Wednesday, December 21, 2011

rolling off

I've just sent off what should hopefully be the last email with regards to the project I have rolled off from last week. Even though the official roll off date was last Fri, 16 Dec, it sure didn't feel like it was my last day.

Out of the many things on my to-do list, there were still some outstanding. Not very urgent, but mostly last minute requests. The rest were basically administrative like downloading files from the project SharePoint, writing thank you emails, shredding documents and goodbyes+hugs.

Even though we were supposed to be ramping down during the last few weeks, it seemed like one of the busiest periods ever as we rushed to tie up loose ends. With a client that you've been with for just a little over 2 years, it's difficult to handover everything in less than 2 weeks.

Out of all the projects I've been involved for them, this one has definitely left quite an impression, both professionally and personally. Looking back, those late night crunches, learning everything new on the fly, weekend catch up's and figuring our clients out have been a series of learning experiences.

Sometimes it felt like I was about to give up, having had enough of the lack of work life balance. Sometimes I tell myself to just push through a little bit more, I've come so far. It's the li'l thing which we call being responsible.

Being a sanguine, I'm not naturally prone to finishing what I start. In fact, it takes tonnes of discipline for me to even finish a book! Hence, I have many lying around half-read, all started with good intentions; either to arm myself with better financial planning knowledge, learning how to take delight in our Father, or to deal with difficult people.

I'm quite surprised myself at how much I've pushed myself despite all the challenges and difficulties. At least I can say I've given the best given the odds, and have accomplished what I had set out to do.

I may not be able to see the fruits of my labour, but I'm sure those colleagues who are staying on would be able to update me later. Or at least looking at the notes I've been getting, I should take comfort that my work has received recognition and is being appreciated.

Now, if only I could "work" this hard and be more "active" in the works that are more eternal in substance and value. Now that I know I'm capable of "sacrificing" so much for something I may not necessarily believe in, I should feel ashamed for not giving up even more for Him who gave His only begotten Son.



Before I forget and not post up anything before Christmas, here's some themed cupcakes wishing you a Blessed Christmas, Buon Natale, Joyeux Noël, メリークリスマス、สุขสันต์วันคริสมาสต์, Selamat Hari Natal and عيد ميلاد مجيد.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

2 years already?

i just celebrated my 2nd anniversary with this client. can't believe i just said that, as if it's like a birthday to look forward to, or a special event that needs to be marked in the calendar.

while a lot of consulting projects end within a few months, it's not unusual for clients to extend the tenure of their consultants. my previous supervisor did say it's a sign of trust. either that, or they're just comfortable with you and makes it easier to continue with the same resources.

i guess it means a little more than just a project because there was quite a bit of effort put into it in the initial stages, and i see the fruits of our labour. we helped set up the shared service centre from scratch with really no background in this sort of work (don't tell that to the client!), and today it's filled up on 2 floors, with IT professionals in niche skills you'd wish you had studied for.

it feels a little like a mum giving birth after those months of care, nourishment and attention. the kids are the new people joining us every month, whom i know better than my own colleagues sometimes! not surprisingly, i identify more with the client and its culture than with my own company.

well, we just had confirmation that i, together with most in the team, will be rolling off in less than a month. i don't know how to feel. i guess it's like giving your kids away to adopted parents after all that months of work and labour.

there's a mix of feelings i suppose. quite delighted that there's a bit of closure to some of the work that i've been doing. abit apprehensive about the next client because as my previous supervisor said "better the devil you know". definitely also sad because i think this is one of the better clients we have.

i shall miss the views i have from my privileged seat - the view of the lake gardens is a sight for sore eyes, and i wished i had done less work and more day dreaming!

i shall miss the people i've come to call my friends - though i've always had this thing about drawing the line between work and personal.

i shall miss the supply of food in the pantry and the occasional treats from the client - they're from a more prosperous industry.

i don't know what the next client will be like, but i hope they be kind to me!

Monday, November 14, 2011

november already?

Can't believe it's November already! I suppose I should be glad that the project is reaching its end, and yet it doesn't feel like it's ramping down. On the contrary, there's still a steady stream of activities to keep my team busy until the very last few days, and I suspect, this may turn into more work as we have yet to find proper owners to handover to.

It's very strange that I'm getting used to working long hours and even on weekends. Though I wish I could go back to those days where I could leave the laptop in the office and switch the mind off work without having to go through a mental list of to-do's all the time.

It's very true then the recent report about Malaysians are too hardworking - I am guilty of being one of them.

I used to agree with people who say there will always be another day to finish up work, and work will always pile up, so no point rushing to finish what you have. Well, now I beg to differ, more so because of the industry I'm in.

Lessons learnt, I hope if I get to be on another client, this should be something I have to change. If not, some thing's gotta give.

For now, let me go get my sleep because accumulated sleep deprivation has proven to be quite disastrous in many ways. I shall not elaborate, because my bed is calling!

Oh, a side note because it is good news after all : The AA cheque finally cleared (after 1 month!) so I hope that kinda covers the astronomical phone bill I had and all the unnecessary expenses for not getting my luggage back on time. It's a small relief, but nevertheless clears that nagging item on the to-do list.

Friday, October 07, 2011

the technical pains

Problem 1:
Keyboard that spews out numbers when characters are typed, and vice versa.

Root Cause :
Water spilt accidentally onto keyboard while trying to work on the floor at my cousin's place in Chicago and trying to grab the water from the table above

Impact :
Many hours wasted trying to delete extra numbers when characters are typed, and vice versa
Unnecessary stress due to loss of productivity and having to catch up with work causing more stress

Solution :
Managed to finally get the Dell technician to come on site to replace with a new keyboard. Now I can bring the laptop to meetings and not be embarrassed when I type with the projector on, and having to explain why I have a keyboard that spews out numbers when characters are typed, and vice versa.


Problem 2 :
Erratic wifi at the client site

Root Cause :
2 wifi devices installed in the company laptop

Impact : 
Many hours wasted trying to copy and paste IM conversations with client and colleagues
Many hours wasted trying to wait for emails to be sent out, giving the impression of lack of timely responses
Unnecessary stress due to loss of productivity and having to introduce other tasks while waiting for wifi to be up again, throwing original schedule off balance causing more stress

Solution :
Managed to get Remote Support from Dalian who speaks with an American accent to take control of my laptop, figured out the root cause, uninstalled the extra wifi device. Now I have almost uninterrupted wifi at the office and don't have to feel frustrated having to explain why I'm offline all the time.


Problem 3 :
Having to plug in all cables (external monitor, external keyboard, power plug and mouse) manually

Root Cause :
Not docking station installed at my cubicle

Impact : 
Many minutes wasted trying to plug and unplug cables when there's up to 6-8 meetings in a day to be attended
Unnecessary stress due to loss of productivity

Solution :
Managed to get approval from the client to get their Helpdesk to install a docking station for me. Now I can easily dock the laptop and get started on work immediately, or vice versa when I need to dash off for meetings with the laptop.



Benefits of solving the above :
I think I can safely say that even though the above seem very minor on their own, they did add considerable stress because when I finally had all of the above sorted out (in various stages throughout the past few weeks), I could breathe a sigh of relief.

Yes I could have thought of those solutions earlier, and made some time to solve them, but just didn't think of them when I'm swamped with work. Note to self : To fix the leaking roof before the roof collapses and cause even worse damage and stress!




Wednesday, October 05, 2011

starry

If you know me, I don't have sweet tooth. In fact, I count dessert as a rare indulgence. I usually eat it when I'm reminded there's dessert on the menu, or when someone else asks if I'd like to share in a dessert.


However, these stars were too irresistible. Even though they were too sweet for my liking, but because stars are also my fav shapes, I ordered them from the lady who was scooping ice cream for those in the buffet line.

If you are a fan of buffet meals, they say Le Meridien offers one of the better spreads. Plus, you get stars on your ice-cream.

Monday, October 03, 2011

lantern festival

The Mid-Autumn Festival has come and gone, but I still have that lantern we made together with the kids the Friday before the Festival.


I don't even remember the last time I actually "celebrated" the Festival. That's because we stopped playing with lanterns after we grew up! What used to be wire frames covered in glass papers of various colours and lit up by candles have now given way to battery-operated modern contraptions.

Lanterns are not difficult to make. In fact, when you have the right materials coupled with other adults as enthusiastic as making these together with the kids, it brings back glimpses of a childhood filled with simple pleasures.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

the intern

Butterfly had to say goodbye to the Intern who had to return to London to finish his studies. He had been a good help, more than what she had expected. Maybe because she didn't have much expectations to begin with, except that the team's load would be better balanced with him in it.

When Butterfly tried to request for a replacement (intern), the Top People told her not to expect anything like the Intern. He was "unique", they said.

Butterfly had to agree. She had prior experiences with a few other interns from The Slick Side, and couldn't help but agree that he was unique.

All Butterfly had to do was just give a single sentence of request, and he would be able to comprehend and digest it almost immediately, and come back with exactly (and sometimes more) than what she had requested. In fact, the Intern had brains of his own, so was able to provide input that was constructive to whatever requests or discussion that were at hand.

Perhaps it was the fact that he had good upbringing, or the fact that he was analytical and intelligent enough for the tasks asked of him. Or perhaps his humility and initiative to learn endeared him to many.

Whatever it was, everyone who worked with the Intern had positive things to say.  Even though he had not yet graduated, but The Slick Side (not the Company that hired him) were prepared to engage him even when he's back in London studying.

As Butterfly flew home that evening after a week (that felt very long) at work without the Intern, she felt grateful that he was around for a bit. She even wished there were more interns like him.

Butterfly started to wish she had been given opportunities such as presented to the Intern. But even if she were, would she be as competent and well-liked as the Intern? Would she have been able to face questions posed by The Slick Side as confident as he did?

This brought Butterfly to memories of her first job. Really, the circumstances were vastly different, and could not even be compared. All that remained in her memory of that first job was how laidback the working environment was, and how dumbed down she felt as she knew she was capable for more.

Indeed, sometimes Butterfly cannot control what environment she ends up in, or what opportunities come her way, but what  Butterfly can do is how she manages her reaction and her next steps. No one said life was fair, but Butterfly makes do and is thankful for what she has.


*Any resemblance to real-life characters is purely coincidental. Excerpts from this story may be reproduced by acknowledging the writer.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

the american cheque

So a mail arrived from my cousin whom I had bunked in with in Chicago. It contained 2 items, a cheque and letter from American Airlines.


You would think I'd be ecstatic they finally responded with some form of compensation after all the anguish and trouble I went through with the luggage incident.


I just took a few look and set it aside, cynical if I would even be able to cash it.

Either that, or I've become numbed with exhaustion from past months' events and don't know how to feel properly.

Help! I think I've become used to expecting negativity that I've lost the ability to be glad for some good news.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

a bit

i've been able to have better meal cycles lately. a bit more appetite over the weekend. finally, one long weekend where i had more time for myself and friends. still can't escape from catching up with work tonight though. baby steps, trying to see the bright side of things. let's hope and pray for a better tomorrow, a little at a time.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

japan cuteness p2

One of the little delights I missed about Japan was trying out the foods there. It's always a pleasure to find something new in the supermarket when I do my groceries.

Like trying out this Kraft cheese triangles with bits of white peach in 'em. I try to get these stuff into the fridge so I have something to treat myself from time to time.

Was surprised to find After Eight's, came in dark rum cream insides.

I started using schedulers in Japan, just can't resist because they're so cute!

Even though I may not understand French, but it's the cuteness that counts. You will find a lot of these stuff in Japan in foreign language that a lot of times don't make sense. I know this because I had a French colleague.

But this is where schedulers come in handy - they provide pages of very useful train and subway networks. And this is just for Tokyo.

With something this cute for a cup of Honey Milk tea, it's hard not to resist. Also, I saved this for a treat during the winter days.

When I saw another version many months after that, the Strawberry Milk tea ended up in my fridge for a summer treat.

Some may think I have not gotten over Japan yet, but with so many other interesting pictures in my archives still not shared, and it being one very memorable phase in my life, I find it difficult to not reminisce once in awhile.

Looking back, I can't help but be thankful for that period, with all its ups and downs. I may not fully comprehend why they all happened, but I'd like to think that those events provided some important life lessons.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

japan cuteness p1

Was trying to explain tatami to Miss Barbie when I ended up digging out pictures from my Japan days. Was feeling a bit nostalgic looking through them, and realised I never really posted some of them here.

Most were taken randomly because I thought they were so Japanese! Agree with her that I'm blessed to have had the opportunity to live in Japan where the culture is rich and so many things can be made cute and/or pretty.

Electricity bill comes printed with chick-like silhouettes. Maybe to cushion the amount you'd have to pay to the Tohoku Electric Power Co. Inc.

But then, since it was my first notice, the statement was more to tell me when they will be coming over to check my usage.

Bank account cards, and these are not for kids. Ended up having a few accounts because they have local banks which may not have branches in other cities/prefectures. Since I moved a few times in Japan, ended up with at least 3 separate accounts.

First time receiving a gift wrapped in 風呂敷*, hence took me some time before I finally had to open it because I didn't want to spoil the wrapping.

Petite sweets to be savoured with green tea.

Received this when I loaned my car to a classmate. With most confectionery, they get seasonal, and this was the Winter Opera.

Sprinkled with gold flakes, almost couldn't bear to sink my teeth in 'em!




* 風呂敷 【ふろしき】 (n) wrapping cloth; cloth wrapper;

Saturday, August 20, 2011

a little hope today

I have yet to hear from American Airlines (AA) about my compensation. Due to long hectic hours spent at work, I had less time and energy to chase after an incompetent airline which caused me stress and anguish while I was in the US.

Living almost like a refugee is no fun. Not when I had to attend a company training on a location out of the city with no direct and easy access to a shopping mall.

You can imagine the frustration I had to go through upon landing and not having my luggage with me. What was to be a trip to explore a new continent turned to me wanting to take the next available flight back home.

Not only did I not have my luggage for almost the whole duration I was there, but due to situation at work I had to stay up late to catch up. I thought to myself, maybe it was a sign that I should not have made the trip in the first place.

Still, I reminded myself that it was still an opportunity that many would consider a luxury, especially in this times of economic turmoil. Finally, for the first time I was flying on company expense, nevermind that I was cramped up for no less than 24 hours of cramped economy seats with 2 transits.

I counted my blessings too for being able to make US my 2nd new country this year, and for having a cousin that I could turn to for temp clothes and shoes, nevermind that she was vegetarian and I lost all the weight I had gained while feasting on bacon and glorious American food during my training days.

Being in US gave me a peek into the once-mighty country of US, which the world looks up to to solve their problems. It was a good break, albeit not as how I would have imagined.

My cousin and her Indian husband encouraged me to try to find work in US, sharing their experiences about better work life balance and opportunities in the IT sector. As I listened to their stories and thought about the krazy hours I was working, it did sound very tempting.

But the lost luggage had marred my experience. I told everyone I'd be too traumatised to fly to US again, not counting the stricter immigration rules and inspections.

I was about to give up about hearing back from AA. That was until I received news from my company that our travel insurance (and not AA!) would be able to cover some of the loss.

A few weeks ago they emailed to say that delayed luggage more than 4 days is considered as loss luggage. Therefore I would be entitled to the maximum compensation of RM750. I received this email while I was drowning in work, and being a bit jaded by then, did not even feel a tinge of happiness.

So when I checked my account this morning and saw the cheque cleared for that amount, I could only manage a smile.

Yes, even though it's a little something to be thankful for, it's better than nothing. That, and maybe I'm just too tired to feel anything anymore.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

jinx not my hope

a little hope coming my way. but i dare not rejoice until i see it with my own eyes. thus, i shall not jinx it by revealing anything at this point of time.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

theatre of madness

It's been a string of negative feedback and criticisms for the past few months. As far as Butterfly could remember, she has not heard anything positive in a long time.

Whenever Butterfly sends out emails or documents to be reviewed, she braces herself for rework and having to answer some questions which sometimes make her feel she's not putting in enough effort or thought into her work.

Butterfly remembers last year as the total opposite. Having the Cream Supervisor to guide her and having to report to the Cream Client were just bliss. Butterfly had her share of learning curves, but they were mostly pleasant.

If anything, "excellent", "brilliant", and "wonderful" which became a staple vocab in exchange for work done, started to make Butterfly feel as if she was capable of a lot of things. Those motivated Butterfly to stay on.

This year everything seemed to have turned upside down for Butterfly. In a different project, Butterfly now had the Lemon Supervisor and the Lemon Client. Knowing the true colours of Lemon Client, even phrases like "very good" have started to lose its real meaning.

Seemed like Cream and Lemon represented different styles of working. Cream being cream, they were soft, fluffy and left an overall smooth aftertaste. Lemon always felt sour and made everyone cringe. Not everyone appreciated Lemon though Lemon being lemon had its usefulness.

Learning curves were now steeper, expectations higher and scope of work wider.
Not to mention power play on a theatre full of fantastic Actors and Actresses all eligible for the Oscars.

Every week the scene changes, with each Actor pushing himself to the front to show the Audience what he's capable of, with each Actress flashing her best smile to convince the Audience she deserves the role.

Butterfly just feels tired. Exhausted even. More and more around her wants to be on the stage. She gets caught in between, accused even of standing in their way when all she wants is to fly outdoors in the garden and smell the roses.

Away from the crowded stage, where the madness is, where masks have become a necessary accessory. But first Butterfly needs to figure her way out of that madness.


*Any resemblance to real-life characters is purely coincidental. Excerpts from this story may be reproduced by acknowledging the writer.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

bird on the gate

It's interesting how God speaks when you least expect Him to. Especially after I've ranted about how He has been silent in the midst of my struggles.

To make sure I know He's listening and responding, yesterday's ODB reading was about doing good regardless. I was actually rushing to leave for work when a tiny prompt reminded me I have yet to do my Bible reading.

I couldn't help but be amused when the verses Luke 6:27-36 came to view on my Bible.

While I was getting into the car, the sight of the neighbourhood bird perched on the gate caught my attention. It was the first time I had noticed that, I took it as a little cheer-me-up from God to remind me that if He is able to feed the birds of the air, whatmore will He do to take care of my very needs.

Monday, August 01, 2011

lifeline

For a long while, it has been nothing but tears to accompany me to sleep, wishes of a better tomorrow and prayers for strength to survive another day.

I can't say that has subsided, nor has any of the issues fully resolved. Neither do I know why I'm going through all these.

The bitter lump is still in the throat. In fact, the waves continue to crash over me, fiery arrows fly from all directions without any sign of abating.

If anything, I'm challenged to trust and hope in a God that seems silent for most part of this struggle. There doesn't seem to be any (visible) light at the end of the tunnel, and I grab at whatever I can to support me.

For now, your prayers and encouragement have been my lifeline. At least I know I'm not alone in this.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

letting go

It feels like a part of me has died.

We are as similar as we are dissimilar.

It pains me that I can't be with the one I love.

But I must learn to let you go.

Friday, July 08, 2011

g5 and h6

G%ood news : Lug5g5ag5e bag5 found. (^.^)

Not so g5ood news : Accidentally spilled water onto keyboard. Now my g5 and h6 are beh6aving5 funny. (T.T)

Saturday, July 02, 2011

windy city p5

when i first read in our mail that we would get a ride from the airport in a limo, i thought it must be the kind of limo that we have in klia - just a glorified version of the normal cab.

you can imagine my skepticism because i made the call just after i filed a claims for my luggage. feeling really down all i wanted was to get some rest after the 20+ hour journey, and try to look for the luggage later. so the lady on the other line did mention a white stretch limo would be there just outside the luggage claim area.



i only believed it myself when i stepped out 10 minutes after that call was made to find a chauffeur coming out to greet me. it was a lady chauffeur, looking all professional with a uniform, cap and gloves. she was ready to take my luggage to the boot, but was surprised when i mentioned i didn't have any other than my hand carry.

i had the whole limo to myself - had to almost pinch myself to believe it.


kinda felt like a superstar for awhile! i thought they would've received this for large groups to make it worthwhile. oh well, since it was arranged for me, i might as well enjoy it while i can.

not cheap though, this cost me almost USD70 for one-way trip. would have been great if i had the mood to turn on the tv or blast the radio, or even have some bubblies waiting for me. was a good thing i had the sense to buy some hot chocolate from starbucks, so that sustained me a bit until i reached the training centre.


our small but functional rooms. just nice for a single occupant with almost everything you need. set my expectation low, so was pretty happy they even had toiletries and towels! oh well, better than nothing, so i'm quite thankful.

Friday, July 01, 2011

windy city p4

since i never had the chance to do non-work stuff, i decided to skip the drinks that everyone else was going for and spent some me-time.

feeling a bit better and having gotten a refreshing nap, here are some stories i've been wanting to tell since i landed.



first, a shot i took in the SFO-ORD flight. first time i'm surrounded by big americans. it's very different for me because even when i was in australia, it didn't feel like i had left asia!

after the luggage incident, and being cramped in an old plane, i appreciate asian airlines even more. also, asian air stewardess who work very hard, or at least they make the effort, to serve their customers.

while i understand the equality policy that does not discriminate against certain age group and gender, i honestly think american stewardesses have it much easier than their asian counterparts.

on my almost 4 hour flight, all i got was a cup of orange juice. and i had to ask for it myself.

the stewardess just walked out from the back with a tray of juices, but never said a word. whoever wanted one had to put up their hand and ask for it. nothing like "ma'am, what would you like to have?" or even if options were not part of the flight ticket, something as basic as "orange juice, anyone?" would suffice.

after that one brief round of her silently walking down the aisle too cramped for the average american, she just went to the back of the plane and read newspapers.

those who know i have to eat every 4 hours will know that i was feeling quite uncomfortable, especially after 2 transits on a long journey across the pacific ocean. even if they wanted me to pay for some cookies, i would have gladly done so, but there was no such thing.

i'm not sure if their international flights are any better, but this plane was old, had monitors on the ceiling of the aisle, and for someone as petite as me, really cramped seats. i don't know how the americans travel like this if they're double my size!

what a nightmare - and a terrible way to end the journey to what could have been an adventure that i would have been proud to share.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

windy city p3

its been almost the end of the week and my training will be ending tomorrow. and yet, the luggage is yet to be located. i think i'm traumatised for life - no more trips to this part of the world!

i have had to make many calls and check online for the status of my luggage (don't think i can classify it as delayed anymore, but plain lost!), reaching out to as many people i can think of who may be able to help. i don't remember the number of times i had to excuse myself from special topics held during lunch times or when i couldn't stay long to chat more just because i had to go back to check.

adding to that stress, i have to also work from here. it's a bit difficult when my dependable teammate has just resigned the left the day i travelled for this training. with only a month's notice, there was even shorter period of handover to the new teammate, and it made it impossible for me to even handover part of my job.

the other-alternative-teammate was nice to help out, but she too was away on leave this week. that threw back the bulk of the work back at me, as i couldn't just leave everything to drop.

so right after intensive full-day trainings, i had to try to do some shopping to at least get a luggage bag and some necessities. after coming back, had to continue working till almost midnight. by the time i'm done it's too late to do anything else.

have been missing out on the outdoor sports and mingling around for the past few days, and it's really a waste because it's beautiful spring weather!

so i'm planning to stay back tomorrow to do some of that. hopefully it will stay beautiful.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

windy city p2

training has been quite well, with lots of relevant nuggets that could be applied at work.

luggage still not located.

think i'm still having jet lag. feeling sleepy and tired, maybe i just need to sleep more to catch up on all those previous weeks of late nights.

everyone tells me to cheer up and to treat it as a shopping excuse. but it's difficult when its not just your clothes, shoes, toiletries are missing, but clothes on loan from a friend, and also accessories which were gifts from friends. worse still, gifts wrapped in love from my aunt and uncle meant for my cousin.

even if i get reimbursement, i can't get those exact same items back, it would just be too much hassle. not to mention the countless calls i've been making trying to get help on this.

the upside to this is the abundant food we have on campus. yes it really does feel like being back in school with timetables, lecturers, classrooms and attendance sheet!

the weather is lovely too, made me miss japan all over again. like how the skin touches the cold porcelain of the toilet bowl, those who've experienced heated toilet seats would appreciate that nifty japanese invention!

if not for the multiple trips i've had to make to the shopping mall, i would have loved to go outdoors, do a bit of cycling & photography and just enjoy the spring weather.

but i'll take what i can get - the opportunity to be in a totally new continent, having travelled for more than 24 hours, making friends from all over the world, being surrounded by food, and the ability to learn and discover.

i'm still very blessed.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

windy city

It's close to 11am here - So I've finally arrived in Chicago! I love the crisp spring air despite it being a little colder than I had expected. I guess the warm tropical weather has distorted my memory of four season temperatures. I had packed clothes meant for the Malaysian weather since many have told me that it was going to be hot & humid. >.<

Speaking of clothes, I'm left with only the clothes I wore when I left home. My luggage couldn't be located :( I think it had something to do with the fact that my HKG-SFO flight got delayed and I only managed to check in at the San Fran airport minutes before the call to board. Was trying to not to rush through immigration and customs and only got into the plane with 5 minutes before the plane took off.

The only consolation is I got a ride to the training centre in a stretch limo. If not for the frustration at having lost my luggage, I would have felt like a superstar travelling in a white limousine with a driver in suit and cap. Too bad there weren't any bubblies waiting for me inside.

Since the windows were tinted, I took the pleasure of observing the cars around me as we whizzed past in the expressway. No one seemed to be surprised at the limo, the cars were a lot bigger and wider than the ones back home. In fact, everything here is either tall, wide or just bigger than anything I've seen.

Reminded me of the trip down to Sydney, when Tze drove me around the suburbs. I commented on how expansive everything was - the houses, gardens, roads. It's really quite refreshing having so much space around you.

I tried to take in the sights around me, while enjoying the ride being chauffeured, pushing the thoughts of work behind. Even though this was partially for work, I hope the vastly different environment would give me a different perspective, and perhaps a little break from what has happened.

Think the sight of large Americans around me would be a good distraction. Speaking of which, this is the first time I'm being surrounded by predominantly black and white people. It's like what you see on American TV!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

flying on economy for business

So I'm almost packed - hope I didn't leave anything behind. It's hard to know sometimes when you go to a new country, whatmore a new continent this time. First time going for training overseas, on company budget! I'll get to experience what many other friends and family members have done, so I'll get to see whether I'd like travelling for business. Though unfortunately it wont be business class I'll be flying. Economy, bah.

Flying across great oceans and many time zones and transitting 2 times, this should be the biggest adventure so far. Hope I'd be able to get my mind off work a bit, though I'd be expected to still check mails.

Anyways, I'll try to write more when I'm there. Although everyone around me feels excited for me, suggesting places to go, food to try and things to do, I have yet to feel it myself. I guess I'm still too exhausted from all the late nights past few weeks.

Looking forward to catching some sleep and movies on the plane :) Hasta la vista, I'll be back!

Friday, June 24, 2011

venom and heat

You know who you are, thank you for your prayers.

I really thought I was going through anxiety attack, and it was all I could to do remain calm and still drive myself to work despite all that has happened lately.

It wasn't just the slithering snakes nor the burning fire caused by the arrows from all direction, it also felt like waves were crashing over me.

I felt a a strange sense of calm amidst the venom and heat, something I can't quite explain but deep down I knew it was Him who came to my rescue.

I'm glad I'm not alone in this.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

trapped

The snakes are everywhere.

The flaming arrows seem to fly in from all directions.

How do I get myself out of this? Who do I turn to? Who is to be trusted?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

anyway

Though I've read this before, it came just at the right time when I thought there was no good left in the things around me.

It didn't dawn on me that a lot of many various things accumulated could be so overwhelming until it did reach that point, so I try to remind myself to take things slowly, one at a time, and to leave the rest to God.


People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway."
— Mother Teresa

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

another break?

It's a little more than 10 days counting down. Just when I thought about this trip last year, it seemed so far away. Though I did plot down after CNY to start checking on flights and take my time preparing for it.

Little did I know I'd be roped in for another project, with my earlier roll off date pushed back from June to December. Now I'm in the middle of quite a peak period, and stress levels are at an all-time high :(

These past few weeks have been a lot of about office politics, lack of resources, too much nit-picking by stakeholders and the initial settling in for the new team members. Being pragmatic, I just want to get things done, but are hampered by factors beyond my control.

In the midst of the early weeks of project kick off, I was trying to get a single list of to-do from colleagues who've been there but came back with various opinions. Flights were reserved in advance, but I was getting worried that the visa application would be plagued with all sorts of paperwork.

Knowing how strict airlines are these days, whatmore airport security, I had to double and triple check that I had everything covered. After many weeks of running around getting various forms filled, photo taken, fees paid, and letters verified, I finally secured an interview with the embassy early last week.

There were a series of queues to go through, which took almost 2 hours. The interview itself went by in a breeze, in fact was over in a couple of minutes! I'm glad I didn't get the other guy who seemed quite strict but courteous.

The one who interviewed me looked kinda Japanese with Koizumi's salt-and-pepper lion hair, but spoke with an American accent. He basically asked which company I was attached with, what purpose I was travelling for, what I had studied in my previous course, and whether I was single >.<

With that, he gave me the approval that I would have my visa within 3 working days. That was fast! I had to make my dad wait at home for the courier in case they arrived earlier, so I was really relieved when they sent it over on Friday.

Hope all goes well with the rest of the things on my checklist. And of course, that nagging feeling at work that I may still have to check emails when I'm away @.@

Monday, June 06, 2011

dancing fish


Seen a dancing fish before?

Sunday, June 05, 2011

canoodling

The weather these days have been rather unpredictable, with stretches of extremely hot & humid weather interspersed with unexpected heavy rain. Just when you're dressed in sleeveless to get an even tan, the late afternoon can suddenly turn to a session in the fridge with sudden thunderstorms and lightning flashing across the skies.


It was one of these days when we got caught in the rain on the way back that we decided to try something warm and soupy. Located in BVII, canoodling caught my eye with its catchy name and creative interior.


Even the menu had a quirky feel to it.
canoodling (/kəˈno͞odling) = to kiss and cuddle amorously *in this case, over noodles


I was suitably impressed with the prompt and courteous service extended by the wait staff. Rather than lament on the lack of service in the country just because I have experienced the best, I must commend them for their attentiveness.


Boasting a cheery yellow and solid black theme, this theme helped carry some air of playfulness in its interior decor. For those with an artistic streak, they can help themselves to the generous selection of crayons to doodle while waiting.


I like how it felt a bit like being in a kindergarten with the bold bright colours and seemingly simple cutleries. The chopsticks and spoons in the cup looked more like sticks of pencils in a jar, all waiting to be used for more doodling on the paper tablecloth.


The menu near the kitchen is boldly scribbled in Japanese chalk, offering a list of familiar local favourites. The dim lighting only served to accentuate the chrome accents from everything within sight.


There are plenty of plush cushions custom made to fit the theme of the restaurant, which could also be seen at the base of the lamps near the island for casual patrons.


Since I wasn't having much appetite after a long day at work, I decided to try something simple and went for the chee cheong fun in XO sauce. When one is hungry, it's funny how something that seemed so easily done and simply tossed can taste so good! Gives me an idea of what to cook if I want something quick and delicious.


Miss Barbie needed something more filling, so an order of pan mee accompanied by stuffed fish ball in soup based on the recommendation of the waiter. This was the dry version, almost reminded me of those Japanese meals that come with half-boiled egg to be mixed together with the other ingredients.


Apparently canoodling shares kitchen with a neighbouring eatery, known as forgoodnesssake, which was supposed to be a Japanese style bar. Unfortunately a few weeks after when we went back for more soupy goodness, that has closed down but replaced with a Chinese restaurant serving home-cooked dishes.

Food : 7.5/10
Service : 8.5/10
Ambience : 8.5/10

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

courage


Courage is not the towering oak
That sees the storm come and go,
It is the fragile blossom that opens in the snow.

Alice Mackenzie Swaim

Saturday, May 28, 2011

reminded

Just when I thought I was about to explode with all that stress around me, and all I wanted to do after a tough week was to curl up in bed, I was prompted to go for cell tonight.

Since I was helping out, I felt a bit uneasy as my mind was not really focused. In the midst of trying to get a quick bite I felt like catching up on the book "You Were Made For More". This was actually on loan from Hyun but somehow ended up in Malaysia with me because I never got the chance to read it when I was still in Japan.

In between entertaining the kids from my mum's cell, and quickly finishing up the soup I only managed to cover a few pages. But those few pages was enough to remind me that despite life's struggles we should remember to thank God for His blessings.

As cliche as this sound, it would do us well to recall the good things He has put in our lives and how He has carried us through in the past. If God has done that for me before, He will continue to be with me even through today's trials.

I almost wanted to slap myself because it was really silly of me to forget this simple fact. And even so that I have experienced His goodness over and over in really down times and yet here I was, never allowing Him to be in control thinking I could do it myself.

Cell tonight was centred around Job chapters 20 through 28; we did a bible study on those verses. One of the summary points brought back the same message about trusting God. In the midst of difficulties, sometimes we lose ourselves in the middle of all that's happening. We may complain and grumble about it, but as long as we don't submit to Him, those problems will always seem bigger than Him.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

conned & insulted

The past few weeks have been incredibly tough, especially at the office. Working long hours and even on weekends isn't something I enjoy, so I salute those who have been doing it for years, and are still able to have a semblance of life.

I'm not a fan of work encroaching into personal life especially when I get to go home after the sun sets, and still work is on my mind. More so when I have to play catch up during the weekends.

Some of the things that have happened at work this month have tested my patience and thickened my skin. Just when I thought I've had it tough before, this is really much more than anything I've ever had to go through.

Can't say if things will get better, but at least talking to the right people and venting it out have helped put things into perspective. By knowing how to deal with difficult people and looking at the bigger picture, this has helped me to manage the stress better.

Not surprising that there is high turnover in the consulting line. Not only is the mantra to please the clients, but a lot of times this involves eating the humble pie and letting the client receive the credit.

I try to remind myself that being in these difficult situations help in character development, not to mention learning a lot about myself and how much I can be stretched.

But I think at the end of the day, I know this is probably not what I want for the long term. The consulting line may look glamorous on the outside, and even outsiders will say all kinds of things about consultants. But being one myself, I can understand why they are like that.

Let's see how things unfold; I just hope I can last long enough to preserve my sanity!

Monday, May 23, 2011

candles for grrlfriends

Just when I thought there wouldn't be anymore reasons to celebrate, we had a (very!) belated birthday gathering for Lai Ying and myself. Knowing how busy everyone was, the 7D4 taikacher and I had to organise this one ourselves :D


It's heartening that after all these 10+ years of knowing each other, we still try to maintain ties and meet up as much as possible. There was even a point where Lai Ying and I decided that even if none of the 7D4 babes were able to make it for our birthdays, we would still celebrate for each other.

This was taken at Kobe Gyutaku, a very elegant Japanese restaurant I've taken much liking to. Wei Mun & hubby were surprised that such a nice little place existed within their "neighbourhood".

I'll try to post a proper one up where I brought my family for mum's birthday. In the meantime, I'm just grateful that no matter how (not so) frequent we meet, we can still pick up from where we last left and chat away and catch up with each other's lives.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

pantry sense

After more than a year of working at the client's I have unconsciously learnt their mannerisms.

Was just at the pantry filling up the thermos when I realised Mr Abadi coming in to fill his water tumbler, so I greeted him. My back was facing him, and I didn't turn to look around.

He was naturally surprised that I recognised him, thinking perhaps it may have been the footsteps that gave him away.

So he asked how I knew. I said it was my 6th sense.

What he didn't know was that the orange panel behind the water dispenser was glossy enough to act as a reflector. It's definitely not a mirror, but it reflects enough light just to show the silhouette of anyone who walks past it.

I just get a kick out of seeing people's reaction when I greet them without even turning to see their face.

So don't tell them our little secret ;)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

gifts to remind


sometimes when i'm feeling down, i like to look back at the gifts i've received.

in a way they remind me to be thankful for what i have. they remind me that there are people who care.

though i didn't get to celebrate my birthday with all my favourite people in march, but that's because they're taking their time and i even had a belated one this evening!

Monday, May 02, 2011

on days like these

on days like these, i thank God for the rain
cool evenings
a whisper with the wind

on days like these, i wish i knew what to do
muddled thoughts
questions hanging in the air

on days like these, i feel your pain
intense agony
wonder if this is true

on days like these, i grasp for stars
sparkling above
will they bring hope

on days like these, i want to curl up in bed
sleep away
and wake up to a brand new day

on days like these, i thank God for His love
gracious mercy
without which i wouldn't be alive

Saturday, April 23, 2011

me-time

It's been some time since I really had some "me-time". Just wanted to have a whole day to myself where I don't have any obligations to meet, appointments to go for, activities to do, and most of all a specific schedule to follow.

Just me doing really mundane daily stuff. Those that I wish I could do over the week, but somehow never got the chance to because I'm tired after a long day at work, or going out during the weekend.

So now my bed is filled with all the things that remind me I have to update my finances, file my income tax, read certain books/comics, wrap presents, send a letter to a friend, tidy my receipts, and the list goes on. Nothing particularly exciting, except for the gifts.

Maybe it's a good thing I have a queen-size bed. Many will be surprised to know that I don't have a bed, but rather the mattress lies on the floor.

When we first moved in to this house, I did want a bed. But when it arrived, it made my already small room looked even smaller! So I gave my parents the bed instead.

People think I got inspired after living in Japan and wanted to sleep on the floor. But this works for me since I don't have to contend with dust that would have gathered under a bed, plus I use my bed like a seat sometimes and do a lot of stuff on it.

So much so I don't know if I should even call it a bed or mattress. It's basically where I chill out and have my "me-time" :)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

i like for you to be still




I like for you to be still
It is as though you are absent
And you hear me from far away
And my voice does not touch you
It seems as though your eyes had flown away
And it seems that a kiss had sealed your mouth
As all things are filled with my soul
You emerge from the things
Filled with my soul
You are like my soul
A butterfly of dream
And you are like the word: Melancholy

I like for you to be still
And you seem far away
It sounds as though you are lamenting
A butterfly cooing like a dove
And you hear me from far away
And my voice does not reach you
Let me come to be still in your silence
And let me talk to you with your silence
That is bright as a lamp
Simple, as a ring
You are like the night
With its stillness and constellations
Your silence is that of a star
As remote and candid

I like for you to be still
It is as though you are absent
Distant and full of sorrow
So you would’ve died
One word then, One smile is enough
And I’m happy;
Happy that it’s not true

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

buble for birthday p2

I feel a bit bad for posting so many happy posts but it was my birthday month in March, and I'm trying not to make the same mistake of not crediting everyone who took the effort to make my day a really special one.


It started drizzling when we arrived, so we had to quickly get some food into the stadium. Unfortunately we were banned from bringing them in.


I specifically asked the vendors outside if we could have the food inside, and they confidently told me we could. So it was to our surprise that we had to gulp down the food before going in. A lot of other people seemed to have been misinformed too! (Minus points for the organiser)


Since we came early, we practically had the whole place to ourselves. The stage was awash in a glimmering bluish purple hue.


Sarimah was the MC for the night. Even if I couldn't see her on stage, I could recognise her laughter from years back from another event lol!


Opening act by Najwa. I must say I wish I had known about her earlier! Blessed with powerful vocals she could've easily been mistaken as another black singer. She oozed soul in her first piece "Got To Go".


Having warmed up to a jazzy evening, the curtains closed again. Buble's initials flashed across the stage, with Olympic-like halos surrounded it. I don't know why but Mickey Mouse came to mind >.<


Everyone (especially the grrls) went wild when he appeared. The crowd was ecstatic! He brought along a compact ensemble of musicians which were highlighted in various parts of his songs.


I like how the projectors not only enhanced the entertainment value with its high quality graphics, but were mobile enough to form 5 separate panels or other combinations to suit the mood.


After a few round of songs, Buble came down the stage to interact with his fans. Thought he'd remain at the privileged front rows. So when the spotlight followed him, it was with great delight that he walked to the back.

We were one category below the most expensive ones, and were at the last row of seats. I got close enough to capture this, but not to shake his hands though >.< Too shy!


His crew had prepared a makeshift stage just behind us, which he went up to continue singing. Being very obliging, he would shake hands and acknowledge the adoring fans around him.


Those who were at the upper deck went wild when he turned to them, singing as if they were the only ones in front of him. The spotlight was just directly in front of us, and now I understand why performers can sweat so easily!


Down came the confetti from the ceiling. Silver bits that rained on us that when I tried to capture it became a blurry shot instead. And that was supposed to be the finale.


So Buble left the stage, at which point the audience shouted "Encore! Encore! Encore!". He came back a few minutes later to entertain us with one last song and a message to his fans that he would be back, only if they would improve on the air-conditioning!