Friday, November 30, 2007

Accident again!! :((

I couldn't believe it happened again!! :((

With the incident in March still fresh in my mind.. I just had another car accident last nite! And again it was my fault.. And again, it involved three cars but this time I was the one in the middle.

I banged into the car in front and seconds later, the car behind crashed into me! Fortunately, for me the damage wasn't that bad - in fact, the back of my car looked unscathed! But unfortunately for the two small cars in front and behind me, their damages were quite bad.

And to think of it, I caused it all.. :((

Ok, confession time.. I think I am NOT a bad driver but I think I can be a reckless one. The cause of the accident - I was replying an SMS (and wasn't very familiar still with my new phone).

I know, I know. I already got scolded by dad and mom. It's dangerous.. but I have been doing that quite often when driving. I am quite a risk taker, and now I've learned my lesson the hard way..

Sigh, all the trouble of making police report, and repairing the car.. probably no more insurance coverage too and I'm so broke!!


Sunday, November 25, 2007

My Singing Stories..

I have something to disclose.. it's a little bit embarrassing.

You see, since young I had a secret dream of being a singer - like my favourite Canto-pop singer, holding a concert in a large stadium. Yep, I liked to sing. During the hay days of karaoke, it's one of my favourite pastimes and i would hog the mike every time - since I could sing English, Mandarin and Cantonese much so that some of my friends were scared (and probably bored) of singing with me!

On the more serious side, I have been singing in school choirs since primary school days. In secondary school, I have sung in choruses for musicals like Cats and Gospel, and in the U.K. during university years, I joined the Opera Society whereby I not only got to sing but also to act in Verdi's operas no less! I was the only Asian and some of them were semi-professional singers!

I joined my church choir for a year or two in the mid 90s but slacked and stopped for a number of years before I rejoined more than two years ago, and even sang a small solo part in our Christmas Cantata. In the last few years, partly because of my role as a worship leader in church and also the opportunities to be in touch with both classical and pop music as well as meeting professional artistes at work, I became more interested in singing. I think it was around 2004 that I started learning from Soprano Tan Soo Suan of Dama orchestra. But the lessons were only once every month or so since she's based in Penang.

Not long after, a group of us from the worship team started taking up vocal lessons with one of the top sopranos in Malaysia - Cecilia Yap, and that went on for about two years or so but I did stop for a term as I have another ministry commitment. Although we weren't really given songs to sing as our teacher really drilled us to get our basic singing technique right, I think those of us who stuck on with her have benefited and improved our vocals in some ways.

However, we had to stop lessons with Cecilia a few months ago as her voice was strained. I continued with Soo Suan. And then the beginning of this month, I started learning with a new teacher, baritone Cha Seng Tiang, who runs a vocal college that my parents are taking lessons from. In a way, I must say I was inspired by my parents as well as my friends who are taking singing very seriously.

So that was just a brief background.. and now onto my `singing adventure' this weekend!

It was another of those weekends when I inadvertently ended up singing quite a bit! It started on Friday evening.. when I was helping to song-lead for the church prayer meeting. We had the practice just before the prayer meeting proper.. so effectively I sang more than a hour.. I would have sung even more but because of an assignment in the early afternoon, I had to reschedule my vocal class.

Saturday was the vocal masterclass that Soo Suan had organised for her students. And although I have officially stopped learning from her as of this month, she still included me in and had even chosen the song for me to sing - `Think of Me' from the musical Phantom of the Opera. I grew to like that heartfelt song more and more, and had been practising quite a bit but not in the last 3 days due to deadlines and busyness! I had even memorised the lyrics.. or so I thought!

I was the second one to sing.. in front of about 20 people. I even had dad recording it using my new camera. I know it was not a performance nor competition but still.. I wanted to do my best. I couldn't believe that I couldn't even reach a note in the first and second line! Gosh it was quite a disaster! I had to request to start again and even as I sang, I had forgotten the lyrics at two places.. during my own practice, it was never half as bad as this! But as a saving grace, at least I managed to sing the ending - a cadence that leads to the high `B flat' - without croaking

Soo Suan went through the song bit by bit again with me.. and when I got the chance to sing for a second time, it sounded better. I still could not forgive myself for forgetting the lyrics once I was standing in front of an audience! When I told my mom this, she laughed and sarcastically said she thought I am normally fearless! hmmm..

Then today, just as on a normal Sunday, I sang at church during worship session and then after lunch, had two-hour choir practice. We were singing a couple of the Christmas carols had very high notes and at a point, I felt my vocal was strained.. maybe too much of singing?

But like any other skills.. the more you practise, the more you would improve. I mean, just as far as just 3 years ago, I could never imagine I could sing the high B flat comfortably! But of course it helps if you know the proper way to sing.. So, with the guidance of a professional and as my love for singing is growing, I am determined to just sing on and better my vocal skills..

Well, I know I will never realise my secret childhood dream, but maybe one day I can be known as the writer/journalist who sings! :p

Monday, November 19, 2007

NEW LOOK! (again but after some time)

Suddenly I got bored of my blog template layout.. I have been sticking to the same look for more than a year now!

Although Blogger isn't offering any new template design but I have figured out how to change colours and stuff so I just experimented with it. I had to try out three different templates to finally get it `right' and satisfied.

The only problem is, since the main background is now dark, some of my previous posts won't be legible if they're in dark text (I was posting against white background). Wonder who many people do read my backdated post though.. I may have to manually change the colours of those text to make them visible!!

Anyway, I like what I'm seeing..these are some of my favourite colours.. and I feel kinda creative, although I was just playing with colours only.

I hope you like it too. If not, tough luck! :p

update: June 08: This template mentioned above has been changed again!!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

My Interviewee at old folks home

She is 89 and she is blind. She has been living in an old folk's home for more than 10 years. Her only son, not married and not doing that well, only comes to see her once a year - very briefly.

This is one independent and persevered woman who knows what is hardship all her life. She came to Malaysia from China to seek `greener pasture' upon recommendation by a relative and had been doing all types of difficult, odd jobs. Her husband died when their son was only seven. At a time when most parents are taking lives easy, she still had to worry for her son's living. The son then left her on her own taking care of herself even after she became blind...

That's just a very brief story of this old lady I met at an old folk's home yesterday. The last time I visited a home for the elderly was years ago. And I am shy to confess that the main reason I went with our church's social-concern ministry was that I needed an interviewee there for a story I'm writing.

And I'm glad this old lady was so open and chatty and had no qualms telling me her life story. The more I spoke to her, the more I grew fond of her and respect her strength and her positive outlook. Although she has had such a rough life, she didn't wallow in self-pity nor question God of her `fate'. Even as she is so old and blind now, she has so much dignity and still wants to make herself useful. She washes her own clothes and even attempts (with the help of the stuff there) to dry her own washing.

After the interview, she brought out an envelope that contained a photograph of an old-man - who is her brother in China. She said she has meant to write to him as he has been trying to get in touch with her for many many years. Since I know Chinese, I told her I could help her to write a short letter, so she dictated a few sentences.. And then she requested that I sent a photo of her (from those I took) to her brother. I think this is something I could do and am glad I can help in this way..

After saying bye to her and other old folks there, we visited another home and chatted and even played simple games with the old people - almost all were women. The living conditions of both the homes are really very basic and to me quite run-down. For the second home, most of the old folks just stay on their bed the whole day, which isn't very healthy..

It's a bit strange but most of them keep to themselves and do not mingle or `make friends' with the others.. but many are genuinely happy to see us because they get very few visitors.

I am very encouraged by my fellow church friends who are dedicated to the visitations every fortnight. Sometimes we get so caught up with the many programs and events in church that we have become inward-looking (I think I'm guilty of it too) After all, Jesus Himself was good friend of the marginalised people... and He would have also reached out to touch and care for these old folks who have been neglected by their families.

Yes, the visits were meaningful and I told myself I would want to visit the homes again, especially to see my elderly interviewee. I guess the biggest hindrance for me to join them regularly (I know this sounds terrible) is that I need to get up early at 8:30am! Hmm..which is not really that early to think of it?

I am praying for discipline and commitment, and a compassionate heart to really want to reach out and touch lives..

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I love my two white `babies'!!

End of the year seems like a perfect excuse to buy yourself new things!? But trust me, I have been thinking of getting a new phone for more than a year and also toying with the idea of getting a new digi-cam. Both my old phone and cam were more than 3-years-old. For the gadget freaks, it's way-past time to update! :p

To avoid repeating my phone-buying misadventure end of last year, I had more or less decided that I would stick to good ol' Nokia (this would be my sixth Nokia phone since I owned a hand phone - ya, i'm that loyal!) To be honest, I never really planned to buy a new phone in HK but after meeting a friend who showed me his 6120C - which has a great combination of the looks-features-and-reasonable price-factor- I thought I really wanted that phone!

I even checked with a friend who worked with Nokia Malaysia the staff price and found it's still a little bit cheaper in HK (with all the free gifts thrown in) - thanks to the weak HK dollars and normal electronic stuff IS cheaper there. So I bought myself the handset in sleek stylish white. ;)

Getting a new phone is nothing to shout about I know.. I never planned to blog about it since I started using it- and still learning its many features- for close to 2 weeks now.

But.. guess what? I acquired a new digital camera yesterday! And it is also in shiny, pearly white! Although the pink one was quite nice too and I had a hard time deciding which colour to get!

There are actually better reasons for me to get a new cameras than a phone. My old camera had some problems. The lens could get stuck. In fact, it wouldn't work just the day before I left for HK so I had to borrow my sis' phone to use there.. Also, the battery compartment clasps - both the bit to hold the battery, and the lid, had broke! So I was using scotch-tape to hold it together.. quite inconvenient and ugly too.

On top of that, I actually NEED to use a camera very often for my work! (yeah sometimes I even get paid for pictures I took in some publications.)

Of course I could get the camera repaired. But it won't be cheap. True enough when I finally brought it to Nikon service centre, I was told there's something wrong with the lens and it could be very pricey to fix it. On top of that I have to leave the camera there for at least 2-3 (or longer) and what would I do if I need to take photos for work?

Actually I also browsed around and was considering buying a camera in HK too. Only problem was $$$. If I buy it back home, I could buy with interest-free instalment using credit card (like how I bought my last camera) but not in HK of course.

Two days ago I saw a Panasonic-Lumix camera promotion going on in Mid Valley. And yep, the camera I wanted is the FX33 which again to me has both the appearance and great features. I did some price and package comparisons at various camera shops in the mall and the next day went back to purchase my new baby!

Somehow if memory serves me right, I am much more enthusiastic about this new digi-cam purchase than the last one. Oh and you're interested to know. This is my 3rd digital camera (only) :p

Looking at all its features, suddenly I feel quite inadequate when faced with what my new `babies' could do! I even think could I be too low-tech for this? Especially the phone which comes with blue-tooth and 3G.. Early I asked someone what does 3G do??

Anyway.. I still think with the prices I paid, they were good buys. Not like things like accessories or even clothes and shoes - I have committed the sin of wasting those products - I have clothes and accessories I bought like years back but not ONCE did I wear them!

But no, my phone and my camera are pretty indispensable tools to me these days.. So I am quite happy but also reminding myself not to spend much on other stuff.. or else I maybe broke for year end!!

p.s. Since my old camera is in workshop. I had to take the photo of my new phone using my camera and then take the camera using my phone!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Snap shots from Hong Kong

It has been quite a leisurely holiday as I didn't cramp many activities into the one week, since after all my primary intention was to visit sis' family and catch up with friends.

Instead of a wordy post, here are some highlights from my trip in pix - and they took ages to upload!! :S

1. Ginger the miniature toy poodle - BEFORE and AFTER grooming. Basically from a huge fur-ball to a smaller fur-ball!)

2. My FIRST Krispy Kreme experience - courtesy of HL! And did we overeat - almost finished 6 doughnuts between both of us and had some unpleasant after effect! :p

3. and other gastronomical experiences...seriously, I have put on visible amount of weight in just one week thanks to all the good (and fattening) food I was treated to..

3. I had two accidental encounters with `stars' - normally i hardly met any celebs in HK.
a) Sam Hui at Tsim Sa Tsui - the God of Songs singing on a topless double-decker bus to promote his upcoming concert!

b) Veteran Lau Choong Yan and tall leading man Ma Tak Choong in cycling gears filming a TVB drama at Stanley.

4. Some of the places I went to - among them Space Museum, Museum of Art, Dolphin watch off Lantau island (didn't manage to take any dolphins pix!), Stanley market and of course shopping in TST, Central and Causeway Bay (no pix though)

5. It was great catching up with old friends over what else but food!!

6. And last but not least, with the Yaus who I stayed with. But as you can see, it's almost impossible to take photos with the boys..

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The longest drive to Genting ever...

I guess what I'm going to write here may sound frivolous and maybe even `selfish' in the light of the historical Bersih Rally which saw 40,000 took to the street to protest for a free and fair election yesterday afternoon. (Malaysiakini had summarised the events that unfolded at various parts of the city and culminate at Istana Negara.)

But since I wasn't at the parade though I believe it is a good cause and I'm in spirit behind it.. I can only `report' what I personally went through since this is my personal blog after all!

I was STUCK in a HORRENDOUS traffic jam on the way to Genting Highland. It took more than 3 hours to reach the mountain top! You see, I've booked tickets for the musical `Rose, Rose, I Love You' online from Hong Kong as Sat was the only time I was free and not thinking to the `causal effect' of the rally.

Actually I already experienced a jam thanks to over-zealous police that set up road block as early as 7am! I woke up early for a prayer meeting (and was quite happy for an owl like myself managed to do it) only to be stuck at stand-till traffic along the Cheras-Kajang highway!! The prayer meeting only lasts an hour and there was no point to go all the way to Subang after stuck in that 3km jam for more than half an hour.. I ended up helping mom to go marketing instead.. and took a nap in the late morning again.

But that jam was NOTHING compared to what we encountered along Jalan Kuching towards Batu Caves. It was already 5-ish and we were heading out of town. But guess what, it was totally congested along the highway leading to the huge roundabout (Kepong, Ipoh and Kuantan). Even though I was driving an automatic car, it was really tiring.. What would have normally taken just 5-10 mins took us TWO whole hours!! It was just crazy!!

And at that point, shoot me if you want, I blamed it on the darn rally but more so on the police! I actually didn't know what really caused that jam but it seemed to spring from the roundabout which had traffic going into town.. On that roundabout itself, I could have taken a nap and wake up and still not moving an inch!! It's that bad..

But thankfully, we made it for the show just in the nick of time, having grabbed a quick dinner.
Well, it was entertaining and fun and I must say it's a very creative show.. but I really don't know whether it was worth the trauma and hassle of going through all that..

Fortunately I wasn't alone. Or else I probably may end up in tears or yell out in frustrations!

Ok, that's just my personal experience. I'm sure many people also got stuck in a jam for maybe matters more urgent. And although under my breath I was`cursing' the rally then, I must say I'm proud of my fellow Malaysians for standing up and doing something. Like an article I just read on the e-mail, who says the voices only appear online/blogs. I'm sure not all the 40,000 people who took to the streets were SoPo bloggers..

Also, it's all the road blocks and police `security checks' there were causing congestions everywhere! Hmm.. maybe I should've joined the rally and exercise my human rights... it beats just sitting in the car for hours..

Oh well...

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Last couple of hours in HK...

One week has gone.. and in a few hours time I'll be home again!

An Internet addict is always one.. so when I saw a free terminal at Pacific Coffee which I decided to get a cuppa, I instinctively decided to go online. Having neglected my blog for a week, it's about time to update a little!

Well, time does not permit me now to write about my adventures at the Fragrant Harbour. But the main highlights were meeting old friends and became a glutton! Yep, my jeans had gone tighter in one week! :(

Will be taking the express train to the airport in about half an hour time.. one thing about flying.. I feel a lot of time is wasted. Although the travel time is just 3 1/2 hour but today practically the whole day is gone..!?

Felt a bit sad that I did not get to say bye to Alexis.. instead of coming home at noon, the maid took her to see doctor from her school. She has a bit of cough..

Will soon upload pix of kids, friends and Ginger the crazy dog. She is really sweet and cute alright but quite neurotic - hyper-hyper one minute and scatty cat another... very funny. :p

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Off to Fragrant Harbour!

In 12 hours time, I'll be sitting in the plane ready to depart for Hong Kong...

I've lost count of the number of times I visited the S.A.R. especially since sis got married and lived there 12 years ago.. I know I should have been `sick' of going there.. But on the contrary. Yeah I guess I could save the money and travel to another place.. but there're just too many `attractions' for me not to go.

Of course high on the list is to visit sis' family, in particular the three `adorable Yaus' and especially cutie Alexis! But this time, there is one more attraction...their toy poodle Ginger! She looks so cute and fluffy and I just had to see her..

In fact I told some friends that I'm going to HK to see my sis' dog! And they were like: `huh?' lol

Anyway as I don't have that much money actually.. my plan is to do minimal shopping.. well, I know such plans don't always work out but I'll try.

I've already contacted quite a number of friends there and I plan to meet up with as many of them as possible this time.. as some of them I haven't caught up in years..!

After a real hectic 2-3 weeks, I think I do deserve this break.. but the only problem is, there are still some tie-over work that I haven't cleared.. That means straight after I come back, I have to bury myself to clear a few deadlines! Alternatively I'm also considering doing some work there.. just transcribing and stuff..

Wonder when I can have a real work-free holiday!