Tuesday, May 29, 2007

7 months..

I forgot to post at the 1/2 year mark of my non-employed life. But time flies as usual, and now it's already SEVEN MONTHS since I've left my job in the newspaper!

Well, can't really complain about my life as a freelance writer - with all the flexibility and the time I have to myself. But as I began to settled in back to work (ie. contributing to a number of publications) since after CNY, I also began to feel one major woe of the life as a freelance writer - the INCOME.

Yes, it's not easy to make money at all as a freelance writer - for the payment is really quite low. Even if I work my butts off and produce say 4-5 articles a week (like what I did in MM before), I will only be getting a fraction of what I used to earn..

Sad.. but in life everything has its pros and cons. And that's the down side of a `good life' I guess..

I know this may sound sickening to some of you - I can get up at noon, go to gym or do things I like such as watch movie in the afternoon, and am free to accompany parents or run errands during the day etc... I can do my work anytime and anywhere. Nowadays, I work on my laptop quite often at Starbucks, or else, I can concentrate better late at night (also the normal time I blog!)

But about a month or so back, I started to feel I was under-working. Besides not getting enough money I actually wanted to write more to keep myself busy. So in the last month or so I have put in more initiative to look for more jobs, thus the last two weeks had been quite busy which was good actually. But now again things seem to slow down.. and that's the nature of my job I guess.. the volume of work is just unpredictable.

Anyway, it has been a good 7 months - like a long nice holiday prolonged. :) And I think in my working life, I've never been so stress-free. People have commented I look fresher and better ;)

When I decided to be a freelance writer in February, one of the reasons for me doing so was so that I have more time to write my book - yes, a book I started so many years ago and only recently continued. But ashamed and sad to say, I have not really been doing that. In fact, I have stopped for almost 2 months now and just wrote a little bit more the other day. I know that I have to be more disciplined.. in fact, it is no excuse besides sheer laziness and just lack of motivation/inspiration.. But I know once I work on it, the momentum should resume.

So yes, this is going to be a resolution for the next seven months of the year.. can you believe it, we are entering June already?

To end, just want to rant a little on what happened just now.

Had a most frustrated and helpless hour at Mid Valley's carpark. After watching movie and waiting to exit the carpark, I found out I have lost my parking ticket! I always put it at a compartment in my car but it wasn't there. So I had to drive my car to the side (in the process inconvenient other drivers) and I searched for it everywhere in the car, and even in my bag and other unlikely places.. and even walked all the way to the two parking spaces I parked at earlier - from one end of the building to the other!

The fine for lost ticket was RM50 and I told myself I was not going to pay that!! Finally I had to tell the parking attendant that my ticket could not be found. He asked me whether I wanted to pay the RM50 fine and I said `no!' And as if by miracle, he said I would need to fill up a form and write a `report' on how I lost my ticket and then I would only need to pay RM7 - which is the maximum daily rate of the carpark.

Phew! At least they are not so strict. I remember paying RM30 for lost ticket at 1 Utama a year or two ago. So this time I paid like RM3 extra (since I did stay in the carpark quite long) and wasted an hour of my time. Not mentioning the hastle and anxiousness..

Hmm.. I really wonder where the parking ticket has gone.. seems like it has vanished into thin air!?

Monday, May 28, 2007

Hot Hot Idols!!

Like me, you'd be forgiven if you don't know who these two pretty boys are.. but let me tell you, they are currently SO HOT that their one-day visit to our shore had not only attracted thousands of fans but even caused a commotion - broken window and some fans even fainted! And yes, a large group also stalked them all the way to and for KLIA!

Brueni-born Wu Chun, vocalist from Fahrenheit band, and Taiwanese Danson Tang are the stars of a hit Taiwanese drama with the weirdest and longest name - Hanazakarino Kimitachihe! 8TV will be showing the series, also starring Ella of S.H.E.

Look at just some of the photographers that turned out at their Press Conference on Saturday morning.. and yeah, i was asked by a magazine to cover it but I could hardly get a decent shot and almost got trampled over! (these pix were taken courtesy of 8TV)

They sure have a way to strike a pose in front of their posters. In fact they posed for photographs much more than they spoke or answered questions at the short PC.

At the meet-the-fans session later in the afternoon, which thank God I didn't have to cover. Apparently, Berjaya Time Square was packed to the brim.. some fans turned up at 5am just to grab a better place and when the two stars appeared, some were so emotional that they cried!! And yeah, a few fainted as well...from the write-up in the Chinese paper, the situation was so out-of-control and they almost had to cut short the program!

Ok, maybe I'm old.. but I don't remember being that crazy even in my teens over my favourite idols..

And to be honest, I find these two boys too effeminate and `plasticky' even, although they appeared to be rather friendly and easy going.. but lack characters. Well, that's my opinion.. all the teeny-boppers fans out there would beg to differ.

I guess the reason I posted this is that I am still bewildered at the immensity of their popularity. Are they THAT cute? what do fans really see in them.. and how crazy can fans be these days!!?

Oh but let me know if they are your idols. ;)

Friday, May 25, 2007

There goes another season...

So that's the end of American Idol Season 6 - the only TV show that I've been following these days.

Don't know why but am feeling kinda `lost' now (heh, maybe that's an exaggeration) but I think I'll miss it.. since faithfully watching for about 3 months. it has been pretty entertaining I must admit. Will miss all the singing and performing, the drama and the guessing game, and Simon Cowell's comments..

I actually set my alarm clock at 8am with intention to watch the Finale result show live.. but due to real lack of sleep, decided to go back to sleep after 15 mins. And managed to catch the whole thing from 8-10pm just now.

This time, no one leaked the result to me (and I purposely didn't want to find out). But from the previous day's performance and the tips from the judges, I was quite sure (and hoping too) that it would be Jordin!. And I was holding my breath when Ryan Seacrest announced at the last minutes. And then sighed a relief.. YES! Jordin Sparks had won - with due merits!

Somehow I was quite moved when she sang the last song fighting back tears.. I mean, this is like an impossible dream that has come true overnight for an ordinary girl - who of course possesses much talents. Winning American Idol is just something so huge that her life will totally turn around..

And for us viewers, I guess we will have to wait till early next year again for another new season. Maybe in the meantime, I can check out some local reality/talent shows. Heard `So You Think You Can Dance' is not bad... and then there is Astro's Talent Quest..

But still, nothing beats the buzz and excitement of American Idol. :p

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Happy 3rd Birthday, Alexis!

Alexis aka Miu Miu turns 3 today! She had a birthday bash last Saturday in HK. Too bad we couldn't be there.. really miss her. Hope to see her and the family soon!

Happy Happy Birthday Miu Miu! much love from yiyi

Sunday, May 20, 2007

My First Bloggers Gathering

Last night, I attended the Bloggers United Malaysia (B.U.M.) Gathering 2007 at Lake View Club, Subang Jaya. And it was quite an experience!

To be honest, I was already kinda curious when I found out about this.. because although I'm not a socio-political (SoPo) blogger, I have been following many of such blogs. And I do personally know a few of the ex-journalists who are active and prominent bloggers.

So, when my friend `Lulu' asked me to join her for the dinner, it didn't take that much persuasion! At least i know I've company. ;)

The theme was "Embrace & Engage - a social and networking gathering with a preliminary brainstorming session between the 4th and 5th estates to embrace and engage the blogging phenomenon in Malaysia." Sounds interesting..

It was less people than I expected (around 80 maybe?) and more than 90 per cent of the bloggers present were SoPo bloggers. But I was told that the event was for ALL bloggers anyway..

It's good that we went for tea (and had A&W's waffle!) earlier because dinner wasn't served till after 8:30pm. That's because the program began with a panel of seven speakers who spoke on their thoughts on blogging based on their field of expertise and experience. The speakers included Jeff Ooi - the pioneer of Malaysian socio-political blog; social activist Marina Mahathir; Tian Chua of Keadilan; CEO and DAP man Tony Pua; The Sun's journalist R. Nadeswaran of Citizen Nades fame; Sonia Randhawa from the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) Malaysia; and Ahirudin Attan aka Rocky, who was there to speak on the newly-formed National Alliance of Bloggers (All Blogs) of which he is the president.

Well, personally I might not agree with everything that was said but overall, it was an interesting and enlightening session, especially when the topic touched on freedom of the Press. And it was great to see individuals so passionate about wanting to make a difference through what is known as the 5th Estate (the blogosphere). But I shall not elaborate on the contents of the speeches here...

Dinner was good. Enjoyed the food especially the roast lamb. ;) I recognised a few faces but most of them wouldn't know me anyway.. but in the process, I got introduced to a number of them. And also said hi to a few fellow ex-journalists (now rather prominent bloggers) who were rather surprised to see me there!

Here's a pix of some of us at the table.. with the camera-shy lulu hiding behind her paper shield.

Call me shallow. But the highlight of the evening for me was the opportunity to `camwhore' with a few prominent bloggers! :p

It all started when Rocky, who is actually my former editor from The Malay Mail, came over and asked to take a pix with me..!

Next, someone from my table wanted to take photo with Marina, and so I grabbed the chance as well and briefly introduced myself to her.. Actually this was not the first time I've met her.

Then came the surprise! When I introduce myself to Jeff Ooi, I was rather shocked when he said he `knows' me! Being an avid newspaper reader (that's his bread-and-butter for blogging), he told me that he had been following my newspaper articles for many years! And he even noticed that I've left the paper.. hehe, it's quite an honour.. ;)

And last but not least.. popular celeb blogger Kenny Sia turned up towards the end of the evening and immediately was hoarded by quite a number of people! And since people were asking to take photos with him, I too jumped on the band wagon. After all, I have been following his blog quite faithfully for some time!

And finally before we left, I posed with the backdrop for the event..

It was actually quite fun..! So if there's any future gatherings of bloggers, Lulu I will be glad to accompany you! ;)

Friday, May 18, 2007

American Idiots

Shocking! How could this happen? I can bet millions of audiences across the globe who follow American Idol are crying foul when its best contestant has been booted out!

Melinda Doolittle, who has been giving sterling performances consistently throughout and possesses the most amazing voca, is out of the final - totally undeservingly.

Like many people, I was hoping for a Melinda-Jordin final. Blake has a good enough run to reach the semi-final with his so-so singing talent. Although some of us had a hunch that he might make it through with his throng of female fans! (and yes it did happen!)

What were the voters thinking? It just goes to prove that when it comes to a contest based on sms votes, popularity upstages true talent. Even for a su
pposedly huge and credible show like this.

Call me `ulu' but I've only started following AI this season (yeah, i somehow didn't catch the previous seasons). It's the ONLY TV show that I've been following and I must say I have enjoyed it very much and I thought the standard of performances were pretty good. But what a shame that the results had to come to this..

When the cruel result was announced at her face, Melinda smiled and was a picture of grace and peace. There wasn't a hint of disappointment or bitterness. I really admire her for that.. And I really believe her career will go far, with that kind of voice.

Sigh, I'm not excited anymore for the final next week.. To me and many others, Melinda's exit has given the show an anti-climax already.

I found this more detailed analysis
piece which I agreee totally with the author! Of course, there are many similar sentiments expressed all over cyberspace.

So, perhaps (sarcastically) they are just looking for an `idol' and not a true singer after all.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Constant Companions..

Dogs are such passionate creatures...

Just like the other members of the family, I see my two dogs and spend time with them everyday. But every time when i say good night to them, there's always a sad, longing and reluctant-to-go look in their eyes..

I went outside to spend a few minutes with Jojo just now, sitting on the bench with his head on my lap, he was so `manja'. And when I said `good nite' and came back in the house, he went near the window and looked at me with a pitiful face.. my heart melted.

Jelly too.. will look so sad whenever I leave the house or put her back in her crate at night..

I don't know about other dogs.. but Jojo and Jelly are those who could spend 24 hours a day by your side, longing for your company..

Dogs are the most loyal companions one could have.. unlike human beings, they will never ever get tired or sick of you..

Monday, May 14, 2007

a Dog Lover's Wedding...

Congratulations to Anne and Edward who got married last Saturday.. and such a lovely and unique wedding it was!

I knew Anne when she came to church as a fresh grad from Australia.. she was always the little baby in our Bible Study group.. and in a way it's quite hard to believe how time flew by and I'm truly happy for her to find her other-half.

As Anne is a dog lover (something we share in common and often talk about), the canine is quite prominantly featured in their wedding decoration and theme. You can see dogs and traces of dogs everywhere - from the wedding invitation to the wedding car to slides presentation and even at the dinner table! There were even dog-bone biscuits to offer the guests!

And we the `cheemui', also came out with dog-themed games for the groom and his `hengdai' when they came to fetch the bride! It was definitely a `cheep sanleong' session that was quite different from others I've participated in! We made the guys presented a MTV with songs that had dogs in it, and made them perform certain tricks and then to eat and drink from a bowl like dogs! It was a good thing that the groom and the guys were very sporting!

As I was busy giving instructions and `training' to the guys, I didn't manage to take photos of the games in progress..

At the church ceremony in the afternoon, Edward surprised his bride by presenting a song to her.. such a thoughtful and sweet gesture. And the two of them just looked so sweet together..

Later, it was good food and good company at their wedding dinner at Saujana. Besides the chocolates, I also took back a special souvenir in the form of a small stuff dog! :)

To the couple now honeymooning in Phuket, here's wishing you both a very happy and blessed marriage life together!

Cat, Lynn and May preparing `dog food' for the guys!

Some of us helpers at the reception table before the church wedding (from left: Ley, me Lynn and Chungs)

Solemnisation of the wedding

Edward singing a song to Anne

With Siaw Woan, Michael, Elaine (sister of the groom) and baby Brian

Ley, Lynn and me at our dinner table

With the bride and bridesmaid Ee-leng

The bride and groom and the people at our table

With Edward and Anne after the dinner

Pre-wedding `Beach Party'!

The Sunday before the wedding, we threw a bridal shower for the bride-to-be, themed `Anne's Hawaiian beach party'. How appropriate, the weather had been sweltering hot so it was great that we could just don something cooling..

The living room was decorated with beach-related items - palm leaves, surf board and floats, mats, pareo and hats! Food wise, each of us contributed something from a `beach' menu that was planned. We had quite a wholesome meal - from starters like dip and crackers to pizza and KFC (Anne likes KFC!) to ice-cream and fruits, as well as alchoholic cocktails!

The organisers had come out with some pretty interesting `games' - creative and rather girlie stuff - but hey, it's a bridal shower after all! ;) We learned to make lei (flower rings) from purple and cream orchids - we all ended up with flower bracelets while Ann has a beautiful long lei as necklace! Then we had a mini `dress-up-a-bride' contest where we were divided into three groups, given some materials such as white plastic bags and toilet papers to use! I had no idea why I was made to be the `bride'! But well, at least I don't have to think of do anything.. just let my friends `dressed' me up! We really had quite a good laugh from the ingenious creations (pix below)

We ended the evening with Anne opening presents from us.. among them were some domesticated gifts such as an apron, mitts and even a cook book and it was fun seeing the bride-to-be's reaction! There were more, she received some heart-shaped notes that contained marriage `advice' from each of us. But i wouldn't say she should take all the advice seriously! ;)


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Do your bits for our furry friends

Just received this in my email inbox. If you're a dog lover and especially if you own mongrel/mixed breed dogs, this may be of interest to you.

If you remember, `Remembering Sheena' campaign was sparked off after an Alsation Sheena died by senseless abuse and gross neglect in the hand of her owner! That was in 2005. There was a lot of outcry from animal lovers.. and in a way raised much awareness in animal protection...I had also posted on it before.

I don't know how much changes had taken place, but kudos to the people behind this campaign who tirelessly and continuously strive towards stopping animal abuse in Malaysia. Indeed, no God's creature deserve to be treated cruelly, especially man's best friends, and ironically in the hands of man!!

Dear RSC Supporters,
We are having a landmark event take place on June 9 and 10th this year at Central Park, Bandar Utama, Kuala Lumpur. There will be radio announcements and newspaper articles. China Press and Nanyang have already carried some of the news.
Kindly help us by participating in the contests posted on www.remembersheena.blogspot.com
Those of you in the corporate field who can help in other ways, please keep in mind that Furry Friends Farm is still in need of proper fencing and an area for cats. If anyone can help with landscaping the 3 acre farm or know of contractors who can help out for free please write to me.
Otherwise, just join us on the 9th and have fun.
Please go to www.remembersheena.blogspot.com to see what all the fuss is about on the 9 and 10th of June.
Thanks for your support!
Shoba Mano
The Remembering Sheena Campaign.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

It's been TWO years...

This blog turns TWO today!

It was exactly two years ago at such wee hours in the morning that I typed my first post. I named it Jess' two Js as I wanted to dedicate the blog to my two doggies - Jojo and Jelly. But alas, there were just that many dog tales to be told.. So after a while, it has become a personal journal of sort..

When I started, I really didn't know how long this new `hobby' would last. But the more I blogged, the more hooked I became.. Well, my profession has to do with writing so sometimes i wondered why i still have the mood to write a blog after work.. well, maybe they don't call it occupational hazard for nothing . :p

Anyway, I must admit I'm quite `proud' of this humble blog of mine.. Some of the ranting and rambling aside, I've chronicled many interesting and memorable events, complete with photos. In a way, I feel I'm able to freeze those beatiful memories into something quite tangible.. and as time passes, I'm able to click my mouse with feelings of nostalgia.. like hey, at so and so day, I actually went there and did that!

But I must also be honest to admit that at certain time, I just didn't feel like blogging, and had doubts whether I should go on.. Such phases are not uncommon I guess. Although my blog doesn't get many hits, it was a pleasent surprise to find out I have some faithful readers, including people who I don't know. I mean after all, I am not a celebrity nor do I blog on intelligent, entertaining or controversial topics..

You know, I even toyed with the idea of taking a hiatus as this blog turns 2.. which is now! But no, I think I couldn't do it. It has become so much a part of my life, and also a tool to share and communicate with friends and readers.. and yes, here I must say my heartfelt thanks to my readers.. some of whom are the encouraging force behind me writing.

Oops, this `speech' has gone on too long.. Ok, so finally, here is me unabashly wishing my `baby' a `HAPPY 2nd BIRTHDAY!' and many more to come!?

Monday, May 07, 2007

I turned interviewee (for a good cause)

It's kinda funny when the table was turned. After years of interviewing countless people, I became an interviewee, but it was a very meaningful `task'!

Last Saturday,
World Vision orgnised a gathering themed `Tribute to Sponsors'. I was already planning to go but was pleasantly surprised when Jess (who works at WV) invited me to share about my experience, in particular on meeting my sponsored child from a trip to China with WV last year.

But then I had to do it in Mandarin! Well, there was no excuse to say no as Mandarin is mother tongue (I speak at home) although I am more at ease to express myself in English these days..
More importantly, there will be guests and potential sponsors at the gathering so it's all for a good cause to help promote WV child sponsorship program..

I think there were about 200 people who came to the function held at PJ Hilton. A room was used to exhibit information regarding child sponsorship in various countries and another was where the speeches and presentation were held.

I met
Serena, whom i knew from the WV sponsors trip to Yongsheng, China. Both of us would be `interviewed' together in the sponsors' sharing session.. so at least I won't be alone! :p

This year marks World Vision Malaysia's 10th year anniversary. According to executive director Liew Tong Ngan, today there are 13,000 Malaysians sponsoring 17,200 children from Mongolia, china, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, India, Lebanon, South America and Africa.

WV target is to sign up 5,000 sponsors this year and so far, they have reached 3,136. And I heard from the gathering itself where sponsors bring their friends, more people have signed up so they should be achieving the goal.. :)

Back to the event. A WV area development project manager from Lebanon was here to share of their work in rebuilding the communities in post-war Lebanon, and showed us videos as well. Then after that was a short break where the Mandarin emcee William gave a brief `rehearsal' with me and Serena.

cally he only had three questions to ask each of us: 1. how did we come to become child sponsor with WV; 2. what were the most memorable experience from our trip; 3. what were some of the ways WV had helped the communities we visited.

And so, with some preparation before hand, the actual interview/sharing session went quite smoothly... The emcee was quite a pro so it was quite lively. But for me, at time I found myself searching for the right Chinese words and had to mix with English! Definitely Serena spoke much more fluent Mandarin than me!

We managed to engage the audience i think.. actually I could have shared more - especially of my encounter with my sponsored child. But time was limited - the whole thing took 15 minutes.

When the interview was over, both Serena and me were immediately nabbed a reporter from Nanyang Siang Pau who wanted to further interview us! And now there's where the table was turned.. she asked us many questions and later told us she has just signed up to become a child sponsor too! How great is that.. ! :)

Because of the interview, we missed Francisca Peter, WVM ambassador's sharing, and also singing with the children from Harvest Centre. But I could hear they belted out You'll Be in My Heart' and `You Raise Me Up'.. ahh.. too bad.

Francisca, whom I interviewed about a year ago, recognised me and was ever so friendly. So were the staff and volunteers of World Vision. I find kinda embarrassed as they all knew who I was - because my photos had appeared in their newsletter and website.. but I didn't know most of the

Really, I'm glad and feel honoured to be able to share my experience and thoughts, for although it's just a sm
all part, it's something meaningful. And i hope that what we shared were able to inspire someone among the audience to want to join in as a child sponsor. Imagine, only RM50 a month and you're able to make a difference to a child's life.

So the article - centred on both Serena and my own sharing (also with our photos!) came out in Nanyang Siang Pau the following day. It's not the first time I appeared on the paper but I think this to me is the most meaningful.. Thanks to the paper/reporter, many more people would have known about World Vision's sponsor
ship program..and hopefully our personal testimonies would also move some hearts...

With the ever-young-and-pretty Francisca Peter; with Serena and a WV staff from Lebanon

Unveiling the 3-D model of `Vision Village'; audience packed the room

Serena and me at the sharing/interview session hosted by William

Being interviewed by a reporter from Nanyang

Francisca singing with the children from Harvest Centre

With William, Serena and Stella (all of them are WV volunteers)