expectation. Their Soto Ayam, Gnocchi and Mint Lemonade make really good grubs.

    The Potato Head
    Now this is the new place to be in Seminyak and my favourite. The Potato Head is where the cool kids hang out now. Impossibly charming are the architecture and deco. Vintage Venetian blinds of different colours are the main theme that coats the entire building for a stunning creative look.  Sun decks and beds are aplenty and they face a phenomenal plunge pool. The best part? They provide big fluffy towels if you hang out at the sun decks/beds (minimum spending of Rp 500,000 applies).

    Pathway to heaven on Earth

    I miss Bali. Badly!

    P.S Extra photos will be up soon (being an avid amateur photo-phile that I am)


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