Words of Wisdom

In life, we have to choose between the jeans and the cookie jar. Liz Hurley chose the jeans and I chose the cookie jar

~ Nigella Lawson....(on women's body image and her own voluptuous body)

Friday, December 26, 2008

It's Boxing Day.......26th December!

It's Boxing Day today!

In the UK that is. I can never let go of my attachment to my 'adopted' country.

My friends are puzzled when I talk of Boxing Day here as it sounds too bizarre for them. Sure, the only 'boxing' they know is the 'punching' kind. I told them that traditionally, after Christmas, people would pack up things they want to give away to charities in boxes. That's why it's called Boxing Day. You 'box' things up.

However, in these days and age, Boxing Day is the time when huge Stores hold big sales to clear up their Christmas stock. That's why we, the students, loved the day over there. The only problem we had was there usually was no public transport on that day since it was still holiday time. So, we'd go around on foot.

Oh, I came in late today. It was raining and my bed felt like a magnet pulling me towards it like a sucking motion. It was THAT hard to get up.

Therefore, I missed the morning meeting and I didn't know whether Mr. B joined the meeting or not that I wasn't there. I still don't know whether he did by the time I'm typing this. I'm not too bothered to find out.

Why bother? I have a deadline tomorrow and my nephew's birthday is coming on 31st.

I want to enjoy things with my family.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

It's 25th December today!

I'm grateful that it's 25th December today's's a Public Holiday.

After all the fiasco about bonus on Monday, a break is so much welcomed.

Spent the later part of the morning looking for things to buy in a cake supplies shop in the centre of the old Melaka town (now a city).

Got myself the cake tins I'd been looking for. The handmade 9"x9" aluminium square tin instead of the usual machine-extruded ones in big supermarkets. What I love about this baking tin is its sides are vertically straighter than the tapering-out-at-the-top-machine-made one, making it more suitable for layer cakes. I'm still dreaming of making a layer cake someday.

Overall, what I bought today are:

1. 9"x9" square handmade aluminum cake tin with a hood for steam cake recipes
2. 7.5"x7.5" square handmade aluminium cake tin
3. 9" round handmade aluminium cake tin
4. 7.5" round handmade aluminium cake tin
5. Glucose syrup
6. Heavy duty hand glove
7. Reusable baking parchment
8. Watermelon scoop
9. A round 2.5" cookie cutter
10. 1kg high protein flour
11. Mini curry puffs mould to replace the ones I bought but only God knows where they are now

Next time, I'm gonna get myself the following:

1. Rotating cake stand
2. Muffin baking trays.....they are readily shaped for muffins meaning it's okay now to bake muffins without the paper cups.

Left my name for a bargain-price 'buttercream decorating' class next year. I can't believe I just did that.

Oh, I even commit myself for a fondant decorating class somewhere in KL February next year. Expensive this one! I can't believe I agreed to it but hey, I need to get that experience of seeing an expert doing the job.

Besides, paying for a cake-deco class is so much better than paying for a health club membership (come know you won't end up with a body like Jennifer Aniston anyway).

Farewell that jerk boycotting me?

Mr.B refused to attend our daily Section morning meeting since Tuesday. Each time hiding away in probably the guys' restroom, I'm not sure. He's still protesting over his paltry bonus. It sickens me just to think about tomorrow at work.

My Manager returned from the sister branch in the South yesterday. Still steaming over the Mr.B incident. However, he told me a valuable definition of what a bonus is. It is principally "an incentive awarded to an employee for good performance and commitment". Therefore, it is an employer's right whether to grant you one or not. Mr.B is so freaking clueless about what being a good employee is.

Let's leave that jerk aside for awhile.

It's Mickey time......!

One of the Section members is leaving and she has been with us for just a couple of months. Only 19yrs of age, the girl is furthering her studies to be a trained Nurse. Hmmm.....noble profession. Besides, she's pretty and very soft-spoken too. Two qualities that people always like in a Nurse.

Just a few weeks ago, another girl, also an Operator, left from the pressure of the economy. As an Operator, her salary was calculated on a daily basis and believe me, it's not much at all and impossible to live on by today's living standards. It's sad how I keep on losing members for financial reasons.

I remember that I brought a chocolate cake for when the last Operator bid farewell on her last day with us the rest of Section members. For me it's important to show your subordinates your appreciation. Maybe this time, this girl was inspired by my gesture as she brought us a cake with a picture of Mickey Mouse on it. Wow, it's nice to be surprised like this.

*Note: Picture is a plate from Complete Party Packs (click here to buy)

Thank you girl. It's great that in times like these, there are still people who understand the importance of good will.

Oh....just to let you know, it so happened that Mr.B was not around at that time and nobody bothered to invite him for our little Mickey Mouse cake party....ha....ha....

Monday, December 22, 2008

I think I'm a victim to someone's lies at work today......

It's Bonus Day today.

After many speculations, the management made the surprising move of giving out 1.5 worth of basic salary for employees evaluated at Rank C. It's a move welcomed by many as our management are notorious for being stingy with our welfare and benefits.

Today was supposed to be a very happy day for me as I opened my slip to see I wasn't ranked as a C-grade employee. My colleagues even noticed my smiley face after our Division Head handed out the bonus slips. I even texted my Manager who just started his "unofficial" stint at our sister branch, thanking him for the good grade. I was happy. I really was.

That was when Mr. B ruined it for me.

Mr. B apparently claimed that his was way below the average C. Below 1.0. He didn't came up to me of course. What a coward ( he told people I was difficult to talk to simply because I'm female).

He first went to the Asst. Manager expressing his dissatisfaction. The Asst. Manager told him that the higher management had the final say. Not individual division. Mr. B wasn't content with that answer and went to my colleague afterwards, still blaming our division's management for his low grade. My colleagues told him that in the course of our division's history, there had never been anyone given below C ranking.

My colleague even wisely told Mr. B that Section Heads (like myself) were only able to make evaluation once before handing it over to the division's local Managers. Then the division's Japanese Head. Then the HR and finally if the Managing Director decided something else, then everything will be reviewed back. In the end, the final say would come from the Top Management after meetings and reviews and re-reviews(MD, all GMs, Managers, HR Head).

Mr. B then went straight to HR office and the rest of us just couldn't care less and went on doing our work as usual. I was still ecstatic over my grade by the way at that point.

The bomb got dropped on my head as I drove home on the new highway. My Manager called from the South branch to tell me that Mr.B just called him saying that the Manager and I "should watch our steps". I was shocked. From what I could deduce from my Manager's info, the HR Manager apparently told him that the low grade came from us both. Somehow I kind of expected this to happen as we'd known the HR Manager's conniving character very well. It angered me that some people would do anything for their own benefits by stomping on honest individuals like me.

It sickens me that Mr. B actually prefers to trust the HR Manager's words rather than his own Section Head. After all that I had compromised and tolerated for him. It's weird how some people use their brains. Mr. B principally declared a war against the HR Manager when he filed that lawsuit yet I'm the one he would turn his back on first at every chance.

You know what?

I believe in God.

I believe in the afterlife.

I believe in Heaven and Hell.

May those who spread lies about me burn in flames.

Don't tell me that it's un-Heavenly to make such wish but I have never hidden the fact that I have incredibly high tolerance for people until they snap my "pillar of patience" in two.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Helloween Picture Book arrived!

Back:Weiki, Roland, Markus.
Front: Michi, Ingo

Nothing excited me more on Saturday when the package I'd been waiting for the whole week arrived. It was huge and flat. All the way from the US of A. Had to sign it for the mailman.

On Friday the week before, I purchased a collector's item Helloween Picture Book from the 1989 Japanese Tour on eBay. Got to admit that the main reason I wanted it was to get pictures of drummer Ingo Schwichtenberg in his happier days.

Imagine my excitement when I opened up the carefully taped together corrugated paper boards the seller used as shipment packing. Carefully protected in a plastic wrap inside was the A3-size picture book in MINT condition! For a moment, I thought I was back in 1989.

ALL the guys were in their 20s. Thicker big hair, leaner bodies, tight clothing. Pictures of them sight-seeing, fooling around with a circus troop, rehearsing before the concert, sunbathing........without a lot of clothes on........ahem.....ha....ha.

Now I don't feel that much regret spending a large sum on this. I wouldn't say how much it cost me. A LOT!

Nice to say that there was a section in the book where the guys in the band were asked to fill in a questionnaire. I think I have a great instinct when it comes to choosing the rock stars to have a crush on or to fall in love with. Somehow, they always are the ones who coincidentally have the qualities of my ideal man. Let's just say I discovered more things about Ingo that confirms why I was drawn to him back then even when I didn't know much about him at all. I never would have thought that he liked the movie Casablanca.

My ideal man isn't perfect. He has flaws and is vulnerable but he's sensitive when he needs to be and can still be manly when he wants to be. He has the smile that shines and the longing-for-love look in his eyes like a baby. People say I seek perfection. Not true.

All I want is someone who deserves to be loved by me.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

They're cutting off my Manager!

The economic downturn made a shocking turn on the factory I'm working for.

In a move that seems like a conspiracy to us, the management forced my Manager to be transferred to the sister branch down south last week. They gave him the ultimatum, it was either the transfer or 3-months notice before being let off the company totally. That's being asked to resign in other words.

It was shocking to us because "the old man" as we affectionately refer to him has been at the helm of Quality Control (QC) from the roots.

It angered me that they're doing this to someone like him meaning the management really don't even look at the rest of us with one eye. Let alone two eyes. In a split second, someone like me can easily be forced to be transferred to a remote branch or being asked to leave.

It's hard to let it sink in that "the old man" really is leaving us and will be the one answering the phone when we contact the QC Department of the sister company in the remote South.

After working here for 8 years, I have many memories of "the old man" I've grown to see as the father figure in the office. Also to say that sometimes I've been an absolute a**hole towards him especially when I'm not happy about things at work.

I have to say that over the years, I've grown fond of "the old man" as he has always been someone we can all talk to and joke with and rely on to protect us when we engage in silly things such as calling in late to the office for the stupidest reason i.e " alarm clock didn't work".

I've been wondering since last week what it would be like for us without him and what it would like for him without us. He surely would find it hard to live with his old-fashioned way at the sister branch where you have to be independent to survive. By old-fashioned, I mean he's not very well-versed in the IT department and constantly needs our guidance when he thinks his PC doesn't work.

Now I heard they're sending another surplus manager from another Division to replace him. That angers me. This is clearly a conspiracy to bring our "old man" down. Almost every Division in this factory have a surplus of Managers and Assistant Managers and yet the management has chosen to kick out OUR manager from a tiny Division.

As his days here are approaching the end, I have chosen to console myself by thinking that "the old man" hasn't really gone but merely going on a very long business trip to the South.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Check you motherboard capacity before upgrading your RAM!

If I had been a carton character, I would've been tearing my hair out right now.....literally.

It's December and the PC Fair has come to my hometown state of Melaka again.

It's bigger this time most notably the speaker booths were all lined up facing a gaming centre on the top floor of Mahkota Parade. It's practical because the speaker vendors need to blast out their products and the noise would "complement" the noise from the gaming centre.

I have TWO purposes of going this time.

One is to replace my 'dead' FM Modulator and another is to buy a 1Gb RAM stick to upgrade my 667mHZ 512RAM which has proven to be very slow now with the many applications I've installed over the whole year.

Checking my Kingston RAM stick, I entered the code KVR667D2N5/512 into my cellphone as a reminder. I also entered my motherboard model code VIA P4M800PRO-DDR2 just to make sure I wouldn't mistake a DDR2 RAM with a DDR1.

Seems mistake-proof, huh?


Getting greedy with the vast array of choices available, I went on asking for a 2Gb RAM stick with confidence instead of the 1 Gb I intended to get originally yesterday.

Came home just to find that with my existing 512Mb RAM, the total RAM only added up to 1.4Gb. I was disappointed. I thought there was some kind of mistake with the RAM stick. Working in an electronic factory, I couldn't help thinking that the manufacturer had made a mistake at their assembly line.

I went back to the booth today telling the salesguy that the product was wrongly labelled. He said to me to take the RAM stick to their shop on Tuesday withmy PC to check whether my PC was not able to take more than 2Gb of RAM.

His words struck me. Hmmm........why didn't I check my motherboard capacity?

Went back home again and Googled the following :

"What is the maximum RAM for VIA P4M800PRO-DDR2 motherboard?"

Within seconds, the answer were listed. The motherboard was only able to take "up to 2Gb" only. The term "up to" does not mean you will get 2Gb. You can't. Also, with my two RAM slots, it can only take 1Gb stick max for each slot. So, my 2Gb will still register as 1Gb only. Oh, I feel so ancient.....ha...ha....and what a waste of my money!

Oh....foolish me.

Next time, before upgrading anything, please Google your motherboard first for what it can and cannot take.

I've learned my lessons.....thank you.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Blackout again........wish I watched Twilight that night

Went to watch the new teen vampire romance movie 'Twilight' on Saturday morning with my sister.

Oh.....I wish we had gone to the night showing because our village went into another blackout that night.

The only thing I could do to amuse me was taking pictures as my camera was the only modern creation that functioned that night in my room.

As I took a couple of shaky pictures of the items on the little dresser by my bed, I was transported back to my yesteryears as I laid my eyes on each and every one of them.

The candle and momentos 1
The candle and the momentos

From r. to l. :

1. The candle I have as standby all the time in case of blackouts, the water container for the first sip when I wake up from sleep,

2. The 'plate' I got for entering a spelling bee contest when I was 16 (which I lost BTW),

3. The little alarm clock I hardly use nowadays as I use my cellphone to wake me up,

4. The Eiffel Tower mini replica my dear buddy got me on her class trip to Paris,

5. The globe pencil sharpener I bought at Williams Castle (wait.....was it another castle in Notts instead?) because I wanted a globe so much but couldn't afford a real one,

6. A mini torchlight I bought at a night market as the 'twin' to the one I bought for my ex-bf,

7. The photo frame my dear buddy gave me when we were 18 which she specifically asked to use to put the picture of my love object (thye never stayed long enough to qualify for that frame my friend........haha),

8. My glasses for the occasional days I can't wear contacts,

9. Lastly, the little alarm clock that my father gave me when I started A Level and kept my time throughout my days in the UK.

Wow.......I can't imagine losing any of them. That would be like erasing important defining moments in the history of my life.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Olay Regenerist....changed the packaging.....changed the prices

Spent much of my 'forced annual leave' Saturday on window shopping.....something I hadn't done in what seemed like ages.

Just a few weeks ago, I was ecstatic when I saw arrays of Olay Regenerist products at a long-standing small-sized shopping mall Madam King's at nearly half of their usual prices. I mean, the usually MYR45+ priced Regenerist Eye-Lifting serum was there at MYR26 only.

The salesgirl said they were getting rid of 'old stocks' as Regenerist was changing to new packaging. My heart dropped to the floor when I heard this as packaging change simply is a dirty trick used by manufacturers to increase prices. Sure they will advertise it as 'new and improved' version but really it's nothing more than 'new packaging'.

Increasing the prices they really did. As I wandered into a tiny branch of Guardian drugstore at a nearby Melaka Mall, I saw a large poster by the Olay range.

I was flabbergasted when I saw the price list!

The Regenerist range which used to cost around MYR42+ now stand at an average MYR60 which is the prices of the L'Oreal Revitalift product range.

Greedy corporation. They're doing this smack in the midst of the economic downturn.

All because they change the packaging from this.........

to something like this.........

Oh great!

For me, good skincare is more a necessity than vanity. Sure, vanity plays an important part but I'm one of those people who have to be very careful about what I choose to put on my skin. It's sensitive. I sunburn easily and if a moisturiser isn't moist enough, I'd end up with dry reddish patches on my cheeks after 2 days of using. My skin can be very sensitive if certain ingredients in a product cause strange reactions. My female colleagues know me as someone who wouldn't hesitate throwing away a newly-bought face cream when it gave me breakouts.

The current range of Olay products namely Total Effects and Regenerist happen to work wonders on me. I once avoided Olay when a foaming cleanser gave me breakouts when I was 18. It was enough to make me avoid Olay till I hit 31. It was that bad. I tried Total Effects and Regenerist with hesitance at first and that was because the Nivea Whitening creme (which my last boyfriend just loved on me) has stopped to work that well on me as I got older.

What can I say? Beauty comes with a price and unfortunately, there are always these big corporations who see consumers as nothing more than cows to milk on.

Friday, November 28, 2008

I'm "forced" to take leave due to cost cutting......

The economic downturn is hitting us hard. Really hard.

Personally, I think that nothing can be felt harder than the way it's hitting the manufacturing industries.

For the past two weeks, we the factory workers, have been exchanging news with each other about which factory is closing down or which factory is doing retrenchment and which factory is moving is operation to other lower overhead countries such as Vietnam and China.

Among the measures taken by some companies are "forcing" employees to work 3 or 4-day week with unpaid leaves, shutting down for 2 straight weeks and one major big player even closed down for the whole December.

The factory I'm working for is notorious for its tighten-your-belt stinginess. We don't get various types of allowances like workers in other factories. All we have is our below standard basic salaries and many heavily depend on Overtime claims and 7-7 shifts for extra money. The management has managed to keep the overhead cost in control that way so that in bad times, workers are not retrenched and we have never missed our annual bonus even though they once cut it to only 1/2month. Well, some companies don't pay bonuses at all. So, we are still OK.

However, the current global financial crisis is sweeping the market like a giant tidal wave, my colleagues are now forced to return to normal working hours in addition to OT cut starting on 1st December. It wasn't easy for me to announce this to my subordinates in our morning meeting yesterday as some of them have families and loans to take care of. The operator level are worst-hit as their salary is on daily basis and would total up to around merely USD100 per month on normal working hours. Paltry....paltry.....paltry pay.

This Saturday 29th November has been scheduled as a normal working day in the factory calendar and today, after much debating, the management has decided to "force" us all to take leave as nearly 80% of our Production lines won't be operating. Only those who are directly involved with the Aircond products are allowed to work as normal.

Needless to say, after much holding back, I was finally forced to take leave along with all my subordinates.

Well, at these times, knowing many are in danger of losing their employment, we are grateful just to have a job. At least, we still have a job.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Madonna and Guy divorced......and the story of the Croquembouche

So, the latest high profile divorce has been granted to Madonna and Guy Ritchie.

The press is having a field day on this one especially when one looks at a sentence like this :
Madonna's 12 simple rules to Guy for seeing her pre-teen sons

It's a bit sad for me as I had high hopes for these two when they got together years ago. I was happy that finally after all the bizarre things she did throughout her career, she chose to settle with a guy who seemed humble and normal and certainly unfazed by her glamorous life.

I even saw a video of them interviewing each other on Oprah years ago and the chemistry between them was unbelievable. I envy the way they were able to finish each other's sentences and how they flirted with each other on what was supposed to be a serious interview. I thought, "that's the kind of chemistry I want with my dream man someday". Believe me, that image still stays with me even after their divorce. I still want that beautiful chemistry.

I'm not in her shoes so maybe I'm of no authority to judge. However, as a human being, I feel that inflated ego and the way of life she has been living have taken her to the point where she would go to get what she wants her way. When she met Ritchie, I thought she already let that part of her loosen up. Maybe she did for awhile.

She had a hard life. Losing her mother when she was a toddler. Growing up in a family of 8 siblings. She went on her own to New York to make it big. I was just a kid when I first saw her performing 'Holiday' on Solid Gold back in the 80s. I was taken by her looks, her clothes, the way she moves and the song itself. Her only rival was Cindy Lauper.

If only they would just let things go and loosen up for just a little bit more.

Picture from BBC Good Food.

Ok. So, how is all this related to the Croquembouche? That French wedding cake?

There is this charming story from a wedding magazine where the cakemaker for their wedding talked about how the Croquembouche that Madonna and Guy had ordered for their wedding had caused the British Airways to delay the flight for half an hour. Yes, the cake had to be flown because they made it on the same day to ensure freshness.

The BA flight staff couldn't find the space to accommodate the Croquembouche on the cabin. Knowing this to be a celebrity wedding, I imagined the one they ordered must be about 5-ft tall. Like a mini Eiffel Tower. It's a French wedding cake after all.

So, after all the hassle, they staff settled on keeping the cake in the refreshment trolley compartment meaning on that particular flight, there would be no coffee.

Ok. If I were Madonna and Guy, I would sit down and say "Remember that time when the BA staff had to go the extra mile so we could have the Croquembouche for our wedding? If people can go to great length so we could be married, let's appreciate it by going that extra mile a bit more".

Wishful thinking, huh?

Like these people would think that way. For them, it's your job to to deliver that to us. We paid you.

So, in the end I'd say this : the inflated ego.

Deep inside me, I'd still yearn for that chemistry between the two and the Croquembouche is a symbol of going the extra mile to make the special thing happen.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Is this bird getting too comfortable in the nest?

A former colleague of mine came to visit us and treated us to dinner to catch up on old friends tonight.

He's doing pretty well in less than a year of leaving the factory. He's driving a brand new car. He thinks nothing of shelling out MYR145 for a one-way plane ticket. He certainly didn't think much about taking the tab for his former colleagues here which I'm sure totaled to a few hundreds of our currency. He's dressed more elegantly and he looks more matured now.

Thinking what has happened to me?

Meeting him again makes me look again at myself. I wonder what has happened to me for the last several years. When I was a student, the world was one big adventure to me. I wasn't afraid of taking a new foray into another journey after another.

Where is that girl who once told her friends that she'd changed her life every two years? Such as moving to a new place? Starting out something new? Where is she now? Why has she ended up being stuck to the same routine day after day which has long transgressed to year after year?

egret standing
Stuck to the same routine?

Looking back at my friend however also makes me think that, knowing his personality all these years, he's in his best elements now. He's a highly sociable person who's pretty cunning and full of tricks about running his chores and responsibility whereas I'm the kind who somehow abide by the textbook despite the rebellious inner me. Like I said in one of my previous posts, I'm just not heartless enough to take drastic steps about certain things. Always trying my best not to hurt people's feelings which I fail here and there occasionally. Not to mention my inability to tell lies and manipulate others which renders me character-unqualified to enter professions in areas such as construction and hotel industry.

happily paddling away
Has this bird turned into a duck? Only using the wings to a familiar distance?

Am I giving myself a sorry excuse again?

egret tree top
Is this nest getting too comfy?

OK. Could this bird be getting too comfortable in her nest?

flying swiftly

Fly again......will you fly again?

Friday, November 7, 2008

The blackout and when the darkness gives you light

I came home to a pitch dark village last night.

There was a massive blackout that even the road lights were not working. The only visibility you got was from the headlights of a few cars using the new highway crossing our village.

No electricity meant no TV, shower in the dark, natural ventilation alert (the electric fans dead) and candlelight frenzy. computer and no Internet.... :-(

Isn't it amazing how my world has changed so much? How I now find the highly seldom blackouts as a stumbling block in my daily routine?

Back when I was a kid, blackouts were more frequent but we didn't really see them as obtrusive. My brother and I used to make flat paper puppets specially to be played as shadow shows during blackouts. I even made a whole set of paper puppets for Cinderella complete with the pumpkin horse carriage. We'd create impromptu dialogues and add crazy characters as we felt fit. We didn't mind the darkness as we were just as excited because that was the only time we were allowed to literally play with fire (candle fire...ha..ha).

Just a few days ago, I found this amazing short film clip on You Tube in celebration of Halloween titled Night Light. About a boy who was afraid of the dark and overcame his fear on a night he would never forget.

Among the lines that touched me were when he said "darkness saved me that night" and "shadows of the night are comfort, protection, my home"

On the blackout night, I found myself on the couch facing my mother who was also lying on the opposite couch with one of my younger brothers by the window. We started chatting, talking about our relatives, our lives, the old days when my father started to join in. About how in the days before multiple TV channels, my father would have his friends coming over to play live of a type of Malay music called the Ghazal which normally consisted of an accordion player, a gambus player (like a middle eastern version lute), a tambourine and a kompang (for the percussion and tempo) and a singer (usually my father because his voice is so loud, he never needed a mic). Yes, life was lively in those days.

So, last night, we actually caught up on each other as opposed to doing our own thing when the electricity is there. Normally, my brother would watch a Sports channel or another brother would watch the news and one would play videogames. My mother would be in the bedroom relaxing watching her mom TV. My father would be off to see his friends at the coffee shops. I would be taking my shower and then spend the rest of the night in front of my PC till my bedtime. My sis-in-law would face a hard time getting my nephews to sleep early.

The darkness that the Night Light main character found comfort in stemmed from an event we all would never wish upon ourselves but what I want to share with everyone is how the absence of the light can bring your heart closer to where you feel safest at which is your home.

I guess, in some ways, the occasional blackouts in my village bless my family with comfort, closeness, warmth and revisits to the happy memories we have had together. Like taking our guitars to the verandah and playing old songs from Malaysian super talented the late P.Ramlee.

.........when the darkness gives you light.............don't you think?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The sad demise of BlogRush

As evident from my lack of posting in October, it's obvious that I hadn't been very active online in recent weeks. With my current workload taking up much of my time, all I want to do after reaching home is to clean up and get some sleep.

Therefore, I was shocked when I opened my Gmail account and saw an email titled "BlogRush Is Shutting Down" with an explanation from founder John Reese saying how the service failed to be what the team had hoped it to be.

I do not know about other people but I have always LOVED BlogRush. Sure, it never really brought traffic to my blog but I myself had found some great blogs from BlogRush. Yes, I learned a lot too from other people's creativity and wittiness in writing eye-catching blog post Titles which is something I'm quite weak at, I must admit.

After some months on Blogosphere, I have noticed that a lot of people out there are only interested in monetization only as opposed to people like me who blog and visit blogs simply because we love to read. I'm sure I'm in the silent minority. Users of the service were more interested in getting traffic to their sites/blogs in the hope of making more money. If that's what you're looking for, then I think BlogRush was rather useless.

Also, I remember how users were asked to label their blogs into a category and I think that's one of the roots of the problems. For example, I categorized mine under Personal Diary. Therefore, the Blogs appearing on my widget were all Personal Diaries. It meant I couldn't get posts by Blogs categorized under Entertainment, Food, IT-related, Politics, Crafts etc displayed on my widget.

Displaying posts only from Blogs within our category seriously limited BlogRush. What if I needed some IT advice to fix a problem with my Blog HTML coding? I still had to directly go to relevant sites on my own. What if someone posted an interesting info on a Blog categorized under "Politics"? Well, I wouldn't know it because it would not be displayed on my "Personal Diary" widget in the first place.

Other Socio-Blog sites such as StumbleUpon and Technorati offer cross-categories exposure as people would visit Blogs specialising in a certain area of expertise for some guidance or valuable info.

As for me, my purpose of entering Blogosphere was more about connecting with personal-diarists alike and therefore found BlogRush very enjoyable as I got to reach their personal thoughts through their blog posting Titles. In fact, I think personal-diarists could be the ones enjoying it more than others.

Farewell BlogRush. It had been great having you around as part of my online adventure.

Friday, October 31, 2008

It's Halloween!!!! I deserve my treats...yummy

It's my most highly anticipated day of October.

Halloween is HERE!

Well, not that I'm celebrating it. No, I have never celebrated it but the sight of pumpkins, kids in costumes and candies has always excited me since I was a kid. myspace graphic comments

So, tonight, I got myself these precious ones from Reese's for my treats after yet another day slogging myself at work.

Reese's on Halloween 4

I love Reese's!

Reminds me of my student days in Sheffield when the only place that I could find the Reese's Peanut Butter Choc Cups was in my university's Student Union shop. How strange! I couldn't find them in huge supermarkets such as Tesco, Morrison or drugstore like Boots. Yet, the tiny shop in the Student Union carried these cups.

I encountered similar things in Malaysia at first. They were not even in the prestigious KLCC Suria. I managed to find them at last at the KLIA, one of our International Airports.

So, tonight I was pleasantly surprised to find them at Jusco. Threw in the kisses and the candy bar as well for that extra luxury.

I hope I could make my own version of peanut butter choc cups someday. After all, they're essentially peanut butter and melted chocolate, aren't they?

I deserve this treat after all the tricks the management has been playing on me.

p/s: Happy Halloween to the drummer who named his band Helloween too. The young Ingo suggested the name to his bandmates after watching the movie Halloween.

Ingo with Pumpkin background 2

♥Ich liebe dich Ingo............. like you have never left♥

Sunday, October 26, 2008

My first rock star crush's latest wedding............Ritchie Blackmore married again!

It's October and an event that certainly caught my attention this month other than Halloween is the legendary band Deep Purple's founder Ritchie Blackmore's wedding to his longtime girlfriend Candice Night, singer of Blackmore's Night.

In my book, this man named Ritchie Blackmore is forever etched as my First Rock Star Crush.

As noticed by some who read my blog, it's obvious how I have this love for hard rock and heavy metal music. Deep Purple was the band that first got me into it. Ritchie was already in Rainbow at the time. It was around 1979-1980. Then, I got to know other bands most notably the Scorpions who beautifully combined catchy melodies, twin guitar attacks and naughty lyrics (I didn't know they were naughty words back then). I was just a little child who quit kindergarten because I found that "boys were evil".

There was a cassette of Rainbow (I do not remember what album) my cousin displayed by the windowsill of our playroom. Somehow he managed to find a photo of Ritchie in a newspaper article and he cut it out to be placed in the cassette sleeve.

So, there was this picture of a man with his big mass of dark hair, hairy chest and a pair of very intense eyes that seemed to stare out of the picture directly into my inner sanctum. I would sit staring at the picture as I listened to his songs Smoke on the Water, Woman From Tokyo, Soldier of Fortune, Gates of Babylon, Temple of the King etc. There was something about him that mesmerized me.

Ritchie Blackmore rainboweyes
Ritchie and Rainbow

Needless to say, I didn't understand any of the lyrics back then. Hey, even now I still don't understand some of the lyrics. One element I really enjoy about Ritchie's music is his fascination with fantasy, legends, folklore and medieval life. When I listened to the his music, I would always imagine a world with castles, horses, people in elaborate clothes, ancient musical instruments, knights in armours, lush green fields and forests and magicians.

Ritchie Blackmore's rainbow with Joe Lynn Turner
Rainbow with one of my favourite male singers Joe Lynn Turner

Therefore, it is befitting that this time Ritchie got married in the medieval theme complete with a castle of course!

Ritchie Blackmore's Wedding 1
It's a rarity finding pictures of Ritchie smiling you know

Ritchie Blackmore's Wedding 2
The medieval theme suit them like gloves

Now, checking their ages. Ritchie was born in 1945 and Candice in 1971 which makes Ritchie a few years younger than my dad and Candice a few years older than me. He's 63 and she's 37. Oh, would you believe that? She claims they have been together since 1989 which makes her 18 at the time they met. Whoa.....this man really does have a taste for younger (young enough to be his daughter) women.

Anyway, may this be your last marriage Mr. Blackmore. I'm so over you.....he...he...! dustbin got stolen! It's Murphy's Law again!

Asked my father to help me with a teeny weeny property I have in a neighbourhood where a colleague of mine lives. It's been mine for a little over a year and I hope to be able to rent it out to young guys living in the area by next year.

Look at the interior of this dollhouse.
Hmm........this serves as a good example of the floor space I have in that teeny weeny property.

I read in a Homes & Garden magazine that a 800sqf house is considered a cottage in America. My tiny property is a few square feet shy of 500sqf. So, by American standard, mine probably qualifies as a closet. I believe celebs in Hollywood can easily give their children playhouses that size.

Floor-area-wise, my property is just a little bigger than this expensive playhouse but totally at the other end of the spectrum in the prettiness stake.....haha.

Then, the can of earthworms opened wide....!

I was shocked when I saw that my dustbin was NOT at the front of the gates. I thought it wouldn't happen to me in Malaysia. I got my dustbins stolen many times in the UK (apparently some people needed to use 3 dustbins per household). I marked the black dustbins with my property number so big you could see it from 100m away.

Why would anybody steal this black dustbin from me?

The most annoying thing was not only the dustbin got stolen, a moron even left his/her broken badly mangled old chair at the place where the dustbin used to be. Now, I certainly don't get this. If one needs an extra dustbin, that surely because that person doesn't have enough space in the existing dustbin. Now after stealing someone else's dustbin, there still isn't enough space for your trash?

I don't see the logic of stealing dustbins or dumping trash at another person's property at all as the City Hall workers come to pick up the trash on schedule. So, I don't see any reason why a household (of a very tiny house) would need more than one dustbin. The City Hall guys will pick anything you leave in your dustbins or any of those black plastic bags in front of your house as long as you place them properly around the bin. That's another reason why I don't understand the act of stealing another person's dustbin. I mean, if your bin is full, you can put your trash into those black bags and place them by the bin side. The City Hall guys will take them. I know this because I had done that before.

Also, the dustbin is actually a gift from the property developer for EVERY house owner when they hand over the house keys. So, why is there a need to steal from another house owner? I think next time, I will graffiti my dustbin in multicolours so that people can't easily remove the paints or markings I have made on it.

To end my already crappy day, my car wouldn't start and we had to leave it in the neighbourhood and call the repair guy tomorrow.

My Deepavali overtime plan may have to be scrapped due to this sickening turn of event. I need to finish that 'inspection work instruction' by Thursday. This is not fair!

Well, that's Murphy's Law in full swing.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I miss blogging, Maruku recipe and bye bye Deepavali holidays!

OMG.....I feel ashamed looking at the number of posts I have made this month.

At one glance, it looks like I have run out of steam like I have given up on documenting the important moments of my life in the cyber world.

No, I haven't given up. It's just my work hours have taken over my life this month. We have new products starting this month. I lost a member and have to train TWO new ones who may not stay very long because our HR give them really crappy pay. Not to mention Mr.B handing me another letter from the doctor asking to assign him to a dust-free environment. Hello...knock...knock. This is Incoming QC Department where deliveries from our Suppliers arrive. What do you mean dust-free? Maybe he should work in the HR office making tea for the big bosses.

I can't believe I actually had to do OT today and possibly have to work on Deepavali holidays. For the last TWO weeks I was thinking about getting a good rest during the 4-day holidays but it's not meant to be. Hwaaahh!!!

An example of Maruku. This is just one of the many types of shapes.
View photo in its original context here at

The recipe:

Ingredients A

250gm muruku flour (You may get it from Indian specialty store. Some people use 'rice flour' instead and some others use 'chickpea flour')
250gm glutinous flour
3 tsp sesame seeds (more for decorating purpose rather than taste)
2 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp curry powder

1 1/2 tsp 'jemuju' (A type of herb apparently. The scientific name is Plectranthus amboinicus. Other names I found from the net are Caraway powder, Mexican mint, Indian borage and Cuban oregano. I think it can easily be found at any Indian/Asian specialty shop like this here. Hey, my mother uses chopped curry leaves instead!)

1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds (coarsely ground)
2 tbs margarine / butter

Ingredients B (mixed together)

350 ml coconut milk (Some recipes use only water instead. Coconut milk, I believe, will give a richer taste)
1 egg
2 tsp salt
a bit of sugar (optional if you like a bit of sweetness to counterbalance the spices)


1. Mix all ingredients A in a mixer.

2. Slowly add in Ingredients B.

3. Put the very soft dough into the 'maruku' pipe (one of those multi-attachment cookie makers will do).

4. Squeeze it out into swirls and fry them until golden.

Note : Sometimes, you can also use some tapioca flour just for that variety of taste. However, if using tapioca, coconut milk needs to be added more so that the 'dough' will stay 'pipeable'.

Deepavali always reminds me of my childhood days visiting my uncle in an estate community about 2-hrs drive away. He has an Indian family living next door and the wife would send to his house a HUGE tray of Indian delicacies especially 'maruku'. They were friendly and kind. I remember how life was simpler back then and we were never divided by the colours of our skins or our faiths.

Talking about Deepavali, which is the celebration of the festival of lights for the Hindus, I have always been fascinated by this Art called 'kolam' or 'rangoli' or 'alpana'. Normally made with coloured rice, it never fails to blow me away every time I see one.

Kolam at Jusco Melaka 2008 1

I just LOVE the vibrant colours the designer uses here.

For this year, the nearby Jusco shopping centre has this one which uses 'fluorescent' colours such as shocking pink and lime green. Wow! This is just a small one here in the humble tiny city of Melaka. I wonder how are the 'kolam' displays over in Malaysia's capital city shopping malls.

Kolam at Jusco Melaka 2008 2

Can I have this pretty screen for my home?

Kolam at Jusco Melaka 2008 3

The whole design is based on the peacock.

Kolam at Jusco Melaka 2008 4

A closer look at the peacock in the 'kolam'.

Thinking back, coming to work during the holidays mean I can finish my assignments peacefully because the bosses will be missing from the office.

So, this may be a blessing in disguise.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Another farewell........another welcome.......another 'U still here?'

Today is the last working day here for my subordinate Ms.F (the one I talked about here).

She got a good offer for a government-funded management course in the capital city which is great as she's a smart and diligent diploma-holder. Not to mention very down-to-earth.

I am SO going to miss Ms.F. She's like a cool and relaxed little sister to me. She's a talented artist too. I admire the way she keeps her cool about Mr.B.

Wow.....I have lost tracked of the number of people who have 'passed through' my Section ever since I joined this factory as a nobody several years ago.

After lots of arguments with the HR Manager, I managed to secure for us TWO new members (I asked for THREE but my new Japanese boss only allowed two) to replace Ms.F and (hopefully) Mr.B.

Mr.B handed me a letter from his doctor requesting that he be assigned to 'dust-free' working environment. Hmm......let's see. We are factory workers and we do Quality Control job. Where on earth can we find dust-free area in a factory?! A-ha! 'The HR office!' I jokingly told my Manager.

It's been an unforgettable week for me as I made the morning speech I had longed to make on Tuesday. Getting everyone to turn up for work on the same day has been a challenge ever since Mr.B joined us. I had even stopped keeping track of his attendance in a secret diary I made.

I said all the things that a tired Section Head who had had enough would want to say about the inner turmoil of the group.

Among them:

1. I highlighted how in all the years I'd been with this Section, every time a new member joined, there would be some sort of fighting or arguments due to clashing of personalities. Told them I had had it with this kind of behaviour. "Honestly, I'm sick of it" were my exact words.

2. I said how I could tolerate arguments and fighting among people aged 25 and below because presumably this age group are hot-blooded, hungrier, inexperienced and still finding their own identities.

3. I bluntly told my members that I had no respect nor patience for people over that 25-year threshold who are still fighting over the simplest thing just like kindergarten kids.

4. I urged everyone in the Section especially the older ones to cast aside their emotions and use their maturity and wisdom (which should come with older age) to settle things down with each other.

5. I asked them 'What's the point of making a mountain out of a mole hill?' describing how the inner problems in the Section actually stemmed from small and trivial matters which could be settled easily (had anybody used brains and zero ego that is!).

6. I made it clear that I put priority on us finishing our assigned tasks on time and any childish behaviour or personal spats affecting the way the Section functioned would not be entertained.

7. Told them again that 25 years are equivalent to a Quarter of a Century which should be an important turning point for anyone who should have accumulated decent enough wisdom and intelligence to be a better person.

8. Personally, I do not like immaturity among people who are already married or over 30 or having already become parents. If marriage, kids and age couldn't knock senses into your head, I don't know what else could.

I wouldn't care less had I offended anybody with the things I said that morning as I had been carrying the burden of watching my Section become the butt of people's joke when any of the members engaged themselves in silly childish arguments.

So, 'auf wiedersehen' Ms.F.........good luck!

"Remember, 25 years of age should be the age you decide who you want to be for the rest of your life. Let your Quarter of a Century 'silver jubilee' celebrates the starting of that rest of your life."

Sunday, October 5, 2008

My lovely neighbours are moving away
Why do good people always leave?

Learned from my mother these past few days that our next door neighbouring family are moving away to another state.

Actually, I kept on wishing that it was only a temporary thing and that they'd settle here in this village eventually. However, today, they invited us to an 'open house' dinner at their home in the spirit of Eid Mubarak and it finally struck on me that they really are moving away for good.

I feel sad as they (husband, wife and a kid) are among the best people you can have as your neighbours. How many, in these day and age, can claim to having great neighbours anymore?

My reasons for missing them:

1. Both husband and wife are hardworking and friendly people.
2. The husband is very handy when it comes to carpentry and domestic construction work
3. The wife is a great cook and always let us have some of the dishes or delicacies she makes to sell in front of their house. She gives them free for us of course.
4. My nephews will lose having a 'big brother' role in their young son who is very well-behaved and has the knack of remembering the name of every elderly man or woman in our village.
5. Their chatty banters with my parents. This couple are hilarious.
6. Their yearly Eid Mubarak 'open house'.
7. Their generosity.
8. Their readiness and willingness to help looking after our home when we're away.
9. Their sincerity.
10. Their positive attitude towards life in times of hardship and family ordeals.

Why are they leaving?

1. The hubby has a new project of rearing deers on a piece of land in the forest of the state of Pahang (the biggest state in Peninsula Malaysia).
2. Their greedy immediate relatives are chasing after their beautiful house and the land it sits on.


Yes, you read that right.

The wife is an adopted daughter of a not-so-distant uncle of mine. Before his death, he changed the ownership of the land next to my parents' home to her because she was the dutiful daughter who had taken good care of her adoptive parents and their two disabled children. The immediate family apparently aren't too happy because she's an 'outsider'. So, not wanting to cause further commotion, she and hubby choose to move away despite the properties being rightfully and legally hers.

How sad is that?

My lovely neighbours are leaving because of a bunch of greedy old people. In fact, just the word 'old' is an understatement. It's more like 'the-graves-are-already-calling-out-your-names' kind of old! Yet, these people still are lusting after material things which they can't bring into the graves with them anyway.

The family may be packing their final suitcase in November.

To sister M, brother S and little bro D, hope to see you guys again. This is not goodbye. myspace graphic comments

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Happy Eid Mubarak !

The month of Ramadhan is officially over today with the celebration of Eid Mubarak in Malaysia.

We are experiencing the heat of the current worldwide economic downturn with the American markets underperforming and the TV news last night reporting how the share market in Europe is consistently not making any profits. Newspapers in Malaysia are reposting the laments of shop owners not getting as many customers as they used to even with 50-70% price cut. Banks just raised interest rates for car hire purchase loans recently.

Sadly, money doesn't just fall from the sky and neither does it grow on trees!

The prices of petrol and rice especially cause a huge dent in the budget of an average Malaysian like me. I told people that my standard of living still remains the same as it was 7 years ago despite the few hundreds difference in my salary. Since recession happens about once in every decade, it is expected that after the painful 1998 economy, 2008 will be another challenge for us and the rest of the world.

Finally, I can experience my family celebrating in very modest preparation. Modest by our standard anyway. FOUR family potfuls of special dishes in the kitchen to feed at least 50 people that is. That's the way our family are. Good food tastes better when you share it with your loved ones.

Relatives used to come in droves when my paternal grandmother, who lived with us, was still alive. It's an old tradition in our family. We shall make it our priority to visit houses where the oldest of the elderly live.

Eid Fitri Ang Pau

My morning started by giving out money in paper pockets to my nephews.
Not without a strict instruction that they must hand those over to their mother for safekeeping.

The practice of giving out money in these pockets was adopted from the Chinese tradition of giving out 'angpau' to young and unmarried members of the family. That's the way Malaysians are. We infuse each others' culture into each and make them our own.

Too bad they only adopted half of the Chinese tradition. So, only the kiddos get the 'pockets'. Unmarried old maids like me are left in the cold. Duh!

Nephews & Eid Fitri treats

The nephews with a modest array of delicacies and cookies on one of the coffee tables in my parents' living room.
Not as many as we used to have.

That's the only table with these delicacies whereas in previous years, we used to have at least THREE tables with those. When grandma was still around, I'm sure we had about FIVE coffee tables of those for visiting relatives.

Then off to my maternal grandparents' house.

Hey! Look at what my cousin brought back to the village this year!

Sarawak Layer Cakes 1

Sarawak Layer Cakes exquisitely designed by a cakemaker for whom my cousin acts as an 'agent' to.

Sarawak Layer Cakes 2

Look at the geometric patterns the cakemaker painstakingly put together here.
These are TWO of the several patterns available.

Sarawak Layer Cakes 3

They taste as good as they look too!

Delicate. Moist. With a bit of soft cheese in the batter, the cakes are a good fusion of East and West. Looking like a much denser version of our traditional 'bahulu', the cheese in the batter and the fruit jam that is used to 'glue' the patterns together provide the Western touch. The softness level of the layer is something like a thin but very dense version of Swiss rolls.

I do not know the recipe this cakemakers uses and it was my cousin who said there is cheese in it (they sure taste like there is soft cheese in there!). As for fruit jams, normally the layer cakes recipes I have encountered so far use them for 'gluing'.

Economic downturn or not, sometimes we do deserve a little bit of luxury at the right times and what more can be more appropriate for gastronomic luxury than the celebration of the end of the fasting month with this work of Art called the Sarawak Layer Cake?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Kusudama Flowers and Sayonara

Ok. We all gave in.

Kusudama Flowers & Gifts

I did say about not wanting to give any farewell souvenir to the Jap boss who called us idiot at every chance in my previous post here.

Things took a different turn on the day before his official farewell. A small group of us changed our minds at the last minute when the guy came to us showing a new pair of gloves saying that they were his farewell gifts. My friends sort of looked at each other after that and we started to feel sorry for the guy.

Ok. So he'd been mostly a total a*****e to us but there also had been times when he backed us up on very rare occasions. Since it would be his last days as our boss, why not just put the past behind?

So, we gathered some money from a few members (including me) who weren't heartless enough to totally give the guy a cold shoulder. Not much of course and we grabbed a few items from home which we wrapped up at the office the next day.

Kusudama Flower on a blue Box

The Kusudama Flowers and the spirals were made from leftover gift-wrapping paper. The glue didn't set well causing the flowers to gape here and there.
The glue probably was still wet when these things landed onto the Jap boss' hands.

Finally, I could put good use to my newfound interest in making Kusudama Flowers. He's Japanese. Therefore, I think putting in an art of origami would be so befitting. It was all done in a rush though. I made the flowers at 9.30am and his farewell ceremony started at 10.15am. I even taught two colleagues how to make the flowers so we could rush the whole process.

Kusudama Flowers in a Pair

These flowers would look really good if you can make them in abundance. Check out this shop
It Really Adds Something on Etsy or her blog.

A colleague made the blue spirals to add abundance to the lack of Kusudama Flowers. It was totally a last minute thing. We were only able to make FOUR flowers that morning. However, I'm happy that I was able to show my friends this beautiful art.

By the way, I learned about the flowers here from a fellow blogger SallyZ from her post here on her blog Tranquility Spot. The tutorial is here from The Piece of Paper.

Thank you ladies.... :-)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The one who calls us 'idiot' is bidding sayonara

As I'm typing this, I just can't believe that I've been holding this news back from my blog this long.

My Jap boss is leaving on Friday to go back to our HQ in Japan for good.


Yes, he's the one I talked about here. The one who calls us 'idiot' every chance he gets. He'd say it in Japanese of course and after FOUR excruciating years of having him in our office, I must say that the Japanese word I understand the most is 'baka'.

It's weird as the Japanese are known for their fine manners and we got this guy who sticks out like a sore thumb with his foul mouth. He was also the one who accepted Mr.B into my Section. That's unforgiveable!

Entitled to be Stupid

We all know how he doesn't want to leave. Hey, I haven't met any expat who doesn't like it here in our country. Just think of all the perks they can get here. As for this guy, he gets a cozy 2-bedroom condo by the seaside, a brand new car with a Shell petrol card, an intact monthly salary from the HQ and another 'salary' in the form of 'expat allowances'. All paid for by the company. Not to mention satellite TV and unlimited Internet connection. Also, free plane tickets to go back home every TWO years. The food here is relatively very cheap too with various choices from all over the world. Expats here shop at prestigious shopping spots only because they have the money to burn.

An officer from HR inquired with our Manager about our 'farewell souvenir' for the 'sayonara ceremony'. Apparently we have none.

It's a rather funny story how we ended up not wanting to give him anything. When we were fighting to get a day off on 30th September, he actually intervened (what a busybody) and forced us to pick some members to come to work that day. How ridiculous as the Production departments won't be running that day due to it being the Inventory counting day. He even 'poisoned' the mind of the new Jap boss to pick out the section heads and the management level people to stay working on that day. As my name was originally on that list and me being the rebel that I am, I immediately announced to the entire office that the 'souvenir' we did kinda plan for him was OFF. Everybody else followed suit.

As for us planning to kinda give 'souvenir'....well.....i can say this:

Don't Be Fooled

People are still teasing our poor Manager about us holding a grudge the size of China mainland towards this guy.

I tried to make him apologize to all of us which is a tradition for anyone who's leaving. It was the weekly Monday morning gathering and it just came spontaneously to me to say to him 'you must say sorry to everybody because it's the fasting month now' which was followed by giggles from everybody. He refused to say sorry, laughed and thought that I was joking. I wasn't!

Ok. Since he has called us 'idiot' so many times, I would like to present this 'speech' for him here........