Friday, January 28, 2011

Pre-Chinese New Year 2011

Chinese New Year is approaching! The malls that I've been to have been kind and have mixed loud CNY songs with other pop songs so you don't feel like you're going crazy.

This is what greeted me yesterday morning in my office. Done by the same IT guy who did the 7 foot Santa last Christmas. Isn't it sweet?

Then of course there is the usual rush to change old notes for new. Even though where I work is surrounded by so many banks, there was a shortage on smaller denominations as usual. So this is what I managed to get so far. I wonder when it would be socially acceptable to start giving old notes instead of new ones every year.

This year's ang pow packet from my company looks great! I love the matt art paper as opposed to the shiny ones. 

So yeah, we've started packing our red packets already. Rummaging through our old "stocks", I came across this special unopened one. What was a fleeting comment from my friend who said her husband keeps all the ang pows given to him by his grandparents and parents as a souvenier made me keep some too.

This ang pow was the first and last given to me by my grandma since I got married. Every year of my marriage she would ask me to come visit during the 15 days of CNY but I never thought of the significance of it for the first five years. After all, I would see her during our reunion dinners two days before the first day of CNY. Last year, we took more leave and made the effort to go visit her, not knowing it would be her last. So yeah, this was the very ang pow she gave me then. Although I wasn't very close to her, but I feel her absence quite strongly this time of the year.

So this year, we really need to make the effort to treasure all our loved ones, not just during CNY but as frequently as we can.

Ok, ok, this post is meant to focus on CNY stuff. Our office is overwhelmed with the number of mandarin oranges and hampers that appear almost on a daily basis. So blessed!

Some came in cute baskets like this:

Some hampers had beautiful must-keep stuff like these porcelain blue and white ceramic tea containers (yes Ron, the same ones like you bought).

Some hampers were creative like this yee sang pack, one for each of the team.

Yesterday, we received a strange looking greeting card, filled with stickers from our creative agency.

This is how you assemble it:

Cute giler!
It is brilliant! Create your own Righteous Rabbit with the stickers given, pose it with the greeting card or in any creative way, snap a photo and post it up on the given Facebook site and the 10 most liked photo will win a Yes 4G dongle (high speed internet)! Mandarin oranges are aplenty and it really is up to your creativity to do this.

Well, that's it so far. I'll update if there are any more interesting things for pre-CNY.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Winning Contests

A few people seem to think we've been very lucky in winning contests. To me, my biggest win was my trip to London to watch U2 last year but here are the other prizes we have won:

1. Mix FM Contest, 2002:
I was the first caller through for the "chosen song" of the day, Josh Groban's To Where You Are and I won RM2,000 cash. Which promptly went to fix my rusting car.
Photo taken off the web

2. AirAsia U2 Contest, 2009:
Well, I've already blogged about this one extensively.

3. OCBC Staff Credit Card contest, 2009:
One of the top 500 (?) frequent swipes on the credit card and I won the AstroMax, a recorder so that Mum could watch her Korean dramas at her convenience. One of my colleagues didn't even realize he won while I had my card swiped at every opportunity, up to 6 times in a weekend just to get this prize! Thus, peace settled in my parents house.
Photo take off the web

4. Esso Smiles Contest, 2010:
We pump Esso petrol and KS uses the Smiles loyalty card to earn points. There was a contest and KS won a Nokia handphone. He had his picture in the papers in their ad as well as their posters all over the Esso stations.

Photo take off the web

5. JetStar's Be A Star On Australia Day
Mardi, Yen's Aussie Mum, spotted this contest and forwarded it to Yen. We submitted this star jumping shot of Yen and Jan and were one of the 150 winners of AUD300 of JetStar vouchers.

The winning photos will published in some Australian papers on Australia Day. The website has a gallery of what others have submitted and I don't know how they make their selection because there were so many good ones! Anyway, it will certainly help Yen when she travels next with JetStar!

I guess lining up all the prizes we've won so far, we could say we've been pretty blessed! Especially some prizes have been pretty big ones! Of course there were those which we didn't win but in order to stand a chance in the first place, do join contests when you see something that interests you.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Hundred Ringgit

This is a story about an interesting friend. I'll just refer him as KL. KL went up to Genting Highlands for a business meeting for the entire day. After the long tiring day, he hired a taxi to send him home that night. The night was deepening and the road downhill was winding.

Upon reaching his house, he started emptying his pockets when he discovered a single RM100 note from his pocket. This surprised him because he couldn't remember when he last had a RM100 note since most banks dispense RM50 notes. He sat down, furiously trying to recall his transactions over the past couple of days and in rising panic, couldn't find an instance when he had come into possession of such a big note.

Now, Genting Highlands is famous for their casinos in Malaysia and is also famous for having lots of undesirable "spirits" to make people lose their senses and gamble away. KL declares he is "not superstitious" but at that very moment, fear gripped his heart as he sat alone in his empty house, wondering how the money, which obviously did not belong to him, appeared on him.

In a stroke of determination after a very long time pondering, he decided what did not belong to him should be discarded of and the most logical solution that came to his mind at that moment was to burn the note. Rummaging through the kitchen drawers, he found a lighter and headed into his house compound. His neighbour happened to be outside as well and she stared at him holding a RM100 note in one hand and a lighter in the other.

Acting as nonchalantly as possible, he proceeded to water his plants until she went inside. Quickly squatting over a drain, he lit the lighter and held the note over the blazing flame. This is when he discovered that the RM100 note was very difficult to burn. He had to hold the flame to it for a good long time before it finally blackened and even longer time before the flames finally licked the note. As it finally succumbed to the green flames, he watched it turn into a crusty ash. Relief flooded over him and with his task done, he headed back into his house.

As soon as he climbed the stairs, the doorbell rang. This was at 11pm and he certainly was not expecting any guests. Peeking out tentatively, he noticed the familiar red and white colours of a taxi outside his house. As soon as he stepped out and saw the taxi driver who sent him home, everything clicked!

"Aiyoo Uncle! If only you were here 2 minutes ago!"

The taxi man had accidentally given him the RM100 instead of RM10 for change and had come back to claim it. Naturally, he was disbelieving despite being shown the ashes in the drain. In the end, KL gave him RM50 for both their mistakes and the taxi driver walked out of the house in a daze, mumbling, "He burnt it... he ACTUALLY burnt it..."

Relating this tale at a dinner recently, another friend told him 3 lessons:
1. To Chinese, burning real money brings bad luck
2. Burning currency is illegal
3. If you don't want the money, give it to charity or someone else!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Eric's Wedding

Last weekend, KS and I went back to Melaka for Eric's wedding. Yes, THAT Eric from the Believe-It-Or-Not stories labeled under Eric's Misadventures. When I told my colleagues and friends, they all go, "Oh THAT Eric!". Again, for those who had yet to be introduced to his fables, the tales were told again. Eric, you're a legend.

Anyway, he pre-warned us it would be rather Chinese. However, when we arrived, the dinner was held at a lovely Nyonya restaurant with a very cozy Peranakan deco so there wasn't much trace of overly Chinese nuances. 

The backdrop was designed by the bride, Rachael and it looked really lovely!

The cake was specially made by Coffee Bean, her ex-employer. It had a really cute figurine on top of them facing the same cake.

The many candles glowing all over the place and unique wedding favours were also done by the bride. Colourful jelly beans! So sweet!

There were hired professionals who sang classic Chinese songs throughout the night. Of course, a stage + mic + karaoke lyrics available = the perfect lure for enthusiastic relatives. That was the extend of having a very Chinese wedding as far as I know. 

Until we had a surprise guest. One of the singers doubled up as the God of Prosperity and handed out gold chocolate coins and an ang pow with a lottery ticket from his huge gold nugget bowl! Eric, he took the cake! Sadly, I don't think any guest won the lottery that night.

At the end, we waited until the groom was available to snap a shot. Old pals meeting again. And my first photo of Eric on my blog. He's the one in white with the flush from many yam sengs, just in case.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Pecha Kucha Night

Had an interesting night attending Pecha Kucha. It is a Japanese word (I don't know what it means) but the it uses a presentation format referred to as the 20/20 - 20 slides timed for 20 seconds per slide. So each presentation was less than 7 minutes. This is held all over the world. Tonight's topic was on social media and the line up of 10 local personalities were quite impressive.

Hosted by the British Council and Niki Cheong, it was held smack in the middle of KL. I, ah, suggested to my friend that he drive. Poor guy, I didn't realize he drove a manual so he had to suffer when we got caught in the expected jam along the Federal Highway.

Anyway, I digress. These were my highlights:
  • Niki Cheong - Apologized to the world for what social media has inflicted upon our lives such as Justin Bieber. And for affecting the many lives of our cetak rompak pirates for we now download illegal movies directly from the web instead of buying their wares.
  • Zain HD - He spoke about his experiences with CouchSurfing. His personal experiences and constant topic on how this site has enriched his life made his presentation easy to follow. Simple but personal. Powerful.
  • Foong Cheng Leong - He is a lawyer specializing in cyberlaws and he spoke about those who were "naughty" online (as in those who were politically outspoken) were persecuted.
  • Pastor Sivin Kit - I liked how he ended his presentation by saying the best thing about social media is when we become more human.
The ladies spoke very well too, clear and held the audience captivated. Many used it as a platform to promote their next event/product. However, the mic was not cooperative and kept going into silent lapses. I was also seated at a place where I couldn't see the screen so I could only hear the presentations. It would have been good to have screens at different angles like in weddings at Chinese restaurants when presenting photos of the wedded couple.

Overall? Still a bit raw but can be improved with practise, if these people were to speak again! And perhaps a more screens for the projection. Would definitely consider going again.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Happy Birthday, Hubby!

Every year when it comes to KS birthday, he gets paranoid and worried that someone will play a prank and surprise him. And he DOES have reason for this and I believe it is because he started traditions of “surprising” people during their birthdays but that's another story altogether.

Let me share with you the pranks and surprises done on him that I remember most recently.

Birthday #1
There was one year his ex-colleagues arranged to meet us at a Chilli’s in KLCC without him knowing. We arrived at KLCC but I was warned that since Chilli’s do not do reservations and do not seat a group unless the entire group is present, I had to stall him while the group cajoled and negotiated to the maitre d’ to let them have a table. Pulling him suddenly into an electrical shop nearby, I declared I urgently needed to see kitchen hoods (or some kitchen appliance), much to his bewilderment.

Upon getting the signal that everything was ready, I guided him confidently past the maitre d’ and the crowd of waiting to be seated guests, to his slight surprise. His friends had the menus covering their faces and giggles so it was only upon reaching the table when he realized they were there with the first thought, “Wow! What are you guys doing here? What a coincidence!” before it dawned upon him. Of course there was the birthday song sung publicly.

Birthday #2
Church friends booked an entire restaurant in Uptown so I had to just tell him someone recommended this new place to eat, that it was quite cozy and it would be just the two of us. Unfortunately, I let it slip when I called to warn them by pretending to say I was confirming our reservations without stating my name. By the time he entered the restaurant, he was ready for the volley of shouts and fanfare.

Birthday #3 - 2010
With every passing year, KS gets more and more suspicious and paranoid so for this birthday, his colleagues roped in his boss the day before the actual birthday. The secretary asked him to go see the boss who "was in a foul mood" in the morning. KS was worried but went anyway. Upon reaching his room, the boss flung a report on his table and started shouting about not being happy with the publicity they didn’t get. KS was getting angrier, redder and more confused by the minute as he couldn’t get a word in.

When the team marched in with a birthday cake singing, it took him a few moments before he realized what just happened. His boss just laughed along with the rest. Such a cool boss!

Birthday #4 - 2011
This is this year’s birthday. Now that the main planner of his birthday surprises, Michelle, joined another company so she couldn’t plan with his bosses and colleagues anymore. And since she has visited our new house, she thought, instead of bringing him somewhere, they would all turn up at our house to surprise him, three days earlier, knowing he would be more suspicious as his birthday approaches.

So after careful planning and last minute surprises (like he wanted to go jogging and would definitely see their gathered cars nearby), they gathered in front of our gate, equipped with all the party gear (helium balloons, whistles and all sorts of noisemakers) and cupcakes, and rang the bell.

He had just returned from his evening jogging and was resting before he took his shower. From upstairs, I asked innocently, “Who’s that?” to which he replied cautiously, “I don’t know”. It was too dark for him to see and he thought it was the guards coming to ask for our monthly contribution. He walked out to give them a scolding for we have already paid. Only when he was approaching the gate did he notice there were an unusually large amount of people. 

With a resounding blast, they made so much noise and sang happy birthday that the neighbour came out in surprise to see what the commotion was all about.

I promise we’ll just have a simple dinner just you and me on your actual birthday, ok? No more surprises. This year anyway. :)

Friday, January 07, 2011

Furry Toys Tours

In the movie Amelie, in an effort to get her father to travel the world, she abducts her father’s garden gnome without him knowing and sends it off with her air stewardess friend. Her father then periodically receives photos of the gnome posing in front of famous monuments. When the gnome finally makes it home, he is inspired to go see the world himself.

Taken off the internet
There’s this French guy who was inspired by this idea and created a very specialized tour. Send your soft toys to him and he will take them to famous Paris landmarks and take photos of the toy there! I’m so tickled that there is a market for this and it’s really cute to see the photos.

Here are some photos taken off their website:

I reckon I can do the same for KL landmarks and local food! Anyone interested? :)

Monday, January 03, 2011

Watching Planet Earth

It's been a very long time since KS and I watched loads of DVD. While we had a small 15" (or was it 12") TV in Klang and a DVD player, we were hardly home long enough to watch many shows.

Then we stayed in Sea Park where we didn't have a DVD player and the only shows we'd watch is the occasional drama series, which I can't even recall any now. It was that infrequent.

Anyway, we now have set up our significantly bigger TV (a whopping 32"! Hahaha, that IS an upgrade from our small TV) and paired it with a blu-ray DVD player. KS colleagues lent us a few blu-ray discs to "test" our new ensemble. One of the highlights of the stash of blu-rays is this one, Planet Earth. A six-disc documentary on, well, earth.

Picture taken from
It's amazing to see how the earth is strung on a delicate balance, the types of creatures which live in the extreme-st of conditions. It reminds me of what a great and creative Creator we have. It also scares me to think of how we humans do not know how to cherish this earth and have caused a tipping of the balance.

We've had a few friends over to watch a couple of episodes and we intend to have them over frequently until we finish the series. I'd give it 4 out of 5 stars only because I prefer animal documentaries. Still, I'd highly recommend it!