Friday, November 30, 2007

The end of free speech in America?

I came across this article titled Senate Bill 1959 to Criminalize Thoughts, Blogs, Books and Free Speech Across America. It rings a bell that sounds like the Malaysian scenario.

So how does this gel with the country's national anthem which I recall states it as the "land of the free and home of the brave"?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Can't wait to grow up

Did you ever wish to be older or an adult in your childhood days? I did because I wanted to be able to do the things adults could. I had perceived adulthood as a life of independence and freedom, not having to get anyone's permission to do anything I wanted.

Caitlin turned five one month ago. And now she is already wanting to be six. Yesterday, she asked for high-heel shoes when she turns six. This morning, as I was tying up her hair, she asked if she could dye it when she turns six. She wants her hair to be pink, her favourite colour. When I told her pink is not quite suitable, she asked for yellow (blonde). What's next I wonder....

Monday, November 26, 2007

Caitlin's pets

Most children love animals. Caitlin is no different. She enjoys the Animal Planet channel on TV, loves reading and learning about animals, and playing with them, the real ones and the toy ones. One of her ambitions is to be a veterinarian when she grows up. She has already established the notion that she will indeed have two dogs when we move to a house; a male Schnauzer named Rusty and a female Dachsund named Mermaid Girl.

So far, she has had fish (goldfish, guppies, gourami, swordtail). Then she moved on to four terrapins which she named The Little Einsteins (June, Leo, Quincy and Annie). They now all have either returned to my dad's fish tanks or animal heaven. Then she also has countless toy pets like her Little Ponies, My Littlest Pet Shop animals, stuffed toys, rubber or plastic moulded animals. Her favourites are the Little Ponies and two white fluffy ones named PooPoo (because it's a poodle...and it's not smelly luckily!) and Daffodil the rabbit.

We have been pet-free (I mean live pets) for almost a year until today when we ended up bringing home four goldfish from my dad's place in a feeble attempt to pacify her insistence on going to the fish shop to get five angel fish.

Needless to say, the attempt failed and I had to endure 1 1/2 hours of continuous determined and sometimes angry and tearful demands to go to the shop to get her five angel fish. In the 45-minute drive from dad's home to ours, my 'radio' played "I want five angel fish" and "Mummy, mummy, mummy!" when I did not respond to the first 'song'.

Upon reaching home and settling the goldfish down, she proceeded to lie stubbornly in bed to continue her two 'songs'. My attempt to get her off the bed, and into the car half an hour later to go for her drum lessons was obviously a struggle.

Only after venting her emotions on her teacher's drum set did she become a little more reasonable. When we got home, she fed her fish, spent some time talking to them while snacking on a cookie.

It's been a long day for me having returned from Singapore at 3.00 am to catch some sleep before driving to my dad's home down south to take her home, patiently dealing with her angel fish tantrum and tending to the routine household needs.

I hope to have an earlier night tonight.

Refreshed mentally and emotionally

I had a pretty intensive weekend. I attended a self-development seminar in Singapore with about 3999 others from all walks of life. The speakers/trainers, T. Harv Eker and Robert Riopel were powerful. The energy in the huge hall at the Singapore Expo was hitting the roof. Lives were transformed, mindsets changed, and beliefs reconditioned. Practical help to having a better life and being a better you was free-flowing. Each day of the seminar lasted between 11-14 hours. Thank goodness for deodorant and good air conditioning!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Day of Indulgence

After her Mandarin class this morning I indulged Caitlin in her request yesterday for a tiara or crown as she calls it. So off we went to Mid Valley. She was very obedient for once and even agreed to a visit to the washroom first followed by a chicken rice lunch before going to Toys R Us. We found the tiara. It came with a pair of earrings so it was a good bonus for her.

After being satisfied with browsing at all the other toys in the store, we headed to Jusco for the games. She mentioned on her own that she remembered her promise last night to play only one. She chose to play the Japanese drums where you have to beat on cue with the screen and music. That's the game she never fails to play everytime we visit that place.

We both had fun. What's more fulfilling than seeing your child happy, excited, and enjoying herself? The only challenge was carrying all 17 kilos of her out of the car into the lift, unlocking the doors while carrying her, and putting her down on the bed. She had 'knocked out' the minute I strapped her into the car seat after we left the mall.

I'm taking a breather now before I start wondering what's for dinner....

Monday, November 19, 2007

A busy bee

Like most Sunday nights, I asked Caitlin last night what day it would be the next day. Usually, her answer would be "". Not last night. It was "Holiday!!"

This morning, she woke up extra bright and cheery and proceeded immediately to live out her holiday. Toys which had not been played with for months reappeared all over the house, especially her troupe of Barbies and fleet of toy cars. Computer games, V-Smile, books, remote control toy car, a little practice on the piano and drums, paints and brushes, a bath for one of her Barbies, Mandarin and drum lessons completed the day. I didn't have to find ways to keep her occupied as she busied herself independently. However, there were moments when she decided that the computer game required a second player to compete with her.

As for tomorrow, she has already got it planned. She has requested for a toy crown (ala Princess) to be bought from Toys R Us and a visit to the kid's entertainment zone at Jusco departmental store....Fearing that I would say 'no', she offered and promised to play only one game there.

Sigh, kids nowadays do have a mind of their own. In my days, I was just 'blur' and content with my story books during the school holidays.

Giving Barbie a bath

Engrossed with The Three Little Pigs

Completed the entire dot-to-dot book Daddy came home with within half an hour!

School break

The year-end school break is here again. It will be six weeks of 'freedom' for Caitlin although her Mandarin and music lessons continue until the week before Christmas when her teachers take a break.

I have yet to make plans to ensure these six weeks are 'balanced'.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Re-visiting Maldives from my desk

After mentioning Maldives yesterday, my mind has just kept wandering to that paradise every now and then. I guess this beautiful place deserves at least a second visit the next time I'm planning a real holiday.

The pictures look beautiful but you just have to be there to soak in the real beauty. It's a million times more beautiful. And if you are a snorkelling or diving enthusiast, this is the place to be up close with nature.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The weekend

The weekend is here again. It's yet another one filled with activities. And as usual, it will fly by in the blink of an eye. A family lunch, another family dinner, a birthday party, a doctor's appointment....what else?

I'm still dreaming of a weekend where I literally don't have to do anything besides eat, sleep and answer nature's call. I now wish I have Hiro's (the hit series Heroes) ability to teleport myself to somewhere exotic.

I would love to visit Maldives again.

100th post

I just realised that I've reached my hundredth post with the one I wrote on Wednesday. It just feels like yesterday when I started my blogging experience eight months ago in March. So far, I've found blogging most therapeutic. I can lose myself in my own thoughts and words....and have a few times paid the price by burning something simmering on the stove!

I've yet to turn this venture into a money-making one as you can tell. To be seriously making money from blogging (many people are doing so), I've yet to invest the time for it. Do I want to? I'm not sure, because it would make my blog impersonal and 'fake' at times, especially when I choose to write about something that's not 'me' simply for the money. So for now, I shall just write what I like and if any opportunities of interest come my way, I shall write and get the little pocket money that comes with it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Judging a book

Do not judge a book by its cover. I find this so true, literally and figuratively.

I love reading and most times, the books that first catch my attention on the shelves in bookstores are those with beautifully-designed covers, nice pictures, attractive font, catchy titles. The advertising and marketing people sure know how to do their job well with the help of graphic designers. Some of these books have good content, no doubt, and can even be prize-winning bestsellers.

However, there are books with covers less attractive and long, boring titles. They tend to involve non-fiction, specialised topics or authors and publishers with lower budget.

Two weekends ago, I bought two books, "The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari" and "What Your Doctor Doesn't Know About Nutritional Medicine May Be Killing You". I'm sure you can tell which is the one with the more attractive cover in all sense of the word.

I actually had to get the "doctor" book from the living room to make sure I got the title right for this post. I'm halfway through the "doctor" book and find it very informative, and enlightening with unique insights. I read the first two pages of the "monk" book. While it's reputed to have good content, I have yet to be able to comment on it. I tried listening to the CD but it couldn't capture my attention.

I also love 'reading' people. It is a natural tendency to first get attracted to people who look good on the outside, those who are 'better packaged' and more 'prominently displayed', just like books. But we must not forget the more down-to-earth ones with their quiet wisdom and humility. As the Malay saying goes, "diam diam ubi berisi". I sometimes get really turned off by people who rattle on and on. What they say could be of value but they just don't know when to stop, they love hearing their own voice and seeing other people's impressed faces.

And there are those who judge you by your cover. I visited a doctor recently who assumed that being a housewife without makeup, and simply dressed, I have no knowledge of health, medicine, or science. When I started discussing with him and asking more in-depth questions, he remarked condescendingly, "You are quite a knowledgable lady!" Hello MCP! I tried to reign in the temptation to stoop to his level but couldn't resist revealing, "Well, I was a microbiology major..." And what I got in reply was, "You graduated in microbiology?? But now you're now practising it in the kitchen".

Which book would you prefer to read, mine or his?

Monday, November 12, 2007

My best pals

At this time of writing at 8.00pm, Caitlin is still asleep ('afternoon' nap!) while Eugene has just boarded his return flight, hopefully to arrive home by 11pm tonight. They are my best pals, although they do fall in the can't-live-with-them, can't-live-without-them category at times!

This picture was taken after Caitlin's school concert. She did us proud by acting in her class sketch "The Boy Who Cried Wolf". She was also chosen by her teacher to give the introduction of the sketch to the audience.

Business vs. employment

It'll be a busy week for Eugene this week as he's making day trips to a few places for work. Yes, DAY trips. So he left before the sun came up this morning to catch the first flight to Kuching and will be back on the last flight tonight.

In the middle of the week, it's probably Penang followed by Miri....

As an employee, your time is dictated by your employer. I experienced that too countless times in the 14 years I had worked in the corporate arena. As much as how some visionary employers try to provide flexi hours, nice work stations, staff lounge areas, even free or subsidised food and entertainment, etc, you still have deadlines, targets, quotas, KPIs to meet. And at the end, you often feel that despite all the effort and maybe even stellar performance, your rewards do not commensurate with the sacrifices you have made.

But what's sadder is the time, opportunities and special moments you had lost and missed in your personal and family life because you had to work.

I don't want to go in-depth to discuss this issue but in my simple mind, I think it's better to be a business owner. You still have targets, deadlines, KPIs to meet but they are yours to set and the rewards you reap are yours to keep, totally all of it.

Why didn't I learn this when I was young and wondering what to do when I grow up? I was only taught to gain as much knowledge as possible to get a good paper qualification, to get a good job (with an employer,)a good salary and finally to get what is defined as a 'good' life. Is life good when you have to work 12 hours a day, get stuck in traffic jams two to three hours a day, be away from your loved ones for at least that amount of time if you don't travel overseas for work, and at the end of the month have enough to pay all your bills and probably save a little for your children's future and rainy days? We tend to settle for just that and accept our lot. And I'm not even talking about the materialistic aspects of life.

So what is a good business to own if you lack capital, if you are an 'ordinary' person? And if you wish to be master of your time and money? Even some business people or professionals are slaves to their business as they have to put in all their time personally themselves all their lives to make it successful. A doctor who starts his own practice has to open his clinic and be there. Otherwise, no patients = no income; unless you've made it and can employ a team of doctors to work for you!

A good business is one where you don't need huge capital and yet get good returns from all the blood, sweat and tears you put in, and eventually over time, it can run on its own and give you freedom. It means still getting paid when you have stopped working and having all the time in the world to spend with your loved ones and pursue your personal interests. Doesn't that sound good? I know of one. Do you know of any?

p.s. Didn't Thomas Alva Edison say "Genious is one per cent inspiration, 99 per cent perspiration"?

New template

Blogger's template choices are pretty limited. I guess I can't complain since it's a free blog service unlike others like Typepad or Wordpress which you have to pay for. Since this is one template I've yet to try, I've decided to use it for now until I get bored with my blog's look.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Guide to cleaning mouth and hands

1. Turn on the tap.
2. Wet hands.
3. Squeeze liquid soap onto palm and rub hands together.
4. While rubbing hands, hold them up to check if clean, let soap drip down to elbows.
5. Wash soap off hands (and not forearm or elbows where soap dripped down).
6. Wipe and rub mouth with wet hands.
7. Turn off the tap but not fully so that it still trickles.
8. Dry mouth with shirt sleeve or collar.
9. Ignore hand towel. Dry hands on shirt or nearby wall.
10.If mummy is nearby, dry them on mummy's shirt or shorts.

by Caitlin, 5 years.

(Editor's note: the ideas in this article are original and copyrighted by Caitlin. No input whatsoever was provided by her main caregivers i.e. her parents. Her parents marvel at her creativity and resourcefulness)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Bless our marriage

Tomorrow is our wedding anniversary. Nothing planned as I have work. So my simple way of commemorating it here in my blog is to share this:

Bless Our Marriage

We thank you, O God
for the love You have implanted in our hearts.
May it always inspire us to be kind in our words,
considerate of feelings,
and concerned
for each other's needs and wishes.
Help us to be understanding
and forgiving of human weaknesses and failings.
Increase our faith and trust in You
and may Your prudence
guide our life and love.
Bless our marriage, O God,
with peace and happiness,
and make our love fruitful
for Your glory and our joy
both here and in eternity.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Blog template

I started out with rather bold and defined templates in this blog of mine, changing the colours and templates when I feel bored with how it looks. I thought this latest one would be a good change as its design is more subtle with muted tones. On second thought, after having this template for about two weeks, I think it's one of the more boring looking ones. I shall start looking for a brighter, more upbeat one next week!

Good vs evil

Is having information at your fingertips good or bad? I always use Google when I need instant access to information about anything and everything under the sun. Sometimes I find that it's the best thing ever invented but other times, it simply scares me. There's so much good as well as bad stuff you can find that it's hard to differentiate between truth and lies, fact and fiction, rational opinions and emotional ones.

It is already difficult enough to sift out fact from 'fiction' when you read the newspapers (anywhere in the world) nowadays...what more via the Internet.

And if you have an online presence, be it a publication, a blog, a site etc or have made a public 'appearance' of some kind, chances are I can track you down simply by keying in your name or related words...

Some keywords to ponder about with regards to this topic are ethics, responsibility, consideration, privacy, discretion, trust, common sense, objectivity, to add more to the list?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Life is precious

The realisation that life is fragile hits me every now and then, more often since the last 10 years or so. I know many people including myself who have had close calls, others who have said goodbye and some who are facing life's challenges. It always reminds me to live each day more meaningfully and not to sweat the small stuff.

Today, the realisation, hence this post, was triggered by a phone call from Eugene while I was having lunch. He asked me "What is nose cancer?". Ermmm, Dr Anna Tham told her dear husband..."Cancer of the nose-lah!" Either he wasn't thinking when he phrased the question, or he thought my 1980s knowledge in microbiology (which in actual fact has little to do with cancer) could help shed some light.

A friend of ours in her early thirties has been diagnosed with nose cancer. Other than that, I have no details yet of her condition. We will keep her in our prayers.

Two days ago, a close friend emailed me a report from The Star about an accident involving several cars and a bus. He was in the bus. Check out the picture in the report. We believe it was God's grace that kept him safe.

It's been two weeks that I've been totally irritated in all sense of the word, by an allergic rash. Till today, I've yet to pin down the allergen that's causing it. It's hard to function normally when it flares up and gets me irritable. So how can one enjoy life, even the simplest of pleasures, when one is plagued by ill health, disease....?

Last year, a very near and dear friend of mine celebrated her new life in heaven after battling cancer for over a year. In the late 90s, a colleague of mine in my department who was in her 20s also died of cancer. And in the early 80s, my aunt also died of cancer. I am not saying all cancer patients die; I know of survivors too. (My personal 'exposure' to cancer seems to tally with a report that one out of four Malaysians will get cancer nowadays).

Before I start sounding morbid, I'd better switch gears a little. As the title of this post goes, life is indeed precious. It is a miracle. I still wonder in amazement when I look at my five-year-old sleeping soundly. She grew inside me and came out a tiny little helpless bundle, just the length of my forearm. Now, she stands above my waist at 3 1/2 feet tall, has a strong will, talks back and plays the drums better than me!

My reflexologist (a stranger) told me today that I think and worry too much. I don't eat, sleep or exercise enough, thus getting headaches, neck and shoulder aches, have poor digestive system and liver function. All these 'diagnosed' by simply rubbing the relevant points on my soles. Hmm, pretty accurate for one who doesn't even know my name. He said I work too hard. So could all this contribute to my ill health and allergy? Very likely I think, although medical practitioners could probably say something else.

I think I should take a break, be lazy and not sweat the small stuff, please remind me!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Kid Idol

I've been pretty busy the past few days. Not much time to write anything substantial here so I thought I'd just bore you once again with my "Kid Idol" video here: