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)

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.