Tuesday, December 30, 2003

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Hence, the picture boxes with red Xs in previous posts. Sorry! Will just have to wait until the service is up again. It's a hard life, this, being a freerider :)

Trip to the North - Day 1

December 26th
KL – Ipoh – Kangar

0840 hrs : Bags all packed. Engines started.
0845 hrs : Last minute excursions to the toilet. Final checks on all doors and windows. House alarm switched on. Catfood left with the usual kid next-door, ration enough for three days and a half at least.
0855 hrs : Cars can finally move after long goodbyes to the house-cats and the neighbors across the road (who just happened to be in their garden). Number of people in cars - Car #1 (three), Car #2 (three), Car #3 (two). Total : eight.
0900 hrs : Arrived at the bakery to pick up the cake. Bakery appeared to be still ‘closed’. Called the phone number in order receipt. Was assured by person on phone that somebody was already in the bakery, will tell her to open the door.
0910 hrs : After a second call, a bakery staff appeared and opened the door. Looked grumpy. Picked up the cake. Reminded them to open shop punctually next time.
0930 hrs : On to the highway!

[ Some big, big labus of Ipoh ]

1220 hrs : Arrived in Ipoh. Brunch. Rest awhile. Driver of #1 had forty winks. Drivers of #2 and #3 had more than one serving of fried beehoon each.
1402 hrs : Back on the road. Number of passengers now plus two (both in Car #1).

[ 1640 hrs : Kita minum dulu!! ]

[ 1645 hrs : There was enough time for the ‘baby’ to have a go at the playground ]

1900 hrs : Arrived in Kangar. Went round and round a particular area of town four times before finally finding the place for the night. Serves them right for depending on a directionally-challenged passenger to show the way. Car #4 reported arriving at 1500 hrs and had already sampled the chicken tandoori at the restaurant next-door.

2105 hrs : Out to dinner. The place was at the roadside on the way to Kuala Perlis. Order included listed items on signboard except one - nobody felt like going for the taste of ‘stim boot’.

[2130 hrs : The first item to arrive after the drinks. Uber-crunchy ‘sotong goreng tepung’. Two whole platefuls cleaned in 10 minutes.]

2245 hrs : Car #2 off to Uitm Arau to pick up another passenger. Had to hurry, gate closes at 11p.m. Made it just in time.

[ Ted's room ]

2330 hrs : Safely back at the inn. Cars #5 and #6 had arrived. Total no. of rooms booked for the night – eight. Maximum no. of people crashed in a single room – five.
0100 hrs (next day) : Finally in bed after impromptu session reminiscing of old times and catching up on the latest family gossip.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Bahlsen's Croissini

[ Pretty croissants ]

Look! Croissants! Buttery, flaky croissants. Hmm hmmm... I just love croissants. That hard-to-pronounce piece of the pastry family, delicious on its own especially warm right out of the oven (or microwave) and also as sandwiches with tuna mayo or whatever filling you desire... But then for this one, look again:

[ Size comparison (tip to tip of each croissant about 4cm) ]

[ The packaging (sorry, hand wasn't steady) ]

I came across this bag of Bahlsen's mini-croissants at the Giant Supermarket in Amcorp Mall, priced at RM 3.69 for a skimpy 75g of sweet pastry bliss. At first I thought it was quite expensive, but curiosity got the better of me and I feel I just had to have them if only to see what they look like (I once bought a pack of Arnott's shortbread because I thought the picture on the packaging looked nice, but found out later that taste and texture of the product left much to desire. Umh.. I regretted that one). Yours truly have this rather obsessive liking for most stuff that list flour and butter as the main parts of the ingredients.

The verdict? Yummy! The croissants were actually harder than the usual big ones - lightly crunchy (almost like thin biscuits). They were as flaky as their normal counterparts, and just as buttery with no oily residue at all. Another plus is that it has a nice thin sugary glaze, just enough to make the sweetness distinct but not too sweet. I found myself licking my fingers after finishing the whole bag (including the flakes at the bottom!).

The small size makes it suitable for nibbling (pop one or two in the mouth and crunch, crunch awayy), and the practical packaging (handy, very easy to open unlike some packaging where you need to use your sharp incisors and both hands) makes it a convenient choice to bring places e.g. the office, on long journeys, at beach picnics etc. The only drawback is you better not sit or crush the bag unless you want it to be a bag of crumbettes and flakkinis instead of croissinis.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Lost and found

Yesterday I lost my work diary and notebook at the KL Sentral station. I thought all was lost (although it's okay) until I received a call a few hours later from a Korporal Mustaffa informing that the items were at the Balai Polis Bantuan KL Sentral, and what time would I like to come and collect them? So I went straight to the station after buying my train ticket for the journey home, and was met by a very helpful policeman with the name-tag of 'Khazairi'.

After the initial Q&A session ("Ada apa boleh saya tolong? Oh… diari.. sekejap saya periksa. Tertinggal kat mana tadi? Kerja kat mana ni?") and some mumblemumble into the walkie talkie ("Stesyen satu ke stesyen dua.. ermm blabla hilang diari dadidu ada ke jumpa yadayada") he went out awhile to get the keys to the inner room and voila! Encik Khazairi (is it correct to address a policeman that way?) however did not fail to first verify via my driving license ("Kena la pastikan…. takut nanti jadi apa-apa") that I am indeed the person whose name was written as the rightful owner of said items. The diary and notebook were in excellent condition, and unsurprisingly sans the RM10 note. According to Encik Khazairi, the items were found at a phone booth whereas I left it on an ATM machine, so there. He did ask me to check that nothing was amiss, but I decided not to take any more of his time (and risk missing the 1808 train home) over RM10 which I'm sure by then was either safely tucked in the wallet of or was already spent by the person who took it.

It amazed me that a person would take the trouble of going through all the worknotes and whatnots of a found diary. He or she would have to do exactly that to found the money considering I put it obscurely between some papers at the side pocket (even I myself had on occasions forgotten about that particular stash). I also like to stash my coins in various containers, then I'd forget all about it and find them again maybe 4-5 months later. Maybe I should do away with this stashing habit? What about you, do YOU have a stashing habit? According to this however, a stashing habit is good feng shui!

A big thanks to Korporal Mustaffa and Khazairi of Stesen Polis Bantuan KL Sentral for making the effort to return those insignificant-looking items to its rightful owner, for I know they could've just didn't bother and simply chuck them in the dumpster if they didn't care. Or maybe their job was that uneventful that the lost items were actually the highlight of the day… hehehe…. No lah.. I really am thankful! Who says the police do not care about the common public?

Life lessons

[ 47 items altogether ]

#765 - When dining out in a big group, assign someone to be the 'accountant' to work out the bill. The one with the fattest wallet could pay first and collect the money afterwards, assisted by the 'accountant'. Simply passing the money tray and bill around for people to put their part in is not a very good idea. Ticking off each item is practical although doing so in front of the waiter may draw some raised eyebrows. Ignore him/her. It's very easy to get confused when there are forty-seven items on the bill.

#763 - Always ASK for the menu when ordering food at an unfamiliar establishment. If they don't have a menu, ask for the ordered items' price. That unassuming pitcher of carbonated drink could cost you RM33 for all you know.

#521- Be careful with white tops. They have a way of attracting unsightly stains at awkward places. A spare top could prove useful especially on long journeys.

#522 - Kunyit (turmeric) stains from masak lemak on a white top would not come out with simply soap and water. Changing the top is better (refer lesson #521).

#866 - Rain + horse = wet horse
ooooooWet horse + ride = smelly clothes

Monday, December 22, 2003

Kenduri affairs

Yesterday was my cousin's wedding do (congratulations Fazly & Siti Rohaini!) in Selayang. I got the 'bunga telur' duty (complete with a lace-decked basket and all) as no one else seemed to want it. I didn't mind it too much though, it wasn't a very difficult affair thanks to the countless occasions before where I held the same exact post at other relatives' kenduris. Plus I got two small assistants who could 'sneak in' between the chairs better and more inconspicously than I could, all I need to do is point and tell them which makcik or pakcik or kakak or abang and they'd zoom in to the target ("Tu, makcik yang pakai baju biru, dengan anak dia") with a bunga telur (for adults) or cake-pack (for children) in hand. The only drawbacks were - 1) There may be two makciks in blue near each other, and they'd get confused; and 2) The bunga telurs were sometimes freely placed precariously at the edge of the table, to which I'd have to go in person and correct the mistakes. By 4 p.m., there were only a few groups of late-comers here and there so I just filled up a basket each of bunga telurs and cake-packs and place them at the frontmost table. Yeah, take your own then. Have your pick, either bunga telur or cake-pack, or both.

[ My 'bunga-telur-duty' assistants ]

It's good to catch up with the relatives as I didn't get to meet many of them during the recent raya festivities. As usual, it seems like no family gathering (and especially at weddings) is ever complete (for me at least) without the customary million-dollar questions similar to the lines of "Haaa.... awak tu bila lagi?" (when will it be your turn to marry?) to which I usually answer with either "Nanti-nanti lah" (sooner or later) if the relative doing an impersonation of Jalaluddin Hassan is an elder or "Within the next few financial years" if they would understand what that means. And then I have a particular aunt who would almost unfailingly tell me of 'this eligible young man, a [insert occupation] and is the son/nephew/brother of [insert name of an unknown distant relative or family friend]' each time we met (3 or 4 times yearly on average). I love her, and I know she has my best interests at heart, but it can be a little bit of an annoyance sometimes. Don't worry la... when the time comes, God-willing, I'd be contributing towards the statistics as a part of all those smugly-married couples out there, but until then (until I find THE guy that I feel I can connect to, have fun with, be serious with, and finally grow old with, that is), they'd all just have to wait. Very patiently :)

1) I came across this in minishort's blog - "If someone says that I need to be stupid and uneducated to get married, then I'd rather be clever and educated and not married". Exactly.

2) Received a call from the KL Sentral police booth around 2 p.m. - apparently my diary and notebook (refer previous entry) are there. Yay!

All's okay

First day back to the office, and I managed to lose my work notebook and diary at the KL Sentral station. The cleaning service there certainly proved that they're so very-very efficient. I absentmindedly left the notebook and diary on the ATM machine and only realized what I did after 2 LRT stops later. Got off, caught the next train in the opposite direction and when I returned to the crime scene (which was about 10 minutes later) both items were nowhere to be seen. 10 minutes, that's all it takes. And so, late-lah for the office. Luckily da Boss is not in when I arrived, so that's okay.

There are only a few days left anyway in 2003... hmmm... nothing much for the rest of the year that I haven't planned yet, and I can remember them all, so that's okay. Don't think there's much chance I'm gonna get involved in anything that'd require me to account and prove for where I was with whom and when during any day in the year 2003, so all the notes on daily activities lost then, still okay. The diary was a useful source of work-related addresses and phone numbers, but we'd all be getting a new diary for 2004 soon, so that's okay too. There was also a RM10 note in between some papers in the diary (for emergencies e.g. lunch money / train fare), but it was only RM10 after all. Okay. As for the work notes though, I suppose I'd just have to make do with a new book and what I can remember. And ask around for things I've forgotten. Still okay.

While taking stock of the 'loss', the last thing that I remembered was that there were some stuff I've written during my time away which was meant for blog posts, all neatly placed in the diary! Oh man, now I'd have to do a complete re-write, which as the writing process go would never be similar to the original as there are no other notes whatsoever. Ah well. These grey cells are still waaaaaay before their 'best by' date yet.

So there. All's okay then. A lot has happened during the last two weeks. There were a lot of great moments, great company, and I did some soul-searching as well. I found a few things within myself, and the people around me. Discovered new experiences, re-lived some old times. It was hard to imagine going back to the office after all that, but life goes on. And hey, it's all okay though. Thank you, God, for this life and all that I have.

Note: While editing the last bit of this post, there was a momentary blackout at the office. Nasib baik I've already saved it as a draft post. See? Still okay :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

NOT in the news

Directionally-challenged blogger found way to venue, got lost on way back home

KUALA LUMPUR, 6 Dec - Resident blogger of What's the matter?, Ted, a 20-something Piscean female, successfully reached her destination in Bandar Baru Sentul yesterday for an open house function but managed to confuse her way back home and ended deep in the bowels of a housing area near Jalan Gombak before maneuvering a tricky 3-point-turn and finally managing to locate a signboard showing the way to Pusat Bandaraya which prompted her towards a fruitful journey back home via the KL-Seremban highway.

When asked whether it was the lack of signboards proclaiming 'This way back home' or the combination of food which filled her to the max, she opted for "my eyesight is actually better during the day, and the aroma of leftover laksa and currypuffs on the backseat messed my concentration and further dulled my sense of directions".

[ Ted's own handwritten note of provided map ]

The self-confessed directionally-challenged blogger admitted that the provided online map to the venue was very precise, and the instructions very easy to understand but "unfortunately it did not provide the directions to get away from the place (Bandar Baru Sentul), leaving me to fully depend on my already none-too-excellent judgment and guess my way back". She added that she knew she actually had to make a U-turn after the first junction out of Bandar Baru Sentul, but stated that "there was nowhere that I can see to do so". She added that she saw a place where "a lot of vehicles were making u-turns like there was no tomorrow" along the main road, but there was a "No U-turn" sign there and she was on the left-most lane thus making it almost impossible to reach that point safely in time. Spokesperson from the Road and Transportation department could not be reached for further comments on Ted's questionable, or rather lack of driving skills necessary for the Malaysian roads despite passing the standard test for a driver's license at the first attempt. According to dependable sources, the blogger was actually served her first summons even before she passed the driving test, or to be more exact during one of the driving lessons taken under the coaching of a driving school instructor.

This is definitely not the first case when Ted had lost her way in getting around town, regardless whether it was to a new office, special functions' venues, eating joints or even to friends' homes that she'd actually been to before. When asked if any preparation was made towards the possibility of getting lost yesterday, she admitted that she was fully prepared with "a half-full tank of gas and a Touch-N-Go card loaded with RM20, which I reckon would be enough considering driving in KL, (where) sooner or later I'd come across a green signboard showing the way to the (Seremban-bound) highway". She had also fully-charged her cellphone battery, knowing that the situation may turn ugly and she may need to call upon the help of others to direct her towards the correct route. Ted pleas for the public to be kind towards lost drivers, and not make rude remarks or look away with disdain whenever a lost person asks for directions. She wished to remind that "the next lost driver could be your own family or friend, would you turn them away?"

On a happier note, Ted confirmed that she had the way to Bandar Baru Sentul now affixed in her mind (she got lost on the way there twice before), and that she had a smashing time at the party (the currypuffs were her contribution towards the merriment). Ted was heard making the statement "I go to some open houses purely for the food, but this one, it was definitely the company". Although a couple of children latched themselves on her person almost a-third of the time (most probably due to the fact that there wasn't much difference between their heights and hers), Ted did manage to sample a large selection of the food served and declared the fare "scrumptious, delicious and lip-smackingly yummy".

The open house function was a privately-held pot luck party at another blogger's apartment (name withheld for security reasons) and was attended by close to 30 mutual friends and their family members as well as a couple of the venue-provider's own close friends. Reliable sources reported that the party started as early as 11 a.m. and went on even after the end of the live telecast of Miss World 2003. Ted was seen leaving the place around 10 p.m., declaring "it is already quite late" despite demands from several other attendees to hang around a bit longer.

Asked about current blogging activities, it was noted that Ted may not be able to blog as often as usual this week and the next due to job-related matters, but will try to "find the chance for a post or two" or else just make some notes and make up for the lost time when she gets back home. - Blogger Daily

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Friday, December 05, 2003


über-, uber-
adjective HUMOROUS
used before nouns to mean 'extreme' or 'extremely good/successful':
e.g. über-model, Giselle

(from Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary)

[ über-lemangs ]

At first glance, these may look just like three normal lemangs on a sunny day, but look closer. See that public telephone set on the left? Yes, that blue-and-silver-colored box on the left. Now, ain't that the damnedest biggest lemang you've ever seen? Well, it was for me anyway. I suspect if it's the real thing, it would've gone into the Malaysia Book of Records already, heck, maybe even into the Guinness Book of World Records! Imagine how many people it could've fed, this one.

Went to the big company Raya do yesterday. The serving time announced was 1.30 p.m., so we went at 1 p.m. thinking we'd be among the early ones and thus avoid the 'peak-hour' crowd. Heh, were we wrong! It turned out that food was actually available starting at around 12 p.m., and the clever ones who went earlier than us got to have lunch with all the bigwigs in the industry. When we arrived, the place was already swinging with people who must've had the same thought of I'll-go-earlier-than-1-p.m.-ain't-I-clever, and most of the big honchos were already leaving. Well, at least we were spared from the speeches I suppose.

[ This is only one-half of the hall, during non peak-hour period. See another display of giant lemangs on the stage in the middle? ]

The food was okay, the usual buffet of Malaysian-style Raya fare including satay, lemang, nasi impit, rendang and such. But the crowd was.. well… let's say that at several moments there were no clean plate in sight (despite the caterers' constant effort of putting new plates on the tables) and the lines ran longer than the length of the hall itself. I saw people turning empty serving containers of kuih raya into eating plates, and one fellow even made a pair of satay sticks into chopsticks to eat noodles with. Apparently free food and lack of tableware got the creative juices flowing.

There were live ghazal (Eastern verse form) music and a few singing performances, but I don't think people pay much attention to the stage at all (except maybe when an actual singer was performing). How could us when there were food to be finished (and clean plates were scarce)?

Wednesday, December 03, 2003


Quote of the day:

"You cannot beat the.
Invariably it all comes down to the in the end.
The is the uber-word".

From the Blather page

In the Blather page, every other word is linked to the "blathers" made by the "blatherers". Stumbled upon the page while doing a search on jello.

A free overdose of words, guaranteed!

Did you know that you can use jello to dye wool or silk?

The source of the protein in Jell-O is "hide trimmings," animal tissue that is rendered, purified, filtered, and then purified again, leaving a protein called collagen. For Muslims, gelatins are haram (forbidden) unless the sources of the gelatins are plant-based e.g. agar agar (seaweed gelatin), or pectin.

Hmm.... good old agar-agar. Boil in water, add sugar to the sweetness of your liking, put in some food coloring or milk or milo or coconut milk for taste and color, pour into tin tray, leave to cool. They make nice-looking desserts, eh?

Wait, how did this post proceed from the uber-word to agar-agar anyway? Ah well. Doesn't matter :)

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Defending my own

A few weeks earlier, my parents (both in their 50s) were lamenting over how disappointed they are with the lot of today's graduates whom they encounter in the course of their daily work. According to the senior couple, although these fresh grads had been students with a string of As in SPM and above-average grades in university, the way they represent themselves, how they articulate their thoughts / opinions and their interaction skills leave much to be desired. They don't know how to ask questions. They can't follow simple directions. They don't have the right work etiquette. They this and that. The standard of their English is another pet peeve - when my parents brought work stuff home (which they usually do), they'd show me examples of papers / letters / proposals prepared by their junior staff. And I can't blame the elders for thinking so, seeing that some of the preposterous mistakes are not ones you'd think a university graduate should make. They went "What did you all learn at school anyway? They just don't produce quality people these days despite the quantity of graduates out of universities each year. All today's young people think of is money, and to enjoy time with friends, is it? If these are what the good students at uni had become, what are those who didn't excel like?"

Being in the same league as the lot, (okay, maybe I'm not that fresh graduation-wise, but still I relate to them age-wise) I felt compelled to defend my generation and see those comments as a direct shot. I can't let them think we're all a bunch of immature, inadequate youngsters who aren't able to say what's on our minds and can't spell correctly to save our lives. I reminded them that those are only the ones that they encounter, a minute percentage, and that it shouldn't be used as the general standard of all of us. There are competent youngsters out there, believe me there are! Perhaps being with a lifetime of experience, the older generation's set of standards are just a bit too high for us youngsters.

Then I came across this little snippet (in the last paragraph) in the feature The Google book on the front page of Life & Times section of yesterday's New Straits Times:

"Because anecdotally, the biggest complaint about many of today's fresh graduates is that they can't tell a fact from their little finger".

Oh my, is that the general perception then? Oh man. Really, I'd like to say to the elders that we youngters are not that bad. Give us the chance to learn, to make mistakes, to learn from those mistakes. We can't be perfect (who can?), but we can improve ourselves with time and experience. Don't lose your hope on us. Remember, you were youngsters once yourselves.

And to my generation, let's prove them wrong. Let's buck up and show them what we're made of. After all, I think we owe that much to the generation that had given us what we have today. We owe it to ourselves, too.