Jurassic World Dominion

Another boring weekend with not much to do; I decided to check which recent-ish movie is now available to stream. After looking at various options, I settled on Jurassic World Dominion. Hence, another movie review.

The original Jurassic Park trilogy was revolutionary for its time, renowned for its animatronics. I saw them when I was a child growing up in the 90s. I was never a huge fan of the second trilogy, but saw the movies over the years as time pass, nothing more. Somehow Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard couldn’t recreate the same magic for me, as the original cast did. I didn’t have high hopes from Jurassic World Dominion to begin with but I found it surprisingly average.

Jurassic World Dominion, PC: agedxh.qc.to
Jurassic World Dominion, PC: agedxh.qc.to

The movie is set in a world where Dinosaurs now roam free. But otherwise the movie brings nothing new. A greedy corporation builds a Dinosaur preserve and tries to use the dinosaurs for personal greed. Things go wrong, a bunch of people (including the villain) get eaten by dinosaurs but our heroes save the day. In the end there’s a fight between 2 Apex dinosaurs. Same old.

The new villain in the movie is Tim Cook who uses Android devices. I wonder why they specifically chose him as he is not a particularly interesting or charismatic character in real life.

The return of the original stars

I will be frank; the return of the original cast carries the movie. Paleontologist Alan Grant (Sam Neill), paleobotanist Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), and chaos theorist Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) still have amazing chemistry between them and it shows. There are many references to the original movies including a car-dinosaur scene and a reference to Jeff Goldblum’s bare chest. These throwback scenes make the otherwise average Jurassic World Dominion fun to watch.

Chris Pratt’s acting is just average and Bryce Dallas Howard has her perpetually terrified face down pat. If not for the original cast, the movie might not even be worth a one time watch.

I can recommend Jurassic World Dominion as a one time watch, for old times sake.

Off with the face masks!

It is now 3 years since the beginning of the COVID pandemic and since we started wearing face masks. Luckily, me and my family haven’t been infected till now. In India, most people didn’t take masks seriously to begin with. But now, masks are a mere distant memory of more inconvenient times. Which is why, it is such a culture shock to see how serious Thais still are about them. 

In Thailand, it seems like masks are here to stay. Although, the government has removed the compulsions of masks, the Thais have decided to stick with them for now. 

Thai students wearing masks
Thai students wearing masks

Almost every Thai wears masks, all the time, everywhere. On the streets, in shopping malls, at restaurants, in pubs and in offices. In offices, they wear masks even when sitting at their desks all day. When eating or drinking something, the masks are temporarily lowered for the bite/sip and then pulled back up. Basically, the exact opposite of Indians. 

I assume Thais take off their masks when they are at home and while sleeping, however I have no evidence for the same. Overall, I think it is commendable how Thais are so serious about protecting their health and of those around them. 

Of course, none of this compares with the Chinese, who have taken COVID precautions to whole new (crazy) levels. I still see people in full hazmat suits at airports everywhere and I know that when I look at their passports, they will turn out to be Chinese. 

Chinese taking masks to a new level
Chinese taking masks to a new level

Moonfall

Another Roland Emmerich disaster movie. When I saw the trailer for Moonfall a few years ago, I just burst out laughing at the premise. I didn’t think I would ever see it. But another boring Sunday at home changed my mind.

Independence Day was a really good movie; one of the few disaster movies done really well. Since then, the offerings from Roland Emmerich have really gone downhill.

Moonfall
Moonfall

Although the premise of Moonfal is new, the rest of the movie is the same as any other Roland Emmerich movie.

The movie starts with the protagonist, an astronaut who comes in contact with extraterrestrial technology while in space, but no one believes him. Fast forward a few years, he is now washed up and has separated from his wife. Surprisingly similar to David from Independence Day.

The other main character is an anxiety-ridden, IBS rocking conspiracy theorist one step away from a panic attack. He is always trying to convince people about his theories. He, too, ends up like David, running around with some computer printouts with data needed to convince people. The conspiracy theorist is also a fanboy of Space X and keeps saying “I love Elon”.

Same Tired Formula

The rest of the movie is entirely predictable. Same scenes of chaos and looting. People trying to get out of cities, while the moon falls to earth. The government orders mass evacuation. To where? All this talk about getting to safety. Which place on earth will save you from the moon colliding with earth?

When the government finds out that the moon is out of orbit what do they do? Go to the moon to investigate. A mission is organised and launched within days. Laughable.

Another scene of government retrieving someone to help them with “We need you to come with us, now”.

Also laughable is how they take a graffiti-ed space shuttle from a museum, prep it within days and launch with the crew being decided at the last minute.

The movie is also full of shameless advertisement of Kaspersky. Even the space shuttle systems have Kaspersky antivirus installed.

The only thing good about the movie is the VFX. The scenes of destruction are impressive. The shots from inside the moon are breath taking. Halle Berry’s acting is piss-poor.

Overall, I don’t understand why producers keep financing Roland Emmerich when he has nothing new to offer.

Samitivej Hospital Loot

Although, ever since my surgery, my sinusitis has been much better, it still flares up from time to time. In Bangkok, it has been more or less fine last 2 years. But last weekend, it suddenly flared up. I suffered from bad headaches for 2 days and couldn’t take it anymore. Normally, I know exactly which spray to use to relieve my symptoms, but in Bangkok, it is not available OTC. This meant, I needed to go to a doctor (hospital) for the medication. Normally I go to Bumrungrad for other ailments, but this time, in a bid to save money, I decided to go to Samitivej Sukhumvit Hospital. Big mistake!

I got an appointment soon enough and went to see the ENT. Didn’t have to wait too long, saw the doctor within 10 minutes. I explained to the doctor that I am a long time sufferer of sinusitis and informed her which medication generally relieves my symptoms.

She said straight away this doesn’t look like Sinusitis and sent me for a CT scan.

For a sinus headache.

Once the CT scan was done, she looked at the slide and said this is not Sinusitis and referred me to a Neurologist. I complained that I just need a steroid spray but she sent me for a neuro consult anyways.

The neurologist ran a battery of tests on me and told me I have a migraine. I told her I have no prior or family history of migraines but she prescribed me a bunch of medications anyways.

Then I was sent back to the ENT. By this time, the formal CT scan report had arrived and guess what it said – “Severe sinusitis”. The ENT asked me to take the migraine medications and on top of that prescribed me some sinusitis medication too. Including the spray I wanted. They also scheduled 2 follow up appointments, one with the ENT and one with the neurologist.

Eventually, I walked out of the hospital with 9 medications (out of which only 1 that I really needed). I paid THB 8500 for this farce of a treatment. The insurance only covered THB2000, so I ended up paying THB6500 from my own pocket.

Samitivej Loot

Chutiya Banaya

After coming home, I threw away 8 medications, used the spray and experienced relief within an hour. Then I slapped myself 21 times and swore never to go to Samitivej hospital again.

TV Shows I stopped watching

As life goes on & we all move one step closer to death, I realise time is precious. There’s not enough time in this lifetime to watch TV shows which are “just average”. As such, in the last few months, I have cut out many shows from my life. Consider this article an addendum to this one. Below is the list

  1. Derry Girls (Channel 4, Netflix)
  2. Avenue 5 (HBO, Disney+Hotstar)
  3. Ms Marvel (Disney+Hotstar)
  4. Shantaram (Apple TV+)
  5. Upload (Amazon Prime)
  6. Hawkeye (Disney+Hotstar)
  7. The Shrink Next Door (Apple TV+)
  8. Ray (Netflix)
  9. Mythic Quest (Apple TV+)
  10. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Disney+Hotstar)

Going forward, I will be more careful in choosing the TV shows that I start watching.

PS: I use trakt to track my TV show viewings.

Grab sucks balls

Continuing with my series of services sucking balls, the latest entry is about Grab, the South East Asian super-app.

Basically, this app is a notification spam machine. Below is a screenshot of notifications born from 1 ride I took. Let’s analyse them starting from the first one at the bottom.

Grab Notification Spam
Grab Notification Spam
  1. The first notification is about the money being on hold. Really why would I care?
  2. The second notification is about the driver being nearby. Sure, this is useful, but ideally, it should be withdrawn once the trip starts. Apps have the capability to withdraw notifications in iOS.
  3. The third one is undeniably spam.
  4. Oka, the fourth one is about money being charged and useful.
  5. The fifth one is also spam. I don’t want to know with each ride how many points I earned. If I want to know, I can check the app.

Speaking of the app, there’s a notifications section in it, which is 100% spam.

Grab sucks balls
Grab sucks balls

Unfortunately, unlike the other services, there’s no way to stay in Thailand and not use Grab. You need it to order food , order stuff from different stores (Okay, you can use FoodPanda for these 2 things, too) and get around. There’s no ride hailing company in Thailand that even comes close to Grab.

Just debating whether to turn off notifications altogether from the app.

The Thai Cannabis Experience

Thai Cannabis has been legal for many months now. However, I never really tried it all this time because I didn’t have the right company. A few weeks ago I bought a joint and smoked it, but didn’t experience anything except the munchies. So I decided to try edibles.

My last experience with cannabis edibles is well documented. Will this be similar? Let’s find out.

So I walked over to a dispensary near my home. The first one I went to didn’t have edibles. The second one did.

Thai Cannabis Store
Thai Cannabis Store

I bought some and went home. I ate some of it while walking home.

Thai Cannabis
Thai Cannabis

At home I started watching Pink Floyd’s Pulse. I was careful not to destroy any expensive electronic equipment this time. After an hour I didn’t feel anything, so I had some more buds. Still, nothing happened so I forgot about it.

I took the dog to the dog park, went out for dinner with family. It was after coming back from dinner that I noticed that things felt strange.

The main thing I remember feeling was as if I was a young kid living with my parents. I experienced the sense of dread I always felt on Sunday nights because there was school on Monday mornings. I was puzzled but I still didn’t connect it to the Thai Cannabis. The second thing I remember feeling was a strange sense of smell in my sinuses. The familiar feeling of nasal congestion (I used to be frequently sick when I was young).

It was when my vision started moving in slow motion that I realised I was high from the Thai Cannabis. I had a rush of feelings in the next half hour. I felt as if I was a kid and had purchased a new toy from the market on Sunday. Then I felt as if I had just watched a South Indian movie (I think Roja or Bombay). I remember sitting on the sofa for what felt like ages but realised only 5 minutes had passed. Then suddenly the clock skipped forward 20 minutes in an instant.

The high also unlocked a repressed memory from years ago. We had gone to Ayan’s Sushant Estate and consumed Bhang on Holi. Nothing happened immediately afterwards, but we got high in the evening and I remember we went to KFC to buy snacks with my father. Somehow I had forgotten about this incident completely and just remembered it after this high.

Soon, I started noticing the geometry of my living room. The angles, how I was seated in relation to the TV, how the TV was angling away from me. Then it felt that the blood going to my head via the neck was rushing like a river. I could feel the blood. Soon I started losing my balance and couldn’t stand straight. While sitting on the sofa, it felt as if the sofa was floating. I panicked and went to bed.

On the bed, it felt as if the bed was moving like a roller coaster. I remember holding on to the side of the bed with my fingernails afraid I will fall off. Bordering on panic, I somehow closed my eyes and forced myself to go to sleep. At 8.

Epic Sleep!
Epic Sleep!

I don’t remember having any special dreams, but I do remember waking up around 3 to take a huge dump. After that went to sleep again and didn’t wake up till 9 in the morning. I remember waking up not drowsy at all, but fresh and ready to go. It looked like it was all over, till I ate breakfast. Half hour after eating, I am high again and writing this post.

Overall, I wouldn’t call this a pleasant experience. I regret wasting so many hours of what remained of my weekend high and asleep. Or perhaps next time I will eat the buds in the morning, so that I am high by afternoon and normal by sleep time.

Oh! How I regret getting an eSim!

My friends know about my eSim suffering for quite some time, as I have been doing constant RR about it for months now. Still, I thought I should put my ordeal in words to document it for my future self.

Why eSIM?

The story starts some time in 2020. Me and the wife were living in India, happy with Jio SIM cards for our Indian numbers. Both numbers were registered under my name. Then we found out we were moving to Bangkok. I was not sure if I could get eSIMs for our Bangkok numbers and our phones could accept only 1 physical SIM card at a time. So I decided to convert our Jio SIM cards to eSIMs before going to Bangkok.

I regret doing that, to this day.

Turns out, it is ridiculously easy to get eSIMs in Bangkok. Never mind, no harm done. But then, I realised we could not buy new phones because the Indian eSIMs can not be transferred to new phones. Never mind, we don’t need new phones anytime soon. I thought I could convert back our SIMs to physical SIMs the next time I went to India. Then we would be free to buy new phones in Bangkok.

The Second Mistake

Then I went ahead and killed my wife’s phone (And the eSIM inside it) attempting underwater photography.

Not mine, PC: Reader’s Digest

We use our Indian phone numbers to authenticate Indian banking transactions and what not (Indian society is built on OTPs). It was imperative we replaced her SIM as soon as possible. Suddenly, the pressure to go to India and replace our SIMs was real and immediate.

The Process

The process is pretty straight forward. You walk in to a Jio store, the personnel use an app to do biometric verification and click a photo of you. Then the request is sent to a back-end team for verification and once approved, your new SIM is activated.

The (attempted) rectification

I booked the cheapest tickets possible and travelled to Kolkata within weeks. I thought it would be a simple transaction and I would soon return with physical SIMs for both our numbers. My wife would get her number back and I would be free to buy a new phone. How wrong I was.

After a sleepless night travelling, I woke up early morning to find a Jio store and request a SIM replacement. It took them only 20 minutes to issue me new physical SIMs for both our numbers and was told they would be activated within 4 hours. Happily I went on my way. Soon, the 4 hours were up and the physical SIMs were still not activated. So we went to the Jio store to follow up and were told the requests were rejected due to “photo mismatch”.

I was flabbergasted. The only reason I could think of was when I had bought these numbers, I had longer hair and now, I had recently shaved my head. Either ways, I begged the staff to do the process again. We waited half an hour and again – rejected. With time running out for my return flight, I dis-heartedly bought a new number for my wife and left India with my tail between my legs.

The Aftermath

My wife had to travel to India to change her phone number with government agencies and bank accounts. I still have an eSim for my India number. If my phone were to die tomorrow, I would have to go to India again with no guarantee that I would get a replacement SIM.

Also, I cannot buy the iPhone 14 Pro Max 512Gb Deep Purple that I so desperately want.

All because of one mistake. Fuck my Life!

PS: US eSim users don’t face these issues because in the US, eSims can be transferred freely between different phones using bluetooth.

Thais have weird requirements from their Dentists

I have found yet another Thai quirk! Recently, I realised that I needed some Dental work done. I asked a few Thais to recommend some dentists. In parallel, I looked at reviews on Google maps to find one.

While scrolling through Google maps, I noticed a disturbing trend : How many reviews mentioned the cuteness of their dentists. This is one example, but all Dental clinics have such reviews.

This pattern has boggled my mind. I can’t seem to make sense of it. Hundreds upon hundreds of such reviews. Why?

No, Google really isn’t better

As of writing this post, Google has a 91.46% market share in search engines. As such, I understand straight away that this post would be controversial; but hear (read) me out.

For the last 2 decades, I have regularly used bing as the search engine of choice. I don’t remember why I started using it, but it must have had something to do with my Microsoft ecosystem phase. Either ways, I did dabble with a few different search engines (Read: DuckDuckGo, Ecosia) for a while, but used Bing overwhelmingly.

Over these 2 decades, I got used to people ridiculing me for not using Google. Recently, I started to wonder what I was missing out on. So I decided to bite the bullet and see what I was missing out on. I decided to use Google exclusively for a few weeks.

I was overwhelmingly disappointed.

Google doesn’t respect Wikipedia

I am a big fan of Wikipedia and refer to its articles multiple times daily for reference. Google just doesn’t want to show me Wikipedia results, for whatever reason. Here’re the search results of a popular tourist place on Google vs Bing

Where’s Wikipedia?

Google takes up more than half of the page to show me news reports from Chiang Mai. Then it takes up space to show me useless questions about it. Only when I scroll to the second page to I see a Wikipedia article about it.

Bing, on the other hand shows me some ads, but the Wikipedia entry is right on the first page where I can see it. I love how Bing shows Wikipedia results at the top of most search results, exactly how I would want it.

Irrelevant Image Results

Let’s say I want to see photos of the scientist Werner Heisenberg. Here’re the image search results from Google and Bing

Irrelevant Search Results

Its because of irrelevant results like this that people end up embarrassing themselves this way.

Integration with Office Intranet

Bing has this nifty tab called “Work”.

Work Search Results

Clicking on it shows search results from the company’s own Intranet. I find this immensely helpful while using Bing at work.

Porn

I don’t think I need to share screenshots, but Bing is much better for this purpose, trust me.

Beautiful Images

Bing shows beautiful wallpapers on its homepage. Google has its doodles but I prefer Bing’s wallpapers. Although if you search directly from the address bar like me, you would miss it most of the times.

Overall, I don’t think I would be changing my default search engine any time soon.

Earth bound misfit, I