I'm amused because I was handed the keys to a BMW today.
I'm pleased because I finally spotted "The White Bear" today even though I've been going to the same place since the beginning of the week and it was glaringly obvious, but I never noticed it because I didn't look UP in the sky.
I'm excited because it finally feels like CNY is coming, even though it's mainly in the form of cookies, oranges and a plant that my cousin will inevitably send over every CNY but which never lives to see the following year due to some very black thumbs.
I'm relieved that January is over and the vomit-blood inducing foreign reporting deadline is now past.
I'm relaxed because I'm working on my own this week and can dictate my own time.
I'm tired but I'm glad of it because it makes me appreciate sleep all the more.
I'm thankful that those near-accidents last week didn't happen. Never drive faster than your guardian angel can fly, eh?
I'm grateful that CNY is coming up because it means that I get a couple of days break (which is great since I've been working round the clock the last month).
So.. Happy Chinese New Year to all!
A change is coming; I see it coming and am helpless to stop it. So.. carpe diem!
For the last 2 months, I've been devouring books, as evidenced by my credit card bills. And it was with a pang of regret that I finally finished Peter Mayle's "A Year of Provence" a couple of days ago because that meant that I now had to venture out to the mall and brave the sales-crazed throng of people to get the rest of his books, should they be available. I love his style of writing; it's somewhat reminiscent of James Herriot's-style. I'm also beginning to "get" British humour. Andy Secombe's "Endgame" was quite well-written too; though don't read it if you are an uptight Christian as it will very well offend you. A.J.Jacob's "The Know-It-All" reminded me of Danny Wallace's "Join Me".
I finally found a bookshop that didn't solely sell Jonathan Safran Foer's "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" packed in a Threebie. And understood Ann S's weird posts from a few months back when she started mimicking his writing style.
The only reason I've had time to read lately is due to my study leave. Time which should have been spent STUDYING. Time which I spent studying other reading materials instead. Ah well. It's pouring out and it's perfect reading weather, not studying weather.
My current lecturer, imported all the way from the South of England for a grand total of 5 whole days is very amusing. He's extremely expressive, engaging, funny and active in class (perhaps due to the large amounts of caffeine that I've been watching him consume). It's also quite interesting to see the culture shock in reverse and listen to his experiences and stories he's gathered from here. He observes and contrasts everything a lot; probably partly occupational hazard (he's a management lecturer) and probably partly just trying to figure out this weird country. Today's hilarious story was about how he decided to go for an evening run yesterday (which he actually acted out by jogging around the classroom) "and there I was jogging in the neighbourhood looking at the Msian scenery, thinking about my fitness level, up there (he points somewhere near the top) in Maslow's theory when I was chased by some dogs. My needs immediately plunged down to basic safety needs in the triangle and I ran for my life." (at which point he mimes a full flat-out sprint and dashes across the classroom) I don't think I'll be forgetting Maslow anytime soon.
The other topic of the day (amongst the students) was how he apparently forgot to zip his fly. I didn't even notice it but my classmate nudged us during the break and asked one of the guys to tell him that his fly was undone. Luckily he'd already noticed it and rectified the problem by the time break was over. But what was really funny was when another classmate later revealed that one of the admin office staff had phoned him on his way to class (he was late) in order to ask him to discreetly inform the lecturer that his fly was undone. The admin officer wasn't even IN the class at any point in time!
Love Paul Dateh's playing to the extent that I saved the file off glumbert then converted it to mp3 so that I could burn it on a cd to play in my car. Get it here: http://www.flv2mp3.com/get.php?11963354
Whenever I get the urge to write, I'm never in front of the computer. Neither do I have any paper or writing instruments with me. It's just one of those things.
And when I finally do get in front of the computer, my muse has disappeared.
So I shall tell a story. Because it is the little things that happen that may feel insignificant or just not worth mentioning that finally do make up the pieces of me. Of my life.
Starting with my beloved dog, Sandy, who nearly gave this random stranger a heart attack just a few days back. Sandy loves going on rides; she likes to stick her head out of the window and feel the wind in her face. I know that because when I'm sitting in front and we start driving down the hill, she pushes forward, wanting to stick her head further out. Sandy's second favourite thing after rides is barking. Attention-seeking behaviour, perhaps? "Look at me! In my very own chauffeur-driven car!" As we were driving past this rather wild, unkempt-looking pedestrian who was slowly tottering along the road, Sandy let out a furious volley of barks, which caused him to jump, turn and glare, yell, and set him off running after the car in the middle of the road. This was totally unexpected. Panicking, we floored the accelerator (luckily the traffic light ahead was green) and zoomed up the hill. Thoughts of a vengeful murderous wildman kept creeping into our over-active imaginations. One who'd prowl the streets looking to exact revenge on that little racist dog of mine. It was a while before we lost sight of him and he was still running. Needless to say, we took a rather circular route home and ensured that the windows were wound up as we past that spot again.
Was that a bump I just heard? Let me get my baseball bat and check.
This post has been delayed about a month, thanks to work.
So I finally convinced my colleagues to come climbing with me a few weeks back, though it wasn't so much "convinced" as "forced". Well, at least that was the case for one of my teammates, though one unhappy one out of 6 others is a pretty decent statistic. All in all, they did seem to enjoy it and I've gotten the usual feedback of wanting to come again (but whether there is any follow-up action remains to be seen as talk is cheap).
Of late, there seems to be an increase in interest in climbing and I've been bringing quite a few newbies. I've noticed that the guys are always more reckless and eager to show off whereas the girls are usually more cautious and scared. Also, when observing them climb, it is easy to see at exactly which point in time that they decide to give up from the sag in their body and the listless way they move. Part of the game is the mental challenge where you conquer mind over matter. eg. if you have enough conviction that you can complete the route, you have a higher probability of actually achieving that. Yes, YK's gotten that yelled at her quite a few times too :P but luckily, she's like me when it comes to climbing. hahaha. She's my one true climbing partner who's reliable and ever-ready to climb.
It's nice to introduce people to the sport; the sad fact I lament is that people just don't have the staying power to continue.
Still, some memory-snapshot-worthy stuff. Like our "lil bro" kicking the air and twisting his body (more like some free-style swimming move than a climbing move) in an attempt to reach one of the handholds futher up, but failing. And Muttley amazing everyone by making it up the 6a orange overhang on his first day there. Teaching my boss for a change (hahah! so weird!). Getting some air during the 3 times I fell off the green overhang but loving the view. Feeling sad when "alphabet soup climb" was taken down but felt really excited when I "found" my old friend, the face, on another new climb across the room. The feeling of achievement after having cleared the 6b yellow high-step climb, thanks to the route-setter's encouragement. Practising laybacking indoors. Watching the "si-fu" clear a difficult climb after many many many many tries (but he didn't give up! and that's what's important). Watching C climb: sheer poetry in motion. Absolutely amazing stuff.
The last couple of months have been spent ding-donging to Klang. It's been tiring, and some days, I just didn't feel like having to face the other 12 people over lunch. Still, I found my sanctuary in the form of the lovely-though-dubious-looking (in terms of cleanliness) friendly dogs there; feed them once and they remember you for life.
Most of the people in my department caught the sporting fever, thanks to the annual Games between the firms. I was representing my firm in ping pong; no great achievement as only 4 people turned up for the 4 spots on the team. However, we were all kept in suspense as to who would be on the first team and who would be reserve, until mere hours before the Games. So, in between driving up to Klang, I had to juggle my work and twice-a-week ping pong training (which earned disapproving stares from my senior as that meant that I had to leave "early", though it's still after working hours, as practice was held in some dodgy looking shopping mall in Cheras). Battling traffic is no joke and some days you just wonder why the hell you're expending so much energy for nothing.
It is the general consensus that my department is the "most free" department. It makes me wonder if it's because the people in my department can't separate work life and personal life, or whether it's the sheer camaraderie they foster during the long hours at work. Whatever the case, my department always has the most participants in every social and sporting event. This certainly held true for the Games.
As is the case for the organising company each year, they were again accused of cheating. Since my firm was in the hot seat during the previous year, I was tempted to dismiss the accusations as sheer envy on the part of everyone else. Yet, it DID seem a coincidence that the organisers for the year would inevitably end up as the overall champions each year.
But we had a secret weapon on our team, in the form of the team captain who had been a junior state player in his younger years. Or so I thought... Until the current year's organisers whipped out THEIR CURRENT NATIONAL PLAYERS! And how did we identify that these players were current national players representing our country for the upcoming SEA Games? They were friends/acquaintances of our team captain! So this was our captain's pep talk, "We will lose this game as we are going against Team M*******. We have nothing to lose by giving it all we've got and daring to take risky shots because we ARE going to lose. And if by some miracle, we DON'T lose, well, tomorrow, we can all quit our jobs and play for the country too."
The rules of the Games were simple: To be eligible to enter the games, the employee must be a full-time employee (which they obviously can't be, due to their demanding training schedules) and who are no longer on probation.
Then.. of all luck, instead of the usual round-robin league game, we were subject to knock-out rounds instead, thanks to the over-whelming demand for that particular sport this year. And to top it all, our first round of games were against the organisers! Needless to say, we have not yet quit our jobs. ;P
This blatant bit of cheating went on in all other sports too. It was really sickening reading their website about how much they'd advanced and how much hard work they'd put in etc. when we all knew that these were the work of national players.
But what I found amusing about all this was an email sent out by one of the partners in my firm after the Games were over:
"This year, I had been approached many a time by our concerned sportsmen and sportswomen, as to the 'strategic recruitment' policy of the eventual winners. I strongly belief that we should not change our present recruitment strategy and criteria. It is easy to adopt such strategy to compete but time will proof the wisdom of that so-called 'strategic recruitment' as it is counter productive in the longer term on client service delivery as well as the professional development and career continuum of the individuals recruited. Even overall staff morale can be affected in the longer term,especially, should things go wrong. The fact that we still finished runners up to the the eventual winners by a mere difference of seven points bears testimony to the fact that we do not need to resort to this type of 'strategic recruitment' practiced. The difference is not insurmountable. I sincerely hope that this 'strategic recruitment' policy does not spread across the other participating firms as it would certainly kill off the Games in its present form. Many of the other bigger participating firms have already expressed their unhappiness with the turn of events and how it is drifting away from the 'Spirit and Purpose of the Games' as envisaged by the founding fathers. We will cross the bridge on this matter when it comes."
I seem to have left all environmental awareness behind when I left UK. The article on craggers (i.e. ppl who are members of CRAG - Carbon Rationing Action Group) jolted me as to how bad habits are so easy to fall back into.
I don't mean to say that I deliberately leave all the lights on all the time. Since young, it's been ingrained into me to automatically switch off everything when I leave a room. But I'm still a huge carbon monster, more so now than I was a couple of years back. Back in UK, I took public transport and walked a lot. In terms of electricity, I did what I could but in a land that's perpetually dark and gloomy, there wasn't much of an option to go without lights.
Over here however, I drive everywhere - to clients/work/classes etc. as public transport simply isn't an option; firstly, due to lousy service and range and secondly, just lugging my entire office with me to each client's office already requires me to take on some of the characteristics of an octopus, without having to worry about being mugged/pick-pocketed on the LRT/train/bus. Yes, welcome back to the East. Of course, driving here isn't without it's perils too; what with all the broad daylight car-jackings in addition to the hazards of mad drivers.
A couple of months ago, there was a proposal to encourage car-pooling by imposing a levy on all Single Occupancy Vehicles entering the city centre (similar to congestion charging in London). This proposal incensed many drivers as the public transport systems in place is already barely coping with the daily rush of commuters, and is certainly not ready to take on an extra few thousand commuters. I remember similar talks about carpooling when I was growing up - all of which fell flat on it's faces before anything started. Yes, we are a NATO (No Action, Talk Only) nation indeed.
When I started out bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (or so the saying goes) at my new job, I had a desire to go into environmental audit, thanks to my university lecturer who sparked in me such a great interest in the matter. During my interview, it quickly became apparent that no such avenue really exists over here as we are too busy "developing" (though I use that word in the loosest sense possible) - to what end remains to be seen. What I don't understand is that if we are a developing country, then why is the quality of our education falling, our English deteriorating, our crime rate increasing etc?
Is it really necessary to destroy the environment before giving it a second thought and attempting to save it? What's alarming to me is that I can't think of many ways for me to take part in CRAG as nowadays, a lot of things are beyond my control. My computer is on because I need to work, the lights are controlled by the office/college. Lights are on at home because I need to continue work. The air-conditioning is centrally controlled by both office and school, though I really wish that they'd turn it down because it isn't exactly very conducive to work in an ice-box.
Tomorrow, I get a day off to study. I shall wake up early, drag my table and chair out onto my balcony and make full use of the sunshine. That shall be my contribution for tomorrow. Good night.
Got dragged out of bed at 5am this morning (after a few weeks of working late) for an early Cheng Beng visit so I was incredibly grouchy (soooo not a morning person) and spent the morning ruminating about how unfit I'd become, then subsequently going up and down as many hills as I could while at the cemetery. I reek of smoke now. yucks. And did you know that they now make paper Mercedes offerings (S-class series, of course) complete with a driver?
OBITUARY: A final summation of our lives that, for most of us, occupies about three inches of space in what will shortly become cage liner for the neighbor's parakeet.
[The Cynic's Sanctuary]
Work's been stressful - to the extent that I've started dreaming over the things I've had to agonise over during the day. I was recently put on my first solo job; so I haven't had the luxury of clearing my doubts with a simple question posed to one of my other colleagues in the room. Surprisingly though, I haven't been all that lonely (alone in my work-yes) in this new office. My first reaction when I stepped foot in the new office was, "Omg. I've walked into Dilbert-world." It was literally a sea of cubicles with narrow walkways in between each island of cubicles.
DOWNSIZING: Corporate euphemism for "Let's save a little money by firing half our staff and making the other suckers work twice as hard."
The people were relatively friendly (relative being the keyword here) and I bumped into a coursemate and a uni senior there. Made a couple of friends there too. It's really weird because normally when we go to a client's place in a team (we travel in packs if the job is sufficiently large), we don't really get friendly with the client.
JOB: A state of employment everyone wants but few look forward to on a Monday morning.
Hell, they even had to work Saturdays (officially) so I observed that too. That was quite interesting as a couple of my now-new friends had to prepare the presentation.
On the flip side, this job is ending; I don't know if I should happy (of course, there are also unpleasant aspects to this job) or sad (coz my next job's in a total DUMP - one of the dodgiest areas I've had to go to. plus I'm still going to be solo at this dump).
DNA: A complex organic molecule characterized as the building block of life and appropriately shaped like a spiral staircase to nowhere.
It's been ages since I've even logged onto this site. After spending an average of 12 hours a day at work staring at a computer screen, the last thing I want to do when I come home is to power up my computer and stare at the screen some more.
It's peak period at work now and all around me, I see very stressed, sleep-deprived faces. Yet, it is only now that I seem to be able to go out and meet friends (no exams), at the expense of sleep, of course. Still, I'm pretty happy that I managed to pass my first 2 papers - for a moment, I thought I'd have to change careers before it even started.
One of my colleagues is absolutely hilarious. As I said, I work in a rather Chinese environment; and some ppl's English isn't too good. At times, I find myself in the position of "dictionary". This week, my collegue suddenly asked me, "What's a 'snub nose'?" (as in, he wanted me to describe it) and then proceeded to say, "Only females have it, right?" While I was spluttering away, he proceeded with his other question, "What are 'full lips'? How full is full?" This question cracked us all up (my other teammates were in the room too. We started poking fun at him.
SIC: Full? 90% is full. Yours are about 60%..
TK: No, seriously.. what is full?
HC: Like Angelina Jolie-lah.
Me: It's quite subjective, you know.
SIC: Ya! It's subjective. Must use your "professional judgement". [the word 'professional judgement' is used in almost every aspect of my daily work, so that word evokes a small groan from him]
TK: Is it like very thick lips?
Me: Isn't that kinda harsh? Thick lips is taking it one step too far.
SIC: Ya! Ya! Just imagine one sausage on top of the other, instead of lips. That's full-lips. And two sunny-side eggs as eyes....
There should be an acceptable timeframe to give condolences. Not 7 years later. Bumped into some idiotic woman on the street who recognised my dad and started giving us condolences (wtf?) and saying that she and her church prayed for us during that time, yadda yadda yadda. Felt like telling her to f*ck off. Keep her useless prayers to herself.
New Year's resolution: Continue in my oh-so-heathen ways.
It's funny how many people are guilty of preaching. Their immediate reaction to that is, "Is it because of me?" Well. Truthfully, YES. I just don't have the heart to tell you that. But YES.
I guess the lack of posts of late is representative of my life. Or rather, I should say, the lack of life. No time to climb, no time to be a shutterbug, no time for anything. My climbing days feel like it was a different time, in a different world. I'm longing for the days where all I had to do when I felt like a climb was to drop D an email and hop on the tube to one of the climbing centres. Or call up C and Z and hit the Castle. It's difficult to find climbing buddies here, and even more difficult to find one to coordinate my irregular schedule with.
I am NOT happy with this sedate lifestyle. It doesn't even deserve being called a lifestyle because it has no life and it certainly has no style. I'm restless and ready to blow.
I don't mind the work so much, so long as my outlet (climbing) was maintained. However, with that falling apart, so's my focus. Stress levels hitting the usual red zone. Not good at all.
*time bomb ticking*