Saturday, 29 October 2011

Lesson from a posh hotel

I had the good fortune of going on a learning trip at Four Seasons Hotel in September, as part of the professional development of educators, after school of course.

 The wonderful break we had: chicken siew mai, blueberry crumple, apple turnover and ... something with prawn inside I think. All tasted heavenly!
And a cup of cappuccino to top the break off

We were led to two or three suites.
This suite costs $4,300 to spend a night at - a luxury I probably could never afford

All pictures were taken with iPhone, so pardon the quality.

The hotel seems to have happy staff working for it. At the end of the hotel tour, while we were having our break, many of us from the junior to the senior had wished we could work in a hotel! The manager who had done the presentation kept going back to the point of 'service, but not servant' and 'everybody wants their dignity preserved'. If that's what the frontline service advocates, what more teaching?

Wall Painting Project

Last Sunday, I decided to paint away the 4-year-old colour at the foyer, the remnant of Home Decor Survivor 3. It was a 'remnant' because it was the only portion I had not painted over.

I bought this Nippon Natural Cane with sheen. And I loved it after I painted it on some walls (as below) to cover up the graffitti of my nephews and Baby.

From this:
to this:

I decided to use the same colour on this side of the wall too!
 The wall was dark and 'absorbed' light, resulting in an even darker flat
 My simple tools.
I painted a layer of sealant first. I read that the sealant is supposed to help the subsequent layers of paint to stick. But I did it to cover the original colour.
 First coat of sealant. As it turned out, I didn't have enough to apply a second coat. Just as well ...
 Applying the first coat of Natural Cane
I painted two coats of paint to make sure it's thick enough to cover visible patches of sealant.

Very pleased with the result after six hours of paint job. :)

Had buttock ache and thigh ache the next few days though.

My First Paid Maternity Shoot

My sister's friend whom I also am acquainted with asked my sister if I could help her take maternity pictures.

Through my sister, I made it known that I would have to charge her for it. I figured if I am doing it for free, I might as well spend the time sleeping, or spend it with my kids, or do exam revision with Coco.

But since I am not a pro, I charged her a nominal rate.

I haven't asked her for permission to showcase the pictures, so I am not showing their faces. She was in her 37th week when she had these pictures taken. A very beautiful bump I must say!

Drifting Friendship

A colleague was sharing with us about how her boyfriend's buddy's girlfriend has been bitching about her on tweeter - why she looks sleepy and wears the same blouse all the time.

When my colleague rebutted on her facebook that it was none of anybody's business why she looked sleepy and loved the blouse, the girl bitched further about her on tweeter, leaving my colleague very upset.

As a bystander, I thought it was entertaining, albeit childish - they are young girls in their mid twenties anyway. But I know it is indeed very emotionally disturbing if I were the one involved.

Then a few days later, a facebook friend who used to be my best friend posted on her wall that she seemed to like a particular animal print lately and wondered if it could be an age issue as usually we associate animal prints with 'aunty' status - not a very flattering status for any woman, especially an unmarried one.

I meet up this friend once a year and had always thought distance was not a factor in friendship until these one or two years. There are times when I wondered if our working environments had changed us, both alike, resulting in disparities in opinion about things in life, ranging from fashion sense (not that I have much), luxury bags, beliefs about work, marriage and child bringing-up.

I posted my reply about how I thought the print looked 'aunty' indeed. I gave my aunty neighbour as an example. To give an overall picture of how she looked like, I typed 'But she also liked to colour her hair lah'. Note the 'But' and 'lah' to lighten up the statement since I knew she liked to colour her hair.

She replied: Color hair is the norm for all young or old la.. No color then will look older..

Me retaliated: Haha ... Maybe that's what she thought too

Her retort: Wow, den all the hair stylists r aunty or uncle lor? Bcos they mostly hv colored hair.. ??

I stopped it there because I didn't want to wage a facebook war over something so trivial with her. And I didn't have the intention of pointing the 'aunty' tag at her in the first place.
Sometimes I wonder if it is true that women, when passed a certain age and remain unmarried, would be over-sensitive. ... Sounds mean, don't I? But I have met my share of nice single women who do not smack of 'frustrated-that-I-am-left-on-the-shelf' syndrome, but others have made me feel that they want you to feel that they are in a better state than you in your not-so-perfect marriage or simply lashed out at you or being sarcastic in their frustration, be it at work or life in general, simply because they don't have anybody else to vent their angst at.

Just last night, I was revising Chinese Open-Ended Comprehension with Coco and came across a passage about two friends who met on the street.

They used to be very close back in school but one now worked as a clerk while the other ran a boutique.

The clerk-writer saw a top that she had seen elsewhere for $55 to $60 in her friend's boutique and immediately asked her to wrap it up, thinking that she would give her a sizeable discount. As it turned out, the friend said nonchalantly,"We shouldn't earn our friends' money. I'll charge you at cost price - $100."

The writer paid, with much reluctance and difficulty.

And the two friends never did contact each other after that meeting. The writer never did wear that top either - she was afraid to find out that the top could not withstand the cold of winter.

For some reason, it rang a bell with me. It made me think of my friendship with that facebook friend, who used to be my best pal.

Perhaps our friendship is not able to withstand the bites of reality.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Angry Bird comes to our party

My sister's friend bought Angry Bird cupcakes for my nephew's birthday. 1 for $10! I said in jest 'only fools rush in'.

Very cute nonetheless! They made the kids ultra-happy too!
 And the kids took their pick!

Perspective Drawings

I was at Orchard Road, waiting to collect mooncakes from Mandarin Hotel some time in August or September, and I chanced upon some UK artist doing perspective drawings.

Apparently, it was an awareness exercise about UK. Anybody could take a picture on the perspective drawing and download their pictures from a webpage.

The first drawing is an aerial view of some architecture, with the subject on a pair of stilts.

It didn't make much sense when you looked at it as it was. You needed to look through the camera that was already positioned on a tripod right in front of the picture. The subject would look like he or she is standing on stilts, towering over the surrounding buildings in a city.

The next picture was not completed yet. The artist was still cutting it out when a crowd started to gather around him. But being the genial person that he was, or he had to be, he encouraged interested viewers to have a go at the mailbox picture - the subject had to do a half-squat beside the mailbox and stretch out his or her hand to hold the letter to look like he or she was putting the letter into the mailbox.


Food Tasting

For the glutton that I am, I 'volunteered' myself to go for the food tasting for my youngest sister's wedding banquet at the end of the year.

I even reminded my brother-in-law that he should not leave me out for the food tasting session nearer to the date.

 We were directed to a room that consisted of two ten-seater tables for food tasting.

It felt a little awkward to be in a room with at least ten other people whom we did not know. There was awkward silence from time to time and making sure that the other table of guests could not hear what we were talking about.

 The little one with her napkin tied around her neck, looking mighty pleased.
 The food!
We were pleased with the portion. However, we felt thirsty after most dishes - a hint of too much seasoning or MSG

 It would be weird not to include The Couple in this post
After the food tasting, running happily towards us

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Ambitious me reflecting

It's been a while since I last visited my little old attic.

Did quite a few things: got a new sofa, painted a few walls to light beige (or is it 'biege'?), prepared and celebrated Baby's birthday, took pictures for my sister's friend.

And now, I find myself getting ambitious. I feel like changing our dinosaur CRT TV to a 55" LED Smart and 3D TV. While on that thought, I felt like changing my study's doorway curtain to a tempered glass door. Then I thought about renovating the two toilets which have been in their original state since 5.5 years ago. And just yesterday, I was 'inspired' by the renotalk's renovating blogs on building a shoe cabinet, and perhaps with a satee. As I am typing away, I scant the pathetic state of our study and thought it could use some decent built-in study tables and cabinets.

I even took concrete steps to find out exactly how much these things would cost:
1) 55" LED Smart and 3D TV - $3000 - $4500
2) tempered glass door - $600 to $1000
3) renovating two toilets - $5000 x 2 = $10, 000
4) shoe cabinet - $1000
5) study renovation - $1000 - $1500

About $17k I need.

Meanwhile, the glass door and the shoe cabinet seem to be more achievable - if I stop travelling for a while.

But I have a problem here: part of my study's wall is made of partition board - a 'legacy' left behind by the contractor from hell. He had promised to make a concrete wall so that I could install a door next time, but since I was only going to install a door 'next time', he could not be bothered and put up a partition instead. So it would not be strong enough to hang a top-hung door.

Yeah, I could have spent all my travelling expenses on my long overdue re-renovation, but I didn't want my parents to be too old before they could go travelling. So yeah, travelling over renovation is the less of two evils. Nothing to regret about. Furthermore, William wasn't quite interested in getting his acts together, so I didn't think it was worth it to spend money to let him enjoy the the benefits as well.

Marriage is probably my biggest regret. Or rather, marriage to him is my greatest regret. I have wasted much time, money and energy on this marriage, and in the end, we are back to square one.

He has started to give me allowance - in the hope that I don't go meet up a long-time chatfriend, but how much, how much time have we wasted! When I read through the reno-blogs, the houses are clearly the works of two persons. Not one. And they are always working together, hand in hand, not against each other. They work for the benefits of each other, incorporate the likes of each other, and are always on the same line versus the ID or contractor. Not like us at all. I felt like I had to fight both the contractor and William all the time. It was William and contractor versus me. How ridiculous! Of course, in the end, we lost. Because William paid the contractor almost in full even before he started any work - a sure sign that there was something wrong with the contractor. He did it so secretly that it was too late to do anything when I knew about it.

Then he took half a year to renovate the flat, and handed it over to us incomplete. And nothing was done to our satisfaction - from the uneven tiling with wide gaps, to the erection of study's wall, the building of the false ceiling, the brand of paint, the erection of the platform, even the skirting ... nothing, absolutely nothing, was right.

More than 5 years have passed, but the thought about the shoddy workmanship still stings.

It was meant to be a brief update about what I have been up to, I ended up talking about the unhappy reno history. What's the matter with me?

It's PSLE marking - the days I look forward to for the entire year!

I will update those recent bits bit by bit.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Great and Imperfect

When a person dies, his good works are magnified - this is what came to my mind on Steve Jobs' passing off.

I am no computer geek, or whiz. I think iPhone is an ingenuis invention. I marvel at the competition Macintosh posed at Windows although I am no Apple user. Overall, I think my life would not change much, apart from my obsession with net-surfing on the iPhone, without Jobs.

The first time I came to know Steve Jobs was probably a few months ago when I read on Share, a Malaysia-based facebook link, about his three stories on how they turn his life about: how his drop-out from Reed College created milestones at different points of his life, how he was sacked from Apple and eventually returned to and reinvented Apple, and how he was that close to death.

Strangely, most of the essence of those stories were lost on me. Instead, I remembered the part where he sort of digressed to talk about how he decided to return to ask his girlfriend-to-be-turned-wife for a date instead of attending an important event because he asked himself what he would do if his life were to end that very night.

I just thought that this man had some great quotes, and he was someone who got perspectives of life right - the essence of life is death, that we should live every day as if our life would end that very night. It is not easy. It is too easy to take life for granted. Even though I knew this line since my teenage years - thanks to the wisdom of Pastor Kong, I still don't live by it most of the time.

This morning, I was browsing through The New Paper and under a condensation of Steve Jobs' belief speech, there was a grey section of '10 Unusual Things About Jobs'.

In it, it mentioned that Jobs came from a Muslim parentage, denied parentage on his first child, resulting in the single mother raising the kid on welfare cheques, didn't give money to charity, lied to his co-founder Wozniak by giving him 7 percent of the paycheck instead of the agreed 50 percent.

Why don't they just call him a scrooge? For the billions that he was worth, he didn't even ever make a comment on his thoughts about charity - probably because the less fortunate never even crossed his mind.

Why don't they label him a bastard? For a man to claim sterility to disown a child he fathered, what kind of a man is that?

Why don't they say it like it is and say he was a cheat? Cheating your co-founder is unforgiveable.

Even his being a pescetarian (vegetarian who eats fish) seems pretentious to me, unless it was out of health reasons.

Instead, they were labelled under 'UNUSUAL'.

Of course, who am I to criticise a GREAT man like Jobs? I am practically, virtually a nobody and here I am, pointing out all his imperfections when he is indeed just a human being.

For all the Facebook posts and online mourning of the loss of a great man, I just thought that his was a typical case of good works magnified and 'unusual' deeds go unnoticed.

But I thought the new Apple icon with a incorporation of Jobs' silhuoette is very cool. The 19-year-old designer boy is Jonathan Mak, a Hong Konger.