Friday, February 27, 2009

Photostory Friday - Where Is The Rewind Button?

I couldn't believe the amount of work Aaron brought into my life when he was born. At that time, I was looking for the Fast Forward button.

Now, I want the Rewind button. There are so many moments that I'd love to revisit. Instead, I get similar situations with a significantly different Aaron in the picture to remind me not to waste the moments I have with him now.

This was taken almost exactly two years ago in February 2007. I occasionally fed him snacks by the pond.

Most mornings now, Aaron tries to clean the fish pond. AND, he even tells me to go inside and not watch him "work".

Thursday, February 26, 2009

No Arms? No Problem!

I don't usually post videos (thats Mike's job) but this one doesn't seem to fit in with his usual categories.

My mother emailed it to me with the usual "see how lucky you are" message she has been trying to impart to us from childhood.

Its narrated in Cantonese and quite long but you don't have to understand or watch all of it to see just how amazing this woman is. Somewhere in the middle, she tells the interviewer that she was born without arms. I think her mother wanted to throw her away but her father saved her.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Drama Drama Drama

Yesterday was an example of unexpected things happening and me not having enough time to write my post. And since it was only Tuesday, I hadn't gotten around to writing my spare post yet. Anyway....

We know an 18 year old girl here. She is working and studying part time to complete high school.

A couple of weeks ago, she is summoned home because some people wanted to meet her. Those people were the parents of a boy that her father has arranged for her to marry. Of course, she doesn't want to do this. She already has a boyfriend. And she has been discussing with me the courses that she could take after she graduates high school. She wants a different life to that of all the other women in her village.

You've probably guessed that her father is of the opinion that women don't need an education, they only need a husband. Why do they need to know so much when they will be taken care of at home? She just needs to keep house, have kids and serve her man.

Yesterday, her dad rang again to lay down more guilt on her.
"How can she be such an ungrateful child?"
"How can she embarrass him this way?"
"Don't ever come home again if you don't marry this guy."
You get the picture.

So yesterday, I spent all my time discussing alternatives with her. I really wanted to help her but didn't want to step over the boundary and become an interference in her family's affairs.

Guess what happens today?

Her boyfriend takes the plunge and goes to her father to announce that he wants to marry her. She is then called home.

It turns out that her father was so far in discussions with the other family that a date had already been set - March 15. He absolutely would not back down from having a wedding on that day. He initially wouldn't accept the boyfriend but in the end, reluctantly agreed to it as long as the wedding date was kept. Supposedly, he had already told everybody about it and he would lose face if it didn't happen. Oh yeah, he also said that he will not be providing any monetary or organizational assistance for the wedding. Just wants to show up on the 15th and see that she is properly married. Imagine that!

The girl is relieved that she doesn't have to marry somebody she doesn't like but at the same time, she knows that getting married to this other guy is not really the solution.

Just thinking of the type of father she has is so infuriating. Initially, I tried to believe that he had her best interests in mind (in line with his own ancient beliefs). He found her a decent husband that will give her a comfortable life. But now, it really appears that he just doesn't want to lose face with his friends by saying that his daughter isn't getting married after all. Part of the ceremony for the formal proposal will include the boyfriend giving some money to the father so, it also sounds like he just needs some cash!

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Other Side Of The Wall

Remember Linmas? He and his mother, Ibu Tika, dropped by our house a couple of weeks ago. I finally found out where they lived and today, we dropped in on them.

Our housing area has a wall around its perimeter with several entrances. Linmas' family lives in the area immediately outside the south (i think) wall. It took us 5 minutes to walk there.

Once outside the wall, the roads are more like muddy lanes. And, the houses are immediately about one fifth the size of the houses around here. We saw chickens, geese, and ducks. Some houses were put together with bits of scrap wood and zinc. Others were made of brinks but not painted. There were people everywhere, chatting and laughing. Children playing with marbles or just running around. It was a very different scene to where we live.

Anyway, we found Linmas's house easily. His mother seemed a little shocked and embarrassed to see us. She kept saying her house was dirty and small. It was actually larger than I thought it would be but the condition inside was worse. There were holes in the zinc roof and the walls were partitioned by plywood.

I was really hoping that she would feel comfortable with me there. Aaron helped me with that. As soon as he saw Linmas, they started running around. They don't have chairs and laid down a mat in front of a small TV. There was a grubby looking pillow there but Aaron dove into it and buried his face in it. Instinctively, I felt myself tense up at that but I just let go. Linmas and him were soon wrestling around with it.

Linmas did not have a single toy. Seriously. Zero. They just played hide and seek. And then after awhile, Linmas took Aaron outside to visit some of his friends. It was a safe area with absolutely no cars. The kids just walk about freely. They all played with some marbles after awhile. The older boys were very tolerant of Aaron ruining their game.

I sat down on the floor to chat with Ibu Tika and she seemed more comfortable after awhile. I hope that in the end, she realized that I didn't mind the way her house was at all.

Here is some irony for you. When Linmas comes to our house, they play with Aaron's modest supply of toys. Its not a lot but I believe its more than enough for Aaron.

Anyway, when Ibu Tika says its time to go, Linmas obediently drops everything and leaves. Instantly.

Today, when I said it was time to leave. Nothing happened. I even tried bribing with promises of watching a Thomas DVD at home. Nothing worked. Aaron was having such a good time.

I did finally manage to drag him away without causing too much embarrassment to myself. We're definitely dropping in on them again. Its lovely living on this side of the wall but it looks to me that Aaron is going to have a lot more fun on the other side!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Door-to-Door Eggs

You can buy almost anything from your door step here. The vendors load carts with their wares and push it around the neighborhood, yelling out whatever it is they are selling.

The few regulars in our area are : Vegetables, seafood, brooms, plants, earth, flowerpots, eggs, snacks, full meals. I think thats about it.

Apart from eggs, I only occasionally buy from these door-to-door vendors. It is always pricier and not as fresh. As for the snacks and meals.....its just too scary to think of the bacteria festering there.

Eggs are the exception because it is harder to buy fresh free range eggs from the markets. So, I have a regular lady that stops by the house once or twice a week.

The problem with her is that she doesn't have a regular schedule and sometimes, we run out of eggs and I go out and just buy the normal type. Inevitably, she'll show up the next day (or later the same day). She's a very wrinkled old lady that hobbles up to the house with bowed legs. I always end up buying some from her just to lighten her load.

So the story today is that we went to mass in the morning and afterwards, there happened to be a boy selling eggs outside. I got two packs, each with 10 eggs. Within 30 mins of arriving home, the wrinkly old lady arrives with two buckets of eggs. I bought 10 from her for USD 0.85 and now, I have 30 eggs in my fridge. They're only about half the size of normal eggs so its not as much as it sounds, but still....

Friday, February 20, 2009

Photostory Friday - When Dad Is In Charge

I'm always grateful when its Richard's turn to watch Aaron. I get a chance to do things uninterrupted. Its great!

Saying "Richard's turn" makes it sound like watching Aaron is a chore. Its definitely hard work but its not a chore. Anyway, Richard sees so little of Aaron during the week that he is more than willing to spend the whole Saturday afternoon and Sunday playing the hands on dad.

But look what happens when I don't pay attention to what the two of them get up to. I hope that paint is what it claims to be - NON toxic.

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thursday Thirteen - Blogging

I'll be the first to admit that blogging (reading and writing) takes up more than its allocated time each day. Its just sucks me in. But I love it.

13 Facts About My Blogging

1) I usually work on my blog around 5pm. Thats when I let Aaron have 30 mins or so of The Wiggles.

2) Aaron pulls his chair right up next to me and watches from there.

2) My plan each day is to write the post for that day and the next day, just in case something comes up the next day and I don't have enough time. I only succeed in doing this about once a week.

3) Most days, I'm chatting with my friend in Shanghai as I blog.

4) I read other people's blogs either early in the morning or after Aaron is asleep.

5) When I first started blogging, I was desperate to increase my readership and would skim as many blogs as I could, leaving half hearted comments on each one. Now, I only occasionally search out new blogs. I want to be able to read the blogs that I already follow slowly and leave decent comments (most of the time).

6) I also joined all sorts of blog rings in the beginning but I took all those links out last weekend.

7) My SIL introduced me to the world of blogging by telling me about the money she was earning from PayPerPost. Unfortunately, to get the 'good ads' you needed to have a decent Google PR, hence the blog skimming and blog ring memberships. I soon felt that it was like betraying myself and my readers to blog about things that I have no interest in.

8) I purposely make sure there is diversity in the blogs I visit. I like mom blogs because I identify with so many of the topics. And, its easy to just go from one to another because they are very often funny (and cute), but, I don't want that to be the only topics I read about.

9) In real life, I'd be too embarrassed to share, in person, anything that I've written. I do it almost every day here and then get embarrassed later on when I meet a reader in person and they bring up a past post.

10) Richard has a blog too. I asked him to start it as a way of practicing putting his thoughts down in a logical way.

11) I also told Richard that we should keep our blogs separate and not leave any trails to each others blogs.

12) I'm starting to grow a blogging conscience. There is an incredibly funny sex related topic I have but I just can't bring myself to spell it out. Its too gossipy since its about somebody here.

13) I am incredibly grateful for all the regular readers that I have and the virtual friendships that have come out of blogging.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

More Scenes From Life By The River

Yesterday, as we were leaving the house on the river, we met Nellie. She had just finished washing her clothes and having her bath in the river.

We chatted with her for awhile and shortly into the conversation, she invited us to her home. Her house wasn't one on top of the water. We had to wind through the alleyways and walk along an old railway track to get to her place.

I took a peek into one of the houses. This was the kitchen, living room and dining room. I'm sure it is also where at least one member of the family sleeps each night.

When we got to Nellie's house, she showed me her work.

She weaves the traditional Kain Songket to sell. I think this was the reason why she invited us back to her house. And I don't think she was trying to get me to buy it either. She was just very proud of her work and wanted to show us what people in the area did. (When we met by the river, I was asking all sorts of questions about life there and what people did for a living.)

People always ask me what there is to see in Palembang and I used to tell them that it is one of the most boring places on earth. I was so wrong! I see things differently now. There may not be any "touristy" things to do here but there is plenty to experience if you're interested in people.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Living By The River

I had an amazing morning. We've had a replacement driver while Iwan is on his honeymoon and I found out yesterday that his grandmother lives in one of the houses on the Musi River. We went there this morning and explored the entire area. Its a completely different way of life yet again.

We parked the car outside the housing area and had to wind our way through a maze of narrow lanes to get to the house. And then, we had to cross this partially submerged bridge. Here's a photo of Aini, crossing first.

The men of the house run a business there. They charge batteries and make ice for the fishermen around the area. They were extremely friendly and had as many questions for me as I did for them. We stayed there for sometime, just watching them work and watching all the activity on the river.

This is the front of the house, facing the river.

Side view of the house:

Now here's something 'interesting'.....Do you see the arms sticking out of that low box? Yup....floating outhouse.

Further downstream...

I had such a fascinating time exploring the area. The people we met along the alleyways were extremely friendly.

The lady on the left in the photo below invited us to walk with her back to her house. I'll post about that tomorrow.

It is obviously a poor area but the place was joyous. People were full of smiles and proud of their homes. The trip turned out to be a truly uplifting excursion.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Iwan's Wedding

We went to Iwan's wedding yesterday. It was as hot, noisy and crowded as every other Indonesian wedding I've been to.

The wedding ceremony start at 7am but I think that portion is more for the family members. We arrived at about 10.45pm and a quarter of the guests were there. The majority of the guests came about 15 mins before lunch was served (12noon). To show Iwan that we care and that we were happy for him, I thought it would be nice to arrive early. In fact, we were so early that he had not even emerged from the house yet.

The rituals are performed inside the house and then when everything is done, the couple and their families walk out and onto this raised platform. They sit there while prayers are said, words of wisdom imparted by various imams, dances are performed and singers deafen the guests. Take a look at these speakers.

I learnt something new at this wedding. Almost every wedding couple will cry at their wedding. The bride AND the groom. When Iwan walked out, his eyes were red and there were still tears on his face. He looked so distraught that I had to ask around. It turns out that the ceremony that takes place in the house not only officiates their marriage but also breaks the ties with their families. They stand alone now, no longer under the umbrella of their parents. And supposedly this causes a lot of newly weds to shed plenty of tears.

Take a look at this photo. Its not just that I caught them at the wrong instant. Look at the next photo.

They didn't look happy until the very end. Maybe they were also tired from carrying those heavy headdresses and glad that it was over.

Here's a look at the crowd.

I liked the experience of attending the wedding but I can't say that I enjoyed it while I was there. When we were saying goodbye to Iwan, he seemed genuinely happy that we had attended (and arrived early). So, that makes up for the incredible heat, chain smoking men and UNBELIEVABLE noise levels we had to sit through. Its a happy ending :)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Way To My Heart

Valentine's Day isn't a big deal to me. Its just another day. Maybe a tiny bit more special than other days but not something that I count down the days to (like Christmas).

Having said that, this year, Richard has definitely used it as an excuse to go out and get something special for all of us.

20 Fruit Tarts for all of us to enjoy. I think Aaron got the most out of it!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Photostory Friday - The Roof Over Their Heads

I had to go fix my visa at the immigration office yesterday. It was located right on the other side of town, in the outskirts of Palembang. The drive, as usual, was interesting.

Here are some homes directly opposite the office.

We purposely turned around again to get this photo because I was too busy staring and imagining what it must be like to live in that little back portion. Forgot to take the photo the first time around.

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Thursday Thirteen - 13 Reasons I Like Thomas & Friends

At the beginning, I couldn't understand the attraction Aaron had to Thomas & Friends. After 2 years of reading multiple Thomas stories daily, I'm finally getting it. In fact, I am grateful for the first book that was gifted to Aaron because Thomas has turned out to be a "really useful engine" indeed. So, here are the 13 reasons why I like Thomas & Friends.

1) They keep Aaron entertained and quiet during Mass on Sundays.

2) They were instrumental in teaching Aaron numbers.

3) I also used the faces on the engines to teach Aaron about the various emotions.

4) Aaron is starting to read the names of the engines.

5) Drawing engines is what taught Aaron how to use a pencil well.

6) It has been great for building Aaron's vocabulary.

7) The videos are usually no more than 6 minutes so its easy to use as short distractions throughout the day.

8) I genuinely like the melodies to a lot of the songs. My favorite is "Patience". Its great as a positive way to ask Aaron to wait.

9) The songs usually only have a single verse and chorus. Very important for when your toddler asks you to sing sing sing.

10) While there are plenty of accidents in the stories and videos, they don't appear as violent and "crazy" as those in some other kids cartoons.

11) The idea of engines that have faces and can speak is far fetched. Yet, the setting and stories are realistic and detailed enough to interest Aaron in real life stations, quarries, docks and of course construction equipment.

12) Some of the books are small enough to fit in my handbag. Whenever Aaron gets antsy, I just whip one out and everything is solved.

13) I love sitting back and watching Aaron make up his own stories with his engines. His imagination is really taking off!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Surprise Visitor

I'm not entirely sure but I think that in the West, people usually call first before visiting someone at their home. In Asia, there is no need for this. Sometimes people do call but very often, they just show up. It isn't considered rude at all.

For someone like me, with only a handful of Indonesian friends, it is a rare occasion that we have any guests, announced or unannounced.

We had a pleasant surprise this afternoon when Linmas and his mom came over. We haven't met up with them for quite awhile because Aaron no longer wants to go for his morning walks.

I was so happy chatting with Ibu Tika (the mom). She is always shy for the first 5 minutes but then she relaxes and has all sorts of local information to share with me. Linmas and Aaron play together very easily. The only strange thing is there is absolutely no conversation between them. There is some low level collaboration on Lego projects but they mostly just play side by side.

The main topic of today's conversation was Ibu Tika cutting back on houses (she's a cleaner) to spend more time at home with Linmas. He will start primary school in July and she needs to teach him how to write the numbers 1 through 10, the ABCs and teach him to read by then. This is worrying her endlessly because if he doesn't pick all of that up, he won't be accepted into any schools.

I thought it sounded a little extreme. Don't you GO to school to learn those things. Linmas didn't go to any pre-schools because his mother couldn't afford it. And, I'm sure there are plenty of other children that are in similar situations.

Anyway, the irony of this is that our maid, currently studying for her high school certificate, has made it all the way through school without learning something as simple as one minus half equals half. So, why the high standard for entering school when it doesn't matter what you learn once you're in?

We all had a fun time this afternoon but somehow, I felt that Ibu Tika left a little more worried than when she arrived. As if the outing was supposed to be a fun one but instead she was reminded of this looming entry exam for Linmas. On the other hand, my day was certainly brightened with her visit.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The High School Meme

I got this meme from Bilbo's blog. High school certainly was a long time ago! Looking back, I neither enjoyed nor hated high school. Its just something that had to be done. I went to All Hallows' School in Brisbane.

1. Did you date someone from your high school? – No. I went to an all girl's school.

2. Did you marry someone from your high school? – No. I married someone from the office instead.

3. Did you car pool to School? – No. I don't remember anybody driving to school. I took the 7.28am train each morning. Students had a train pass that allowed free travel from the suburb you lived in to the suburb your school was in.

4. What kind of car did you have? – No car until my first year at university. It was a yellow mitsubishi station wagon with no power steering.

5. It is Friday night then; where are you? – At home reading or watching TV.

6. It is Friday night now, where are you? – At home reading or watching TV. Oop! Something needs to be done about this! I am comforted that after high school and before motherhood, I did do other things on a Friday night....

7. What kind of job did you have in high school? – On weekends, my brother and I cleaned the office areas and bathrooms at the warehouse my mother managed.

8. Were you a party animal? – Not at all.

9. Were you in band, orchestra, or choir? – I played the violin in the school orchestra. Also, I took music as a subject in Grade 11 and 12 and our class regularly entered choir competitions. We won a few and had a lot of fun.

10. Were you a nerd? – Not really. I think I was right in the middle of the nerd to rebel spectrum.

11. Did you get suspended or expelled? – Nope. I never even went to detention. The worst I ever got in my entire school life was a light whack on the bum with a cane. This was back in primary school in Malaysia.

12. Can you sing the school song? – Yes and I really like the melody. Just don't ask me what it means because its in Latin. Angeli, archangeli.....angels?
Hmmm...Its been 17 years since high school and only now do I find out, after Googling, that the school anthem was not an original for the school. Its some sacred motet from the 1500s.

13. Who was your favorite teacher? – I don't have one. None really made an impression on me.

14. Where did you sit during lunch? – We had a canteen (called tuckshop in Australia) to buy food but no designated area for eating. There were benches around the school and lots of grassy spots. One of the regular lunch spots I remember is the walkway joining the convent to the main part of the school. Its the area under that long red roof in this link.

15. When did you graduate? – November, 1992.

16. What was your school mascot? – I don't think we had one.

17. If you could go back and do it again - what would you do?
a) Don't pick German or History in Grades 9 and 10
b) Learn the cello instead of the violin
c) Understand instead of memorize
d) Pick some of the business subjects
e) Mingle more. I tended to have one group of friends for lunch. One for orchestra. One for classes. Etc, etc, etc... I wish it was more free flowing.

18. Did you go to the Prom? – Yes, except its called the school Formal in Brisbane. All I remember is an embarrassing moment when my heel got caught in the bottom bar of a stool when I stood up (yes I'm a klutz) and I nearly went splat! Unfortunately, no knight in shining armour rescued me, just my girlfriends.

19. Do you still talk to the person you went to the prom with? – No. I honestly can't remember his name.

20. Do you still talk to people from your school? – Up until November of 2008, I have been in constant contact with only one of my friends. But now, thanks to Facebook, I have found many many many more of them. Still looking for one particular girl. (If your name is V. Wu and you graduated from All Hallows in 1992, leave me a message!)

Alright, its your turn.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Kemarau Island 2009

Kemarau Island comes alive only once a year during the last few days of Chinese New Year. Last year, we were a few days late and all we saw was a deserted island with all the temples locked up.

To recap, there is a temple dedicated to a minor Taoist deity called Toa Pek Kong. Minor or not, people from as far as Singapore come to worship here annually. Toa Pek Kong watches over households, villages and rural lands.

We went there again yesterday. It was the first day of the festivities. It was two years ago that I first heard of this place. People told me that once a year, many boats were used as a temporary bridge across the river. They used the word "many" and I understood the other word to mean "boat". In my mind, I imagined this type of fishing boat, lined up side by side across the river. It would have been an incredible sight and experience walking across.

I have to admit that I was disappointed when I saw what it really was. Maybe I misunderstood or maybe two years of imagining built up the scene too much in my mind because they weren't boats but barges!

Once across, I forgot that I was disappointed. The place was already quite crowded even though it was only 3pm and the main event was later that night.

People were, of course, worshipping:

Some were sending cash up to the heavens. The yellow/red paper in the pit is the "money". You have to use your earthly currencies to buy the yellow money but the exchange rate is extremely favorable.

There was a place that you could buy some protection. The yellow/red papers (different to the money) can be stuck in front of your house or carried in your wallet to protect you. Richard told me that as a child, his dad soaked the paper in water and then had him drink it.

There were also all sorts of vendors that setup shop here just for a couple of days to cater to the crowds.


Miscellaneous worship materials...

Birds for setting free...

Entertainment for the kids...


I'd never eat anything there though. Take a look at the water they use to wash the plates.

We had a good time wandering around the island. Maybe next year we'll stay till the night and see what goes on after dark.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The other WTO

Recently, I have been reminded of a program that I watched last year. Its called Kenny's World and is a sort of travel program featuring toilets around the world. It was there that I heard about the other WTO, the World Toilet Organisation. Did you know that there is actually an annual World Toilet Summit?

If you live in the developed world, this may not be something that you need to think about. But let me assure you, when you're in the developing world, you must make plans when you leave the house. In addition, the situation is exacerbated in the developing countries because it is more likely that you'll eat something your body doesn't agree with.

Take Palembang for example. If you're on the road, on the way somewhere, there would be almost NOWHERE to stop if you needed to go. There aren't a whole lot of petrol stations around and even if there was, they aren't pleasant. There are only 3 malls and they are probably the place that you're on your way to. And even if you were IN the mall, the toilets there usually have a queue a mile long.

The other day, I saw my first public toilet by the road and it just adds to my fears. As it is, my anxiety levels have already reached the stage where I try not to have a drink for an hour before we leave.

My family and I have a whole collection of hilarious toilet stories from our travels around Asia but really, its a very serious problem. It is estimated that 2.6 billion people in the world do not have access to basic sanitation. Thats nearly 40%!

I don't have to drive very far from our home in Palembang to see that there are plenty of houses here that still use an outhouse. I just hope I won't have to try one out someday.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Photostory Friday - No Expectations

The girl in the bottom right is my grand aunt. I found this photo in her house. In comparison to her two older sisters standing at the back, I thought her young face looked full of happiness and expectation of a bright future.

This is my grand aunt now, at 70. She married my grandfather's brother when she was in her 30s and he in his 50s. They never had any children and she now lives alone in the little house he left her.

I'm pretty sure her life turned out to be very different from what she expected it to be when the first photo was taken. I don't have all the details but I'm sure it wasn't an easy life. Yet, she is one of the most contented people I know. While she doesn't have a lot of money and hardly any visitors she is seemingly happy and very healthy. Not-jumping-for-joy happy but she definitely accepts everything in her life.

I think the secret to her contentment is the fact that she has no expectations. She has no children, very little family left and hardly any friends so she doesn't expect anybody to visit her. She has no income and lives on her meager savings so she doesn't expect to own or do anything fancy.

I'm not saying that I want to live the life she's living when I'm 70 but I hope that I will be as contented as she is. In comparison to many other old people I know (who have families and even live with one of their children), she seems to be the one most comfortable with her existence because she does not expect anybody to do anything for her. Its sad, but its also very admirable.

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Thursday Thirteen - 13 Amusing Things

Sometimes, its easy to forget how to be amused by the small things in life. So here are 13 small-ish things that have amused me recently.

1) Washable Markers - Nothing is more fun to a toddler than something forbidden. He's been trying to get at my permanent markers for awhile and today I replaced them with the washable ones and invited him to try them out. You can't imagine the joy that he had with something so simple.

2) Aaron crooning Blue Moon with his eyes closed.

3) IM-ing, Skype and VoipStunt all keep me endlessly amused by allowing me to stay in touch with friends and family.

4) Reading the responses that Bilbo, John and Mike had to Fiona's meme was A LOT of fun.

5) The mattresses we have are crap and I've been wanted to change them. THEN, I "found" the one in the spare room and last night, I had a FANTASTIC sleep.

6) An easy way to encourage Aaron to eat independently is to serve his food in our adult plates. Now why didn't I think of that earlier?!

7) I remember my mother having "the look". It stopped me from doing whatever it was I was thinking of doing. I seem to have developed "a look" for stopping endless Whys. Its worked for two days so far.

8) I got a HUGE parcel in the mail last week. A friend from Shanghai sent us Christmas presents. The girl was so busy while in Shanghai that she lugged the stuff all the way to San Francisco where she was spent Christmas and mailed it to us from there.

9) These were in the huge parcel mentioned in #8. They have had me amused for about 5 days now with their salty and sour taste.

10) Found in a flower pot this morning.

11) He's writing his name all by himself now, unprompted.

12) I always get excited when I see my new plants coming up.

13) Anti- corruption banners came up over night and are all over the roads in our area. "Bersih" means clean. I love how they used the picture of the rat!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Where do I go from here?

I've been trying to catch my friends online to wish them "Gong Xi Fa Cai" (A direct translation would be something like "Congratulations, Prosper")

I always ask "How are you?". Its not just something to ask, I really mean it. I want to know how they're doing. The majority of the responses so far have been something along the lines of "Busy". But, they're not busy with the Chinese New Year festivities. THAT would have been expected. Instead, it seems that every one I know is busy, up to their eyeballs or swamped with work.

I noticed this one commonality across all my friends because I started to feel that I was disturbing them all with my middle of the day invitations to chat.

These people are working hard. They are achieving goals. They are being productive. They are adding to the foundations for their future careers and lives. Actually, they've probably already graduated from the foundations and are moving upwards by now.

What am I doing?

Yes, at this very moment, I am doing exactly what I want to do. I love my job and work hard at it. I often take offense (inwardly) when people comment that I have the luxury of sitting around all day and taking off on a holiday whenever I feel like it. Its the privilege that I have with my current job.

A problem with the current job is that I'm basically a contract worker. The day will come when the contract won't need to be renewed. The other problem is that it doesn't seem to come with any career pathing. I know that I will be (or perhaps I already am) obsolete in the job market and I accept that. Hence the question "Where do I go from here?"

Do I really want to go back to the workforce? I don't think so. Not 9-5 type anyway. But, I do want to be productive. I might live another 67 years till I'm 90. I HAVE to do something with my life. And, it would be nice if I could contribute to the family income.

What can I do? What will I do? What do I want to do?

I don't know. I don't know. I don't know.

This is one of those posts where I have no answer or final closing point. Just thinking out loud. Not fretting, just trying to think ahead.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Strange Fashion : Mantyhoses and Mankinis

A few weeks ago, I came across a post at One Crafty Mama about the mantyhose for men. I couldn't help thinking of all the leg hair that were either sticking out or being squashed down. Anyway, at that time, I didn't think that any man would wear it.

Today, I saw this photo of the Tough Guy Race in Staffordshire, England on If you click through the gallery, you'll see several other photos of this green mankini.

How did the guy get through THIS?

Anyway, the picture at One Crafty Mama's blog was an advertisement, so it was easy to think that no man would want to wear it. But the photos of the "tough guys" show that there are some crazy men out there who just don't know how to dress appropriately. (Actually, they don't need to be crazy to not know how to dress appropriately :P) So, if there are men out there wearing the mankini, whose to say that they aren't wearing the mantyhose as well?