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)

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tokio Hotel and the Songwriters

These boys have been heavily criticized for having their producers and songwriters writing songs for and with them. Even though it’s easy to understand this point of view, it’s even more perplexing to me that those critics can easily ignore the fact that these boys were still legally children at the time their first 3 albums were made.

The first being the Devilish album where Bill Kaulitz was a newly-discovered 13yr old child singer with a big dream.

The second being Schrei when the twins were about 15 and the third Zimmer 483 when only half of the band entered legal adulthood.

stokiohotel005 stokiohotel009

The Kaulitz twins, being around 17, were still grabbing news headlines for every little underage misconduct they committed.

Here we have a group of children who were clear about their career choice since age 9 and what is so wrong about having experienced adults who could provide guidance and proper training? Aren’t adult supervision and guidance the most important part of a child’s formative years?

The teen years are the most crucial time for children to learn about the life they want to lead, the values to hold on to and the foundation to build their future. Let children be children at the time they most need to be. The world today pushes our children to grow up too fast instead of letting them explore their own potential and aspirations at their own pace.

If people want to trash a band for a mere fact that they don’t entirely write their own songs, then many great songs wouldn’t get to be heard. Nearly all the biggest names in the industry have worked with other people. Songwriting, producing, backup vocals and guest playing.

Also, some people were born to produce great work behind the scenes and some people were born to perform and bring this work to the public. In the end, it's the performer who will breath life and soul into the work. If the performer is nothing more than a face, then why do songs sound and feel different from one singer to another? Also, some songs are effectively presented by someone and totally butchered when given to another.

Def Leppard found their direction when they met producer/songwriter Robert John Mutt Lange that he has been dubbed the 6th member of the band.

Bonnie Tyler and Meatloaf built their entire career on the work of Jim Steinman. Celine Dion, Josh Groban and the Corrs had the backup of David Foster at the beginning of their career. Most notably, don’t forget the role of Glen Ballard in Alanis Morissette’s transition from former teen star to the artist that she is today. Even the labeled child prodigy Vanessa Mae had producer/composer Mike Batt composing the majority of the songs on her breakthrough classical pop debut album The Violin Player. There are too many of them to mention.

As for Tokio Hotel, judging from the songwriting credits from the Schrei and Zimmer 483 albums, it is clear that on Schrei, the boys were on their learning phase with only a few of the songs had their songwriting credits on them. By the Zimmer 483 album, the boys have songwriting credits on ALL songs. The most noticeable thing is Tom Kaulitz is the one working more on the music while brother Bill is more responsible on the lyrics.

One must remember that the FOUR boys have distinctively different influences musically and it was important for them to develop their sound within their common ground and having experienced people around actually helped to unleash that. Just ask any established artists who work with different producers and songwriters from time to time.

Interestingly, the Kaulitz twins composed one song Wir Sterben Niemals Aus entirely on their own. Before finding out the songwriting credit for this song, I thought the acoustic version they did for the song was the most mature-sounding arrangement I'd heard from them and certainly on par or at least had the potential to someday join the greats. This is coming from an avid music listener who counts Heart's The Road Home, MSG Unplugged and Dokken's One Night Live as favourites.

Here they are Tokio Hotel performing the Kaulitz-twins-penned Wir Sterben Niemals Aus acoustically.

Leave your prejudice behind and take a listen.
The whole Tokio Hotel and the songwriters issue has been blown way out of proportion by critics.

Music producers are not stupid. They wouldn’t work with somebody who don’t have any substances at all. To label artists talentless just for having songwriters working with them is baseless in most cases. After seeing Bill Kaulitz's performance at the Star Search, I can understand why he attracted the attention of TH producer Peter Hoffmann. He may not be the best singer ever and he certainly has a limited range as a vocalist even now but the boy certainly had stage presence and deep passion for his performance. Those qualities may count for more than a depressed music prodigy can ever give.

Click here at Tokio Hotel Discography on Star Pulse (songwriting credits listed)

My most essential Free Softwares off the Internet

Being in the financially challenged bracket, I’m all for free license softwares I can download from the Internet. Here are the ones I’m most enthusiastic about:

Irfanview – A basic photo editing software for simple retouching for a novice Joe user. Brightness, contrast, saturation and the Green, Magenta, Cyan adjustments are there. Rectangular cropping of a photo is by click and drag selection. Resizing is highly useful for your online photos. My camera is 6.1 MP and I certainly do not need that size for online uploading. I normally reduce sizes to 640x320 and reduce the quality a bit to save on memory. Converting from one format to another is a breeze and the major formats you can convert your pictures to are namely JPG, BMP, TIF and PDF. No, it doesn’t convert to multi-page PDF the last time I tried.

Jodix Free WMA to MP3 Converter by Jodix Technologies Ltd – With MP3 being the universal format for digital playing nowadays, the Jodix Converter is a blessing for me to help converting some WMA files I have to MP3s to play in my car. For songs from my own existing CDs collection, WIndows Media Player is enough to rip songs to MP3s.

You can’t bring CDs in you car nowadays as I’ve seen people’s window screens getting smashed by thieves to just steal the CDs. Not to mention the car stereo.

Free FLV Converter by Koyote Soft– This is a breeze when converting back and forth between AVI and FLV. AVI conversion uses XviD Video codec and Audio in MP3. You can change the screen size of video before converting and I always take the highest bitrate. The Audio bitrate I normally choose ranges from 128kbps to 192kbps depending on the sound quality of the original videos. I used this to convert FLV videos mainly from You Tube.

It has a function to download directly from You Tube but limited to only 40 videos on each search. Better to go direct to the site and download from there. Easier now that we have RealPlayer Download and other online downloaders. More of that later.

Prism Video Converter by NCH Softwares – This is the one I used to convert mainly WMVs to AVI. The free version converts to only AVI from WMV, MPG, MPEG. You can upgrade the software to a multi-format converter but you have to pay for it. Needless to say, I never even bother to find out the cost.

I used this to convert my first You Tube video from WMV to AVI to be converted to FLV. The result can be seen here :

AVG Free Edition – It may not be as powerful as a full-packaged paid anti-virus but for an average home user, it is pretty decent. It scans my email configured on Outlook Express. Updates are done regularly when you are connected to the Internet.

Image 2 Icon Converter 1.5 by EIPC - An ultra simple freeware to convert you JPG to ICO files. So simple it has 7 buttons only. Choose an image. Select location in the "browse" menu. Convert. Voila!

Vibrate Yourself and Reach for Your Mate

Haha. I’m not suggesting any sexual connotation with this title. My reading into the Law of Attraction philosophy has brought me to a concept of “Vibration” in search of a life partner. It’s hard for me not to find this hilarious although by no means am I rejecting the idea.

I first heard of it from my buddy who said a senior friend told her that “in order to let the man of your dreams know about your existence, you must vibrate and vibrate your aura so that the universe will bring it to him because he’s somewhere out there at the moment”. I laughed hysterically at that time. So hard that my stomach hurt. Little did I know that in other parts of the world, there are people who are actually holding on to that same philosophy.

Have I ever subconsciously employ the “vibration” theory in my life? Ok. When I was 14, Don Dokken was the guy I wanted. Then at age 15, Tom Keifer was my dream man for a few months before discovering he was married.….. hehe. 20 years on, both men are happily settled and I’m still vibratingly single.

Tom Keifer 1

Tom Keifer of Cinderella. He's beautiful!

I guess my vibration didn’t travel long enough to cross the Pacific Oceans and it certainly forgot to ask the universe where the most powerful satellite was.

PayPal and my holiday budget

Got confirmation yesterday regarding my PayPal payment for the Tokio Hotel Zimmer 483 Live DVD. Such a breeze it was. So far so good. There have been many nightmare stories about PayPal and I’m just hoping those won’t happen to me.

Had a bit of a heated word exchange with my friends at work the day before yesterday. We are leaving for the East Coast state of Trengganu on Wednesday night for a holiday in Kapas Island to catch squids from the South China Sea. Sounds grand when I put it that way. Just 2 days to go and someone pulled out causing everyone’s cost to rise by around 10%. I got so vocal expressing my dissatisfaction that the trip leader decided to cover the extra cost. My money is quite tight at the moment and I was desperate. Besides, it was so unfair.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

My First Try At Buying From Abroad At eBay

I logged in to my eBay account and committed myself to buying the Tokio Hotel Zimmer 483 Live DVD set from a seller in the UK. His postage cost is a lot cheaper than some of those from the European mainland!

There's one cheaper from the US but what if I can't play the DVD as Region 1 has a different system? The listed one from the UK stated it as "0" meaning it's multi-region. Well, I hope it is.

I'm scared shitless as I'm typing this coz I've never bought anything internationally from eBay or any overseas online shop so far. I nervously started a PayPal account yesterday morning and immediately the bank HSBC called me to confirm whether I really did linked my VISA card to it. As of today, my account is still unverified. I did my research on paying with credit card via an unverified PayPal and people say it's ok.

Well, I guess I'll just have to wait for the whole thing to clear. I surely do not want to be blacklisted.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Chillies oh chillies.....!

Had one heck of a day at work yesterday when my tummy got upset like hell. The day before, I bought myself some Prawn Fritters at the nearby beach after work with this read fresh chillies as its sauce.

Brought it home and my sister-in-law commented that the sauce was hot and I said no. I remember pouring spoon after spoon of the sauce onto my fritters and happily devoured them clean.

The next morning, I woke up with this uneasiness inside my belly but I managed to go to work anyway. By 9.30am, the pain became more acute that I had to visit the internal industrial clinic for some cure. By 10.30am, I had to come to the clinic again because the pain didn't go away. Got to rest at the clinic's sick bay but it was useless. I kept on tossing and turning, sitting upright, lying down, whatever.

Somehow I managed to stay at the office till the end of office hours. Got home feeling sick. Had to down at least SIX different pills from the clinic.

OK. I'll never ever buy those fritters again. Not with that sauce. I'm sure it wasn't cooked enough.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Farewell Dinner and the Emotional Queen

My colleague who got snatched by my ex-Boss caused a ruckus again yesterday when he unceremoniously made Monday his last working day here. It landed me in hot water when our Division Advisor asked me his whereabouts.

I got emotional because my colleague didn't even meet me face to face on Monday to say goodbye and thank you when he actually went around to bid farewell to other friends. You see, being the same age kind of give me a sense of kinship with him and he has been one those few people I had confide some of my deepest secrets failed relationships, my crushes on which guys, my financial situations, my future plans etc. He has been very inspiring to me as he juggles work with his Distance learning for a Maths Degree. So, him not including me on his last day had been very losing a brother.

Today we held an informal farewell dinner for him at a stall we all frequent a lot at the nearby beach. I was adamant not to go to show how hurt I was. My other officemates told me I was too emotional. They said I should just go and show how much I appreciate friendships.

By noon, I was already thinking of delicious servings of Special ABC (snow ice in heavy syrups and evaporated milk with assortment of nuts, sweetcorns and jellies at the bottom and a scoop of ice-cream on top with chocolate sprinkles or chocolate sauce...yum...yum) and hot-off-the-grill satays. My cravings got the better of me and I declared to the officemates that I would go. Haha!

Still being the Emotional Queen, I insisted on going early without bothering to wait for the others and the "farewell person" because "I'm going solely to fulfill my appetite".

The Almighty certainly worked his way as He knew how much I wanted to hear my colleague say those thanks yous and sorrys to me. The satays I wanted were only available after 7.30pm and I was already there by 6.15pm!

After the dinner, my colleague was asked to make his farewell speech and he mentioned ME first with his thank you and sorry. Yeah! Everyone else cheered. I was happy again. Well, so now we're cool :-) again. I wish him the best coz he deserves it.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Deutsch Musik Continues........

Having my You Tube fix again tonight.

Discovered another German band called Silbermond (silver moon). First found that word in the Deutsch version of the Disney song Colours of the Wind from Pocahontas which I'm still struggling to memorize and understand at the same time).

Back to the band, I was pleasantly surprised that they actually play soft, half acoustic, AOR-influenced music. Evidently, from the songs I've heard so far anyway. Very much the type I like to listen to.

Stumbled upon Revolverheld quite awhile ago. At first, they were a bit like Hootie and the Blowfish to my ears but the recent addition to their channel shows that the band is going for a more commercial sound with Generation Rock. Now they sound like a lot of other bands out there.

Oh.....couldn't get that Cinema Bizarre's Forever or Never out of my head for days around two weeks ago. Amazed at how all those influences they mentioned (Duran Duran, 80s, Bowie and of course Visual Kei) actually can be listened to in their music.

Having a pretty singer doesn't hurt either. I hope they're all straight.... :-)

When I feel low, I like to think of that EMA 07 performance of Tokio Hotel. When you're pretty and overly-popular, you're bound to get many haters. It still amazes me that they started the performance with loud boos from the audience but they battled on by putting one of the best stage performances I've ever seen in my life and ended it with a huge applause and cheers from the very same audience! If only people would open their minds.....*sigh*

Oh I believe those TH boys live by the Law of Attraction whether they realize it or not. I mean, they, especially the twins, have always channeled their energy and focus on making it in the music world in whatever way. You don't feel any negative vibes coming from them in the way that they conduct themselves. Hope they can hold themselves together for a long long time. I've seen many bands crumble when the negative vibes start to rear their ugly heads.

Shock the Manager!

My girl colleague made her decision today about resigning and starting a new life at the rival company. Told her if her reason is more than just money, I wouldn't fight for a salary raise on her behalf.

I was calm today as opposed to last week. Broke the news to my Manager. He laughed not knowing what to say. The high manpower turnover issue came up again but I responded saying it was all fate that our members seemed to attract great offers from other companies.

Hey.....the management MUST replace our manpower loss soon or they'll suffer. We are not going to go over the mountain, walk on fire or jump over the moon for them. You want the job done, you do the human resource ok.

Anyway, I'm quite surprised at my easiness of letting her go. Another piece of life wisdom from the "Law of Attraction" book had been firmly planted in my mind....."Think that you have made a difference in someone's life". I took it positively that letting her go is me making a difference in her somewhat dire financial situation here. This way, she'll have a better future. She might thank me someday for it.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

PC Fair and MP4 Gadget from China...!

It's PC Fair in Melaka from 18 to 20 April and I just had to join in the fun.

Bought myself a DVD-writer, an SD Card, a spare mouse, a pair of earphones and an MP4 Player.

I was attracted to a DVD-Writer from Memorex with a Lightscribe technology where the drive can scribe a title to your DVD. However, considering such technology normally means the product itself is more sensitive and prone to damages (just like a hi-tech cellphone compared to a basic Nokia 3310), I finally decided to go for a cheaper one from Samsung. Both come with Nero Suite. Yeah!

Considering that I'll be off to the East Coast early May for an island holiday, I couldn't resist an array of MP3 and MP4 players at a stall. 3 days without my PC nor the Internet? How I'm gonna miss all my video collection. Without that much persuasion, I grabbed one in an unattractive black and orange colour scheme. It looks ugly, cheap and bulky but the design feels comfy in my hand. The buttons on the right side is very fitting to my being right-handed. The screen is 2" diagonal which is big. Most importantly, you can expand the memory with an SD.

My Pride n Joy!

Got seriously annoyed when I brought it home yesterday as the thing couldn't "plug n play" into my PC (meaning I couldn't access its internal memory) and it could only read MP3s I put into the card. None of the video worked (MP4, mpg, amv, avi). It was either an "error message" or "no files can be found". There was a CD supposedly with its driver but I couldn't find any.

Brought it back to the Stall today to complain. The guy was very helpful. Turned out that my USB Cable was faulty so he replaced it with one that worked well. Then I told him about the video failure. He said the thing could read only AVI files converted by its Avi Converter given in its Internal Memory which I needed to install to my PC. What?! Is that so? So much for calling it an MP4 Player and it can't read MP4s at all. Pah!

He converted an AVI I already put in there. Was excited to be able to watch it.

Treated myself to a Walnut Brownie with Vanilla Ice-Cream at Secret Recipe. Got a huge smile on my face.

Then I flipped through a book about the Law of Attraction at a bookstore. It says things along the line of "live your life as if the good things you visualize are already yours". Hmm......

Thank God the thing worked fine when I followed the guy's instruction after I brought it home. So now I'm busy converting files to bring to work tomorrow on the Player.

Now I'm feeling positive again. It's easier to feel so when I'm happy.

p/s : By the way, I have to mention that the earclip-styled earphones make you look like you have a pair of weird growth on your ears. Got my nephews to model it cos they make the thing look cute.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Wheel of Misfortunes

Life surely is one little spinning wheel. Not big at all because one minute you're up, the next you're at the bottom. Big wheels surely would've taken a longer time, wouldn't it?

As elated as I was yesterday, my spirit is crushed again today when my girl colleague really got the rival job and is being offered TWICE of her earnings here. How can we possibly counter that?

Everyday, we are instilled by the management to think of the company's financial need and that we must do what is financially beneficial for the company. Is a company's well-being measured on financial terms only? How about having the best people as your employees? Isn't it a financial loss too when your skilled manpower get snatched by another company? Isn't it unfair to the loyal employees who have dedicated their time and resources to train those skilled people? If other companies are more than willing to part with some good precious dollars to have the best members on their teams, then, why can't this company do the same?

Got a little emo this morning and refused to let her talk to me because it's tearing me up deep inside.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Happy Birthday To Me!

It's my birthday today!

No cake today as I actually already bought a 1kg Moist Choc cake last month on my nephew's birthday to celebrate together along with his Tweety Butter Cake.

For some reason, I have been feeling incredibly happy since last night about this birthday and possibly feeling the happiest out of all my birthdays so far. Today, I just feel so loved.

As my usual tradition, I went out to get myself a birthday present. Yes, I give myself a birthday present every year since I was 21 and it's something I will do till the day I leave this world.

For this year, I have decided to give myself a new bank account with Al-Rajhi Bank. I chose a Mudharabah Savings Account-i where I need to keep a minimum of RM50 which they'll invest and calculate the profit on daily basis. Well, a few micro nano cents a day isn't a bad thing at all since the main reason I wanted the account with Al-Rajhi was to get their Visa Debit Card-i. Many Malaysian bloggers claim that it can be used to withdraw their PayPal funds. I have been interested in international online selling for a long time but the online payment matter was a major drawback.

I must applaude the level of customer service I received when I stepped into its local branch here. This was the friendliest banking service I ever experienced. The staff were smiley, gentle-mannered and helpful and even said prayers for my well-being with today being my birthday. Very impressed. Got a present too. A bag with the bank's name on it.

The Debit Card was given on the spot. This is a great selling point since the Card is attached to your banking account, thus the yearly fee shall be only RM10 (the standard for Malaysian bank accounts). Unlike other Debit Cards from other banks where you have to pay around RM24-25 a year just to use their Debit Cards which you'll have to wait at least 2 weeks for once applied.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Another One Bites the Dust?

Another colleague came to me today saying she had gone for a job interview yesterday for a similar post to her current one at a rival company. Out of respect for me as her section head, she told me about it as by now everybody in the office know how annoyed I am at the way my members are being poached by other employers for their skills which WE developed.

I'm tired of training people, giving them confidence and skills just to have them taken away later. Our section is notorious for having the highest manpower turnover since its inception. Though I'm not one of its original pioneer members, resignation after resignation had in the end elevated me to the section leader post. I'm more than happy to boast that I've always had the best people working with me.

I still remember her as she was first sent to us. Naive, couldn't read engineering drawings to save her life, no confidence at her own English and computer skills but was very willing to learn and listen. But from that first day, I knew she had an untapped potential and within a few months, she proved it.

We certainly can't afford to lose TWO crucial members within 1 month of each other. Anyway, this time, I'm going to wrestle my way to keep her. With that thought, I hope I can continue the days with a
smile as wide as my Purple Cow here.......!

Monday, April 14, 2008

2 Weeks it's not that Hollywood movie

As expected, my colleague's resignation caused quite a ruckus at the office today. It was all thanks to the case of "two-week notice".

Firstly, I had to let off steam about how unhappy I am about the surprise he gave me and the rest of the gang about it last Friday. As a crucial section in our department, any loss of manpower shall have a significant impact on our daily operation.

Secondly, I was hurt by the fact that our former boss poached him to his new workplace totally disregarding the company procedure of 1-month notice.
It's one thing finding a replacement but another arranging my colleague's deregistration from his radiation worker job, his remaining annual leaves and avoiding termination due to absence before the 1-month period. Most importantly is how chaotic it will be for the rest of the gang having to rearrange and reschedule our daily tasks and assignments. Why would he want to go down the termination route after 10 years of service here?

I'm sad that after those years of slaving ourselves for the former Big B when he was with us, he still sees us as the Invisibles....the little people. That we are not worthy of a tiny bit of respect.

No, maybe we should be the inspiration for a movie
called Beastie Boss and the Insignificants.
Visit Arthur and the Minimoys

Sunday, April 13, 2008

More boys or more girls in the family is better?

Yesterday, my mother rambled on about not having anyone helping her with housework. Somehow, being a daughter made me feel that he remarks were targeted at me. I must admit that nowadays I hardly lift a finger when it comes to household chores except when it comes to cleaning my own room and the bathroom I use everyday.

However, I am certainly not happy that for all the years that I've lived, she has never instructed any of my brothers to help around when the fact is they're the ones who spend more time at home compared to me. I have to leave house at 7am to go to work and reach home again at around 7pm.

I have FOUR brothers brought up with traditional roles as that's the generation my parents come from. They never make their beds. Never fold their own clothes. Not bother to even put the ones folded by mum into their cupboards. Not bother to wash the plate or cup they have used after eating. They leave dirty clothes everywhere. Yet, my parents never complain about them. Mum willingly picks up everything.

Yet, having sons is highly regarded in our society. Daughters on the other hand are the opposite. So much so that they have an old saying that bringing up a herd of cows is easier than bringing up just one daughter. Such is the burden girls get labelled by.

Sometimes, I wonder whether my life would be different had I more sisters instead. Today, I happened to watch a rerun of the
Kardashian show on E!. What it would be like to have that many sisters in the family? Since my parents are very traditional, I think there would not be any problems with household chores.

Before, after years of growing up surrounded by boys, I used to wish that one day when I do have a family of my own, I would want more boys but lately, I have been changing my mind slightly. Now thinking that daughters could be the blessings I'm looking for. I can pass down my values to them and be there for them the way that only a woman can.

p/s: I can't believe despite not being a fan of that show that I could actually score 5 out 6 guessing which tush belongs to Kim!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

First Day of a Series of New Days

Wow. It's my first entry as a lone blogger today and I'm still feeling at a lost like I used to when I used to share a blog with my two close pals quite some time ago.

It's how I'm feeling at the moment facing the week ahead. I'm losing yet another colleague at work who's leaving for a better opportunity. The news came like a bomb getting dropped on my head yesterday.

A bit sad but for the umpteenth time, this whole colleagues-leaving thing always makes me look back on my own path in life. As always, I still believe in that "someday my big ship will come in".