Monday, November 28, 2005

survived the showcase i did!

When we were asked if we had any prayer requests during last Friday's CG, blursquid and I asked the cell not to come to church for a miracle.

I was a bundle of nerves picture of poise on stage. All I remembered was walking up the stage with my classmates and trying to make sure I was sitting the right way and looking pretty proper while I gave my first performance with an instrument I was still not very familiar with.

At the end of it, the congregation from the Saturday evening service gave an enthusiastic round of applause. Me? I was just glad it was over for the day. Pastor Adam and a fellow guitarist from another class congratulated us for a job "well done!" So a miracle did take place. Either that, or we performed so badly they thought saying something nice would be consoling.

I really couldn't tell. I was too busy getting the fingerings right that everything else became a blur I didn't hear myself play. When the keyboard came in after the 1st transpose, the guitars were practically drowned out. Thank goodness, heh!

I was more than prepared for Sunday's performance, but it was still as scary. It reminded me of when I was back in primary school, backstage and all made up, getting ready for an end-of-the-year concert. Only this time, I was more than just a small kid having fun on stage, oblivious to the expectant looks of the audience.

We actually look quite good together; 5 guitarists, 2 vocalists and solo keyboardist. To cover up for any mistakes make the music sound fuller in that big hall of ours, we had Eximius' drum teacher, piano teacher and guitar teacher play softly in the background.

Now that I've gotten over my first and hopefully my last showcase, I hope the next time won't be as intimidating. Hmmm, I should've ordered a CD of the service...

Thursday, November 24, 2005

IM-less connection

I got banned from using Yahoo Messenger, my trusty online communications tool. I felt so isolated and alone. So disconnected from the rest of the world.

Apparently we're not allowed to use any form of Instant Messengers. To tell you the truth, I only found that out by accident when I went through our public folders, and it was found in our former IT dept, which is now outsourced and privatised. Technically, it's their SOP and if it's not made known to the rest of the company (parent or subsidiary), we don't have to follow their procedures.

But since they control the network, internet access, and everything technical for the rest of the group of companies, we're subjected to their rules and regulations as well. Sigh.

So anyways, for the past few years I've been able to connect to YM due to my ingeniosity. Heh! Everytime the IT tech guy comes over to do regular PM's*, I somehow manage to tweak the configuration and I'm back online again. I'm no tech wizard, but it's usually by trial and error.

This time, they've upgraded the firewall and all my efforts in connecting have failed. I can't even access websites of web messengers, touted to even bypass strict firewalls and proxy servers to enable users to use their favourite IMs.

So now I'm on, the only application that has saved me from the doldrums of an IM-less life. Thanks to, I now have a new set of friends and my contact list is being populated once again. Nevermind that it's so basic and lack the RAM-hogging features of YM, the feeling of being connected again is just indescribable!

* PM - Preventive Maintenance

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

presenting... (cue : drum rolls)...

The showcase is just 3 days away, and I'm not even ready!

Instead of having exams at the end of the school year, Eximius, our very own School of Performing Arts have decided to torture its students showcase the talents of its students by having them learn how to face an audience of a thousand play during the church service.

During one of our classes last month, our teacher handed us a slip of paper to sign should we choose to embarrass ourselves on stage do the showcase. As part of the exercise, we are required to commit regularly to classes and diligently practice our pieces.

Even before we received that piece of paper, blursquid and I were "picked on selected" by our teacher to perform. I just had to ask him why, since there were better students in our class (read : their skills qualify them for the intermediate class, but for whatever reason, ended up in ours instead). His answer? "Both of you have been faithful". What a price to pay for being faithful! :p

So anyways, tried as much as we did, but we just couldn't get ourselves out of the showcase. Teacher said it would be good exposure. Inside I was thinking "I'll really be exposed for being the lousy musician that I am!". Hah!

I have had to miss a few classes recently and I wasn't too happy because that meant I was losing out to the other students had to catch up with the rest. The only advantage I had was my musical background. But other than that, I still have to put in hours to torture my fingers practice. It doesn't matter that I can roughly guess what chord comes next or that I can follow the timing, my bar chords still sucked! sound muted.

Having said that, I must say I enjoy tormenting my digits learning the guitar. I just wished I could master my bar chords without having the guitar sound like it has a mute pedal like the piano. It's quite imperative that this is done within the next few days for we'll be playing the "Heart of Worship" in D, transposed to E and finally end in F.

You know what I'm gonna do? I'll be using my friend's canggih looking guitar, hoping that my fans the audience would be so awestruck by this fine piece of workmanship that everything else becomes a blur (read : whatever that I'm supposed to play)! And oh, please remember to bring some cotton balls - muted chords aren't very pleasant to the ears.

Friday, November 18, 2005

christmas lights come alive!

Since Nobu, the Malaysianised Nihon-jin was kind enough to help with my translation and clarify some issues with the Jap uni, I thought it would be a nice gesture to repay him by being his tour guide for the day. Or night in this case.

During the long Deeparaya* break, KC and I took him to visit the famous Kuala Selangor fireflies. I haven't been there before myself, and despite nursing a flu, I thought it was a good opportunity to see the world famous fireflies before they go extinct for good.

christmas light
Single christmas light

After almost getting lost, we finally found our way to the Firefly Park Resort. While waiting at the jetty, we saw some fireflies at the branches of the berembang trees along the riverbank. There were only a handful, but it was really quite interesting coz they looked like they had flashing lightbulbs at their butts.

christmas light alive
The insect behind that light above

This park must attract its fair share of visitors from around the world because their signboards welcoming visitors are in hiragana as well. I think there were some Nihon-jin tourists that evening because I kinda understood some of the phrases they were speaking. Either that, or they spoke really politely and had that cute lilt in their expressions.

christmas light up close
The beetle of the family lampyridae up close and personal

It was truly an experience being on the river, slowly passing by the mangrove trees. The electric-powered boats whirred so softly in the dark that our senses heightened. We could smell the raw jungle around us, feel the many mosquitoes flying about our heads, listen to the gentle motion of the riverwater.

fruits of the tree
Fruits and leaves of the berembang tree

Slowly we came into view of a cluster of trees occupied by the fireflies. It was one of most awesome sights I've ever set my eyes on - the trees looked like they were alive with moving blinking christmas lights! Words can't describe how magical it was.

After that short but enchanting ride down the river, we went to a nearby chinese restaurant for a hot meal of seafood steamboat. Since they gave us so much noodles and Maggi mee as part of the set, we ended up feeling very full at the end of it.

steamboat dinner
Waiting for our seafood to be cooked in the steamboat

The night being still young at almost 12am, we decided to bring Nobu around Port Klang, Cyberjaya and Putrajaya. He was most impressed with the architecture and infrastructure of the planned city. The whole of Putrajaya were lit up even though there was hardly anyone around. We told him this was where our taxpayers' money went, even before anyone moved in, or any of the departments started work here. But ya, I gotta admit, it's quite a beautiful sight to behold.

chinese chess
Nobu and KC trying their hand at a game of chinese chess

Our last stop was the famous Putrajaya Shangri-La. I was so familiar with that place I brought them to the infinity pool, all the fancy restaurants and the indoor garden. I've never stayed there, but it's really a good place to unwind and relax. I had one of the most "nyenyak" sleep that night.

ceiling lights of the shang
Looking up the flower-shaped lights of the Putrajaya Shangri-La

*Deeparaya = Deepavali (Hindus) + Hari Raya (Muslims) double festive celebration

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

vbs 2005

Our church's VBS (Vacation Bible School) has taken quite a bit of my time, especially in recent weeks. Committee meetings, writing minutes and following up, and teachers' briefings replaced my usual Sunday nap times.

After the whole day at the annual dinner, I was too tired to attend church. Felt really bad the day after. But had to drag myself out of bed to attend the final VBS briefing. The helpers and workers were treated to lunch before prayer and proceeding to decorate the rooms. I think we outdid ourselves this year, each class had their own set of decorations to fit the theme, much more elaborate than I've ever remembered.

Went home after that, took a nap trying to catch up on sleep and tried to finalise my lessons for the next day. Even though my role is so tiny, I wanted to make sure I did it right. The class I was teaching may be just 7-8 year old kids who may never remember who taught what in which VBS, but it was important that they had a good impression of the Truths that are imparted to them.

My efforts were duly rewarded when my class' main teacher came up to me telling me I did a good job of holding their attention. Not easy, considering we had about 110 children in that age group spread across the main rally hall. It can only be from God that I had the brilliant idea to use actions to accompany the memory verse and star-shapes in black background to display the words of Matthew 2:2, and still manage to pull it off with 3 hours of sleep.

It was good to see children, not just from our church, but from other churches and orphanages, enjoying themselves learning God's Word. Things have really changed from when I was a kid. Today they are blessed with modern AV equipment, multimedia visuals for lessons, funky music and full band during worship. And because of that, it takes so much more to get them to be still and listen to you while you teach.

I left VBS halfway yesterday due to a meeting my boss just had to schedule today, but I'm already looking forward to rejoining them tomorrow. :)

Monday, November 14, 2005

of the beach party

I'm still alive and have loads of pictures to share. The Genting trip was actually more than 3 weeks ago :D

Anyways, last weekend was especially hectic. Was involved in our company's annual dinner. Was there the whole day till at least 3am. Wearing spaghetti top to the "It's a beach thing, babe" theme in a fully air-conditioned ballroom and standing throughout did nothing to benefit me except to prepare me to be a swimsuit model in the Arctic.

The VIPs had the usual red-carpet treatment and their little complains despite the free flow branded liquor and cigar, not to mention proper tables to sit and have their dinner.

Our team did a pretty good job, no major glitches. Our AM is quite hands-on when it comes to delegation and briefing of jobs. When the Manager (now promoted out) was around, we were almost always kept in the dark and given the opportunity to figure out what was going on by ourselves. Needless to say, we ended up with more confusion throughout the night. During one recent dinner, the chairman came to the reception table (where we were receiving guests), obviously drunk, and started kicking under the table and asking "Where's my cigar? Where's my cigar?!"

When I went over to help my colleagues with the lucky draw gifts, I smelt something burning. Immediately saw one of the speakers near the DJ console smoking! Good thing the said chairman who came over some minutes later did not notice anything. A similar incident happened at another birthday dinner and it seems that now the Malaysian events circle know about it. It was considered a major faux pas as our former PM was the VVIP of that night. Surely the AV people would have had some backup or did a more thorough check beforehand?

Ah, the wonderful world of PR and event management. For juicier stories, you know how to contact me!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

cell genting trip

Did I mention that this is my 3rd time up Genting this year? I don't remember, even as a child, going up the "sin city" so frequently!

My first was in April when our MMU CF had a reunion-cum-holiday, followed by a hosting trip to a Filipino missionary couple in July. In exactly 3 months after that, I'm back in Genting, but with a whole different group of people.

spinner at work
The colourful Spinner with its gleeful occupants

With my cell members, we stayed at the 2-room condo in Awana Genting Highlands Golf & Country Resort. I remember they used to have a jacuzzi in the master bathroom. They must've removed it coz there was this huge void which looked too big for a normal bathing space and the manual for which to operate the jacuzzi was still stuck on the cupboard door.

taking a nap
Alvin forever in the sleeping position

As soon as we had checked in and marked our territories with our bags, we went straight up to the Theme Park. Good thing there weren't as many people that weekend, but we did see busloads full of Indian nationals making their way to the various rides. It used to be TARC students swarming Genting, their campus is just a stone's throw away from the foot of the hill.

baby isabelle
Our new addition to the CG, baby Isabelle

Too bad Lawrence, our former cell leader couldn't join us. Juliet the organiser couldn't make it either. In place we had Chee Ching's sister who was here from Penang, and Nobu, KC's colleague and my newfound Nihon-jin friend.

nihon-jin waving
Meet Nobu Hiraiwa, the Malaysianised Japanese

We were out there freezing our bums off till evening. It's like a city that never sleeps. In the daytime, people will be crowding the place, trying all sorts of rides and attractions. When night falls, the City of Entertainment will be all lit up and can even be seen from as far as Putrajaya on a clear day.

charlie's angels
Doing the Charlie's Angels pose

They even took me into the casino and educated me on the various "games" they had inside. Some of the card games looked familiar but I don't remember playing with money. It was quite enlightening seeing how the croupiers have to turn their hands out everytime they deal with the tokens and how the supervisors will "swap" croupiers if someone at the gaming-table was on a winning streak.

guys on phones
Supposed to be one of the winning shots for the CG Promo contest

After all the fun and education, we returned to our condo exhausted. It was a great idea to cramp together; John, Beng & baby Isabelle occupied the smaller room, the 4 grrls took the master bedroom and the rest of the guys slept in the living room. Even though space was a luxury, we had a great time bonding.

After breakfast at the Rajawali Restaurant, we had a little sharing by Sunny, our cell leader. I think he planned on giving a proper "sermon", but since we had guests, he used some pocket cards with Chinese characters to share on how the ancient Chinese actually knew the one true God. It was most appropriate since CC's sister is Chinese-ed and Nobu can read kanji characters.

spinner at work
Such colourful contraption this one is

So in the end it was not merely a cell outing, it was also bonding, educational, evangelistic and refreshing. :)