Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Emblem Night 2007

On Saturday evening, the company that I work for held its Emblem 2007 party, during which employees with 35, 30, 25, 20, 15 and 10 years of service were celebrated. The emblem party had a 70's theme, which I tried in a small way to be a part of; I wore a floral print shirt. Some people liked it, while some people likened it to Brokeback Mountain!

But anyway, the party was different from last year. Gone were the foreign singers. This year the organisers wisely invited a few local artistes to perform; Maria, Fairuz and the Seeds were there. Maria and Fairuz had this really powerful voice, but it was becoming a bit too common. Too many singers nowadays have this powerful Datuk Sri Datin (and whatever else) Hajjah Siti Nurhaliza-type of voice.

There was also a functional (as in departmental) performance competition. Enough to say that the winners really deserved to win. As of my own function, many words had been said and I am not going to add more to that. It is more important to note that the performers made a lot of effort to be on the stage to perform. Kudos to them.

The emcee was one to forget. Too many blunders and at one point he was tellling this rather crude joke; he made the banquet hall fell silent for a while. And he did not know how to improvise. Many times when things did not go to plan, he would just stand there on the stage, not saying a word.

For once, no one from my own department won any lucky draw prize. Somehow our magic potion did not work that night! It seemed that less lucky draw prizes were on offer this year. And also, not doing the lucky draw live kinda killed off the excitement.

A few highlights from the night:
1. a YMCA rendition by the managers. It was nice to see them sportingly putting on wigs, american indian chief's headgear and hats, doing the YMCA (from the Village People). I thought my own functional manager looked like Brian May of the rock band Queen, with his long curly wig/hair.
2. a face-off between 6 best-dressed guests. One of them made everyone laugh with his gyration! But it had to be spoilt by the emcee who announced the wrong person as the winner.
3. the performance by the winners of the functional performance. It was very creative and thoughtfully conceived, despite having to practise for 3 days (if you believed what they told you! :) ).
4. the door gift. a gold-plated (?) celapa, which was a traditional Bruneian container, used to store betel leaves and nuts. (see the forth picture to know more about the celapa)

I did not bring my camera to the emblem party, so the pictures below were taken at home.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Too old??

To stay in touch with old friends, I have two profiles on some social networking websites. On this particular website, a website which is quite famous here and since recently, frequented mostly by teenagers, I have been asked if I could be friends by my .... nieces and nephews!! Yes, my nieces and nephews. So here I am thinking, am I too old for this? It feels kinda weird and slightly embarrassing that my nieces and nephews are asking to be my friends online.

Let me know what you think of it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Visual Mathematician no more!

It's official! I have recently re-taken the IQ test from http://www.tickle.com/ and apparently I am now a Precision Processor.
No wonder my VM skills have been waning off lately. In short, a Visual Mathematician (or VM) is able to distinguish similar patterns that many people apparently do not see.

Nevertheless, I will still continue with my Say What? feature.

P.s. the last (and only time) we did the IQ test, Jester was classified as Precison Processor. Now that he's left us for Manchester, perhaps it's only fitting that I fill in into his (safety) shoes!

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Model Angkasawan?

Does anyone else notice the guy on some packs of Milo drink? Isn't he Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, the first Malaysian astronaut?

Apparently, he was a part-time model. See here.
Yeah, he did go further than many Malaysians. Good job nonetheless.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Say what? I

In order to regain my VM-ship, apparently I need to perform a few miracles.

One of them is to spot things that many 'normal' people don't really spot. So to help me with this, I've come up with this new feature, called Say What?, where I will be showing pictures of things (especially oriental-made ones) with those funny descriptions which make you wonder how the hell they came up with them in the first place.

So here's the first entry...
As seen on a display card holder sold at HH Dept Store.

Can someone tell me what they are trying to say here?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Things that annoyed me.....

.... while I was in Bintulu!

1. When out shopping, Bintuluans (is there such thing?, but whatever la!) would not bother with shopping baskets. They would go along the aisles, grab whatever they need and put them in their arms. When their shoppings are overflowing the arms, they would drop them off onto the cashier counter and off they go again hunting for more items. So you would see a pile of shopping that belong to just anyone on the counter.

2. When they drive on dual carriageway, they would drive slowly on the right lane. And you would have to overtake them on the left lane.

3. When they change lanes, they would not bother using the indicator lights.

4. When driving at night, some of them would not bother to turn on the headlights.

5. When the traffic light turns red, it would still mean 'go'.

6. They would not think twice about blocking the road when they park.

7. They would get out of a junction regardless how close/fast you are to the junction.

8. They do not know how to queue up. If you queue up at the counter, you would have people jumping the queue, without feeling any guilt for doing so.

9. They love to clear their throats and spit in public.

Friday, January 11, 2008


What a way to end my posting in Bintulu! This happened in the final week of my posting there.

After a long weekend in Brunei, I drove back to Bintulu on Boxing Day. As I arrived in Bintulu, I got a flat tyre and did not realise it until it was too late; my tyre was damaged beyond use! So shopped around for a new tyre and it was almost twice the price it would be sold here in Brunei. So I thought, no, I was not going to get it and then I tried to find a second-hand, or retreaded, tyre, but to no avail. So I thought I might take a risk and not get a spare tyre. I thought to myself, what would the chance of getting a flat tyre twice in a week be, since I had not gotten any at all while driving to and fro Bintulu every weekend.

How wrong I was later proven! And people always say do not ever tempt fate. So on my final drive from Bintulu, I got a flat tyre! On the same side, on the same wheel! Lucky that I got it where there was civilisation; if not I would have gotten it among the palm oil plantations and probably got robbed by the often illegal immigrants who worked for the plantations. As civilised as it got, the place still lacked a mobile phone reception. So here I was, in the middle of a foreign place, with no spare tyre and no means to contact anyone for help. So I thought I might try my charms and stop other drivers for help. Many cars, Bruneian ones included, passed by without any intention to stop. Great! Such a friendly place! (well, I was warned when I first started in Bintulu not to stop for anyone when someone tried to flag me down, especially when driving alone in the middle of the palm oil plantation and I would probably think twice before I stop for myself). Alas, a car full of a family stopped and advised me to go to the nearest town about 10km away. Spent another 5 minutes trying to get help before deciding to find a spot with some mobile phone reception. So there I was, driving a car with a flat tyre at 30km per hour, while hoping no serious damage was done to the car and the wheel. Saw a surau somewhere and thought I might get some help there. But the surau turned out to be just a hut and it looked like it had not been used for a while now. So continued driving till I reached some fruit stalls and asked if the people there could help. And again no help, no mobile phone reception and no spare tyre. Decided to drive further on, driving for a total of probably 5km from the spot where I got the flat tyre.

I got to a place where there was a shop and a signboard clearly seen from the road. I reasoned that if someone were to find me, it would be better to have something easy to spot. Alas, there was some mobile phone reception, but just. The reception kept going AWOL and I somehow managed to call home to summon help.

There I was then waiting for 2 hours before someone came to help. But the 2 hours did not just went pass by quietly. I was playing hide and seek with the rain; the rain came I went into the car and the rain wnet away I left the car for fresh air. And the shop where I stopped at was apparently a watering hole, so over the 2 hours many people came and left; many left slightly intoxicated. And at one point someone had to be carried away by his friends as he was probably unconcious from too much drinking. Obviously there were many curious glances towards my direction, but I tried my best to ignore them. During the 2 hours the mobile phone reception was playing hide and seek with me too. There were instances when I got 10 sms'es at once, as they were sent while the mobile phone reception was missing. And when it was available, someone would call me and I could only mutter "hello" before the mobile phone service went dead again.

My family (not all of them, mind you!) came to my rescue. It was getting dark before I continued my drive back to Brunei, under the watchful eyes of 2 cars escorting me.

Apparently, I just had to leave Bintulu with a bang!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Selamat Menyambut Maal Hijrah

Regardless of your faith, here's wishing you a very Happy New Hijrah Year of 1429. May the new year brings happiness, prosperity, good health and peace.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

So how has it been?

It's great to be back.

Started work in Lumut early last week. Now that the change is going to happen early next month, I am now slowly taking over some bits from the boss. It's only my second week back here, but I have got a taste of what I will be facing for the next few years. I know it is a steep and rocky road ahead, but I hope to be able to negogiate it without much trouble.

So what are my plan then? At the moment, trying to strike the right chord with the staff is high on the agenda. Everyone has his/her own positives and negatives, and getting the right balance between the two is very important.

At the moment, I am just trying to enjoy the last bits of the 'post-assignment' excitement. Come February, things are going to change and I think I am prepared for the assault!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

No camera please!

On Christmas Eve, I was invited to a birthday dinner do of a friend at Savvy’s Brasserie in Bandar.

First thing first. Savvy’s Brasserie is located at Wisma Hjh Fatimah, just above TFC. It is a nice quaint place; it was made to look like a traditional English pub. Faux solid timbers were used for d├ęcor and the windows were made from wrought iron frames, with diamond-shaped patterns adorning the window glass. I could not believe such a place would exist on a first floor of a building in the middle of Bandar! It reminded me of this pub in the middle of Merseyside that I was taken to when I worked in UK earlier this year. Thus, Savvy’s Brasserie made me feel as if I was really in UK. Being Christmas Eve, I could not help thinking that it would be snowing outside. The only thing that the place was missing was a fireplace; real or not would not matter! The brasserie served western food and I would strongly encourage you to try their grill section.

Back to the topic of this post. There were 14 of us at the dining table and more than half of us actually brought cameras. Inevitably, while waiting for our food to be served, most of us were happily snapping away. With this, it would definitely bring some noise; what with some people going from one person to another to take photos with and some people asking to see the photos just taken. I could not help thinking if digital cameras actually made a lot of difference on dinner table manners and etiquette. Try to cast your mind back to the time when we used film camera. I would not think we would take as many photos as we would with a digital camera. With a film camera, we would have to wait and pay for the photos to be printed, hence that probably stopped us from snapping away at the dining table. With a digital camera, we are able to review the photos immediately after they were taken and if we are not happy with them, we could just delete them and take some more. And sometimes it is hard for me to understand that usually more than one camera are used to take the same picture; why can’t we copy and share? Now there are many websites that provide online albums, plus the many social networking websites where one could post the pictures for everyone to see. And what’s up with the habit of wanting to review every picture immmediately after it is taken?

I am an owner of a digital camera and yeah, I sometimes bring my camera onto the dining table. However, I do not agree that the enjoyment of having dinner with friends and family should be spoilt by constant firing off flashes. And perhaps, one day we will see a ‘No cameras please!’ sign posted along side ‘No mobile phones please!’ at restaurants.