8 DAYS FAIRY WORLD
Chengdu - Jiuzhaigou - Huanglong - Mt Emei - Leshan - Dujiangyan
28 October 2005 - 4 November 2005
Firstly, I apologize for the delay in uploading this report!
Photographs at http://photos.yahoo.com/xerxesxerxes, click to China-Sichuan.
Our trip started with a major hiccup - our flight had been delayed by 8 hours! Originally scheduled for a 8.40pm departure, our flight was delayed to 2.20pm and thus half the day was wasted loitering in KLIA, reading newspaper/books, eating kit-kats and essentially waiting for the time to pass!
Upon arrival in Sichuan (Chengdu International Airport), we were greeted by a big signboard at the Immigration that said "Welcome to China. Please be quiet!" Well, that says a lot about the hospitality!
Bear in mind that the time was now 6.40pm, and we were tired, unrefreshed and hungry. We were whisked off to a nearby restaurant to sample some Chengdu food, and it was quite interesting! There were many servings of "small dishes" in addition to the main dishes of noodles, vegetables in soup, fried vegetables, chicken, duck and others. Oh, by the way, Sichuan food is salty, oily and spicy. If you can't handle any of the above, I suggest you bring some snacks from home!
In the morning, we visited a huge public park that was the site of a historic female poet in Sichuan. It's amazing that there are such large parks in China, coupled with the comfortable temperature, and it is a good place to relax in.
Lunch was at a nearby restaurant on the way to the domestic airport, and we boarded a 45-minute flight from Chengdu to Jiuzhaigou. Let's just say that I've never before been in a plane where you can literally see the mountains beneath! The view from the window was breathtaking, as you can see in some of the photos. Landing was rough, the plane was tilting from side to side. But we eventually reached Jiuzhai Huanglong Airport. The temperature was a chilly 3 degrees!
We traveled by bus to Huanglong Scenic Spot, where we bought some oxygen tanks to help us in our breathing. The reason? Jiuzhaigou is situated some 3000m above sea level. And Huanglong is some 5000m above sea level! The air was thin, and the roads were winding. We HAD to use the oxygen tanks! The climb up Huanglong was exhausting, but we were rewarded with some of the most amazing views of the natural structures and formations of rock and water.
Descending from Huanglong, it was already nightfall, around 8pm. We traveled by bus (a gruelling 2 hour ride that made many people sick) to our hotel, which had a Tibetan styling for its interior, and "castle/prison" styling for the exterior. We stayed 2 nights in a room where the heater didn't function so well... FREEZING!
We went to visit Jiuzhaigou (9 Villages Valley); its name was derived from the valley where 9 Tibetan villages were situated. This spot (along with Huanglong) was named as UNESCO World Heritage some years ago, and its pristine conditions are really a sight to behold.
I can't put into words how amazingly beautiful Jiuzhaigou is. You have to see the photos for yourself! All I can say is that I hope Jiuzhaigou will not make way for development, and that people will truly respect this monument of nature.
I managed to sample some Sichuan satay which was made with mutton. It's thinner than Malaysian satay, and cost 1Yuan per stick. Later on I saw the same satay on sale in Chengdu: 5 sticks for 1Yuan! >:(
We did some shopping at night at nearby shops. Scarves for 18Yuan (RM9), mobile phone keychains for 1Yuan (50sen), and others! There was a cultural show held in a nearby hotel, and we were entertained by well-choreographed dances and songs that depict the Tibetan influences in Jiuzhaigou.
It snowed for a brief moment in the morning, but by then we'd already boarded the bus for our journey to the airport, and flight back to Chengdu. On the way we stopped at a crystal jewelry factory, where some of our tour members did some shopping. My mom bought a jade bangle for 600Yuan (RM300). A good deal!
From Chengdu, we proceeded by bus to the foot of Mt. Emei. We stayed in a dodgy hotel, and we spent the night shopping. Other more adventerous tour members proceeded for a special massage session (which resulted in one seriously injured member!)
The shopping was satisfying. Many people bought many things, including dolls, beads, bracelets and bookmarks. The prices were competitive due to the intense competition faced by the traders.
The most amazing thing was that during a sudden and unexpected blackout, the traders instantly setup torchlights and candles in split seconds, drawing in returning customers to complete the transactions! Amazing customer service!
We visited 2 Buddhist temples in the vicinity of Mt. Emei - Baoguo Temple and Fuhu Monastery. The architecture, while nowhere near as stunning as those in Bangkok, serves to show the devotion to the Buddhist teachings. The temple grounds were pristine and large, ideal for aspiring monks and nuns to train toward the alleviation of suffering.
The most interesting portion of the locations was the hall of the arahants. We were told that we had to choose an arahant that we felt most connected to, and get an interpretation from the resident nun there.
Mine was a dark looking arahant, and although I couldn't understand the chinese translation of the characters, my cousin later mentioned that my arahant was a close disciple of the Buddha, and would rush to His aid whenever needed! Interesting...
After an afternoon meal that consists purely of beancurd (even the fish was made from beancurd), we boarded a ferry that transported us to see a wonderful man-made monument.
We visited the Giant Leshan Buddha, which was carved into a mountain some 300 years ago. Standing at a respectable 71 meters, it is truly a monument of human devotion and perseverence. My photographs don't do justice to this truly magnificient creation. Just look at the size of the people at the Buddha's foot to have a better perspective of how large it really is.
Later we had a gruelling 2 hour bus ride to the old town of Huanglongxi, where the people still lived simple lives, oblivious to the advancements of their country. There were no cars in that area, toilets were disgusting, shop houses were made of wood (OK maybe some concrete), horses took a dump in the middle of the street, popcorn was still hand made, and dodgy carnival games were setup in the middle of the street. All in all, a well-preserved town that thrives without the need for outside influences. Although, some might comment that consumerism had eroded their own entrepeneurship, and increased their reliance on tourist dollars. Nonetheless, Huanglongxi Old Town is a quirky spot and, I've been told, a famous location to film movies set in the olden eras.
By nightfall, my stomach was ready to explode from all the Sichuan food, and consequently I suffered from Diarrhea pretty much from this day onward.
We went to watch a cultural show that showcased the well-known Sichuan art of "face changing". I took some videos of the performance. You'll have to see it to believe it: the face masks were changed in split seconds! Other performances included a puppet show, tea pouring martial arts, comedy sketch, erhu and dances. A respectable effort from the Chinese indeed. Although I must say that they should probably sign up for better English language classes.
I honestly don't remember what happened in the morning, but we visited another "old town" area where we did some shopping! Since the shops accepted VISA here (normally in other areas they don't), we bought some stone carvings and embroidary from a certain shop. In the end, the shopping spree brought around some commotion, as one of our tour members suffered from upset stomach and our tour leader was nowhere to be seen! Quite scary, if you ask me. The shouts and accusations were hurled, and apologies were not accepted!
We had a night walk at one of Chengdu's bridges. Nothing interesting except for a restaurant located atop the bridge. Cute.
We proceeded to the Chengdu Panda Research Base to view the cute and loveable giant pandas and red pandas. With the population of the giant panda dwindling to less than 2000 in the world, this base is vital to ensure the continual survival of this creature.
Pandas are lazy by nature, and due to the inefficiency of their digestive system which only absorbs 20% of its food intake, the pandas' lives revolve around eating and sleeping. And the base is the perfect sanctuary for the pandas to do so without external interference.
At night we traveled to Dujiangyan where we stayed for a night. We visited the shopping streets and spent most of our cash buying winter jackets. The prices were downright ridiculous. My dad bought a leather jacket for 300Yuan (RM150!)
In the morning, we visited the Dujiangyan water irrigation dam. We were supposed to view it via cable car, but due to the misty weather conditions, we were not able to see anything at all. So we observed the trees around and admired the various colours of their leaves.
Later on we proceeded back to the same "old town" area to have lunch, where I bought a guan yin statue from the same shop for only 200Yuan (RM100). A good deal, and I'll display it soon.
Initially our flight home was scheduled in the afternoon, but was delayed to 10pm. Hence we had the entire day in Chengdu to kill time!
We went to "artistes street" where traders were showcasing their semi-antique items and artwork at a busy intersection of a major highway. No shopping done here, but some interesting photos.
Our last day was spent literally listening to lectures. We visited a silk factory, a pearl factory, medications supplier, and a tea house. All compulsory thanks to the Chinese government. Oh well, I suppose it's all in support of their economy!
Is Sichuan enjoyable? Not really. The food is uninteresting, the place is not foreigner friendly (most don't speak English, VISA and MASTERCARD are not accepted), and the distances to travel are large.
But is it worth the trip? Most definitely if you wish to see the beauty and splendour of Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong. Just have a look at all the photographs and you'll agree with me. You have never seen anything like it before. And I think that it's a photographer's heaven. I saw many tourists (local and foreign alike) carrying tripods, bulky camera equipment, SLRs to Jiuzhaigou to spend the day taking photographs.
A word of advise to end this report. If you do follow a tour, here's what to expect:
- pay for optional cultural shows
- pay for Panda visit
- sucky food (bring maggi, sambal, ikan bilis, biscuits, chocolates!)
- lack of sun - take more multivitamins
- incompatible foods - prepare diarrhea and indigestion medicine
- just enjoy the culture! Chengdu is VERY laidback compared to, say, Shanghai
Jiuzhaigou - 9 Villages Valley. It's a sanctuary untouched by human destruction. It's a refreshing change away from the modernity of human existence. Go there and be inspired by the colours and clean air and beautiful sceneries. Recharge yourself and have faith that there is still hope left in this world we live in...
Thursday, November 17, 2005
8 DAYS FAIRY WORLD
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Recently, MITI minister Rafidah Aziz had been committing many Pink Elephant slips, evident in her various responses regarding the AP issue.
The latest example from the interview excerpt in New Straits Times:
And, so far, the Prime Minister has said nothing less than full support for what I am doing. For this I am very very happy and (it) has motivated me to even work harder. I say this not to "mengampu" the Prime Minister.DUHH!!!
How about when she was asked to release the list of AP receipients at the time when it was still clouded in secrecy?
Release! Release all! We have nothing to hide!DOUBLE DUHH!!!
How many more pink elephants can you spot in your daily observations?
My manager had this to say during our team meeting:
It's no good if you're excellent at your job but nobody knows.Refreshing thought indeed!
Excellent employees jump up the value chain simply because they are able to prove to the superiors that they are valuable and capable of handling greater responsibilities.
Mediocre employees are content to do the job right and be happy with that.
While, sneaky employees rather not do any work but claim all the credit.
The point is... it's not enough to only be working in your own team and be very good at what you do. We have to constantly build the inter-departmental relationships with the managers of the other teams, to be well known and recognized, to be sought after should we decide to focus on a different job scope!
Who are i-GemZ?
A collection of singers and songwriters who have expertise in performing on stage?
A group of musicians who frequently practice and have performances often?
A few songwriters who employ professionals to sing their songs?
A Buddhist choir?
Unveiling the new (proposed) i.gemz typeface!
What is i.gemz brand promise?
-> Young and Vibrant
-> Reaching Out
((MORE TO COME))
Friday, September 30, 2005
Do you need to be a good swimmer in order to be an excellent swim instructor?
Think about the statement above. Does a badminton coach have to be a good badminton player?
Does a manager of the procurement team have to be well versed in the procurement softwares and procedures?
Does the CEO of a major multinational airline have to have the working experience in the airline industry?
Top management frequently deals with concepts and ideas rather than the actual details of each segment of the organization. For that they have their managers to ensure that their vision is cascaded downstream to the working level.
But in order for the top management to succeed in the arena, he needs to have a sound conceptual view of his own industry. For example, Tony Fernandez knows nuts about operating an aircraft, let alone an airline business! He came from a background operating a radio station business. And yet today he is one of the most successful entrepeneurs in Malaysia. He may not know the intricacies of the business, but he has enough savvy to translate time-tested principles of business and management into any industry.
Back to the original question. If a swim instructor does not know how to swim, will you trust your children with him? He may have the conceptual knowledge of how to swim, the theoretical background of each swimming style, the technicalities of treading water, etc. But will you prefer that over someone who has actual experience of swimming in water, actually practicing all the techniques rather than keeping it all in his head?
The new CEO of Malaysia Airlines comes from the Oil and Gas industry. Will he be able to adapt to the airline industry? Again, if the time-tested principles are the same in both industries, he will be able to adapt to the business and generate revenue and profit, at the same time maximizing the EBIT and minimizing OPEX, providing maximum returns to shareholders and investors.
So, do I have to be very good in GSM/GPRS/EDGE/UMTS/WIMAX before stepping up the ladder to become a manager?
I read in one book (THE RULES OF WORK) that before becoming too ambitious, one must be good at what one does first. Only with the proper credentials can one then move on. I tend to agree with this statement, because although it's true that managers do not need to know the technicalities, but it is an advantage for managers to know the technical aspects of the business because it provides him with first hand knowledge of the potential issues that may arise in the team that he manages.
Comparing a manager who is strictly about managing people, and a manager who additionally possesses the technical know-how, I feel that it's the latter that has the advantage when it comes to effective management of situations.
Alex, thanks for the trigger.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Thanks Daniel for the invite!
Incidentally, it was also the night of Malaysian Idol results. Despite that, the club was packed with fans and music lovers of all ages. Double Take performed a wonderful collection of songs from around the world, and also several instrumental pieces that really jive up the spirit of music making.
Roger's mastery of the instrument is astounding. His deft fingers slid across the fretboard with much fluidity and grace, and his right hand displayed the amazing control and improvisation to realize the most unique guitar sounds ever produced on a standard 6-string!
It's amazing, that a six-stringed instrument can be used to do so many things. And it's the joy of discovering these hidden potentials of the guitar that make it such an interesting instrument to learn.
Double Take, made in Malaysia, all the best to you!
Friday, September 23, 2005
This is one of the drafts of the logo for the 24th INCOVAR Dhamma Camp
This is an optical illusion known as the Hermann Grid. It is a repeating pattern of bright criss-cross lines over a black background, with prominent dots at the crossing points. As you view the illusion, you notice that the dots will alternate between dark and bright.
The Hermann Grid is used to illustrate how worldly stimuli can cause you to form wrong perceptions about the world. Although the reality is just a pattern of lines and dots, the net effect on your eyes is that it "shimmers", and therefore causes much discomfort and uneasiness.
To better appreciate the pattern, it is important to be able to tap into the greater consciousness through mindful practice and meditation. Hence, by closing the outer eye, the inner eye (i.e. the mind) is opened, allowing the true nature of things to be seen.
The distorted section of the logo on the bottom right corner illustrates the power of the mind in reshaping preset perceptions and wrong views. The dot in the middle of the O in OPEN MIND represents the awakening of the inner eye.
Closed Eyes, Open Mind.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Have you ever attended any seminars where the speakers are so eloquent and confident in their presentation, they seem to be able to pluck ideas from the sky whenever they need it in their speech?
You will be amazed at how spontaneous they seem to be on stage, as if they are making things up as they go along.
But have you ever considered that perhaps the speaker planned in advance to look and sound spontaneous?
When I attended the NLP training, initially I was very overwhelmed by how spontenously the trainer was able to bring up relevant stories and anecdotes to support his arguments and points. The various jokes, examples and games that he presented seemed to have been thought of at that moment itself when he was presenting the points.
Then, later on, I caught up to his tactics. He was trying to manipulate the psychology of the participants. By presenting himself as someone confident who knows anything and everything from the back of his hand, the participants are more willing to accept his point of view. And he is able to drive through the message that the mind is greater than the body, with his pre-planned set of games, messages and phrases.
To be able to speak spontaneously is a valuable asset especially when it comes to initiating conversations with clients, presenting key points in your business case (in this example, you will come across as someone who is very familiar with your product or service, and hence the best possible person to deal with). In fact, impromptu speaking is given the name of Table Topics in the well-known Toastmasters International club.
By practicing the art of planned spontaneousness, you will need to reach an awareness level of 4 (unconscious competence), where you do not need to search your memory banks for the answers. If someone asks you your name, you do not need to pause and think how to answer; instead, you immediately provide your name.
This is the spontaneous response that should be honed by a presenter or speaker to be able to drive your message through more effectively and convincingly.
Friday, September 16, 2005
Have you ever listened to a speech, attended a seminar, or participated in a lecture, where the speaker mistakenly greets his audience "Good morning" in the middle of the afternoon or night?
You begin to wonder if the speaker's credentials are waning, or if his awareness in his surroundings are fading. You begin to wonder how could such an intellectually sound person allow such a simple mistake to happen.
And the speaker has succeeded...
Succeeded in what?
He has successfully captured your attention.
Have you ever thought that maybe the speaker deliberately chose to use "Good morning" instead of "Good evening" or "Good afternoon"? By hearing something unexpected, the audience experiences a moment of truth, where they are able to connect with the speaker. The speaker, fully utilizing this moment, builds immediate rapport with his audience, and thus whatever contents of his presentation will be well received by his audience.
So, the next time you are required to speak to a crowd, try this "surprise" technique to build rapport with your audience and establish a comfortable and informal atmosphere throughout your speech. You will be well remembered as a confident and friendly speaker.
What are your thoughts?
*Gary, thanks for this trigger.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
How often do you tell yourself every day:
- I am so tired
- I have no strength
- I am so lazy
- I don't feel like working
- I feel sick
Negative energy has a way of creeping into your life. No matter how many positive things you do or say, all it takes is one negative statement to ruin your day.
Why is this?
In simple arithmetical illustration:
(+1) x (-1) = (-1)
(+100) x (-1) = (-100)
(+10000) x (-1) = (-10000)
If you allow negativity to invade your life, you will begin to feel the negative energy slowly filling up to the brim of your body and mind. And because this negativity is so destructive, it outweighs all the positive energy that you've accumulated in your life.
So we should try to get rid of all our negative energy. How? By the power of double negatives!
(-1) x (-1) = (+1)
Does it work?
Well, well, what happened to the over promised i-GemZ album? Delayed for 1 whole year!
Firstly, we targetted last year to launch, but due to some difficulties in arranging recording studios, we postponed our efforts.
When we got a studio to record in, we targetted Wesak Day to launch. Then, we found out that the schedule of the Producer was quite packed, and so we postponed again to Mooncake Festival.
Then, some studio problems cropped up, and we were out of commission for about 2 months! And so we had to postpone again.
But things are looking promising now! The studio is up and running, and there are only 2 more songs to do major recording. After some final touches, the album should be completed by this month. Following printing and distribution, we might be able to make it for the Kathina crowd!
And so, the story of i-GemZ will come to a new chapter with the launching of the album. It's packed with the best selections of songs to come from the talented songwriters, the wonderful musicians and vocalists, and the inspirational quality of music that is i-GemZ.
we inspire through music
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
In my earlier post, I illustrated how customer expectations are always rising, and the challenge for service providers is to keep up with the increasingly demanding customer expectations. I showed an example of how a beach resort can outperform your expectations by such a great extent, that the next time you revisit the beach resort, you will have much higher expectations, and thus the beach resort will have a hard time trying to exceed your expectations.
Ron Kaufman describes how to manage customer expectations in this way:
- Under Promise
- Over Deliver
Friday, September 09, 2005
I've been triggered to think... what car best represents me?
I thought about that for a while, but I guess the answer is pretty obvious:
Unique - stylish and sleek form (some call it "futuristic")
Practical - large boot space, ultra seats, superb fuel consumption, driver and passenger friendly
Mysterious - black colour (even the name of the colour is so yau-yeng)
Forward looking - aerodynamic lines, future technology (CVT)
Down-to-earth - affordable price
So, what car defines you?
Thursday, September 08, 2005
There are three kinds of customer service encounters, which will be illustrated with an example of a customer who wants to buy watermelons from a fruit seller.
Customer Service Encounter of the First Kind
(What do you want?)
Fruit Seller: What do you want?
Customer: I want 20 watermelons.
Fruit Seller: Here you go.
The fruit seller is basically fulfilling the customer's base need to buy watermelons. He closes a sale. End of story. Nothing spectacular. Let's see how the situation can be improved further.
Customer Service Encounter of the Second Kind
(How do you want it?)
Fruit Seller: What do you want?
Customer: I want 20 watermelons.
Fruit Seller: Do you want red or yellow watermelons?
Customer: Red will be fine.
Fruit Seller: Seedless or non-seedless?
Customer: I think seedless will be better.
Fruit Seller: What about these long shaped ones? They're sweeter than the normal watermelons.
Customer: Hmm. OK, why don't I get 20 normal watermelons, and 20 long shaped watermelons?
Fruit Seller: Here you go!
Instead of just selling 20 watermelons, the fruit seller managed to sell twice that amount, and probably get a satisfied customer in the process, due to his sincere interest in providing the best service to his customer. He not only closes the sale, but he also manages to ensure that that customer will be his regular.
Customer Service Encounter of the Third Kind
(What do you want to become?)
Fruit Seller: Hello. How can I be of service?
Customer: I want 20 watermelons.
Fruit Seller: OK. Do you prefer red or yellow, seedless or normal?
Customer: Red seedless will be fine.
Fruit Seller: Alright. Well, if you don't mind me asking, it's not always that I see people buying so many watermelons at the same time. I wonder, are you holding a party?
Customer: (laughs) No, no, actually I'm making watermelon juice.
Fruit Seller: Oh, I see. Well, I also have very fresh starfruit, apple, honey melon and other fruits. I suppose you make other fruit juices too.
Customer: Hmm, I suppose so. My specialty is watermelon juice, but I'm looking to venture into other fruit juices too.
Fruit Seller: Well, why don't you come to my special plantation and I'll show you some of my finest collection to make the best juice in town.
Customer: I'm interested!
The fruit seller chose not to focus on "closing the sale" or even getting returning customers. Instead, the fruit seller chose to become the customer's business partner, ensuring long term cooperation and a wonderful working relationship with the customer.
This example may be a tad simplistic, so think of the relevance of the 3 kinds of customer service encounters in your life.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Opportunity - A favorable or advantageous circumstance
Action - The state or process of acting or doing
Luck - The chance happening of fortunate or adverse events
(definitions from dictionary.com)
Another way of defining luck is:
Opportunity + Action = LuckAn illustration follows.
Suppose there is a contest that offers a brand new car for the grand prize, several smaller cash prizes, and 1000 consolation prizes. And suppose that you submit your entry forms for this contest. You stand a chance among the other contestants who submit their forms as well. And if you win any of the prizes, you will be considered "lucky" by your friends.
What had happened?
An opportunity was presented. A contest offering over a thousand prizes is open to you. You take action. You join the contest with diligence, submitting several entry forms to maximize your chance of winning. You win. Luck? Yes!
How about another example?
The NLP training that I attended was an opportunity presented to me. A colleague who registered for it initially could not make it for the training. Therefore, I took the action of registering for it and making sure my boss will approve it. I got enrolled into the training. Was I lucky? Yes!
Can you think of the times when you felt "lucky", and could it be translated into Opportunity + Action?
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
"People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."
How many times have we, in our keenness to display our wealth of knowledge, forgotten to ackowledge our audience, our counterparts who are actually listening to us?
We have to remember that we always deal with human beings. And human beings have the need to feel important. For instance, why do we bestow honorific titles upon ourselves, such as "your honour", "doctor", "your excellancy", "datuk"? We constantly search for the recognition and respect because we want to feel important.
So, you may be a walking encyclopedia with tons of knowledge stored within you. But if you want to make other people like you, you have to sincerely like other people first. This means building a relationship based on friendship, respect and trust. And if that can be done, the rest will be smooth sailing.
People don't want to listen to a sales pitch from a stranger, but will gladly purchase things they don't really need from their friends.
((MORE TO COME))
Friday, September 02, 2005
How do you handle a situation where your boss is an aggressive person? If he always bullies you into doing all his work, do you fight back aggressively, or do you accept it unwillingly, passively?
Being aggressive - violating other people's rightsAssume that you respond aggressively, shouting at him and scolding him for passing on his own responsibilities to you. Your boss would subsequently be angry for being shouted at, and you will probably be in his bad books for a long time.
Being passive - sacrificing your own rights
OK, then suppose that you respond passively, quietly accepting his bullying, completing all the tasks thoroughly. You sacrifice many nights of well deserved sleep in the name of completing his job! The next day, your boss will probably give you more to do!
Either way, you are at the losing end.
So what can you do?
Being assertive is being neither aggressive nor passive. You are not violating other people's rights, nor are you sacrificing your own. Sounds ideal, right?
How do you deal with an aggressive boss assertively?
1) Respect him as an individual.
2) Thank him for the opportunity.
3) Assertively decline the offer, stating your reasons.
Chances are, your boss will see that you are not somebody who can be bullied easily. Nor are you the type of person who will flare up and create a mess out of the situation.
Chances are, in the future, you will be well respected by your boss, and you may end up with good opportunities to be noticed and rewarded for your principle-centered approach towards the working world.
Of course, easier said than done, right? Which is why, we need to find some avenues to practice all this theory. Being a theoretical master is good, but being a master of practice will bring you great respect and personal satisfaction.
So, go find an aggressive person to talk with today!
I just thought of something:
Takumi (in Initial D) is one good example of someone with the strength, but not the passion (at least, not initially). He has been driving the mountain roads for 5 years that not only does he feel bored of driving, he finds it a chore! Mentally, driving the roads fast means getting the job done faster, and hence getting home faster for some much needed sleep.
Driving the car has become a negative anchor for him. He does not find driving exhilirating, nor does he find cars very interesting. All he knows about cars is that it is used as a mode of transportation to do his job of transporting tauhu.
Which leads me to the question:
Can passion be instilled in a person who has the strength?
Thursday, September 01, 2005
Imagine the following situation. You are visiting a beach resort for your holidays. Your expectations are normal, as you have been to other beach resorts before. You would expect the rooms to be clean, the facilities to be working, the beach to be crowded but peaceful, the swimming pool to be clean of leaves, and the receptionist to get your room reservation right.
Imagine now, that as you arrive at the beach resort in your taxi, the door porter immediately comes up and opens your door, welcoming you with a warm greeting. Then, as you walk towards the reception counter, you are offered upgrades for your chalets. Without asking, you are offered complementary welcome drinks to soothe your thirst. When you enter your room, you are wonderfully surprised by a fruit basket specially prepared for you. You open the drapes, wonderful sunshine warms your feet, and the smell of the sea breeze invites you to take a dip in the crystal clear water.
Not only are the facilities functional, they are also in tip-top condition, well-maintained and new! When you check out of the resort, you are delighted to note that you are given a VIP member card, a 25% discount, and complementary taxi service to the airport.
If your initial expectations, on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being best), were somewhere around 5, the beach resort would have given you an experience that scored somewhere around 8! The beach resort has exceeded your expectations!
The wonderful world of customer service: always exceed your customer's expectations.
But, this can turn out to be a double-edged sword.
Imagine, now, you are returning for your second visit to the same beach resort. Pampered by the service you received, your expectations have now soared from a mere 5 to a solid 8. You arrive at the beach resort, you receive the same service of complementary drinks, fruit basket, tip-top facilities, discount.
The beach resort offers you an experience score of 8. The beach resort has only met your expectations.
What had happened?
Your expectations have increased, naturally. Hence, when you receive the same experience, it seems routine, nothing special. So herein lies the difficulty of satisfying customers. The beach resort, having been such a wonderful service provider in the beginning, is now considered "normal" by you.
So the beach resort has to constantly improve their service in order to improve the customer's experience. But there is always a limit to how much one can give. Sooner or later, discounts will amount to 99%, everyone will have a VIP member card, and your equipment will fall apart.
What can be done?
Instead of striving to always exceed the customer's expectations, one should think about managing the customer's expectations. What does this mean? A good example is given here:
Disneyland manages the customer's expectations for queueing for their roller coaster ride. At a certain point in the queue, there is a signage that says "20 minutes more". You look at your watch, mentally add 20 minutes to the time, and wait. When it is your turn to board the roller coaster, you steal a glance at your watch. Wow! Only 15 minutes have passed! You feel happy. Disneyland has exceeded your expectations......
Or have they?
Disneyland has timed the queue, and they know very well that it is only 15 minutes from the point where the signage is placed. And yet, they proclaim 20 minutes of waiting time for the customer standing at that point.
How can the beach resort manage your expectations?
((MORE TO COME...))
Following from the earlier posts regarding Unconscious/Conscious Competence/Incompetence, here's some food for thought:
What you don't understand, is magic.Do you believe in this statement? Think about it.
Thousands of years ago, if you were to show the earliest cavemen how to start a fire, they will exclaim in disbelief and proclaim you to be an evil warlock.
Hundreds of years ago, people were put into jail for finding that the sun does not revolve around the earth.
Decades ago, embryo cloning was deemed impossible and immoral.
Look at where we are today! Imagine, if you are at an awareness level of (3) or (4), preaching to a person at the awareness level of (1) or (2), you will be perceived as someone who can wield magic!
This is how master illusionists perform acts of magic that bewilder their audiences. The reason? The illusionist is at level (4), while the audience is still in level (2).
So, think about it the next time you wish to perform "magic" on unsuspecting smart alecks!
In NLP, there are 4 levels of awareness in learning:
1) Unconscious Incompetence - you don't know what you don't know
2) Conscious Incompetence - you know what you don't know
3) Conscious Competence - you know what you know
4) Unconscious Competence - you don't need to know what you know
What this means is that, as a person is learning something new, he would most likely progress from (1) to (2) to (3) to (4). According to the Competence Learning Model, Level (4) of awareness is the highest level, where the knowledge and skill you learn is already internalized and becomes part of your habits and subsequently your behaviours.
If we take an example of learning how to drive, for someone who doesn't even know what driving a car is or feels like, he is in level (1). The moment he tries to operate the car, and realizes that he doesn't know how to drive one, he progresses to level (2). By taking driving lessons, practicing and constant driving, he progresses to level (3). After 1 year of driving, he will be in level (4).
The argument here is whether or not level (4) of awareness is in fact the highest level. Some argue that this is not very Buddhistic, i.e. that you are not mindful of your actions. And sometimes because of this, people become lax. Continuing from the driving example, more often than not people who have been driving for 20-30 years will feel complacent, comfortable that their driving is flawless. And when they begin to let their guard down, that's when accidents can potentially happen.
That's why there is an additional level of awareness, let's call it level (5):
Conscious Unconscious CompetenceWhat it means is that you know that you don't need to know what you know.
You are aware that you don't need to consciously operate the clutch, the steering wheel, the gear shifts, the balance between the gas pedal and the clutch, the hand brakes, the mirrors. Because all this is already internalized in your mind, you don't need to think about it. But you are aware that you don't need to think about it, hence it is not mindless actions, but more of "reflex actions" that bring your awareness to the greatest height.
Friday, August 26, 2005
Many times your colleagues will rush up to your desk with an alarmed look in their faces, telling you to complete an urgent task!
"This is very urgent, priority number 1!" So they say.
But, have we ever thought of what urgent means? Wouldn't it be better if we do the important things first?
OK, firstly, some definitions.
Urgent - Compelling immediate action or attention
Important - Strongly affecting the course of events or the nature of things; significant
(definitions from dictionary.com)
By simple rule of combinations, we can see that there are 4 extremes of urgency/importance that can be derived:
1) Not urgent / Not important
2) Urgent / Not important
3) Urgent / Important
4) Not urgent / Important
How does this all fit into prioritization?
When we perform a task, we have to ask ourselves under which category will the task fall. Which is the best sequence to tackle tasks?
(3) -> (4) -> (2) -> (1)
Ideally, we should finish things which are urgent AND important. Examples? The immediate numbers needed to produce a sales quotation that needs to be submitted NOW!
If we continually finish all items under (3), we find that soon, we will be left with tasks under (4). And here is where we have to discipline ourselves to complete the (4) tasks instead of dwelling on the (2) tasks. Why?
Because (4) are more important, will have more impact to the results generated. Whereas, you can consider (2) as things which may seem to be screaming at you for attention but wouldn't mind being pushed to a later time. Examples of (4): the final marketing presentation that needs to be completed within 5 days time for the presentation to corporate clients. Just think of it this way: if we postpone (4), sooner or later it becomes
Now we can start to work on those pesky (2), which are time-sensitive but low on importance value. These are: replying to your boss on your birthday for staff parties, answering your instant messages asking you where to go for lunch, replying that SMS wishing you all the best for your upcoming exams.
Finish enough of (2), and your life will be much simpler, less cluttered and less stressful. Because now you are only left with (1), and you can sleaze your way through!
But hold on ... even within (1), you can still prioritize into the 4 categories! The same goes for all the other categories too. This highly disciplined form of time management can seem daunting at first, but with enough practice and diligence, it will become a good habit to keep.
To conclude, writing this blog entry now is at category (1).
Yummy! Chocolate! Lots of sweet, toothaching chocolate and candy!
From the imaginations of Roald Dahl and Tim Burton, this highly creative children's tale brings the adventures of Charlie Bucket & Willy Wonka to the giant screen.
The story is about an ordinary kid who gets a chance of a lifetime to visit the longtime closed-to-public chocolate factory owned by Willy Wonka, the eccentric and socially-challenged owner of the Wonka Chocolate Factory.
The factory itself is the main attraction of the movie. From hot bubbling chocolate waterfalls and rivers to edible grass and trees, magical candy-making machines, squirrel squad to remove the walnuts from their shells... the amazingly colourful world is brought to life in an almost cartoonish manner.
Johnny Depp plays Willy Wonka to a likeable level, except when he does his gag of crashing face first into his rocket-powered glass elevator. Charlie's crooked house is an amazing piece of movie prop design. And the supporting cast of the 4 children and their parents provide the avenue for Burton to exercise his gothic flavour of comedy. You will be able to watch the greedy fat boy turning into chocolate, an over competitive girl turning into a giant blueberry, a too-intelligent-for-the-average boy turning into a miniature (subsequently flattened and stretched), and an overly pampered girl covered in rubbish.
While the story is simple in nature, Burton decides to put some depth into the Willy Wonka character by providing a back story to his Freudian slips, charting how his precarious relationship with his dentist father created the Willy Wonka that he was.
Nonetheless, this movie will be a candy fest for the eye, so sit back and enjoy the movie!
Thursday, August 25, 2005
I asked a question in an earlier post, which has garnered 2 responses to my attention.
Are passion and strength mutually exclusive?Response 1
i believe that my passion will drive to the strengthening of my strength. with passion i can drive it towards my strength but with strength, it will not drive my passion. with passion, it will drives me to go another step further, but with strength it will only takes me as far as i want to go.
it must have strong correlation with the co's vision, mission, goals &objectives
becoz to really harness and build a person, the orga plays a HUGE role
to me its not mutually exclusive
make sure there's a balance of both passion and skills
Efficiency+Effectiveness = f(passion) x f(skill)
help ppl identify what is their strength in skills and passion; some ppl think they know, but they actually dont, until someone tells them
Any more responses? Feel free to drop in the comment box
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Meetings are time wasters: myth or fact?
In truth, properly conducted meetings are not time wasters, but are an essential step toward achieving decisions and solutions.
Normally, people conduct meetings with the intent of discussing ideas, presenting information, and brainstorming. While this is not wrong, it is also not efficient.
Discussing ideas can be conducted in small working teams. Information dissemination can be done via e-mail or other forms of communication. Brainstorming will be more effective when done in an informal setting.
So what should meetings be used for?
When a decision needs to be made that require the input of all parties involved, it becomes necessary and more efficient to hold a meeting that gathers all the parties together. By presenting their respective points and options, the meeting participants can come to an agreement on the decision to be made, or the team leader/chairman can decide on behalf of the group. In any case, the meeting should end with the feeling that something has been achieved.
I'm not sure how else to write this, so maybe I'll keep the points for another blog entry.
Monday, August 22, 2005
If you want to be treated like a leader, BE a leader!I may be just an engineer, and the general perception of engineers are people who will work and work and work to solve a problem, will not be very interested in dealing with people, etc.
But just because your title is "engineer", it doesn't stop you from exploring other avenues of growth. Take challenges to lead work teams. Learn management and leadership skills from books, mentors and training workshops. Assume leadership roles whenever difficult situations are presented. Learning how to cope with disaster is key toward effective leadership.
Pretty soon, even though your title is "engineer", people will naturally come to you for guidance, leadership and decisions. You no longer have to work and work and work to solve a problem. You need to make the right decisions in order to make the work happen!
Of course there will be people perfectly contented with being the worker. That is not bad at all; in fact, without workers, a world full of leaders will run into chaos and unproductiveness.
For me? I do like to work. I like to analyse, dwell into the intricacies of problems and solutions, find ways to tackle different situations. But thinking from a different perspective, assuming the leadership role is also work! It's working with people, it's motivating people, it's ensuring that the workers do the work! When you see it from this point of view, nobody has the right to criticize leaders for not doing any of the hard work. Because the most difficult work is to correctly and efficiently assigning work to the correct workers. The most demanding task of a leader is to make right decisions and learn to improvise should the decision backfire.
The most important thing a leader should be is "confident and decisive". Amidst a swarm of engineers who can prescribe 1001 ways of solving a problem, we need ONE good leader to choose ONE good solution and make it happen!
I have never given a comprehensive answer to this question.
Generally, I know that I want to be financially independent by age 35. I also want to have the freedom to do anything I want at any time without any restrictions.
But that is a very long term goal. I have never set any medium term goals before.
For example, where do I see myself within 1 year? 2 years? In 6 months?
I must think of myself as an organization. I must be able to define what is my vision, mission and purpose in life. Only then can I move forward with my marketing plan and strategies, selling my "products" and services. Chart my long term action plans in order to achieve the ultimate goals I have set for myself.
So, from now, I shall try to think of myself as a corporation :P
Friday, August 19, 2005
A colleague of mine who was scheduled to go to a training had to pull out. An opportunity was presented to me. There is a chance to upgrade myself!
Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is the topic, and hopefully if all goes well it'll be one of my stepping stones toward achieving the managerial dream! :)
Leaders don't need to do the technical work... Leaders need to make the decisions.
- Passion – boundless enthusiasm
- Strength – capacity or potential for effective action
- Mutually exclusive – unable to be both true at the same time
How far do strength and passion intersect? Or are they mutually exclusive? Do we assume that someone’s passion is never their strength, vice versa?
How do we set the balance between personal development and organizational excellence? How can we compromise between project effectiveness and personal satisfaction?
How can we align strengths and passions in order to bring about an organization of inspired individuals that love what they do?
Thursday, August 18, 2005
My colleague asked me to read an email from A to B, where A is trying to push some job responsibility to B (which is not any fault of A's team). My colleague's concern was that A sounded quite harsh to B, while B was just trying to find a compromise to the problem that can be jointly resolved if A and B discussed it.
I looked at the email and said it's ok, cos in the work-sense, it's the job that matters. And therefore, emails should be read with no emotion.
Well, my colleague was very concerned about this, and telephoned B to find out. Well, B was quite unhappy with A's email. B felt as if all the responsibility is being passed from A to B. What to do?!
So I start to think, am I really so blur to all this "sensitivity"? Alex also labeled me as someone very transparent, very easy to read and manipulate. Am I really? I don't know. But I know that I'm very accomodating, too accomodating at times. Sometimes it really brings me to a certain level of tension, and yet I can't bring myself to shout at the person who is manipulating my kindness.
All this is part of self discovery I suppose. But what's more important than self discovery is self improvement. And I intend to pursue it. Life is more than just 1's and 0's. There are so many aspects to consider, 99% of which revolve around people. I need some people skills drastically!
The coffee machine in my office ran out of water. Apparently, the water used is more expensive than normal water dispensers. Therefore, we are so dry out of espresso, choco-chino and nescafe white coffee. The only remaining coffee source is the pathetic coffee powder in the pantry, which, although gives a strong brew, doesn't really taste good. Moreover, the biscuits have mysteriously disappeared. The tea-ladies are not filling the cookie jars. I wonder is it because we have run out of budget, or because they're just plain lazy.
It rained quite heavily this morning. The surroundings look hazy/misty. There was a smoky smell in the air this morning too. Now the air looks misty, but it could be haze. With water levels in the dams running low, are we suffering a double crisis of water shortage and air pollution!?
INCOVAR has kick-started another camp, which will be scheduled to take place somewhere in November. Got a lot of story lah, but I think I won't publish it ;)
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Lower Management needs to manage technical issues.
Middle Management needs to manage people.
Higher Management needs to manage conceptual ideas.
Normal People talk about people.
Average People talk about events.
Wise People talk about ideas.
These are some of the gems of wisdom I picked up from my personal mentor.
Thank you for triggering me to be a better person (you know who you are).
Friday, August 12, 2005
Apparently, the haze has migrated to Penang, according to various postings. Even the MMS reports extremely low visibility in parts of Penang (Butterworth is down to 2km).
And there are also reports of haze slowly clearing in Subang and KL. But here at my office, it still seems very polluted, though less than yesterday. The sky is still yellow, however.
So, hopefully my weekend in Penang will not be spoilt by stupid Indonesian b*st*rds who don't give a damn about the typical subang boy >:(
I can't really remember when the haze started, but I do remember looking out the window and seeing blankness (and no it's not the sky). I can't see the toll plaza on Sprint Highway, I can barely see the apartment buildings next to PD1, and speaking of PD1, the whole place is engulfed in white smoke!
Yesterday the company gave out face masks, ours is the N95 mask that can filter out 5 microns dust particles. It was being rationed: only 1 per person, we had to submit names.
I can't even walk outside without using the mask. The air is that bad. We have not resorted to wearing the masks indoors yet. Our office is still quite insulated, except for the toilet windows which are open.
They say the haze will continue for at least another month. More haze -> less rain. Less rain -> more haze. It's an unending cycle. I missed out on the hailstorm phenomenon in Subang Jaya. Apparently it was not caused by cloud seeding, but it was actually natural!
This weather really reminds me of so many dystopian settings that writer Philip K Dick envisioned in his stories. "Blade Runner" (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) comes to mind.
Arghhh going to Penang to escape the HAZE!!!
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Monday, August 08, 2005
How to describe this movie? Trying too hard to be an epic! Imagine masses of armies vs helpless villagers, but minus the grand battle scenes of The Two Towers. Imagine not one, not two but SEVEN heroes with SEVEN mystical swords, but minus the explanation of why the swords are so mystical and powerful. Imagine a female hero character who holds a superbly cool "flowing" sword but has no idea how to use it. Imagine... urgh... imagine no more.
Seven Swords is a decent attempt at creating a magical setting for a clash between good and evil. Unfortunately the evil is not as great as it may seem. The Fire Wind clan seems more intent at getting good food and women at their disposal. While the seven heroes have absolutely nothing to do than to hold their swords and look cool. Yeah right.
Oh ya, all the heroes are also forgettable. Only Donnie Yen looked as if he had somewhere to go with his character, but in the end it collapsed under the weight of the Korean actress who died in his hands.
The only memorable character is the leader of Fire Wind clan, but even he is mildly forgettable. In the end, Seven Swords is seen as trying too hard, but impressing nobody. Dull colours also impede the enjoyment of the movie. Go watch it if you want to impress people with your intellectual selection of movies (much much better than Bug Me Not!)
Friday, August 05, 2005
I printed out the Bewitched ticket redemption voucher. I walked to Phileo1 to buy the latest copy of Galaxie. I walked to Menara Star in Phileo2 expecting a large crowd.
No queue? No crowd? No counter?
shuckssssssss.... redemption date is 12 August lahhhhhhhh
Thursday, August 04, 2005
jane: u know wat...
jane: i think i might wanna take up ice-skating dy...
jane: indoor sports..
jane: i must b more fit dy...
jane: but no gym for me
peter: ice skating ah... quite ok but limited lah...
jane: indoor mah...
jane: cool somemore...
jane: no need to sweat
peter: limited coz there r onli so many things u can do ice skating... dunno, jus a gut feeling that it'll be quite limited...
jane: i dun wanna do strenous exercise
jane: lazy lazy
peter: u think ice skating is not strenous?!?!?
jane: jez skate mah
jane: i will take up swimming too...
jane: but later la
peter: well if ur jus into those "leisure skating" then yalar it won't be strenous, but then..too bad for "being fit" lah
peter: swimming is good for keeping fit
jane: i dun exercise at all now mah...
jane: i hafta start somewhere
peter: start by walking...
peter: walk up stairs instead of taking lift...
peter: walk to buy news paper instead of drive...
peter: those kind of things lar...
jane: siao ar?
jane: 21 floors okay
peter: fren..nobody ask u to walk up 21 floors
jane: i'm based G now...
jane: so i dun haf stairs to climb
peter: hey seriously...if u wanna swim... boleh ikut... sumtimes i go swim at ******
jane: coz hor i can go ****** to swim oso..
jane: they haf a clubhse there too
jane: i know i definitely won't join gym
peter: actually i can oso swim at my place in ****** ... since last year haven't even step into the pool yet hehehe
jane: where @
jane: lemme see...
jane: i did swim once in ******
jane: alone under the moon
peter: wah so "roman"
jane: so nice to haf the pool to myself
jane: yah man...
jane: too bad no cute guys around
jane: but swimming wif colleagues seem bit weird lor
jane: so i chose the other pool...
jane: my frens went karaoke mah..
jane: i wanted to go to sleep dy but as i passed the pool
jane: it was sooo tempting...
jane: the pool was really nice btw
peter: i never been there b4
peter: mostly i swim at ******lor........ but i tink haven't swam in a month liau
peter: mmm tempted ..
jane: i tot u said since last yr?
peter: hey...so u alone dat time rigt...did u go skinny dipping??
jane: siao ar?
peter: u alone mahh
jane: there was another gal there...
peter: oic.. hehee
jane: i think she was swimming there for quite sometime oso...
jane: so she left at bout midnite i think
jane: i left bout 1 or 2ish
peter: then she left liau u din skinny dipp??
peter: hard to get those kind of chances u knoe...
jane: wat's the difference?
jane: u go skinny dip n tell me how it feels nxt time
peter: if i get the chance to be alone lah hehehe
peter: unless got skinny dipping party >:)
jane: u can exclude from the invitation list
jane: i mean exclude me
peter: no harm trying
peter: yea i mean ever since i got access to my ****** pool last year, i haven't used it
jane: y not?
jane: so much nearer to ur place
peter: donno lah.. heheh '
peter: ****** got wat clubhouse?
jane: got lotsa monotonous paperwork to sort now..
1) Apakah aktiviti yang jane ingin menceburi?
2) Apakah aktiviti yang peter cadangkan kepada jane?
3) Mengapakah jane tidak mahu melakukan aktiviti itu?
4) Siapakah peter? Siapakah jane?
Pity... The Island could have been quite a good sci-fi movie, but instead it chose to be a dumbed down summer action movie... Oh well at least there is Scarlett Johanssen!! OMG! OMG! Scarlett Johanssen is so hot!!
Basically the movie is about some bunch of gay-looking people all dressed in white, locked up in some kind of facility to protect them from the "Contamination"... once in a while, some lucky bastards are chosen by a lottery to bring them to "THE ISLAND" (yeah, how cheesy right...) the only uncontaminated place left in the world... of course, the trailers already spoil it for you that there is no island. Those gay-looking people are actually clones of very rich people in the real world. A so-called "insurance policy".
So 2 of these clones escape the facility and learn how to live in the real world (OK, basically they learn how to have sex). Of course the Dr Evil of the facility wants to track them down and bring them back otherwise his super secret will be exposed. Apparently Dr Evil told his sponsors that the clones are in "vegetable" state, but in reality all of them are living and breathing and experiencing life. Too bad for Dr Evil, there goes your multi-billion investment!
OK, watch this movie if you want to feel slightly intelligent. But for super sci-fi addicts, this movie will make you feel stupid.
Verdict: Watch it for Scarlett Johanssen.
OMG! JESSICA ALBA IS SO HOT!!!
OMG! OMG! OMG!
Fantastic 4... just a fun ride, explaining how each character got their powers... though it's funny how all of them are exposed to the same cosmic radiation, but develop so different powers. Well, a good kiddie's movie that really brings out the kid in you. I watched it from the front row of the cinema (FARKING free tickets)... had a blardy stiff neck afterwards. Quite fun to watch lah, especially for the special effects for the torch guy yada yada.... who am i kidding man!! OF COURSE it's JESSICA ALBA!!!
Man, her boobs are so hot, they're dying to explode out from that blardy uniform, her blouse, her innerwear... man... wowwwww!! JESSICA ALBA!!!!
Did I mention that Jessica Alba is so hot!?
Batmannnnn...... batmannnnn .....
Batmannnnn...... batmannnnn .....
Batmann.. .batmann... batmann....
(if you are old enough, you will remember that super cheesy tv series, where Batman is wearing a purple uniform, and Robin is wearing tight pants)
Fast forward to the 21st century. Batman is back with a vengeance!!! (actually, Batman is born out of vengeance). There was so much hype for this new Batman movie, all the trailers, promos, teasers... really created a sense of excitement for me. I remember i was in Bangkok when all the trailers started showing, "the making of" TV specials, exclusive interviews with the cast, the premier in Tokyo... WOWW I couldn't wait!
Then I watched it. OK. Hmm. Alright. OK. Right. Oh. Ok. Finish.
RIGHTTTT... was it worth my money watching it? Yes... but did it really meet my expectations? Not really... for all the hype, I expected so much more! I can't really explain my disappointment. Maybe it's coz Batman seemed so cool in the trailers, but when in the actual film it wasn't cool. Maybe it was the blurry fighting sequences... maybe it was just the whole hype... TOO MUCH HYPE will kill your movie.
Learn that lesson well, JK ROWLING :P (oops already entered Harry Potter topic pulak :P)
I remember first watching this anime when I was still studying in uni... Phang introduced this super uglily drawn anime called InitialD, the front cover of the VCD (yeah, that time VCD rulez) show a super ugly car and super ugly characters. Popped it into the PC... vroom vroom... "techno music" starts playing... suddenly FARKKK it's speaking cantonese... blardy shit, somemore all the subtitle is in chinese.... gone lah....dunno how to listen, dunno how to read.. so how? just enjoy all the car racing lor... turned out to be a good anime series.
When rumours of a live action Initial D starring Jackie Chan started about 2 years ago, I was excited. Could they really pull off all the drifts and explain all the technicalities in a movie?!??! I mean, in anime series they can drag a race to last for 5 episodes...but in a movie it goes on and off in about 5 minutes....
I am not disappointed at all!!! (except for Jay Chou's STUPID cantonese pronunciation)... the cars were faithful to the anime, the characters too, only thing the story is a mish mash from all the different seasons of the anime ("stages"). It's a good thing that the sound effects really complement the MTVish direction of the film, so it feels like a roller coaster ride, capturing all the excitement of the car races...
Will I get the DVD? Sure! But waiting for the cantonese version lar... Sie Sing just bought one, but mandarin version.. *YUCKK*
Actually there are so many reviews that say they are so disappointed with War Of The Worlds (the new movie starring Tom Cruise lah). They say Tom Cruise is so pathetic as the hero of the show, Dakota Fanning is so annoying as the screaming kid, the aliens are so stupid that they fall sick........ hold up.... isn't that the plotline from the original writings of HG Wells?!
Steven Spielberg really put in his imaginative powers and created some of the most terrifying opening chapters of any disaster movie. The first time those alien machines emerged from the ground, I was in awe... I felt as if I was one of those people standing there looking at this machine robot, wondering what would it do.. suddenly "hhoooooooonnnnkkkkkkkkkkkkkk" the war cry, and then the humming of the heat rays... *POOFFF** there goes uncle charlie... ZAPPPPP auntie smith is burnt to ashes... holy shit! DISASTER!!!
I was literally gripping the chair, I felt so sad, so sick...how could those farking martians kill us?!?!
Anyway, alot of people say that the movie degenerated once it went into the chapter where Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning were hiding in the basement with Tim Robbins... but to me, that was one of the most scariest portions of the film. The tension was really built up when the machine's "eye" was searching around the basement, and all 3 of them were trying to hide! WOWWWW what superb mastery from Steven Spielberg to put all that tension in without a single word!
So, alot of people were disappointed with the ending. Frankly so was I. But you know what, I think it's alot better than a farking COMPUTER VIRUS ala Independence Day... so kick my butt if I say that War Of The Worlds RAWKSSSSSSSSS
Yada yada yada... Ok, so why was I out of the blogging scene for so long? Tadaaaaaaaaaaaa the super list is here to explain everything!
- Bangkok Trip - OJT lah, first time to the Thailand office...
- DENGUE!!! - Yes, I was struck by the dengue fever, spent 5 days in SJMC eating hospital food *YELCHH* lucky thing hospitalization is covered by insurance
- Bangkok Trip again!! - classroom training session, nothing much happened lah. After a whole day of training you just don't feel like doing much...
- Super Shitty Project - Yes... we got a new project in June, and we're slogging off... best part is there won't be any payment till next year... there goes our bonus :(
So there you have it... want details? Belanja me mcD ice cream and I'll tell you the stories lah.. hehehe...
Went to watch Stealth yesterday night. Basically the story is about this group of 3 elite pilots in the Talon programme, flying super-cool state of the art stealth jets capable of achieving Mach4 speeds, have satellite uplinks to the control rooms, super computers to calculate all sorts of cool stuff, and...get this...foldable wings!!! Wow, if I have anything to say about this movie, it definitely has super-cool planes!
Anyway, the story goes that the 3 pilots are joined by a 4th wingman, a super AI-controlled jet called the UCAV-EDI (Eddie), Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle Extreme Deep Invader (yeah I know it sounds like crap). Basically it's more powerful, more intelligent, and more capable than its human-infested relatives. EDI's job is to learn all the tricks in the books of the 3 pilots, in the hopes that one day it will replace the need to send human pilots to do the dirty work.
Of course, from the trailers we already know that EDI will get struck by lightning and somehow screws up its internal computers, thus turning to "evil" and threatens to destroy the world.
If you think you've got the story all figured out, somehow it got even more convoluted! The captain in charge of the whole EDI project has aspirations to join the higher echelons of the political beauracracy. Planes crash, pilots get stranded in North Korea, orders made to kill pilots in the name of protecting his own ass. There's more. A hot pursuit from a North Korean sniper on the lady pilot, military mutiny charges, sneaky politicians...
But wait... don't let all that spoil the fun! Did I mention that this movie is super cool? The CGI looks damn cool. The planes are all so cool, flying at super speeds (check out the opening sequence!), shooting missiles out of rotating banks, EDI executing a super maneuver concerning a refueling balloon, and an interesting flight path 15ft above ground level (below the radar floor). Of course, most of the physics are defied in this movie, but.. hey it's super cool!
Ultimately, I wished that this movie would stick to the good old genre of humans vs machines. That would have made for a very interesting summer flick indeed! Imagine, EDI the unstoppable AI menace and the only way to stop it is to destroy it...but on board is a nuclear warhead HOT and ARMED, or some biological or chemical weapon! And EDI is threatening the human race, planting attacks on major cities and towns. WOW, that would be a superb movie!
Otherwise, Stealth is just okay, with super cool planes!
Did I mention how super cool the planes are? Mach1... Mach2... Mach3... Mach4 woooooooooshhhhhhh :P
Thursday, June 02, 2005
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Okay. So it's confirmed. I'm going to Bangkok for on job training for 2 whole weeks. Having to pay for my own hotel is no good news either (despite the fact that I get to claim it back AFTER I've spent the money). So you go figure how much it'll cost me.
Planning to visit those places that I never got the chance to visit last time, like the National Museum, Dragon Boat Museum, Jim Thompson House, Jatujak, and sample all the great foods.
Oh, yeah, and of course... go through the on job training :)
2 weeks. Man. It's gonna be a long trip.
Friday, April 08, 2005
So we gathered in Datuk's house yesterday: myself, NW, Siew Chan, Daniel, Anson, Datuk, Sue Lynn and Wee Fah. We managed to write a 4-part choral arrangement for The Dhamma Shines in Me. So the challenge will be to practice to perfection prior to recording in the studio.
Sue Lynn cut her hair short, looks different from previously but quite good too.
Anson looked.... tired as usual.
The rest of us were having some chats and practicing the newly written music arrangement by Datuk, Anson (the apprentice) and Daniel.
It was quite a challenge trying to go back to the days of choir training and the experience of singing the bass section again. I wondered why I couldn't reach moderately low notes, although in the past I have managed to be quite a good bass sectionist. Well, I guess I could only sing better in the groggy mornings, as evident this morning while in my car driving to work.
i-GemZ... we inspire thru music...
Thursday, April 07, 2005
Which one wins?!!
I got hooked into Alias from Season 1's highly original and intruiging mix of mysticism, fantasy, heroism and conspiracy theories. It was so intruiging, that I went ahead and watched Season 2 and 3. Suffice to say my curiosity was peaked to the max at the end of Season 3!
So when Season 4 finally arrived, I was a little disappointed.
What happened to all the conspiracy theories? Conveniently shelved.
What happened to Sydney's mom? Conveniently killed.
What happened to the CIA? Conveniently moved to APO.
Well, at least there is promise in digging up the past concerning Vaughn's father and his connection to Nadia. Let's see if anything interesting crops up.
Well, I've only started watching this new series from the creator of Alias, J.J. Abrams. The first episode hooked me! Again, an effective mix of human drama, fantasy, mysticism and heroism.
What exactly dwells on the island apart from Polar Bears? Where is the island exactly? Who are the people on board the plane which crashed?
All these questions are answered in flashbacks. For example, we know how Jack the doctor got his bottle of alcohol. And we know that Kate was in fact a felon under federal custody when the plane crashed. I'm sure there will be more startling revelations of the main characters in future episodes.
I hope it doesn't disappoint!
The highly successful CSI franchise moves on to the Big Apple! Managed to catch the season premiere of CSI:NY yesterday on AXN. So how did it fare?
Well, I still like the original CSI in Las Vegas, somehow there is an affinity with the cast members and the cases that they solve. But watching CSI:NY yesterday, there was a sort of mood established, one of desolance and despair rather than hope and triumph. Perhaps it's due to the complex characterization played by Gary Sinise as Mac Tayler the head of CSI:NY. Somehow, although the case and the production didn't do much to impress me, it was the storyline and the promise of deep character development that clinched it for me.
Am I looking forward to more episodes of CSI:NY? Absolutely. I would like to see more of the CSI team, and more of the human drama that unfolds. In comparison, CSI Las Vegas does not delve too much into the human side of the story, and I have no comments of CSI:Miami since I don't watch it.
But CSI:NY... there is promise!
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
Muahahaha!! Got a free meal at TGIF!! Damn full now. Dunno how to sleep also tonight. Maybe stay up and watch Apprentice 3 lah :P
Suddenly my friend Shaz called up saying he wants to belanja me dinner tonight.
So how can I resist right?
Hope he doesn't back off when the bill comes!
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Yup. I skipped lunch today. Why? Lazy to think what to eat.
Seriously, lunch choices here are really difficult. Unless I'm willing to spend lar, otherwise it's kind of the same thing over and over again.
So how? I had 2 cups of Milo today :)
Feel like eating Crispy Chicken Rice later at Asia Cafe.
If you're a DiGi subscriber and have an MMS-enabled phone, try signing up with Lifelogger, a website that enables you to publish photos snapped using your camera phone directly onto the internet! It's really cool, and each photo you upload is published almost instantaneously!
Well, I've just started so I only have 3 snaps so far. Now I finally have a use for my camera phone! Hehehe...
Monday, April 04, 2005
Seriously. Let's say you're in the office at your own cubicle with nobody around you. Suddenly you feel the urge to let rip a big one. And it's a silent killer.
Would you do it?
Or let's say you're in the toilet, with nobody inside. There could be a possibility that someone might walk in at any time. Now you feel the urge to fart, and it's gonna be damn loud.
Would you do it?
Or perhaps let's imagine that you're in a lift full of people. Or in a full-house dark cinema. Or just walking around in a crowded department store. You feel the need to relieve yourself by farting.
Would you do it?
Saturday, April 02, 2005
Selesa here I come!
Looking forward to a good brainstorming session, and a nice trip away from the city, not thinking about work.
Darn. Now feeling hungry pulak...
P/S What is PCIC? Hehehe... take a good guess, otherwise you have to find the answer yourself.
Friday, April 01, 2005
Thursday, March 31, 2005
Sigh... either my karma is ripening, or some hidden forces are trying to give me a hard time.
Just got a call from Daniel. Apparently, the studio is experiencing some kind of technical computer problem, and Greg is flying off to Auzzie soon, so the recording this Saturday is cancelled.
And, since there is some computer problem, we won't be able to record for the whole month of April.
And we can only commence from May onwards. It will be a rush job.
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
I really messed up the i-GemZ recording schedule. I was absent for 2 recording sessions in a row.
For Siew Chan's one, the arrangement was quite a disaster that took 1 hour to rectify. Thank goodness that one is now OK.
For Wee Fah's re-recording, it still suffered from bad timing issues. Need to work with Wee Fah to get into the groove of the song.
Practice yesterday was not informed of Daniel, and he didn't show up. We had to start at 10pm, with me speeding all the way to Datuk's house.
This Saturday is supposed to be the recording of Daniel's song, and I won't be there.
Gosh I hope everything turns out OK. I have to take more responsibility if I'm to be project manager of the album... I hope that we will be able to meet the deadline for our album launch.
Monday, March 28, 2005
I finally bought my new printer, after my old one died on me (print head konked). Got it from PC Fair yesterday for a good deal!
- Canon Pixma ip3000
- Free 128MB Transcend thumb drive
- Free Star Wars III T-Shirt
- Free mug
all for.......... RM376!!
PC Fair is a great place to go for bargains. All the dealers are pushing for volume rather than margin, as they get commission from the vendors on a per unit basis. So they tend to slash prices in hopes that more people will buy from them than others.
Managed to get 50 pieces of 52X CDRs at RM35 (there were cheaper ones too! Imation 100pcs going for RM67 only!).
Friday, March 25, 2005
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
This is the favourite dinner spot for my Incovarian friends. If there is some meeting in BGF center, you can be sure that 8 out of 10 times, dinner will be at Kanna curry house. Maybe it's due to the location, it's just 3 minutes walk away from BGF center. Literally across the road only.
So is it any good? It depends... compared to more established curry houses, this one pales. However, it's still satisfactory. The banana leaf rice is adequate, although more variety of vegetables wouldn't hurt. The fried stuff is excellent, from the fish to the chicken to the sotong. My favourite is the ikan tenggiri.
The curry mutton is also good, especially when eaten with chapati. Not much variety of roti or goreng stuff, but overall this place is very convenient for a quick and satisfying meal.
The next favourite makan place for us is the Golden Bowl noodles restaurant in SS2, but I guess that's a tale for another time.
Monday, March 21, 2005
For casual blogs (such as this one), it is easy to maintain and post new material. After all, it's almost akin to writing an online diary or chronicles of one's life. There is no real reason to research or link coherently, and often the language used is somewhat informal and conversational.
However, for serious blogs such as this, this and this, it takes more than typing skills to get thoughts across. It requires critical analysis of issues, imagination, and intelligible language to convey the thoughts and opinions of the writer. In other words, it requires thinking.
Does this mean I condemn casual bloggers? No! In fact, I admire their persistence in updating their blogs countless times in a day. Don't believe me? Check it out for yourself!
Having said all this, my conclusion is that for serious bloggers, having to commit to updating the blog is no stroll in the park. It requires commitment, conviction and an inherent passion to inform, educate and enlighten its readers. Time is also a precious resource. A well-written piece could take an hour just to compose, gathering the necessary and relevant links to complete the story.
Why do I write all this in this supposedly casual blog? Because right now, I'm just *@#%#$^ sleepy!!
Saturday, March 19, 2005
Am I a sad case? It's Friday night, and instead of going out to celebrate the weekend, I have to eat Maggi Mee at home, with 2 sausages and boiled egg for dinner. Well, at least I went out for a supper with SS, so we had some good laughs talking about our companies, bosses, colleagues, ex company, ex colleagues, ex bosses. I suggested to SS to open up a blog to post up all the "interesting" stories that he has talked about. I'm eagerly awaiting the debut appearance. Either that or he'll probably write a book ;)
My new blog is open, it will focus on the Malaysian socio-politico-economic outlook, and the gaps we must fill as a nation before becoming trulyUnited. As such, it is currently called disUnited Nation. All the serious stuff will go there. However, here is still the place for NBTDness.
Friday, March 18, 2005
Early this week, I was informed that I am to be taking charge of the retune project for our client. I have absolutely no idea how everything works, and I'm supposed to have a meeting next Monday.
Moments ago, I was informed that I am to be taking charge of 3G dimensioning for our prospective client. I have absolutely no idea how it works, although I have attended an enabling course before. Now I have to read through and understand it. Apparently, I am to visit BKK office and have OJT with our BKK counterpart.
I am now hoping that this event doesn't take place on a weekend. It would be quite disastrous, as I have planned out the following week from quite early on...
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Yeah, there's something going on within my body... which I shall not detail any further (too explicit) but suffice to say it isn't exactly very comforting...
So how to sum up the half week so far? Lots of work, but not very stressed I guess. Although I think I should be, considering the fact that the deadline is fast approaching.
On INCOVAR matters, the first ever Facilitator Training course will be on 26 March 2005, and I will probably be taking charge of an important session... we'll see how it goes..
Oops. I gotta run to the pooper. Will post another time then...
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
We had dinner in SS2 makan malam, I had tom yam prawns, mango glutinous rice and lobakko (char kuey kak). A whole bunch of us were there, so it was pretty interesting and noisy.
Things started to get a little too quiet when it was time to brainstorm about the camp theme. There were many ideas, many threads of thoughts, but no specific idea or direction to follow.
After some hours of deliberation... here is my idea :)
"Breaking From The Chrysallis: Living Wisely, Rewriting Destiny"
In our daily existence, we tend to see things with a narrow vision. We tend to complain when things don't go our way. We worry about the possibilities that might happen. We whine about the difficulties we face, the bad conditions that we live in. This is akin to life inside a chrysallis; we feel trapped, damp, uncomfortable, dark and cramped.
But if we were to contemplate on the condition, we realize that there is a reason why we are trapped inside the chrysallis. Our past actions have somehow brought forth the conditions that we exist in currently. With this understanding and awareness, we begin to appreciate what we have. Living in a cocooned state, we are protected from nature's harsh environment, insects and other animals looking for juicy flesh to feast upon, natural disasters and other undesirable conditions.
Now with our new wider perspective, we seek ways to enhance our conditions. We make full use of our existence inside the chrysallis, we take opportunity of this "once-in-a-lifetime" chance. We design our actions so that they are wholesome, right and pure, with the intention of creating a better condition for our lives. And so with this, we break free from the chrysallis. By skilful and wise livelihood, we rearrange our lives. We rewrite our destiny.
Sunday, March 06, 2005
Yesterday we recorded the vocals for Ray of Dharma! Anson wasn't around the studio to witness his song being recorded. It wasn't exactly a joy ride either. Wee Fah was either too unprepared or too "couldn't care less"; he was having some trouble with the timing, the groove and rhythm of the song. So, the recording took much longer than it should have.
Nonetheless, currently we only have 2 more songs to go before we complete all the vocals! Siew Chan will be singing this Saturday, followed by Daniel the following Saturday.
Like I said, these are exciting times indeed!
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
It's like any other morning in Subang Jaya. Thousands of vehicles squeeze through the 2-lane Jalan Tujuan, fighting for space as they inch forward to join the Federal Highway. I am one of them.
I start my journey heading toward the NPE road to join the traffic lights to turn right into Jalan Tujuan. The wait at the traffic lights last between 10 minutes and 15 minutes. By the time I manage to position my car on Jalan Tujuan, it will be already jammed up (backlog traffic from Federal Highway).
Inching forward into Federal Highway, I silently scold all the emergency-lane users, criss-cross-cutting-drivers, stupid motorcyclists who don't use the motorcycle lane (call me bad and sadistic, but sometimes I wish that they would either be fined by the traffic police, or get into some accident). This portion of the journey takes up around 15 to 20 minutes.
After I pass the Old Klang Road flyover, it's smooth sailing all the way to PJ Hilton. I keep left to turn up to Jalan Barat, and silently scold all the people who zoom past on the right lane but cut in to the left lane at the last minute. WTF queue cutters?! As if your time is always more precious than others. Here, the journey takes 10 minutes to my office.
Total time: 30-45 minutes
P/S To all you spitters/litterers who open your car door to spit on the road or wind down your window to throw your cigarette butt out, FU!! Hope you will step on someone's disgusting spit and may the stain stay on your shoes for your entire lives!!
P/P/S I know this post has nothing to do with the title. So how do I drive to work without going insane? Light foot, good radio, snacks... and have a ball criticizing all those idiotic drivers!
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
[This post is taken from my other blog, written in 2001]
Dunno why, but recently I'm becoming very hooked to the Visions of Escaflowne soundtrack by Yokko Kano. It just has this dreamy and relaxing theme to it that somehow manages to sound majestic and yet at the same time soothing. I know of course that Escaflowne is a love story more than anything else, and yes I do dislike the whining Hitomi. Nonetheless, it's how the anime is portrayed, together with a respectable score and soundtrack.Let me just highlight a few examples of the beautiful serenades.
Yakusoku wa Iranai (I Don't Need Promises) - Opening Track - This is a typical anime opening song, or is it? First of all, you must listen to the subtle but effective orchestration that plays in the background. The playful strings that accentuate the story for what it is: a play with the logic that we hold for our planet and world. Listen out for the church bells that strike every last beat at each verse. Just goes to show the majesticity (is there such a word?) of the entire series.
Dance of The Curse - Battle song! - This is a great track. The stunning strings and strikeful drums, together with a haunting choir chanting "Escaflowne" really sets the mood for a fiery battle. It also manages to display the downfall of battle as the song shifts into a more dramatic key.
Hikari No Naka E (Into the Light) - Love theme - This is actually one of the first tracks that caught my ear. It might sound like any other love theme, but do listen closely to the orchestrations and the agony the female voice carries the song, as if unwilling to leave behind the man whom she had learned to love after so long. Listen for the beautiful ending.
Ending Theme - Just gotta love this one. Impossible to hate, cos it just feels so much like an ending theme, given that it plays directly after Hikari No Nake E, the moment Hitomi ascends the great pillar of light back to the Illusionary moon (Earth). It reflects back on the many emotions that have come upon Hitomi, creating a sense of belonging into her heart. She feels so reluctant when the pillar of light carries her up into the space and away from Gaea. This song captures her heart, and may light up certain sparks in yours too.
That's just a short review. I hope it's enough to let you start listening to the Escaflowne soundtrack. Oh, by the way, there are also 2 more CDs in addition to the 3 OST CDs - For Lovers Only, and the Movie Soundtrack.