Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Peace and Love

I am supposed to not be greatly affected by the passing of my hubby's godfather (also uncle) but I find myself getting more scatter-brained and having difficulty in focusing at work today. We are leaving town this evening (Tuesday) and stay overnight at hubby's hometown to attend the funeral tomorrow. I guess the emotion of those around you, especially your close loved ones realy does affect you.

RIP to all who passed on before us. Life is short, life is precious, make friends, share love, don't hate, don't judge, keep life positive as the world is already negative enough. #peace!

Monday, 30 July 2012

Sombre Note

Hubby lost his godpa at midnight Sunday night, Monday morning.

I will be stopping my daily blog update (mid-year resolution) for awhile till after Wednesday funeral.

Life is short, treasure your loved ones, live in the moment, each moment is precious.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Procrastinator? Embracing Procrastination... A reflection on my career

I am a procrastinator. Due to an understanding of that, it comes with 'maturity' to truly see yourself for who you are - a procrastinator who loves the rush of adrenaline when you are striving to meet the deadline, and doing a pretty good job at that - when you meet others of the same nature, i.e. 'practitioners' of procrastination, that sense of 'familiarity' brought back some nostalgic feelings.

I hold the principle that if it doesn't harm anyone, I procrastinate, if it concerns a team, a group or of a larger scale, I finish the task before you can even say start. I am a selective procrastinator that way, I prioritise.


You see, I have been in my current job for more than three years, and counting. For those uninitiated, I am a lecturer, an educator/teacher, however you call me, I'd like to call myself a communicator as I am sharing what I learned back in university, and also my work experience when I was still 'out there' in the industry - communication - and I find myself 'communicating' to these young people more than 'educating' them anyway. One advantage is that I get at least a third of my yearly number of 'new students' to befriend me on fb annually and I do get some of them as my twitter followers as well.


However, right from the beginning, I am quite disappointed that the number of 'interaction' hours with the students tend to be lesser than the number of hours I spend pushing papers and deal with red pens (marking) and filling up mountains of forms and preparing reports. I think it is a global phenomenon for educators, the number of hours you actually spend with students are like a third or even a fourth of your whole workload?


Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy my job - the hours I spent interacting with the kids (I still call them kids in a good way as they are so very young!) reminds me of how beautiful youth is, the youth that is slowly slipping away from the physical body. They keep my spirit 'young' and with that, I feel more energetic and 'alive', hubby always commented on how 'fired up' and high-spirited I am - DAILY - he calls it 'hyper'. :-)


I never really know the feeling of being 'overwhelmed' till I took on this job.

NOT when I was reporter and the editor was staying back to wait for me to finish my front page news to complete the printing of the front and back page - which was reserved just for my news.

NOT when my neck was on the line when my client was breathing down my neck and shouting on the phone when something 'went wrong' a day before a huge event or when as a PR practitioner, the media attendance was really poor (read: one media turn-up) - we turned it around and somehow did not get overwhelmed and made it positive anyway!

NOT when it was the umpteenth time your client shoved back your work at you and complained your copywriting isn't up to what they were expecting, and finally they settled for the first few drafts you sent in the first place, without realising they themselves rejected it initially. No, those are NOT overwhelming.

NOT when the board of directors dislike the fact that you wrote something without having gone through it with them, despite the fact that you are not supposed to be answering to them anyway. No, not when your career seems to be in a tight fix.

Nope, I never considered those moments 'overwhelming'.

NOT when the office politics got worse and you are on the worst receiving end of it. NO, those are not really overwhelming, it is easy to walk away when you don't really have a reason to stay anyway.

I kinda summarised my entire career's 'most difficult moments' in those few paragraphs.

lol Exciting times.

Really, the rush of adrenaline in the heat of the chase really (still) gets me all fired up. I am THAT kind of person.

Sometimes, it does get stressful with the sheer number of students - average ten classes which translates to over 200 students at any given semester, and multiply that number by three assignments (not including the in-between assignment exercises you give), and at the end of every semester, you get equal number of exam scripts to mark in less than a week (average five working days and sometimes a few more days if you are lucky).

I find that after my regular work hours are over, minus the family meal times, washing up and household chores, and some winding down time with hubby in front of the telly, I need to sacrifice my sleeping time or even my weekends to catch up with the marking that I tend to bring home. Oh, I abhor marking. Detest, hate, shudder with apprehension... however you describe it oh yeah, I really am not a big fan, not even a small fan of marking. If we are talking about an entire class of a single class with only 18-20 students for an entire semester, oh yes, that is fine.

With my current institution, due to its popularity and large intake of students annually, to the extent we only have a single intake yearly as opposed to other instutitions who may have two or three or even four intakes annually, I guess you can say it is worth being proud that our single intake brings in enough number of students, the volume is really overwhelming we need to put a stop to double intakes or more.

It is easy to get 200 students or more under your tutelage at any one time. If you need to spend about 20-30 minutes on a single item to mark, if you have already done the Maths about three paragraphs before, if there are a minimum of 200 students, you should get 600 assignments, and if it is a 'writing' paper, with exercises, with another three exercises (minimum) - add another 600 exercises, and 200 full length exam papers which takes about 30 minutes to fully mark (minimising errors) - so 600+600+200 = 1,400 items = 1,400 x 25 mins (average) = 35,000 minutes = 583 hours and 20 minutes. That is equivalent to 24 days 7 hours and 20 minutes.

And we have to squeeze that into 16 weeks. Each work day, we have 24 hours - Deduct 9 hours for regular work hours - deduct 6 hours daily for sleep (minimum) - deduct 1 hour for personal hygiene stuff - deduct 1 hour for commuting (travelling to and from work, shopping for household products, etc) - deduct 2 hours and 30 minutes for meals (including preparation at home or waiting for food outside) - deduct 30 minutes minimum for household chores, mostly laundry, don't talk about sweeping or mopping, deduct 1 hour for cuddling/telly time/chatting with your partner. That is not including 1 hour of catching up with the news, going online to check mails, some family time - calling up your parents/in-laws, and doesn't include maybe another 1 hour to engage in social media - 15 mins on twitter, 15 mins on fb, nah, who am I kidding, we need to do that twice to be fully engaged in social media - so an hour a day it is.

How many hours are you left with in a day? Exactly ONE HOUR left.
And I don't have kids yet. If I have kids, then that precious one hour will be taken away. Poof. So where do I squeeze in the marking? Spoken like a true procrastinator, back to the topic at hand.

By the end of the day, when you are winding down, the last thing you wanna look at are scores of 'mistakes' and half-hearted attempts of courseworks/assignments/work, however you call it. Maybe about 10% of them would be 'gems', truly a delight to mark but if you think of the rest of the 90%, it really takes away my appetite for even my favourite food. We haven't even factored in the time every lecturer need to prepare for lessons, research time, etc. Something's gotta give. Don't we have some personal me time? I haven't stepped into a spa or salon for the longest time!

For weekends, out of that 24 hours - we tend to have 'more time' to relax, or so we thought.

It is only a sacrifice if you don't enjoy doing it and I DON'T. So you sacrifice your sleep (I've stayed up all night and only took a nap at 7am before waking up at 9am to submit the scrips), your family time (thank Goodness for understanding spouses), your weekends are gone, bye!! and who even have time for some 'me time'?

It does get very disappointing sometimes when you have repeated the same thing for 14 weeks since the first lecture and yet, at the finishing mark, where all runners reach the final destination, they just 'don't get it' and did exactly what you told them NOT to do.

Whose fault it is?
I do take it very hard and feel very bad when students fail or fail to achieve even a minimum pass. Even with a lot of 'hand-holding' and guidance, I find that there will still be 10% who just refuse to listen or just plainly ignore what you say. Such blatant disregard do make me lose it sometimes but I rarely show it in front of anyone.

The kids tend to skip lectures, there are those who diligently attend each lecture, rain or shine, with or without 'traffic jams', fatigue or illness.

Then why do those who chose to skip lectures cannot emulate those who diligently attend each lecture?

It makes my blood boil everytime these SAME STUDENTS ask for exam tips or say: "Please, give us very 'specific guidelines', Miss" - I feel like they are making fun of the entire semester and disregarding everyone's efforts the entire four months. Who are you to come at the end of the semester that once or twice to DEMAND FOR SOMETHING you don't even deserve?

Some even blatantly, albeit jokingly, asked for the actual questions. You might as well break into the safe and get caught and get expelled or worse, go serve your time in jail. You wanna drag me down with such a stupid request? What's the use of attending college/university when you don't wish to use your brain?

Yes, we can procrastinate, but not at the expense of others. If it only concerns you and your personal well-being, so be it.

However, if you are in a group, or a whole big system, just one weak link will cause the entire system to fail. Don't forget that every young person will grow up to be older and be part of the system that forms the society. We are all interconnected and what you do or say will affect others.

Oh yes, I have taken some harsh actions and said some hard-to-swallow remarks especially in the heat of the moment, which I am reflecting on right now. Some people just cannot take it, hence they lashed back the best way they can by complaining or b*tching about it online. Hey, what goes around, comes around, you think we are still in the Stone Ages? This is the Digital Age where nothing escapes anyone!

Your reputation is what people think you are; your character is what you are.

I guess I am comfortable enough in my skin to not really care about either. I have a pretty good reputation and I love my colourful character. We cannot please everyone!

Anyway, at the end of each semester, I do realise I am a forgiving person. I don't hold grudges as it really will eat you up inside, and I do forgive these kids who have 'trespassed', and ultimately, youth is when you are supposed to make mistakes. I blame youth and not the humans.

Related Post: Career Change? What Made Me Stick Around?

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Greetings from the Future

Hubby and I went on the Spaceship Earth at Disney World, Orlando, Florida, and during the ride, there is this interactive screen in front of us and we are supposed to answer some questions and we can actually look at the future, our future by the answers we give. OH yeah, hubby is a bit 'shy', and low profile (despite being on display on my profile all over the Net), so I chose this 'flashed' image of his to include on this blog. And yes, we went 'skiing' on our Spaceship Earth ride and the future of medical industry will be really amazing with remote surgery up the mountains. :-)

Despite the answers being canned, and the result being predetermined by Disney, it was fun, and makes you think of the future.

What will the future be? There's a saying that - You are what you wish to be, the future is what you wish for it to be.

Have a happy weekend and here's to a good future to the world!

Friday, 27 July 2012

How to Stop Coughing - temporary reliefs

When you are suffering from a coughing spell, which sometimes may last a few days or a few weeks, there really isn't a remedy until time takes its course and you recover.

However, there are some temporary reliefs, especially when you need to catch some sleep or much needed rest!

Having suffered from the present bout of cough and cold for about a month, I found these very useful to catch some relief from coughing, especially when you are lying down, that's when it attacks the most for me!

1. Try lying down on your sides and not on your back so the mucus or phlegm won't be able to accumulated directly or something like that and your throat won't be irritated (that much), if all else fails you need to cough into your pillow to muffle the sound of coughing.

2. Get cough medicines that clears your phlegm or soothes dry throat - you first need to determine what kind of cough are you having. Ivy leaf extract cough medicine works well for dry throat. Chesty cough seems to settle with medicine with 'cool' effects to clear the phlegm.

3. If all else fails, try to forget about oral cavity and suckle on a medicated cough drop under your tongue and try to sleep, usually it works for me!

Another belief is that you may be 'cold' hence your cough is 'cold', too much Yin energy (as in Yin and Yang) and one thing you can do is to apply a vapor rub (such as Vicks Vapour Rub) on the whole of your sole and wear thick socks and you should sleep though the night.

If you are too 'hot', too much Yang energy, you need to 'cool down' by taking herbal brews of chrysanthemum and honey with lemon/lime to cool down. It's a Chinese belief - this heat and cool. Your body is Heaty when your phlegm is yellow and your body is cool when your phlegm is greenish/dark grey with a hint of yellow, and if it is white, either that is just your spit (saliva) or you are recovering (finally).

May my cough go away soon enough. One month is a tad too long!


I was watching Dark Knight the other day and it was awesome! Go watch it if you haven't already!

When I was entering the cinema, this caught my eyes - the minions!!! Despicable Me isn't complete without the minions!!! Coming soon in 2013 - I love them!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Parents Nowadays

We cannot really blame parents nowadays. Only 15 years ago, a handphone/mobile phone is considered a luxury and now it is almost a necessity. Technology has changed so much the line between 'keeping up to date' and 'extravagance' has been blurred!

Kids as young as 18months has learned how to swipe to view pic of himself on an iPhone/iPad/any touch screen phone/tablets. No kidding.

Technology and modernization of living has led to many new emergences which our parents or grandparents never had to handle before - add 'parenting' into the equation and it just doesn't help the parents in determining the 'correct equation in parenting'.

In moments like this, when such thoughts come to mind, I sure am glad I don't have to deal with this right now, I am grateful for 'more time' to think about it and when we finally have our little bundle of joy, hopefully we would be 'ready' and would have worked out the equation. :)

Grabbed the pic below from fb. Photo credit stated in the image. Food for thought.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Why Do Humans Need to Be 'Always Right'?

Quote of the day: "Nobody stands taller than those willing to stand corrected." - William Safire”

Sometimes it is funny and sometimes almost appalling that humans have a tendency to be very defensive when challenged, and even when proven 'wrong', they are not willing to be 'corrected'.

Ego perhaps? In Singapore and Malaysian slang, we call these 'I-can-never-lose' people the 'kiasu' people. Pronounced 'kee-ya-soo', it is derived from the Chinese Hockien (Mandarin: Fujian) dialect, which literally mean: scared to lose or fear of losing.

Examples of the trend of 'kiasu'-ism are:
1. If someone you know has a bigger house/car/material possession, you must have a bigger one to show them you will 'not lose'

2. If someone you know has kids who excel in their studies, your kids must not only excel in studies but be excellent in non-academic achievements like piano, ballet, taekwondo or karate, etc. And preferably your kid has won numerous awards in those activities while coming up tops in class so that you may boast to that 'friend' of yours.

3. Your job/spouse/holiday trips/pets/ and anything under the sun has to be better than the rest, so that you may 'casually' mention it to someone you know (note how I avoid using the term 'friends'?). You relish it when people show signs of awe or even envy.

However, when someone else appear to be 'better' than you, you turn into a monstrous envious person inside and 'strive' to be better - even at the expense of your spouse's or kids' well-being. Sad, tragic cases are when kids' couldn't stand the pressure from their 'kiasu' parents and tried ending their lives at the tender age of 12 or even younger. This is highly prominent in Asian countries including Japan and India - just google up student suicide after exams and pages and pages of news on such sad incidents will pop up.

What has our society become! Why do we need to compete so unnecessarily? Competition in innovation is always welcome, as well as competition in creativity. Competition in 'showing-off' isn't real competition!!! Especially not at the expense of other people's mental and physical well-being!

I guess humans will always compare, and this phenomenon will never really go away. I just hope it can be toned down to allow for a more peaceful and stress-free family lives in this already stressful world, especially in big cities.

Food for thought in mid-week. :-)

Monday, 23 July 2012

Why do canteen food still taste like 'canteen food'?

I just had canteen food after quite some time. Sad to say, canteen food here tasted almost the same as the canteen food I had back in my school days.

As an educator (I'd like to call myself a 'communicator' as I find myself communicating more than educating) sometimes the schedule is just too packed you barely have the luxury of a proper lunch break, usually off campus, and today was one of those days.

Grabbed a ham and eggs with margarine sandwich and tried a sausage with margarine sandwich. Mayonnaise-free sandwiches are really dry!!! Healthy? Not so sure about that as the egg was fried instead of boiled then scrambled. The meat was fried as well. The bread was really dry. My first and the last eating or grabbing food from that canteen!

Shall stick to the more expensive campus cafes next time!

Asians work too hard

I came across this comic strip on fb and found it to be really true, especially among Asians.

We bring home work to do and we 'willingly' clock in extra hours just to get the job done. As we all know, the job can never really be done. No wonder our stress level is high and if affects our sex life according to latest survey by durex.com.

Image credit: coffeeticks

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Hakka Yong To Fu (Yang Dou Fu)

My hubby's family is of the Hakka dialect (one of the Chinese dialects) - specifically Meixian Kah Yin sect (an even more specific dialect within the Hakka community).

Anyway, following my previous blog post, this is another recipe from my mother-in-law who learned everything she knows in the culinary aspects from scratch.

This is a simplified recipe for Yong To Fu (Yang Dou Fu). I think it can be loosely translated as the Yong's family's tofu? Not sure about the origin of the name!

We are not going to make our own tofu or grow our own brinjals hence I said 'simplified' and not made from scratch.

Pardon my 'choppy' English as I translated this recipe from spoken Chinese (and I never learned formal Chinese in school).

Meat - Pork or Fish
500g of pork with a little bit fat. Add a little bit of salt, no water. Please don't put water. Pork meat will release moisture (water) hence DON'T add water, or else it will be less sticky and defeats the purpose. I think we can call it 'elasticity'.
Fish - BM: Tenggiri (Chinese Han Yu Pin Yin: Jiao Yi) or in English, Mackerel - debone the fish, get the meat, mince the fish. Add salt and water and tapioca starch to blend or pound it (traditional style). If no pound is around, use the roller (for dough) and beat the meat on the chopping board. Fish will be dry hence will dry up and be sticky, so add water. Fish has higher 'elasticity' compared to pork.

Can mix fish and pork paste for greater flavour. If they are combined, no need to mince the pork too much as the fish elasticity will even out the pork elasticity.

What can you stuff with the meat?
Tofu, ladies finger (okra), taufupok, brinjal, are common ones.

square shaped tofu - one square is divided into three triangles - slice it in the middle (to add filling)

Brinjal - slice it in such a way the cut doesn't go all the way through (see illustration in the pix)

ladies finger/okra - slice in the middle, fill up the middle with the meat filling.

chilli (Americans call it hot (red) pepper) - slice in the middle, remove the chilli seeds

Chinese mushroom - soak in water until it becomes soft, put in the whiter place, not the top of the 'umbrella'

Tau fu pok - slice a hole in the middle - fil up the midde with the meat filling.
Fu Chok skin (to fu dried skin)- rendam till soft, fish put in, roll it in, then deep fry.

Deep fry until cooked, it is cooked when the tofu is golden brown.

Chilli & Ladies Finger - Don't deep fry - boil in hot boiling water until it floats up.

Eat while hot with hot sauce (chilli sauce). Or keep in freezer and just bring out and defrost and add to soup (clear soup), vermicelli/ramen/noodle soup, add to stir fried vegetables, it is a versatile side dish!

TIP: Slice the brinjal into layers without fully cutting it through so you may insert the meat filling.

Related posts: http://suesanctuary.blogspot.com/2012/07/how-to-make-chinese-bao-pao-buns.html

Saturday, 21 July 2012

How to make Chinese Bao - Pao - Buns

I asked my mother-in-law for the recipe on how to make Chinese Bao (Buns). Since a treasure of knowledge and a walking dictionary of recipes are staying with me for a short while, I decided to 'interview' my mother-in-law and blog about one of her recipes.

This should be called mini char siew bao or mini peanut bao.

Pardon my choppy English as I translated everything from spoken Chinese. :-)

Makes about 10 to 12 bao (small Chinese buns)
Bao Flour (Blue Key brand)
Sugar (3 teaspoons)
Plain Water (warm)
Baking Powder - double action (not sure how to say this properly as I seldom bake)

Open the yeast packet - add one small cup of water to one teaspoon of yeast - let the yeast dissolve (BM: cair) first - don't put sugar first. Only after the yeast dissolved, add - white sugar, about 3 teaspoons -

TIP: Wait till the yeast granules become fully dissolved before adding white sugar - it is fully dissolved when it becomes liquid/liquified.

After fully dissolved and you add sugar, shake it a bit and it will dissolve. Stir if needed.

Baking Powder (double action) add about half a teaspoon. Stir the baking powder into the yeast.

Add 300g of Bao Flour
Knead the dough - add oil - 30ml oil - cooking oil. Make sure the cooking is not too yellow to preserve the whiteness of the Bao skin. If too sticky, dab your fingers in the flour, not too much, just dab them for easier kneading. 15-20 minutes of kneading until balanced and soft and no longer sticky tohands.

Roll into a long dough.

Divide the dough into 10 or 12 parts, shape them into round shapes, depending on how big you want your bao to be. Let them ferment - if yeast is active, it will be faster - if the yeast is not as active, it may be slow. The size should double when it fully ferment. Don't wait too long or else the fermentation will 'overflow' and it will be very unsightly.

Peanut Filling
Peanut - fry the peanuts, blend it till it is fine, add salt (as needed not too much), oil (a little bit, just to make it sticky), Sugar, NO WATER - please DO NOT ADD WATER or else it will be too watery and not nice.

Meat Filling
Mince meat, meat with a little bit of fat, Five Spices Powder, Sesame Oil, Sugar, Salt, Dark Soy Sauce, Chicken Essense. Fry for awhile (till cooked), add a little bit of water then marinate it for awhile, add corn flour, but don't make it too dry, leave some 'water' or moisture on it. Make it just sticky enough, not dry. Let it cool down. After it cools down, the filling should be drier. Hence when frying must make sure it is moist enough.

Roll the individual round doughs. Add the filling into the middle of the dough. After shaping the buns, wait for it ferment and rise some more. The size should increase by about 30 to 50%. DO NOT WAIT too long or let it rise to too big a size, or else it will shrink and become unsightly (wrinkly).

This is a very important step - there should be two stages of fermentation (rising) of the dough in this recipe.

Steam for 15 minutes. Off the fire. Don't open the cover of the steamer immediately. Let the steamer cool down a bit for about. This is to prevent the over-risen doughs from shrinking too badly.

Practice makes perfect. This is all based on the estimation and experience of my Mother-in-Law. Happy trying!

The ingredients in pictures:

The Bao Flour

FIRST, follow the instruction in making the dough:

The Dough

Plain warm water (cooked and filtered water)


Rolling the kneaded dough into a long roll before dividing them into 10 parts.

Next, after the first 'fermentation', roll the rounded smaller parts dough and add in the fillings.

Serve while hot. Keep in the fridge or freezer to retain freshness.
Steam them and it will be good to eat as hot snacks or breakfast.

Related Blogpost: http://suesanctuary.blogspot.com/2012/07/good-food-family-warmth-and-loving-care.html


Friday, 20 July 2012

Safeguarding your handbags from theft

Snatch theft, robbery, attempted kidnapping from malls' parking lot - all these have made the headlines in Malaysian media even more prominently in the past one month or so.

I found this shared on fb to prevent break and snatch of your handbag for female drivers who are alone and usually placing their handbags on the front passenger seat. A bit far fetched (what if the door handle break, or worse the whole door came loose?).

Consider this a lighter blogpost in light of this very serious crime threat.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Of cute little girls and boys and MINIONS!

I have a thing for cute little children and cute little things!

I go all crazy when I see adorable humans and stuff.

Pix shows the cutest boy (in my opinion) I have ever met on a safari and the cutest cartoon character, the minions from Despicable Me!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Good Food, Family Warmth and Loving Care

My in laws are staying with us since last week.

Yup, our 5th wedding anniversary came and go when we were having them over for a visit and I am NOT complaining. You can never ask for better in laws.

From breakfast to dinner and even tea breaks and desserts, and late night herbal concoctions that are supposed to be good for health, we are never in want of food and drink.

I am denied entry and could not even lift a finger in my own kitchen (thanks to my mother in law) and our floor is always sparkling clean (thanks to my father in law). That's a 'good problem', don't you think. Since our wedding 5 years ago, I have learned to 'graciously' accept these blessings and allow ourselves to bask in so much love and care. Count our blessings!

Oh we still get our alone time and privacy. We just caught a movie, only the two of us on Sat night, to celebrate our anniversary.

Anyway, communication is the key to understanding and bonding in any human relationships. I cannot call myself a communication graduate if I don't practice what I am supposed to be good at, right?

May peace and love
Begin at home!

Pix shows one of the delicious dishes we enjoy, prepared by my mother in law and one of the many desserts (barley drink with gingko).

Monday, 16 July 2012

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let down your hair! - Disney Princesses in DisneyWorld, Orlando, Florida, USA

My first 'encounter' with Rapunzel was during our first visit to Magic Kingdom in Disney World, Orlando, Florida, USA - not exactly the real Rapunzel, but a little girl with Rapunzel's long blonde hair in the pix above.

The costume and the wig are just so cute!!!

My favourite song in Rapunzel is the Healing Incantation:

And here are the pix of the 'real' Rapunzel:

She's a pretty one isn't she? And the little girl in pink is wearing the Sleeping Beauty (Princess Aurora)'s costume.

This is one pretty short blogpost as well for Monday blues...

Have a magical week ahead!!!

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Prepare to be dazzled - Freakonomics

"Prepare to be dazzled." - Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point and Blink

I finally got down to 'reading' the audio CD of the "Freakonomics" by Steven D. Jevitt and Stephen J. Dubner, it is an audio CD read by Stephen J. Dubner.

The CD has been bought when hubby and I were rushing to literally buy up to the maximum limit for tax-relief purposes some more than one year ago, along with many other reading materials now lying nicely on multiple shelves at home.

I love Malcolm Gladwell, and I've heard of Steven Levitt, so that is strong enough reason for me to grab the Unabridged version of the Freakonomics - A rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything - and New York Times Bestseller (which is kinda like cheating as the co-author and the voice beind the CD, Dubner, writes for the New York Times, oh well).

Why do people cheat? Cheating may not be part of human nature but it still happens... whatever if worth having is worth cheating for - "Cheating is getting more for less".

Okay, I am not judging the authors... I am just paraphrasing from what I hear being read. Just couldn't resist the play of words.

"To catch a cheater, you have to think like one".

From the back cover of the CD case:

"Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common? If drug dealers make so much money, why do drug dealers still live with their moms? How much do parents really matter? What kind of impact did Roe v. Wade have on violent crime?"

These may not sound like typical questions for an economist to ask. But Steven D. Levitt s not a typical economist. He is a much-heralded scholar who studies the riddes of everyday life - from cheating and crime to sports and child rearing - and whose conclusions regularly turn the conventionl wisdom on its head. Thus the new field of study contained in this book: Freakonomics.

Levitt and co-author Stephen J. Dubner showthat economics is, at root, the study of incentives - how people get what they want or need especially when other people want or need the same thing. In Freaknomics, they set out o explore the hidden side of ... well, everything. The inner workings of acrack gang. The truth abuot real-estate agents. The secrets of the Ku Klux Klan.

What unites all these stories is a belief that the modern world is even more intriguing than we think. All it takes is a new way of looking. Steven Levitt, through devilishly clever and clear-eyed thinking, shows how to see through all the clutter.

Hubby has returned from his work trip, hence I have put a hold to my listening of the 7 hours worth of audio. Yeah, it was more to entertain myself while I was home alone when hubby was away on his work trip those few days. I am hardly half way through, but I already like what I hear. Will continue with the rest when the time comes.

Worth listening to/reading. Highly recommended!

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Our Love Story - How I became Mrs Lee in 2007

This is another personal blog post. If mushy/romantic stuff isn't for you, feel free to browse away or may I suggest to you a very angry blog post that is the total anti-thesis of romance HERE

I actually wrote a blog post of a similar nature on my Friendster Blog about five years ago in 2007, which has since closed down without notice, all the data just wiped out like that, all my precious blog posts, etc. Let's hope blogger won't suffer the same fate! Anyway, I digress.

If I have to sum up our romance in a phrase, it would be:

Your voice is like:
Music to the soul, music to my ears, music to my heart.


THE END: I became Mrs Lee

That is the short version of our love story.

Five years ago today, July 14, it was also a Saturday. Fancy the day actually 'repeated' five years later today. I thought it is supposed to be more than 10 years or something for the calendar to repeat.

It was the day where our courtship (dating relationship) as a dating couple ended in a series of wedding receptions. No kidding, THREE full wedding receptions to cover the legal, religious, ceremonial and traditional stuff - this is what happens when it is the LAST WEDDING OF THE GENERATION and THE FIRST WEDDING OF THE GENERATION.

We had our receptions - one each in three different states in Malaysia, one in April, two in July. So seriousy if you ask us when is our anniversary, I will ask you back, which one? Legal one, religious one, ceremonial one or traditional one?

I won't talk about my weddings. The wedding is only the end of courtship and the beginning of marriage.

I will talk about our LOVE STORY. #love Growing up, being brain-washed by Disney and fairy tales, I always believed in romance and love. It pains me that I have no boy friend when others have a special guy friend, I always asked if I am not cute enough, not attractive enough, not good enough, etc. Such were the growing pains.

Borrowing from the concept started in this particular blog post, I shall write a letter to myself, only this time, I am writing to my past-self.

Tegami by Angela Aki - If this doesn't play, Google up アンジェラ・アキ Angela Aki 手紙 ~拝啓 十五の君へ~ (歌詞 Lyrics) - Letter to my future self, a 15-year-old finds it hard to live and writes to her future self and she actually replied from the future and tells her to hang on.

I highly recommend you click on the play button above now, for effects.

Dear Sue from the past (before January 2012):

General Cover Letter:
I am not sure which past version of me will this letter reach so I shall write to each and every one of you, or rather, me, or maybe I will just refer to Sue as 'us' and 'we'.

Today is July 14, 2012. Yup, this is also the same era our favourite childhood movie by Michael J. Fox "Back to the Future" came from (Back to the Future II) - unfortunately there is no cool hoverboard that flies and no, we still never learned how to skate or roller-blade. I remembered that was our wish when we were still a little girl.

However, there is this amazing thing called the Internet - it is something like a totally different virtual world where real people interact with each other through various portals, on this thing we call computer, which has since evolved dramatically and we have these phones called mobile phones, yup, they are mobile, no, no, not the ones you see in black brief cases that men carry and take out to make phone calls, these are really small and now even small kids have them, technology has certainly changed and land lines are not exactly 'land' now with new technology. Anyway, all these are not important.

I have specific messages for each one of us starting from little Sue.

To little Sue in the 1980s-1990:
Hello little one,

We are just fine - I bet you didn't think that we'd live to be 30, or rather past 30, huh? Or maybe we did. We always had this crazy crushes with cute boys we see on TV or even in real life. Thanks to Disney, we always dream that one day our prince will really come, and we really hung on to that hope and were really excited when one of our dreams really came true -- in the form of dreams.

Oh, nearly 30 years on, yes, Sue, we are still a dreamer.

I mean literally a dreamer. We still remember our dreams. Dreams that occur when we were asleep. Remember how we had this 'to be continued' dream series back when we were in primary (elementary) school in the last 1980s? Fancy dreams having story line that continues and pick up from the previous night - we still have those now, but very rare and far in between - I sure hope we won't lose that special connection.

It goes without saying we still remember our dreams, still as vividly as ever. I think you would want to know what happens in the future right? I'm going to tell you in 'topics' so it will be easier for you to follow.

Now, no point telling you the future dreams or else it will defeat the purpose, right? Let's talk about the dream that I know you already have at this age.
Do you recall this dream we had, where little kids our age - boys and girls - were paired up - a boy and a girl in a pair - and we were supposed to help each other cross the stream, not really a river, I remember it was more like a small stream. Do you remember our partner in the dream? Yup, the 'spoilt brat' who refused to lend us a hand in crossing the stream and we kept nagging him to the extent we behaved very un-ladylike in our favourite dress.

Do you remember his face? :-) I'd like to believe that I've married him. Unsmiling face, hair combed old-fashioned way to one side, on the chubby side, small eyes, typical Chinese boy. Dream on, in a positive way, and please make ALL THE MISTAKES in love, because without that, we will never meet this wonderful guy. For your age (less than 10) I think that's enough about love for now.

I also have news to tell you, we have got this fervent (strong) dream to be a mother when we grew up, right? Well, well, don't worry so much about that dream - we have THREE 'free' kids as our godchildren now, two girls and a little boy. The two girls are related but the little boy is totally unrelated to the two girls. We became 'mummy' to these little girls pretty early! I won't spoil the surprise for you but just know that we finally became mummy and mama, although not in the way we expected.

How about our own children? Don't worry, I believe the time will come. We are still in our early 30s, and yes, we really love to have children to call our own, when playing with our dolls, Beautee and Reddie (oh I still have Beautee the teddy bear!) remember we always pretended they were our babies and we were thinking of how we are going to feed the babies and change their nappies. We will be a fine mother one day, we have three kids to 'practice' with now. When ours and only ours comes along, we will be totally ready for him or her. Don't worry so much little one.

School is just fine. We will represent our school, represent our division (our district), and even represent our state at national level competition/contest - not sports though, I think you can figure out that much. We still hate to sweat or exercise but we still love books. Never lose sight of your studies, and yes, please follow your heart when choosing what to study next time. Make the same 'mistakes' and we should end up where I am at now. :-) What's our job now? I don't think it will make sense for you, little one, right about now. I have problem describing it to my two god daughters as well. Let's just say we are one very important person to many people at work. :-)

Don't worry about making friends or if they don't want to be your friends. The world is so big out there, I tell you now, you can know hundreds and thousands of people you have not even met or will ever meet in real life, through this thing called the Internet.

Social life (friendship) will only get trickier after you turned 10, but don't worry so much about it, we have a great friend still very close to us, a friend we have known since we were 7. Won't tell you who she is. You will know when the time comes. So yes, we have many friends, they even help you 'count' your friends - my last count was nearly 2,000 friends. Yeah, that is like after 99, you get a 100, and after 999, you get a thousand, you just multiply that by 2!

I know this will be very overwhelming for you, dear little one, don't worry so much, and continue 'thinking' and wondering 'what ifs', but please don't let life break your soul.

Keep smiling always, little Sue.

I shall pretend I am recording an audio only-letter (voice only, no video) with a hard-copy of the letter & pix to my subsequent teen self for fun:

To teen Sue in 1990s:
Hello to the cutest girl I have ever known (we are still as narcisstic as ever),

Remember how we will get so cross (upset) when people call us cute and we always wonder why didn't anyone call us pretty? Now I know why, and I am not telling. *wink*

This was taken on our 16th birthday, how grumpy we looked in the pix! Oh, you are saying we look demure and cool in it, okay, whatever you say. And no, we don't look fat in the pix. No, no, no, you DON'T KNOW the meaning of fat yet, no, not in your teens.

Okay, you win, YOU ARE FAT, happy? - *end of argument with self and feels quite stupid trying to talk sense to a teenager* -

What do you mean the whole world 'owes' you an explanation? Hello girl, no one cares about your world, especially not in your secret code that you use in your diary, oh gosh, I can never forget those codes, and no one cares if you put on one pound or half a kg since yesterday, and no, you don't look fat, again, I repeat, you are not fat.

Okay, you ARE fat, you win, okay?

Are we still dancing in the future? Let's just say we are, but not on stage anymore. Enough said. Why? Oh, don't ask why. Sssssh. When was the last time we actually danced? Yesterday, why? What dance? You won't even know the song cos it is a current song, so quit asking so many irrelevant questions. And piano? Oh, oh yes, we still play it now. Just, treasure your piano now okay, take good care of Eterna, our beloved Yamaha piano.

You see what happens when you don't play the piano? The string tends to be cold even with the heater on and it tends to break. What do you mean you are lazy? You still have Grade 8 exam coming up in 1996, isn't it? Hello!!!

Now, now...!

Don't you wish to know which guy you married in the end?


There, I got your attention. Listen to what I have to say first then I will tell you who.

Listen there,

I know we hated being a teen. We always felt that we are out-of-place more mature than our age and we just cannot get along well with our peers. Oh, what is peers, I forgot your English vocab is still so limited - it means people who are of the same age as us. What looking down on your English? It doesn't matter you always get the top marks (among the top three) in English in class I tell you, your English isn't that good in the 1990s. Geez, you even lost that trophy of Best English for the whole grade (Form) to Vincent, remember? Oh, it hasn't happen yet, this is not yet 1995? Okay. Ssssh. Listen to me.

Okay gorgeous, listen to me. If this isn't 1997 yet, here is a preview of how we will look like in February 1997:


While you are oggling at your own pix, I will continue with what I have to say - geez, I am finally reminded of how difficult I was as a teenager.

I want to give you some advices, in point form, since your attention span is too short:
1. DO NOT DEFY YOUR PARENTS - okay, I think you just shook that off your ears, never mind.
2. YOU ARE NOT ALWAYS RIGHT, not everything is about you - okay, you still won't listen to me. Okay, okay, woe is me. You have the worst life in the universe, fine.
3. COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS, you may not still have what you are having now in the future - okay, you are still young, so you still are not listening and for the 10th time, YOU ARE NOT FAT, what do you mean your calves in the second pix look fat? I love that pink dress okay, I've been saving it till now, more than 10 years later! Okay, you don't care? Fine.


4. NO ONE YOU LIKE NOW will be your husband, not even the pen pal you never met!
*can imagine glass shattering and thunder booming in the background*

I think I'd better end this letter now.

Take care, teen Sue.

Know that we were the best looking teen ever, smiling or unsmiling - peace:

-- end of letter for teen Sue --

If the song above has ended, feel free to press play on this one:

*I'd like to imagine myself teleporting to the early 2000s to talk to my younger self just for fun*

To my younger self (early 2000s)

Hello undergrad!
It was more than 12 years ago since I first stepped into the university as an undergrad.

Oh, the shadow that was looming back then? The heartbreak from our teens? Geez, that reminds me of how 'loyal' we were. You mean, oh, yeah, we are still 'loyal' now, just that, we know who to be loyal to now that we are older and more mature.

I tell you now, dear Sue, having had so many heartbreaks in such a short span of time, yeah, they are short, a few years is short, compared to a whole life time - I tell you now, heartbreaks and heartaches will only make you stronger, not kill you.

Once you are stronger, you will be very well-loved as you are more confident with yourself. I tell you, oh, you are munching on cookies again, Twisties this time? Okay, pass me some. It really soothes a broken heart huh, munching and munching. Hence the explanation why I look like this now. *points to future present self*

What do you mean no one will love you?
Look at me, I am fat, I am definitely more than a few pounds overweight but I am loved and I feel loved, and I am very much capable of loving. Be at peace with yourself girl, and stop torturing yourself mentally.

Oh, is this year 2002-2003 yet? Let me tell you something girl, before the most beautiful rainbow appear, there will be rain and sometimes storm, right? Know that after 2003, our rainbow will appear and never go away for the longest time, hopefully till the end of time.

I know, cos I come from the future.

Is our husband anyone we know now... erm, if this is before mid-2003, nope.

But that shouldn't stop you from dating. Go out and date, such social experiences enrich our lives, just play safe and be safe when going out with strangers from the Internet okay?

Don't worry about our career - I think our love life is more messed up than our career, just follow your heart and do whatever we want!!! Yeah~ gimme five.


-- end of letter to early 20s Sue --

To my dating self (2003-2006)

Hello there!

No, you are not fat, you are thinner than how you will be in the future. hahahaha, laughs at self.

Who cares anyway, right? We've found a boyfriend! Oh, he is a keeper for sure!!!

If this is 2003, you are just out from a relationship, and nursing a broken heart, right? Yet another failure you say? Nah, it's just one of life's trials. We will go through it just fine.

What is the month now? Do you remember the guy who kept appearing at the top of your list on that online dating site we registered with just for fun? No, not the Korean guy or the Caucasian, the Chinese one - the Malaysian.

OH, you know him already by now? Did he email you? He did? lol, sssh, a secret on how to go past the 'paid membership' and him contacting us. *giggles*

Just a reminder that he is a real gentleman, okay, he never once asked us to forget about the ex, he even advised us to give that stupid ex a chance and listen to his side of the story when he knew we might have a chance together. He isn't selfish, that is for sure!

However, there is nothing we can do, that ex is our ex, and let him be. No more in our life, we can close that chapter now. We have got this 'new' guy now *giggles*

Oh, his voice is really musical isn't it? He actually held a concert for only you over the phone? Yeah, he has the nicest voice, the most handsome and soothing voice ever, if you can call a voice handsome.

'I knew I love you before I met you' rings true for us with this guy, huh? Loving someone before meeting him in real life.

Oh, is it 2004 already?

We finally became what we wanted to become, right? To meet people and do what we love most, to write, and get paid for it - we have been a journalist or reporter for the second year by now. And yes, we have uprooted from Borneo to Peninsular Malaysia including our cars across South China Sea, with our family trailing along. Yes, Sue, we are powerful, we moved the whole family over! muahahaha.

Have we met that guy yet? We have? Finally in person? Oh, by the road side!

The Internet is known as the Information Highway, hence meeting him via the Internet and finally in real life is like meeting him by the road side?

Yeah, literally by the road side near the traffic light. I got picked up by my future husband in his car by the road side.

Oh, mama is asking us to pursue our Masters while working? Go ahead and earn the Masters, it will come in handy. Don't worry about no time for dating, this sweet guy will still be there at the end of the two years.

Wedding plans? Don't worry about the pressure from our potential-in-laws - mama has her ways to put off the wedding date until after our Masters graduation.

We will be traditionally engaged first in 2006. Oh, just had our engagement now haven't we? This is the thinnest we have been in 5 years, hahaha.

Then we will have our wedding in 2007, you already know about that, okay, I can leave now. Bye!!!

-- end of conversation with dating self --

To my married self (5, 4, 3, 2 years ago) - saving a letter to my 2011 self in another blog post another time

One word - growth.

We are all still growing and growing with each passing moment. Embrace the moment and grow together with your man. Nothing is too difficult when you have each other by your side. There will be ups and down, and married life isn't always easy, but when it is shared, it is true that love will make it all worth while in the end.

Look at what we have and not what we lack, and the world will seem to be a more beautiful place.

-- end --

So today, after five short years together as husband and wife, I'd like to wish us happiness and joy.

Happy Anniversary to us, and may we live to a ripe old age together, side by side, happily and peacefully. May we grow old together, happily married like our grandparents before us, happy to say there is not a single divorce in our family so far, not as far as older generation is concerned anyway.

May we look forward (pun intended to coincide with the pose in the pix above) to many more years together in the future, happily married to each other.

I am proud to be Mrs Lee. :) I love my husband very much and I know that he loves me very much too.

It is true when they say words alone cannot truly describe this emotion called love, and I consider myself long-winded and wordy. I will be lying if I say I can truly fully put into words just how much love I am feeling right now. It is simply too overwhelming and 'deep'. No fireworks, no sparks, no adrenaline rush that young love used to get at the beginning of infatuation stage. It is more of a 'peaceful' love, more like "I am finally at home" love. Still that does NOT really describe this feeling called love. SO Sue, you fail big time, you cannot describe LOVE!

P/S: A brief insight of how much he loves me can be found in the comment section in this particular blog post