Saturday, February 28, 2009

Money, Time And Energy

There was a comment by Tan Han Chong, senior vice-president and senior head of UOB's personal financial services division in The Star on January 24, 2009.

In the article he made some perceptive observations. He wrote:

My own beliefs of how our lives in the 21st century seem to run their course (and resulting in regrets too often, too late) can be simplified to 3 basic elements:

When you are young and studying,
You have time and energy, but no money.
So you can't afford your pursuits.

When you are grown up and working,
You have energy and money, but no time.
So you postpone your plans.

When you are older and retired,
You have time and money, but alas no energy!
So you can no longer enjoy your interests.

I am in phase 2 of my life cycle – all grown up and working. I find myself having some money and enough energy, but there are times when I truly feel that a day needs more than 24 hours!

I will not delude myself that I can do everything. I certainly do forego some of my plans or interests but I constantly remind myself that life is short and precious. And while sacrifices have to be made so that the bacon can be brought home, it must never be at the expense of health or family.

Annual family holidays will be made, but maybe to nearby places for shorter periods. Blackberry will be checked occasionally at home but not in the middle of a chat with my wife or when I am playing with son.


Those are words of wisdom!

Wealth is only meaningful and fully enjoyed
in the context of loving relationships and good health.

Ladies, It's Up to Us!

In an effort to reduce newpaper cutting clutter in my house I shall henceforth post interesting newspaper articles on my blog.

Here's the first article to be featured on my online library. It's taken from Sunday Star dated 22 February 2009.

The words in red are the relevant bits for the benefit of those who are too lazy, or busy, to read the whole article.

It’s in your hands, ladies

Stray Thoughts

Women have more power than they think, and can do something to put us guys in our place.

ONE of the most interesting and inspiring aspects of the Star Trek universe is how nice everybody is.

They’re so politically correct, it’s almost painful to watch. By the 23rd century, we’re told, there would be no prejudice against colour, class, creed, or gender. Respect for human (or alien) rights would be an ingrained part of society. Thanks to replicator technology, greed for material possession will be a thing of the past. No more tyranny of need.

True, this vision was not consistent throughout the various series and movies – Captain Kirk’s adventures had a Midshipman Hornblower feel to them, things were a lot grittier on the Deep Space 9 station, and Janeway’s voice had an irritating nasal twang that challenged the tolerance levels of even the most accepting of liberals. Fans are still split over how true-to-its-source Star Trek: Enterprise was, but at least it had the sexy Vulcan T’Pol (Jolene Blalock), so who’s complaining.

The Star Trek future is one of hope, when humans have become highly “evolved”. I use the word in quotation marks because, in terms of everyday discourse, it is being used correctly (and Mind Our English editor Kee Thuan Chye won’t be forced to correct me, so there!).

“Evolution” here is used to mean change, and to imply “better”. Even science fiction writers do this – their “highly evolved” beings of the future or from any advanced galactic civilisation don’t kill except in absolute need, have finely attuned aesthetic tastes (they all listen to classical music, not P.J. Harvey), and are into poetry.

However, the scientific meaning of the word is more restricted. In biology, the definition is the “change in the gene pool (or inherited traits) of a population from generation to generation by such processes as natural selection and genetic drift”,

Evolution does not necessarily lead to “better” or “more sophisticated” beings. It’s just that these organisms (people included) change from generation to generation, and the traits that are best for survival in a certain environment tend to get passed on. The reason for this, as Charles Darwin explained, is because individuals with advantageous traits are more likely to survive and reproduce.

When it comes to social animals like humans, the “environment” here is more than just our natural surroundings. It’s our communities and cultures, our aspirations as a society, and much more: survival of the fittest, where fitness isn’t physical any more.

We’ve created a society where strength comes from wealth and power (usually political), not the human traits that we say, or like to believe, we value more. Caring, compassionate, ethical and principled people operate at a disadvantage in our society. There is a yawning chasm between our ideals and what our society actually nurtures. We’re a species at odds with ourselves.

How do we transform society to treasure and nurture these higher principles? How can we, when the rules of society are written by the wealthy and powerful who have no desire to see their advantages dissolve in the throes of transformation?

How about we write them out of the gene pool? That’s right, why don’t we make sure these “helpful traits” are not passed down to yet another generation.

And that’s where women come in. You have the power of reproduction and motherhood. You propagate the species. You can also play a big role in ensuring it’s a progressive propagation.

Yeah, I know how wealth and power are aphrodisiacs to some ladies, but perhaps if the people who crave these things were not rewarded with the love of a good woman, they might change their priorities.

Don’t let nice guys finish last. If you have a choice between that tycoon’s son who can whisk you off to a dirty weekend in Paris, or the one who’s asking you to feed his fish while he joins a Mercy Malaysia mission, go for the latter.

The doctor who boasts of his new BMW and exclusive golf club membership, or the one who will be posted to Africa for a couple of years as part of a United Nations effort? You know which relationship you should nurse.

The charming bad boy or the fumbling dork who is too nervous to ask you out? Do you even have to ask? (Don’t worry, I am not a nice person, so this is not a subtle pitch.)

And no matter how exciting and articulate they may be, always watch out for the type who is capable of betraying your trust. You know, the ones who take pictures of you while you’re asleep or in an compromising position, saying “Don’t worry, it’s just for my personal collection”.

Yeah, right. Remember, if hell hath no fury as a woman scorned, the gutter has nothing as slimy as a man who can’t get his way.

A. Asohan, New Media Editor at The Star, hopes Thuan Chye won’t scold him for using his name in vain.

Going Back to My Hobbies

Pastor Steven Teo's call to go back to our hobbies burned in my heart and kept lingering in my mind. At first I was aghast when I look stock of my life and found to my great horror that I have no hobbies.

What does the proverb say about all work and no play? No wonder I'm getting dull, losing my lustre.

After a few days of soul searching I found that at this point in time the only thing that constitutes a hobby is blogging! I never imagine myself saying this but I look forward to Saturdays when I can catch up on my posts.

The great thing about blogging is that it gives me practice in writing, something that I used to enjoy in my school days and later when I was editing and contributing articles to our church newsletter.

You will not believe how difficult it was for me to string together a coherent sentence and make proper thought transitions after a lapse of about 6-8 (?) years.

Anyway, I looked back over the years and found a number of hobbies which I would like to reclaim.
  • Cross-stitch. That reminds me of a piece of unfinished cross-stitch from 1991. That's a 17-year break! It's a beautiful piece featuring a "Love is..." bridal party back in those days when that cartoon series was the rage. Maybe finishing it would be significant.
  • Crochet. Believe it or not, I used to crochet baby booties, doilies, chair backs, tops and even a dress! My pet project was crocheting Pam's baby dedication gown. Maybe I should start crocheting some table mats or runners for our new coffee table.
  • Knitting. I knitted baby booties in my school days and a number of scarfs a few years back when we were on holiday in Perth. Progress for knitting is slower so I'd better start with crocheting 'cos it's very gratifying to see one's handiwork taking form fast before your very eyes.
  • Reading. I love to read, preferably non-fiction with a happy ending. Better still if there is a lot of funny situations, wit and repartee sprinkled liberally between the first and last pages. Not interested in chillers or thrillers and cannot tahan situations where the bad guy wins the game. Touching, "kam tong" circumstances that bring a tear or two is ok. Despite the government's efforts to encourage people to read we have to admit that reading is an expensive hobby with the escalating price of books nowadays. Furthermore I have the bad habit of not being able to throw or give away my books which leads to more clutter in the house. However I just cannot get the hang of reading books online or from the PDA. I find that it is too "sterile." Part of the joy of reading is the tactile satisfaction of flipping the pages and having visual snapshots of certain passages that will enable me to roughly locate them amongst the many pages when I want to refer to them again. I just wish there is a library with affordable subscription and a good and up-to-date collection of books that I can join in Penang.
  • Cooking. I used to cook and invite the youth (most of whom are now married with children) over to eat. Then I got lazy and busy as work began to consume my time. I like the cooking part but I hate the marketing and washing up. The maid can take care of the washing up but marketing is still tedious.
  • Singing. I used to sing in the bathroom and my mom used to complain that I spend too much time in there. What to do? I only sound good in the bathroom 'cos it had the best acoustic of all the rooms in our house. Nowadays there is hardly any song in my heart. Maybe I should go karaoke but shy la if I croak.
  • Ballroom dancing. This will have to be postponed indefinitely until my darling decides to waltz or cha-cha me.
Time to get started. Recovering the cross-stitch would be a good start.

Missing Pam

She went back to KL on 28 January. It's exactly one month today.

It's been too long. Way too long. The google chat just now was not enough. Must see her soon.

To see her, hug her, smell her, sayang her, indulge her, watch her sleep, hear her breathe.

There's a Pam-shaped vacuum in my heart that only she can fill.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Late Nights Are Only For the Young

Stayed up till 4.30am on Wednesday night (by then it's already Thursday morning) to finish some work. Woke up late and managed to last the whole of Thursday at work. By the time it was evening I was dead beat.

Couldn't wait to rush home for a quick tomyam mee + 2 plums + 1 banana dinner. I thought of catching up with some reading but kept dozing off. Finally gave up and went to bed at 8.30pm. Slept through until 8.00am this morning. Woke up with a heavy head.

What happened to the girl who used to stay up half the night to finish a story book or do some last minute cramming for an exam and could still be fresh for another day at school?

Age caught up with her.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pastor Steven Teo

This morning Pastor Steven Teo was back to preach at TOP. He's Singaporean, if I'm not mistaken, and is currently residing in Melbourne.

He shared on dreams based on the passage on the miraculous provision of the widow's oil in 2 Kings 4:1-7. Here are some bits and pieces from his message which left an impression on me.
  • Dreams can be forgotten. Go back and reclaim your dreams. Go back to your hobbies! Yes, he said that and that made me realize that we have been sold on the idea that we should not do things just simply 'cos we enjoy doing them. Everything must have a meaningful purpose, a good reason before we are allowed to indulge in it without feeling guilty. Hey, our life in totality belongs to God. That means everything, even our hobbies. Sometimes our hobbies could be the means God uses to expand our ministries. Pastor Teo wanted to study art but did not paint for 31 years after his mom told him that that was not a profitable field to work in. Then one day God told him to go back to painting. He has had an exhibition where his paintings were sold and all the proceeds given to mission. Hallelujah!
  • Never despise small beginnings. Most big things are the result of small things. A little spark started the huge bush fire in Australia. There is always enough in any peculiar or particular situation for God to work with. God may be slow but He's never late. Always just in time.
  • In pursuing your dream, do not throw away your confidence. Confidence is not a feeling but a choice, a decision. It is not seasonal, nor dependent on our moods. "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded" Heb. 10:35.
There are 6 billion people on earth and God deals with each one individually, personally, one at a time. PTL!

Pastor Steven Teo in action

Pastor Teo graciously posed for a photo

Hot Weather Blooms

It rained today!

After so many days of sweltering heat the drop in temperature was a relief. But there are some bonuses to hot, hot weather too. The plants all go into preservation-of-the-species mode and start to flower even as they drop their leaves. The results are trees all covered with flowers, something like the cherry blossom season of Japan.

There is one particularly beautiful tree that's all covered with purple flowers right at the corner of Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah near 32 The Mansion. I thought of taking a photo but did not get around to doing it. Now it's too late. I guess the tree would be botak after today's shower.

I was thinking of writing a post on trees in bloom so I did manage to take some photos of a few trees which were in bloom around the office. Unfortunately none was as spectacular as that Jacaranda (???) tree I mentioned.

This picture was taken after a shower
so the flowers are looking a little droopy

This is a poor representation of the splendour
of a whole bougainvillea plant
covered with flowers

Almost in full bloom


This goes to show how old we really are.

Unconditional Love

Unconditional love may not be so unconditional after all, especially when love languages differ.

Favourite Drink

There's this place where we always go to for nice pomfret bee-hoon. Their beverage list is very limited but there's this unusual drink that I always order.

It's a delicious concoction of white fungus (peh bok nee), Chinese pear (lai ya), almond and kee chi. Love it!

My favourite drink


Today I had a compliment and it so made my day! It's also kinda sad too 'cos compliments are so hard to come by nowadays that I have to blog about it. :(

Anyway, there was a couple who was following behind us as we were walking to the car after church this afternoon. As I was getting into the car they came by and complimented me on my beautiful legs.

Not bad for a 52-going-on-53 year old gal.

This pair of legs earned me a compliment

Actually it was the back of the legs that caught their attention

Friday, February 20, 2009

Sunday, February 15, 2009


One fine day, a bus driver went to the bus garage, started his bus, and drove off along the route. No problems for the first few stops - a few people got on, a few got off, and things went generally well.

At the next stop, however, a big hulk of a guy got on. Six feet eight,built like a wrestler, arms hanging down to the ground. He glared at the driver and said, "Big John doesn't pay!" and sat down at the back.

Did I mention that the driver was five feet three, thin, and basically meek? Well, he was. Naturally, he didn't argue with Big John, but he wasn't happy about it. The next day the same thing happened - Big John got on again, made a show of refusing to pay, and sat down. And the next day, and the next.

This grated on the bus driver, who started losing sleep over the way Big John was taking advantage of him. Finally he could stand it no longer. He signed up for body building courses, karate, judo, and all that good stuff.

By the end of the summer, he had become quite strong; what's more, he felt really good about himself. So on the next Monday, when Big John once again got on the bus and said, "Big John doesn't pay!"

The driver stood up, glared back at the passenger, and screamed, "And why not?"

With a surprised look on his face, Big John replied, "Big John has a bus pass."

Lesson: "Be sure there is a problem in the first place before working hard to solve one."

I often do that. Kick up a big fuss over nothing. Why? Because I did not bother to ask, simply assume and get all worked up and upset over nothing.

Ultimate 2009 Valentine Quote

"Life's ultimate dream is to love someone whose ultimate dream is to love you!"

~ Anonymous ~


Yup, nothing makes us simmer and boil over faster than being blamed for another's misdemeanours.

Must Ask Meh?

I said: I will be going down to KL on the second weekend of March.

He said: Why?


Must ask meh?

Hmmph. Men.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Pampering Myself

Late last year I was given the bad news that I had an ingrown toe-nail which would have to be removed eventually. I begged the doctor to put it off until after CNY because such is the vanity of woman that I could not bear to go through the festivities with a nail-less big toe.

Somehow God performed a miracle and the ingrown toe-nail grew out of whatever corner it got itself stuck in. Maybe the doctor was wrong and it wasn't even an ingrown toe-nail at all. Whatever the case was, the nail was no longer painful or inflamed and so I left it to grow just to be sure.

Today I decided to go for a pedicure. After the scare, I felt it would be better to leave the cutting of the nail to the experts. At the nail centre I yielded to temptation and bought a manicure as well.

It was only RM68 for both manicure and pedicure with a Paraffin treatment for either the hands or the feet and two nail art for the big toes thrown in as well! The Spa Paraffin Pedicure itself already cost RM68 so it was value for money.

I am so happy. Now I've got nice smooth feet and pretty nails. My Valentine gift to myself.

Manicured nails

Close up of my nails

See the nail art!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Eve of Chap Goh Meh in Church

Today is the eve of Chap Goh Meh. A few of the ladies in the church decided to turn up in kebayas. Just for fun 'cos it's not every day that we get to play dress up.

The nyonya line-up in church this morning

Emma in her splendid heavily embroidered kebaya with me

I like this pink kebaya. The colour is so sweet.
It's my mom's.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Where Are The Sharks?

On Thursday, Koo Chair (that's the Cantonese term for Aunt) took Lillian and me to a factory to purchase cod fish. What a sight greeted us when we arrived at the factory.

Shark's fins covering every inch of the floor

There were so many shark's fins laid out to dry in the huge courtyard that there was hardly any space for us to make our way through to the factory. All the fins were not really that huge so they must have belonged to young, immature sharks.

Some of the fins are so small, smaller than the size of a palm

Some grey and some brownish in colour

So many fins, but where are the sharks? I hope they are not thrown back into the sea after having their fins cut off.

Shark-eating man is more to be feared that man-eating sharks.

A Fortune in My Mouth

On Thursday I was having lunch when the filling for one of my molars came off. My first thought was to throw it away but then I hesitated. Could it be one of the inlays I've put in? Anyway, I decided to take it with me to the dentist.

When I showed the little piece of metal to the dentist she confirmed that it was indeed a palladium inlay which was put in more than 10 years ago. At that time it cost RM250.00 and now it has appreciated in value to RM700.00!

Thank God! I listened to the prompting of my heart and did not throw away the filling. I would have thrown away RM700.00 and would have had to spend another RM700.00 plus lab charges, consultation etc just to have another inlay fitted in.

Realisation also dawned on me that I've a fortune in my mouth that's appreciating in value day by day!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Point of No Return

At the end of my third badminton session I decided to take a peek at the badminton store while waiting for hubby to change out of his sweat-soaked clothes. I walked out of the store with a pair of badminton shoes.
New shoes to wear for the next badminton session

That's it. I've reached the point of no return. After investing in the shoes I will have to continue playing badminton, at least until I wear them out.

FYI I believe badminton shoes are the ugliest sports shoes around. I've not seen a pretty pair yet and you'll agree if I tell you mine is already the best of the lot. Maybe they make them so ugly so players won't wear them out of court and spoil the rubber soles.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Golden Shoes

Pam and I bought golden shoes for CNY. Actually by the time we made our purchase it was already the second day of CNY but it doesn't matter 'cos CNY lasts 15 days.

My pretty golden shoes

As any woman with a new pair of pretty shoes would understand, I contrived to dress appropriately so I could wear the golden shoes on my first day at work. That's how I ended up with another kebaya day yesterday!

A yellow kebaya inherited from my mother-in-law to match my golden shoes

I think I am getting hooked on kebayas even though I am literally bursting out of them!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Ferdinand the Bull

Today I was flipping through The Star when a book review caught my eye. It looked strangely familiar and when I started to read it I immediately knew why.

Ferdinand the Bull by Munro Leaf

It's just a simple children's story about a bull and yet it unleashed a flood of memories. Memories of those good, old days when Pam and I would watch cartoons in the afternoons, after our nap (actually I needed the nap more than she did and she would always sneak away when I have fallen asleep) when we came back from the kindergarten.

Some of her favourite cartoons in those simple, uncomplicated days were "Small One" - about a donkey who, in the story, found a place in history as the donkey which Mary, pregnant with baby Jesus, rode into Bethlehem - and "Ferdinand the Bull."

She loved watching "Ferdinand the Bull" and would ask for the cartoon by name BUT she had another name for Ferdinand. At first that made it very difficult for me to decipher which particular cartoon it was that she was referring to. Later it became our private joke but she's always not amused and she'll disown me if I ever disclose it, so mum's the word.

So 'bee this post is for the good times we had. I miss them.

Nyonya In Church

It's the first Sunday of Chinese New Year. Time to reclaim our Nyonya heritage, albeit with much campur aduk and improvisation since I am now too fat to be able to bring the ends of the kebaya together to fix the kerongsang and it's too much bother to find a sarong to match.

Bursting out of my kebaya and "revealing" my camisole underneath

Kebaya held together with kerongsang and worn with pants

FYI this is a genuine kebaya handed down from my mother-in-law. My sis and I tried some of our mom's kebayas as well and we noticed the same thing. They are always too tight at the shoulders and chest but the waist would fit nicely. If the shoulders and chest fit nicely then there would be too much material left at the waist. Our conclusion is that women nowadays (or is it only us?) have broader shoulders. So unfeminine.