December 31, 2009

Another decade down

It's that time of the year again - 31st December. The final day and hours of 2009. Can you believe it? I don't know about you but I have this odd sense of obligation to write a last entry in my blog even though I really have nothing to talk about. At this time of the year, most people would probably sit back and reflect on the year thinking about their stand-out moments. I've done that a few weeks ago so I can't do another reflection. I guess I'll just make this short and sweet by wishing everyone a very peaceful, safe and wonderful new year. To family, friends and fellow bloggers who visit my site, thank you for being a part this blog. It's been a year since my first post and I look forward to sharing more wacky and not-so wacky moments with you. Once again, Happy New Year.  

December 29, 2009

Survival Kits for 2010

I purchased these a few days ago. The pink organizer is meant to help me organize my life in 2010 by showing me stuff I need to do, deadlines to meet and papers to submit. Basically what a normal organizer or PDA would do. You all know that right? Okay spare me the 'duh' look. Anyway, the zodiac bible is crucial too because it tells me how capable I am in doing all the stuff listed in the organizer. Zodiac books are meant to do that. They help us understand our personality and they highlight our strengths, positive attributes and specialties.  Well, even though I don't take in everything the book says, it's fun to read and it can be a good source of motivation. Reading something like this every morning will definitely perk up my day:

You have an incredible power of insight, which you use socially, professionally and ultimately spiritually to obtain higher gifts of nature....You're are determined in life and forceful.....You are able to bewitch people...bla bla bla

You heard that? I mean, you read that? I am able to bewitch people! Who would've thought I had such power! Point is, self-motivation. That's all. Now I'm all geared up for 2010. Bring it on.

What needs to be done in 2010

Every year in December, I proclaim my New Year's Resolution for the upcoming year. Last year my New Year's Resolution was to start a blog that I worked on regularly, read more good books and eat more healthily. In addition to that, I also made a dozen of other resolutions which I've forgotten and failed to fulfill. This year, I think I'll do myself a favour and stick to the basic, achievable ones. Here's my top 16 resolutions for 2010.

1. Write at least 1 entry per week in my blog.
2. Write for at least 1 hour everyday, without fail (for my thesis).
3. Lose at least 4.5 kilograms. (The 500gm here makes it more achievable compared to losing 5kg cos 5kg = a small sack of rice)
4. Start using my U-Zap to help speed up no 3.
5. Read at least 1 non-fiction, good book in a month.
6. Reduce time spent on FB.
7. Not to indulge in retail therapy when feeling moody (maybe this one's not so practical).
8. Exercise at least once a week to achieve no 3 (not enough, I know).
9. Be consistent in using all my skincare products, day and night, everyday even when I feel worn out and crappy.
10. Travel to Dunedin, Queenstown and Kaikoura.
11. Reply mails promptly.
12. No more speeding tickets or other traffic offenses.
13. Learn at least 3 new recipes.
14. Eat less chocolate/potato chips/McD/boisenberry-flavoured ice cream and deep fried food
15. Try not to procrastinate. Do stuff on the spot.
16. Laugh more and not sweat over the small stuff.

I guess that's about it. My 16 Resolutions. Now I'm going to print this list and stick it on my fridge. What's your resolution?

December 24, 2009

Here comes Christmas

It is Christmas. The day that brings out the best in so many people - young and old. This year, I've learned a lot about the meaning of Christmas, from my brief experience as a Cathedral volunteer as well as from a good blog post written by a dear friend. Initially, I wanted to blog about how I spent my day running errands, walking through shopping malls in pursuit of the perfect gift for hubby.  I changed my mind after watching the rerun of Nine Lessons and Carols on TVONE.

The Bishop's message was to forget about gifts, presents and material stuff on Christmas day. Instead, focus on  the true meaning of Christmas - God's gift. She's right. I think it’s a really good idea to stop and think about what is really important to us about the holiday season.

A wonderful post from my friend CL reminds me to be grateful for all the blessings I have received and to pray for those who are less fortunate.

For those of us who are happy this Christmas, let us take time to say a prayer for those of us who are hurting and sad. For those who aren't that happy, may your faith increase as you focus on God. - CL

Now there’s something worth musing as we celebrate this special day with family and friends. Merry Christmas everyone.

December 23, 2009

Nine Lessons and Carols

About 3 weeks ago, the Dean of Christchurch Cathedral requested that I do a reading for a service entitled The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols scheduled on December 20th. I was quite reluctant at first because no 1, I had never done any sort of reading in church before and no 2, I didn't want to make a spectacle of myself in front of 500 people. I tried to come up with some lame excuses, telling the Dean how inadequate I was in matters such as this but he was very very persistent. In the end, I find myself muttering a weak "yes" to the Dean and saying mati lah to myself.

So three weeks passed and Sunday came. A rainy and cloudy Sunday by the way. When we got to the Cathedral we realized that there wasn't any parking space left. Since I didn't want to be late, I went in with Alva and let hubby find a parking space in the drizzling rain. The administrator walked me to my seat (second front row) and assured me that a verger will guide hubby when he arrives. So I sat and waited, but still no sign of hubby. At exactly 8.30 pm, the Dean of the Cathedral started off the ceremony by welcoming everyone to the festival and the message he highlighted was to remember the birth of Jesus Christ. Finally, he told everyone that the service will be broadcast on TVONE on Christmas Eve. Excuse me, WHAT? I blinked in disbelief when he said this because I suddenly realized the magnitude of this whole reading thingy. GOSH! No wonder everyone's looking so posh and elegant! We were going to be on TV and I didn't even get my hair done!

I was still in a dumbstruck state when we were asked to stand for the Processional Carol. At this point, the Christchurch Cathedral verger, administrator and choir made their way to the altar area (don't know the proper term for this) together with the Dean of the Cathedral and Bishop Victoria Matthews. Once the Bishop, the Dean and another person whose title I have no knowledge of, were seated, everyone else sat down. Then, the cathedral choir started its first song entitled Adam Lay Y'Bouden. The moment they sang everyone was mesmerized because they were really really really good. It gave everyone the wow effect as they sounded so melodious and harmonious. Like those choir you see in the old movies ba. Haiya, don't know how to explain. Anyway, I later found out that this elite choir group is the only professional choir of boys and men in New Zealand and for this special festival, they sang in English, Latin, Spanish and Huronian (the language of the Iroquois Indians of North America and Canada which became extinct in the last century). They are WOW. No other words to decribe them really.

Back to the Nine Lessons and Carols. So I was reader 6 for Lesson 6 and you can imagine my anxiety as my turn was drawing to a near. I had three things to worry about.  1. The reading- what if I mispronounce a mouthful of words? 2. The journey to the lectern-what if I slip and fall flat on my face? 3. How about Alva? Hubby is still MIA! So these thoughts were playing in my head when the choir was singing Angelus ad Virginem in Latin.   I couldn't enjoy the singing at this moment because well, you know why. Once they finished singing, my fate was sealed. I tried to remain calm and tell myself to get into the Que Sera Sera Mode. Whatever will be will be lah.

I panicked. When it was my turn, I stood up, took Alva with me and fled!


When it was my turn, the lady behind me (probably read my mind) offered to hold Alva. Phew! I took my crumpled paper and waited for the verger to lead me to the lectern. There was a dead silence. The journey to the lectern itself felt like a mile. When I was finally up there, I had to take a few seconds to compose myself. After 4 seconds, I read:

Luke tells of the birth of Jesus.

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

I did it! The moment I finished, Alva started crying and everyone started looking at her. Some were smiling and some were not. I quickly walked to my seat and took her from that kind lady behind me. When the choir resumed, I felt so light and relieved. I did it! I did it! There was no slip, no fainting no falling. No tragedy. Hehe. After the ninth lesson, the festival ended with a joyful Christmas song that lit up everyone's mood.

And hubby? Where was hubby during all this drama? Well, apparently he was sitting at the back watching the whole show. He was having a hard time getting Alden to behave so the warden insisted that they sit at the back to avoid causing a commotion. Well, everything worked out anyway so it was not as disastrous as I thought it would be. Praise the Lord!

December 16, 2009

Oops I did It Again!

Back at home, in a beautiful city called Kota Kinabalu, speed limits are mostly 50 km/h in residential areas and 100 km/h on the highways. Speed traps, either in the form of a camera or a radar device, are quite rare. This explains why I have never ever gotten a speeding ticket.

I’m not saying that I have never violated any traffic rules. In fact, I’ve committed a few traffic violations like parking on the kerb at Wisma Sabah (RM50 fine), not wearing seat belts (policeman let me off), parking in a no parking zone (RM80 fine), talking on the phone (got away - another nice policeman!) and double parking (which most people do). Point is, you can get away with lots of traffic offenses in KK.

I haven't been so lucky in Christchurch. During my time here, I've had a few close encounters with the officials. Let's see, I've gotten one infringement notice for parking in towing zone (totally a misunderstanding), a $150 fine for Disabled Parking violation (it was an emergency), another infringement notice for reasons I can't remember and oh, on one occasion, I had my car clamped for parking on grass. That clamping episode was such an experience! Anyway, in total, I have perpetrated 4 traffic violations in CC, not counting the 4 parking tickets issued by the Uni's traffic patrol.

You know where this is going right?

Yesterday's speeding ticket broke that record and now it has amounted to five. The incident occurred at 11.25 a.m when I was driving to the city along Riccarton Avenue. Since I was already late for an appointment, I stepped on the accelerator, a bit harder than I realized. The posted speed limit said 50km/h which I was..ahem, unaware of. As fate would have it, a traffic patrol caught me pushing 67 km/h when I should have been creeping under 50 km. I was asked to pull over and produce my driver's licence on the spot.  I tried to get away by saying "I wasn't aware of the speed limit...", smiling pitifully, hoping he'd have the decency to let it slip. But there was no response. "I'll make this quick" he finally said, as if giving me a life sentence. He wrote my name and address on paper and issued me a whopping $120 fine. I gulped.

So that's how I got a $120 fine: speeding at a pathetic 67km/h.

Trying hard to ignore the icky feeling of being fined, I proceeded to the Cathedral square for my appointment. When I went to the reception, the clerk told me the Manager had asked me to wait for another 40 minutes. She was occupied with something else. Now why didn't she text me and save me all this trouble? I was livid. I refused to wait because I had just spent $120 to get to the Cathedral to to make it on time to see her. For goodness sake, I had a baby with me, doesn't that count for something?

I left, annoyed and upset. I knew my day was ruined unless I get some kind of therapy. There was only one thing to do.

Retail therapy at the mall!

    my favourite shop

A two-hour session was all I needed to feel good again. After all, who can resist a good Christmas Sale? The jewellery was on BUY 1 FREE 1 and the off-season clothes were on 75% discounts!! I licked my wound and bought a few things. I was very well-behaved you see. I only bought one cocktail dress, a bag which was the only one left and a pair of earrings.

I guess yesterday wasn't all that bad :)

December 15, 2009

On Being Thankful

I came across this list as I was searching for research materials. You might have read it before, but if you haven't..well, it's worth a minute of your time. It reminds us to be grateful for what we have.
                 I am thankful for...
  • The mess to clean after a party because it means I have been surrounded by friends.
  • The taxes I pay because it means that I'm employed.
  • The clothes that fit a little too snug because it means I have enough to eat.
  • My shadow who watches me work because it means I am out in the sunshine.
  • A lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home.
  • All the complaining I hear about our government because it means we have freedom of speech.
  • The space I find at the far end of the parking lot because it means I am capable of walking.
  • My huge heating bill because it means I am warm.
  • The lady behind me in church who sings off key because it means that I can hear.
  • The piles of laundry and ironing because it means I have clothes to wear.
  • Weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day because it means I have been productive.
  • The alarm that goes off in the early morning hours because it means that I'm alive.
  • Getting too much email bogs me down but at least I know I have friends who are thinking of me.                       
(Author Unknown)  


How about you? What are you thankful for? :)



December 13, 2009

Much Ado About Laundry

It amazes me how we produce so much dirty laundry in a week. Ten hours ago, I did 3 loads of laundry at Figlo Laundromat and I had to use 3 washers to accommodate 5 bags of clothes. As I pushed the start button on machine no 3, I realized how much laundry my family and I actually go through in a week.
This laundry thing never really bothered me until our washing machine decided to bonkers a few days ago. The nerve of that evil machine! From the first day we bought it off Trade Me, it has been nothing but trouble. Sure, it's a second hand but the seller said it was mechanically sound. What a rip off!

On first impression, the BOSCH seemed like a very good machine; shiny and neat, no scratches or marks.  Our biggest mistake was not testing the washer on site. It's not that we didn't want to. The thing is, she had already put it out at the front porch when we arrived and in doing so, made it impossible for us to do any testing. The darn machine is extremely heavy and it is really troublesome to move, so there was no way we could connect it to a socket. Against better judgment, we decided to trust her.  

The seller, a  UC student by the name of SOL HEBER  told us that the washer vibrates during the  spin cycle and that it was nothing to be worried about. That was the only flaw she highlighted and she said this in a  very nonchalant way so we didn't expect anything severe. She  never once mentioned about the washing machine's extraordinary abilities.

Now where should I start? Oh, have you seen Transformers? Well, like those robots, my washing machine transforms and comes to life whenever it goes  into spin cycle. It gyrates like a horse riding machine and you can practically sit on it to experience bronc riding in a rodeo. That's not all. The massive shakes can be felt throughout the house and one can really experience an earthquake for five minutes.  If that's not enough, we also also have to put up with the annoying loud noise, which resembles the sound of an airplane taking off. I am not exaggerating. It's the loudest washing machine I have ever encountered.
But that is all over now. The washer has stopped working about a month ago and since then Sunday has officially become my laundry day at laundromat. Sad sad sad.

Now all I want for Christmas is a washing machine. One that works.

December 8, 2009

TOP 10 LIST-2009

December 8 and still no news from the Academic Manager. Is he playing hide and seek ? Beats me. I’m tired of waiting so I’ll just get on with Plan XYZ. A contingency plan as my supervisor calls it. Don’t know what’s instore for me though. I’m totally counting on him to get past this hurdle. So that’s the plan - executing Plan XYZ. Case closed.

Moving on to greener pastures of thoughts…DECEMBER. A month of celebration for everybody. And like every year, the time to look back and reflect has come. What have I done? Achieved? Discovered? Fulfilled? Failed to do? Regretted not doing? These are questions that haunt me as the year closes. Well, if I were to write  down all the answers to these questions, I could write a book. And if I were graphic and honest enough to reveal all the dirt, it could even be a best seller (this is where you stick out your tongue and throw up, hehehe). So. I'll just make this short and sweet.

Here’s a list of random things in my life that stood out in 2009 - THE TOP 10 LIST

Most annoying/ shocked/depressing/terrifying/ akward moments of 2009

1. Getting a really bad haircut when a Korean hairdresser misunderstood what I said.

2. Getting an infringement notice for parking in a prohibited area. (Sis, please stop shaking your head).

3. Taking Alden to the oral health clinic for his dental surgery and seeing him ‘sleep’ under general anesthesia.

4. Freaking out when Alden had a frebrile convulsion, calling 111, waiting for the ambulance and rushing to the ER.

5. Sending my family to the airport (in July) and crying buckets of tears afterwards.

6. Reading my sister’s text message, saying that dad fell down and his tulang patah.

7. Presenting in my first departmental seminar.

8. Having my sneakers stolen when I was picking up Alden from school. Took them off and left them at the reception and they miraculously disappeared in 5 minutes.

9. Looking at my pay slip for the first time since I started studying and getting a brain freeze afterwards (all allowances were cut off).

10. Missing a $14 million lottery win by one number. (One of the 6 numbers I dreamt didn’t appear in the results and until today hubby is still sore).

Most pleasant/ fulfilling/ exciting/memorable moments of 2009

1. Knowing that I was having a girl and spreading the news to everyone I knew.

2. Getting the Booking Confirmation from Airasia for my balik kg trip next year (after spending almost half a day on the net).

3. Hugging my mom and sister when they arrived in Christchurch.

4. Being able to fit into my favourite jeans again.

5. Getting an A-ok for my research proposal.

6. Being asked to produce a valid ID when I was buying a bottle of wine for Alva’s ‘proxy’ godmother. The legal minimum age for purchasing alcohol in NZ : 18 years old.

7. Told hubby about the above incident the first chance I got and gloat about it. (I mean seriously, that’s such an ego-booster for a mother of 2 like me).

8. Seeing and stealing my first cherry blossoms.

9. Having hubby by my side during delivery and smiling at each other when we saw Alva for the first time.

10. Winning Lotto Division 3 ($1500.00) after seeing the winning numbers in my dream. It could’ve been $14 million but still, it felt really good to win.

There you have it. The good and the bad. 2009 has been a challenging year for me but anyway, nobody gets away with a life full of pleasure with no problems or pain right?

How about you? What’s your reflection?

December 6, 2009

Feeling the Spirit

I signed up to volunteer once a week at Christchurch Cathedral about a month ago. The time is flexible and we get to choose the day and hours we like, so this fits me perfectly. My chosen time is Saturday morning and yesterday was my second shift.

Having had a crappy mood the day before, I was looking forward to the volunteering job to ease my mind off my studies. As a Cathedral guardian, my job is to greet visitors with a friendly face, offer help when needed, answer questions about the Cathedral and talk to visitors about giving donation to the Cathedral in a positive way. They all sound fairly easy but they're really not.
I particularly do not like the asking for donation part because some visitors are just there to take pictures and hate being pestered. Being new, I am normally teamed up with 2 other experienced volunteers who have mastered the art of asking donations so for the time being I am safe from this task. Hehe.

The Cathedral is a very prominent landmark in Christchurch. It is located right at the centre of Christchurch because the city was established as an Anglican settlement and its leaders wanted to have a Cathedral at its heart.Over 700 000 people come here each year to worship and see this beautiful church. The view inside is breathtaking and you can understand why some people come here everyday just to sit and relax for a few hours.

We did not have a big crowd yesterday so I took the opportunity to explore the Cathedral and take some pictures. This is the Votive Candle Stand. It's a very attractive spot in the Cathedral and people from all over the world come here to pray and light up candles for their loved ones. I  myself lit 5 candles for my family, friends and my studies - the 2 miserable hours remember?

The Votive Candle Stand

After lighting candle number 5, it was very tempting to light more and more candles on the stand's just fun okay? I managed to restrain the silly urge and stopped myself from playing candles on my second day as a volunteer. Phew! Good thing I did because when I turned back, I realized that  Quintin, the head volunteer  was observing me. Yikes! Terus I pura pura cleaned the candle stand and scurried to the entrance to welcome a granny.

After awhile, more visitors came in and things started to get busy. Quite a number of people wanted to go up the tower so I was quite occupied, ushering visitors to the special door leading to the tower climb. One needs to climb 134 steps to get to the viewing platforms that give panoramic views of the city. This is certainly a must-do activity if you're visiting the Cathedral.

Towards the end of my shift, I started feeling hungry and well...a little bit bored too (bad of me, I know). Lucky for me the Cathedral's choir made up of 15 girls from the age of 6 to 15 had a practice that day. They were preparing for the Sunday service as well as a special Christmas service on the 25th. I sat in the back of the Nave and waited for them to sing the first song. When they did, I had goosebumps all over my body. I think my jaw dropped a few inches and I noticed that conversations among visitors came to a shuddering halt. They are that good. Mesmerized, I quickly moved from the Nave at the back to the front seats so I could really enjoy the Christmas carols. They sang like angels and they were brilliant.

My shift ended at 12.00 noon and as I walked out from the Cathedral, I had a warm fuzzy feeling inside. Maybe it's the Christmas spirit or maybe it's just the happy feeling of knowing I was having Hainan chicken rice for lunch but whatever it was, it made me feel good. I went home happy and high-spirited, all crappiness disappeared!

December 4, 2009

Janji Kaling

I’m in my office right now. I tell myself it’s really not a good idea to start blogging but I can’t help it. At the moment, it’s very therapeutic to just see words pop up on the spreedsheet as I type. Gives me a sense of satisfaction you know, doing just that. Weird? I guess.

Therapy is needed when you feel like you’re in the brink of madness or when you’re deeply affected by something. My reason is the latter. My research is now in a stationary state, held back by something. Same ol same ol pathetic plot. But seriously, it is hanging by a thread. Why? Because I can’t get access to my subjects. Why? Because the Academic Coordinator hasn’t cleared the logistics. Why? Because he’s too busy. Why? Because it’s almost the end of the semester now. So nothing is within my control, which is why it sucks so much.

I called the fella last Tuesday. Caught him by surprise because we usually communicate via email. He was so apologetic for not getting back to me and promised to email the next day. Quote
I’ll try talking to the tutors again and I promise you an email by 5pm today. 
At 5pm, there was no email. Not on Tuesday, or Wednesday or Thursday. Janji kaling butul butul.

So this morning I sent him another poilte email, asking for his response. My message was clear:

Look dude, I know you guys are busy with Christmas coming and all but I really need to do this study. I won’t take much of the students’ time. Just two hours. See, I’ve even reduced it to TWO hours. Not SIX long hours. So dude, what do you say? Pleeeeeeeeeease….Pleeeeeeease…..

I didn’t write that of course. The formal version was much more refined and erm…impersonal.

Then after a few hours, I got a reply! Finally!

I clicked on the INBOX and read

Out of Office AutoReply: Research

Thank you for your email. I am currently out of the office. I will be back in the office on 7th December and will attend to your email then. If you require more urgent assistance please direct your email to XXXXXXX

Kind regards

I got an Autoreply. Bad omen. He has never ever sent me an autoreply before. I mean previously I’ve been sending him lots of mails but no matter how busy he was there was never an autoreply. So what does this mean? It’s obvious. He’s trying to get rid of me. To him I’m probably like this annoying hand phone salesman who never gives up until he gets to sell a Nokia. The type that wouldn’t stop. You know what I mean? He’s probably right. I will not stop pestering him until I get my two hours. Why can’t he just give me the two miserable hours???

So. Once again, I am stuck. And frustrated. But now that I’ve written about this, I feel a little bit better.

I guess things will have to wait until 7th December . Till then I think I’ll spend more therapeutic moments on the spreadsheet.