Sunday, 31 August 2008

My Merdeka Wishlist

Malaysia is 51-years-old today. Most people at 51 years of age would have made significant progress in their life - nurtured a family, have a stable job, bought a house and car, matured in thinking and behaviour, etc. However, being imperfect human beings, there will always be areas of improvement no matter how perfect life is.

In the same way, Malaysia has grown from a small agriculture based country to what it is today. Yet, despite all it's success, there'll always be areas for improvement.

As we celebrate Malaysia's 51st Independence Day today, let me share with you some items in my wishlist for a better Malaysia.

1) That all Malaysians will learn the food and culture of other races in Malaysia. Thosai, vadai, ketupat and lemang are common Malaysian food, and not something that can only be found in 5-star hotels. Learn about the food and culture of other races and don't be a katak bawa tempurung.

2) For more courtesy on the road. There's no need to get angry, step on the accelerator or show the finger when someone wants to overtake you. The person could be in an emergency.

3) For more consideration on the trains and buses. There's no harm in moving futher into the train or bus so that your fellow Malaysians can enter too. We all want to reach our destination on time. Oh yeah, pushing and shoving into the train before passengers can get off will only make matters worse.

4) For a more efficient transportation system. Delayed trains and unpunctual buses are something Malaysians have to tolerate everyday and it has gotten on our nerves.

5) That all eligible Malaysians register as voters. No point condemning the Government when you don't even bother to make a difference by exercising your rights as a citizen of the country.

6) That politics in Malaysia will not be based on race or religion, but based on building a nation of justice and peace.

7) That ALL Malaysians will be given equal opportunities.

Happy Independence Day, Malaysia!

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Times Warehouse Books Clearance

I went to the Times Warehouse Books Clearance Sale last Saturday at the Hartamas Shopping Centre. I'm a Times Bookstore member and will make an effort to go for all its warehouse clearance sale because books are cheaper there compared to buying at the outlets.

Times used to have their warehouse clearance sale in Wisma Hamodal in Section 14, Petaling Jaya but I guess they must be relocating due to various reasons.

Like all Times warehouse sale, there was a wide variety of books, including bestsellers that were going at 30% off. I had a field day browsing and choosing the books in my wishlist.

Despite shortlisting my wishlist, I didn't realise I had spent RM330! This is what I got for that kind of money:

  • The Alchemist - By Paulo Coelho
  • Awaken the Giant Within - By Anthony Robbins
  • The Free Mind: A Lateral Thinking Approach - By Edward de Bono
  • French Verbs for Dummies - By Zoe Erotopoulos, PhD
  • Almost French: A New Life in Paris - By Sarah Turnbull
  • Talk to the Snail: Ten Commandments for Understanding the French - By Stephen Clarke
  • The Marine Corps Way: Using Maneuver Warfare to Lead a Winning Organisation - By Jason A. Santamaria, et al
  • Sex Signals - By Judi James
  • Australia - Lonely Planet
  • The Goodbye Summer - By Patricia Gaffney
Shoppers who spend minimum RM300 will receive a free gift of either a RM5 voucher or a Times notebook. I chose the notebook because the voucher only had a life span of 1 week and I didn't want to spend more money on books after blowing RM330.

So, mission accomplished - I've fulfilled my RM1,000 quota of books for income tax purposes. No more spending on books till next year. And I've added some superb books to my collection.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Beijing 2008 Olympics - My Favourite Memories

As the cauldron of the 2008 Beijing Olympics grew dimmer and dimmer yesterday, the sporting world will remember Beijing for not only staging the most expensive Olympics ever, but also for the many athletes that make sports such an interesting event to watch.

For me, I will remember the 2008 Beijing Olympics for these personalities and moments (in no particular order):

A Husband's Undying Love
Matthias Steiner of Germany who won gold in the men's weightlifting +105 kg Group A, dedicated his gold to his late wife Susann who died in a car crash in 2007. Matthias had promised her the gold medal as she lay dying in the hospital.

This is my favourite report of Matthias on the medal podium that appeared in Xinhua: "On the medal podium, Matthias clutched a snapshot of Susann as he choked, "She's always with me, in the hours before the competition. She's there..." On the picture, Susann beamed, while on the audience stands, many wept."

Triumph in the Face of Adversity

These two athletes are my favourites in how they overcame odds to emerge champions in their own right.

Natalie Du Toit of South Africa lost her left leg in a motorcycle accident in 2001. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics she competed with able-bodied athletes in the 10km women's swimming marathon and ranked 16th. Natalie also competed in the Paralympics.

Maarten van der Weljden of the Netherlands was diagnosed with leukemia seven years ago. He overcame the disease and won the men's 10km swimming marathon.

Van der Meijden said that his past disease has taught him well in swimming, "It taught me to think step by step and to be patient. When you are in so much pain and lying in a hospital bed, you aren't thinking about the next month, but the next hour. This is the same strategy I used here -- staying in the pack and waiting for my chance." - Source Xinhua

What an inspiring story of the triumph of the human spirit.

End of the Innocence

Yang Peiyi (left) has the voice of an angel but was deemed not pretty enough to appear in the opening ceremony. Instead she was replaced by the prettier Lin Miaoke (right) who mimed Peiyi's melodious voice.

When Peiyi grows up, she will realise that this is a world where the beautiful are treated like gods while the not so beautiful are forgotten and disregarded. Thank you to those responsible for damaging the self esteem of an innocent child.

Utter Stupidity
Angel Valodia Matos from Cuba kicked referee Chakir Chelbat from Sweden in the head for declaring him a loser in a bronze medal match in the men's taekwondo +80kg class. As a result, Angel and his coach were banned for life by the World Taekwondo Federation.

I remember my taekwondo teacher telling us that we should never use our martial arts skills for bad things, and this joker Angel is showing the world exactly the opposite of how a martial arts exponent should behave. How stupid can one get!

Age is Just a Number
Dara Torres, at the age of 41, kicked arse in the pool, beating swimmers almost half her age. Although she did not win any gold, her silver medal in the women's 50m free style is proof that age is just a number.

Usain Bolt's Winning Antics
Some people might say that Usain Bolt of Jamaica is arrogant for his winning antics and gestures before reaching the finishing line.

IOC President, Jacques Rogge critised Bolt for not showing respect for his fellow contestants, but was critised in return by many for doing so. Who's to tell Bolt, who created history by breaking records in the men's 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay what to do.

By the way, Bolt is also a sprinter with a generous heart - he made a personal donation of US50,000 to the children affected by the Sichuan earthquake.

Most Memorable Picture
This is my favourite picture of Michael Phelps looking up at his mother Debbie after receiving his medal. That is the look of love a mother has for her son, the greatest Olympian ever.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Urinate or Defecate?

I saw this signboard outside a restroom in Tanah Lot, Bali in November last year. For the benefit of those who cannot read Bahasa Indonesia, the translation is:

Urinate: Rp 1,000
Defecate: Rp 1,000
Bathe: Rp2,000

The first question that came to mind was ... why did they bother to segregate the fee for defecating and urinating when it's the same price?

I can imagine the person collecting the money asking: "You mau buang air besar atau mau kencing? Harga tetap sama - Rp1,000."
Translation: "Do you want to defecate or urinate? The fee is the same - Rp 1,000."

So there you go ...

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Something Sounded in the Night

This is the guesthouse I stayed in Chiang Mai when I backpacked there in November last year. I won't reveal it's name because of the story I am about to tell you.

I stumbled upon this guesthouse while looking for a cheaper and more strategically located alternative after putting up my first night in Chiang Mai in another guesthouse.

Anyway, this guesthouse is strategically located within walking distance to many places of interest in Chiang Mai. With rates at only THB200 per night for a queen sized bed with attached bathroom and hot water, what more could I ask for.

After transfering my stuff to this new place, I happily checked-in without a faintest idea what awaited me during the next 3 nights.

I hit the sack early that night after an exhausting day exploring Chiang Mai.

Between 3.00am and 4.00am, what sounded like the tinkering of a bell started to break the silence of the night. The noise grew louder and louder and then it began ... the most bloodcurling, spine chilling dog howl I've ever heard began resonating in the night.

What made the insident scarier was the sounds felt like they were just outside my window. I was petrified out of my wits and was tempted to look out of the window but didn't for fear of what I might see. So I pulled the blanket tighter and closed my ears with pillows to block out the noise.

The sounds would last for about 5 minutes. You might think that 5 minutes is not long. But when it's 5 minutes of sheer horror, it feels like an unending nightmare. Theory of relativity at work here ...

Every night when the bell starts tinkering and the dogs start howling, I reminded myself to ask the owner of the guesthouse the next day. Or to look if there's a temple beside the guesthouse. But somehow I always forget because of the various activities that kept me occupied.

The next time I visit Chiang Mai, I'll return to the guesthouse and ask the owner. Till then, the sounds of the tinkering bell and bloodcurling howl will remain a mystery amongst my travel adventures.

"It came with the wind through the silence of the night, a long, deep mutter, then a rising howl, and then the sad moan in which it died away. Again and again it sounded, the whole air throbbing with it, strident, wild, menacing." - The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Canon Doyle

Monday, 18 August 2008

'Colours of Sweat'

Last Saturday, Fadzilah and I went to see a solo exhibition by Hasnee A. Rahman titled, Colours of Sweat. The exhibition is a collection of acrylic paintings on canvas of various sports like cycling, swimming, tennis, squash and athletics.

No one was around when we arrived. So we admired the paintings, snapped a few photographs and left comments in the guest book. I could have guessed that the exhibition is held in conjunction with the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
In my opinion, Hasnee uses lots of vibrant colours in his work to bring out the dynamic energy and power of sports. Nicol David, Tiger Woods and Rafael Nadal are some of the sports personality drawn by him.
This is the most expensive painting in the exhibition:
It costs:

After viewing all the paintings, I decided that this is my favourite:
But I can't afford it because it costs:
That's equivalent to a downpayment for a condo unit or even a car! So I guess I've got to put aside collecting paintings till much later.
All paintings in the Colours of Sweat collection can be viewed here: Sporting Artist

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Visual Sodomy

Since Malaysians have gotten pretty acquainted with the word 'sodomy' lately, let me relate to you a non-physical sodomy incident that took place at the gym yesterday evening.

A sweet young thing was working on her hamstring using a machine that looked like this:
Obviously that is not the sweet young thing I saw because you see ... cameras are not allowed in the gym ... so I had to glean a pic off the internet. You know la ... people can misuse a camera whenever there're hot, sweaty people with equally hot looking bodies ...

Anyway, behind the girl was a male pervert who was checking out the girls rear end as he exercised on another machine. In other words, he was visually sodomising her.

Well, when you're in that position, buttocks raised and all, there's nothing to hide - even the size of your arsehole can be known. So I guess the pervert must be having a jolly good time feasting his eyes upon the girl's butt and all, because there was a horny smug on his pervertic face.
The moral of the story is: If you're at the gym and you absolutely must use the hamstring machine, make sure there're no visual sodomisers behind you.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Educare Night

Last Saturday I attended Educare Night, a charity dinner to raise funds for Educare. Educare is a charity project initiated by the FMDM Sisters and affiliated to the Catholic Welfare Services of the Kuala Lumpur Archdiocese.

The Mission of Educare is to reach out to those in want - particularly the poor and the vunerable and to enable effective empowerment through Education and Care. This project is based in Port Klang.

The dinner was held at V Garden Restaurant in Histana Hotel, Klang.

YB Teresa Kok from the Democratic Action Party was the VIP in attendance. She is the Selangor State Executive Councillor, Member of Parliament & Assemblyman.

I wanted to snap a photo with her but she was too busy talking to so many people before hurrying off after the dinner. What to do ... politician mah ...

If you don't know how YB Teresa Kok looks like, here she is:

In her speech, YB Teresa Kok announced that the Selangor Government will be donating RM5,000 to Educare. She will also be making a personal donation of RM2,000; the magnanimous lady ...

The emcees for the night were Phat Fabes and Prem from Fly FM 95.8 in the Klang Valley. Here I am with these funny fellows:

Phat Fabes & I
Prem & I

For a RM50 ticket, I pigged out on a 9-course Chinese dinner:
V Garden Five Combination Special
Double Chicken Soup with Dried Scallop & Chinese Herbs
Steamed Silver Pomfret Fish Cantonese Style
Baked Prawns Marmite Style
Thai Style Chicken & Sesame Chicken
Mushroom, Bean-Curd Skin & Broccoli
Glutinous Rice Hong Kong Style
Ice Longan with Sea Coconut, Ginseng & Pearl
Two varieties of pastry

I didn't take any food pics because the people at my table 'attacked' the food before I could switch on my camera. Overall the food was good although I felt the pomfret was not too fresh. My favourite was the V Garden Five Combination Special.

Entertainment for the evening comprised a variety of performances by young people. Magician David Lai also amazed the crowd with his mind reading capabilities. A hilarious bunch of five blokes called The ComeBackKings (yup, there're no spacing in the name) ended the night with a hilarious skit that got everyone in stitches.

Apart from the entertainment there was a lucky draw and sale of wine, soft drinks, pyrex containers, sculptured balloons and handicraft to raise funds for Educare. The organisers announced that the dinner raised approximately RM65,000 for Educare, thanks to supporters and well-wishers.

I would like to end this entry with a message from Sister Marie Therese, FMDM, (Co-ordinator of Educare Centre) that appeared in the souvenir booklet. She wrote about the response of one of Educare's children during an interview:
"If you were asked to give one word to describe your experience of five years in Educare, what would that be?" Spontaneously, the young person replied "Love!"
Cheers to Educare ... Here's to many more years to come ...

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Chinese Mummy

I watched The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor yesterday at KLCC. Wanted to utilise the promotion at TGV where all tickets are RM7 on Wednesdays, hehehe.

Here are my observations and thoughts on the movie - from a layperson's perspective:

1) Michelle Yeoh, sorry Datuk Michelle Yeoh's acting was like kayu.

2) Brendan Fraser has a body to die for.

3) They should not have cast the following:
  • Jet Li as Emperor Han. I think they should have got a more vicious looking evil emperor. I'm sure the casting fellas could have found another more vicious looking Chinaman. Maybe they didn't look in Pandamaran and Jinjang. Imagine if they had cast Jackie Chan as Emperor Han ...

  • Maria Bello as Evelyn O'Connell. Somehow I still prefer Rachel Weitz. It's a pity she was pregnant when they filmed this movie. Otherwise her spunk and kick-ass attitude would have made the movie so much better.
4) Why did Lin summon the Yeti snowmen after all the carnage and gunfire? She could have done it at the beginning to save all the trouble. But then again it's a Hollywood production where gunfire and carnage are key selling points for a blockbuster.

5) Brendan Fraser has a body to die for. Did I write that already?

6) When Zi Juan died, I definitely knew they will show her reunited with General Ming in the afterlife. It's an unspoken 'rule' in movies that lovers must always, always end up together; unless they are Romeo & Juliet.

7) Emperor Han's ability to change into a three-headed dragon and a creature that looks like that creature from Lord of the Rings is totally, utterly, stupid and should not have been written into the script at all. I think the producers just wanted to show off their CGI skills.

8) Luke Ford who played Alex O'Connell looks a bit like Chris O' Donnell, remember him? Name also sounds the same.

9) Brendan Fraser has a body to die for ... Again ?!

10) Why did Zi Juan read the curse on Emperor Han in sanskrit but brought the army of dead Chinamen back to life in English? In fact, why did she speak Mandarin when Emperor Han was ruler circa 53 A.D. and then speak English in 1947? Living in Shangri-La for 2,000 years must have given her ample time to pick-up the language.

11) I think there will be another sequel to this Mummy franchise, because the movie ended with Jonathan Carnahan leaving the Imhotep nightclub for Peru. Will we see the O'Connell's battle Inca mummies next? I'd rather watch my mummy prepare dinner at home.

From a scale of 0 to 10 with 10 being the best, I would rate this movie a 6. The previous two Mummy movies were much better.

My last thoughts - Let mummies remain where they are supposed to be - in Egypt, motherland of mummies. Don't make a movie on Chinese mummies, or Inca mummies or whatever mummy cause it's not authentic and might not able to engage viewers.

Luckily it was only RM7.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Greenhorn Commander

Yesterday a new subordinate joined my team. Both of us will work on Corporate Social Responsibility projects and activities for the company.

Gone were the days where I was a one-woman show, enjoying the freedom of doing whatever I want, as long as the work gets done with quality. Now I have become a 'commander' with someone to supervise and to take responsibility for.

I'm gonna take this opportunity to polish my soft skills – management, communication, supervisory, delegation, etc. apart from being a good role model to my new subordinate who is a fresh grad :-) Carpe Diem!

I still remember when I was a greenhorn executive just stepping into the corporate world. I had many superiors and colleagues who taught me a lot about the corporate world and how to survive in it. I am eternally grateful to them for the knowledge they shared with me.

Now that I’ve reached middle management level in my career, I have to take on more responsibilities including having to supervise my subordinate. And I hope I'll make a good leader like what my former colleagues did for me. I bet it’s gonna be a fun-ride all the way!

Monday, 4 August 2008

Robbing the Underprivileged

The Happiness Centre for the Mentally Disabled Children in Klebang, Malacca was robbed last week. Thieves stole their cooking utensils, making it difficult for caretakers to prepare meals for the special children who are on a special diet.

To read the complete report that appeared in The Star (3 August 2008 issue), click here: Thieves steal cooking utensils from disabled kids' home.

How can these thieves have the heart to do such a thing, robbing the destitude of society? The thieves either do not have a conscience, or they must have been pretty desperate.

This report reminded me of a similar incident of robbing the underprivileged, but in a corporate scenario.

My colleagues and I were working on a charity event for an orphanage and ordered t-shirts for the volunteers and orphans. Money for the t-shirts came from a special fund set-up by my department for that particular orphanage. We had to raise funds to ensure money doesn't run out.
In the process of getting quotes and viewing samples, we discovered that the supplier was not only overcharging us, but also supplying us with low quality products.
I think the dishonest supplier thought that us being a multinational corporation, price wouldn't matter because we would be able to pay without considering the price. But he didn't know that the money comes from a fund that relied solely on funding from volunteers.
In the end we changed supplier after giving the supplier a piece of our minds.
My boss had the last say in that incident - "Those who cheat orphans will burn in hell!"

Friday, 1 August 2008

R.I.P. - Tim McLean

Tim McLean died a horrible death, a death of despicable horror while travelling on a bus. To read what happened to him, click here: What Happened to Tim McLean

I normally don't write obituaries about people I don't know, but this time I'm compelled to dedicate this entry to Tim because of the way he died. Although I don't know him personally, I know that no one deserves to die in such a manner. An innocent young man has lost his life unnecessarily. What happened to Tim could have happened to anyone.

If you would like to leave a message of condolence, go to Facebook and search for the R.I.P. Tim McLean Group. The group was set up by one of Tim's friend in loving memory of her dear friend who went away too soon. Rest in peace, Tim.

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