Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The charity carnival and the crazy cabby

Last Saturday was a completely full day and night for me and my colleagues as we had to work to set up and man a booth at the music/fun carnival at Bukit Kiara to raise funds for the Yogyakarta earthquake victims. It was a pretty large scale event with lots of local singers, DJ's and actors performing on 3 different stages (right next to each other too... don't ask me how). There were also more than 20 booths including paintball, hot air balloon rides, henna and glitter tattoo booths, face painting, magic shows, caricatures and of course, our very own Mad Scientists doing free slime, super bouncy science balls, cotton candy, hovercraft rides (for kids and adults who are young at heart and weigh less than 70kg!) and even putting on free shows. So everyone had to be at the office by 9am to throw all our equipment into the van and get over to the site to set up our stuff and decorate our booth. We were one of the few companies who needed two tents, one for the show, and one for all the other stuff we were giving away. By the time we were done, it was around 2 or 3 in the afternoon and still pretty early before the actual event started at 4pm, so we had a chance to relax a bit and even check out some other booths. I got myself some nice temporary glitter tattoos (one of a dolphin and one of a butterfly). And even though I had to work til midnight, it was a pretty fun day. I was in charge of the cotton candy machine, and by the end of it I think I turned into a cotton candy myself coz' I had sugar all over me and my shirt had yellow stains coz' of the sugar colouring (it was orange flavoured, but turned yellow once heated up). And of course, I was pretty sick of eating cotton candy by the end of it all. Someone had to clean up all the pieces that get stuck to the cotton candy bowl, you know. :P I shall not elaborate further. By the way, in case you're wondering what a mad scientist is doing making cotton candy, well, there IS a whole science to how the stuff is made. Something about how the machine head had a metal slits inside it that heat up to melt the sugar, and while the head is spinning, the melted sugar gets flung out through the slits to form cottony threads. The threads then resolidify and collect in the big metal bowl, where I twirl the paper cones around to catch the stuff. And voila, you have a treat to kill any diabetic. Yummy. Anyway, most people were more interested in eating the stuff than knowing the science behind it, but some people did want to know, and some even more adventurous people wanted to try and collect the cotton candy on the cone themselves, to which I obliged. When things were so busy, I went over to help make slime and super science balls for a couple of nice college kids. It was my first time making super science balls too, and it's pretty funky coz' it's actually a bunch of special coloured crystals which we have to pour into a mini round shaped container and then soak it water for a while. The water will then cause the crystals to polymerize and make a cool colourful bouncy ball. Slime is pretty fun too. Basically, it's polyvinyl alcohol plus some colouring and some Borax solution (or sodium borate) to make the wonderfully gooey stuff. The hovercraft rides were pretty fun too. It's just like a big round board with an air blower attached to it that blows towards the ground and causes it to lift up slightly above the ground. Then a couple of guys will push the things back and forth while the kid on top of it enjoys the ride. Sweet stuff!

The sad thing is that there weren't all that many people at the carnival... certainly not enough to cover the cost of the event, I think. Considering the organizers had to pay all the companies setting up booths, and also set up three performance stages, and pay the performers, as well as advertise the event over the radio (and possibly through other media, though I didn't notice any ads on tv or the newspapers)... the place certainly wasn't packed with people, so I don't know how they can cover the cost, let alone get much funds to help the Yogyakarta earthquake victims. I mean, the tickets were priced at RM80, which is pretty pricey, but for the stuff they have there and considering it was for charity, I think it was pretty ok. If I wasn't working there, I might've gone for it myself. But oh well...at least I didn't have to work my butt off making cotton candy for truckloads of people. :P I did have to make the effort to try and attract people to our booths by announcing our attractions over the PA system. None of my colleagues were really into making announcements except, so I took up the microphone and became a Mad Scientist emcee every now and then. And my boss's family was there too, including his mother (who is also a director of the company though she comes in only like every now and then), wife, and brother.... and his mother seemed to like that I was making the effort to get people to our booth. She even clapped for me and encouraged me on! I guess it's a good sign if the boss's mother is clapping for me. :D

All in all, it was a tiring but fun day. I had a good time, up until I was driving on the way home at 1am. Then I had a run in with one of the crazy drivers that come out at night. I had stoped at a toll booth and gave an RM10 note to pay for RM1 toll. So when I got back my change and I was trying to count it to make sure I got the right change before driving off, this crazy cab driver behind me blared his horn at me barely 3 seconds after I got my money back. Like geez, it's barely enough time for me to change gears, let alone check my change. So I was quite annoyed, but I moved my car forward anyway, driving a bit slowly so I could still count my change. Then the crazy cabbie came at me from behind and because there are traffic cones making lanes coming from the toll booth, he couldn't overtake me. So the nut started flashing at me from behind, and when the cones cleared up and he had the chance to overtake me, he drove past honking at me AGAIN. At this point, I was seriously ticked off, so I threw my hand up at him like I was scolding the bugger (usually I just let idiot drivers like that pass me by, but after working for 15 hours straight and being superbly pooped, I wasn't quite in the mood to have some impatient fella honking at me for wanting to count my money). And the fella saw what I did, and didn't like it, so he actually had the nerve to drive in front of me and stop his car, which forced me to stop as well. And while I'm honking the nut, he got out of his car and stood there yelling at me and looking like he was going to come over and beat me up or something. Of course, I was still in my car, and he was out of his, so I wasn't scared so much as I was superbly annoyed at the nerve of this guy. So I just reversed my car and zoomed past him. And honking at me and probably yelling at me in his car, but I couldn't care less what he was doing coz' I just looked straight ahead and ignored the nutty cabbie until he finally zoomed off in front. And of course, I didn't want to be following the fella for fear of him deciding to seriously do something crazy, so I turned off to a different road to get home, to make sure he couldn't follow me anymore.

Now that I think about it, I know it wasn't too smart of me to make any gestures to provoke the nut, especially since I'm driving alone at night. But I guess I wasn't thinking straight at the time after working so long. The nut could've gotten seriously violent and even tried to ram me off the road. Thank God that didn't happen. But anyhow, it's freaky to think that insane people like him having driver's licenses, let alone are cab drivers. I really wish I had remembered his license plate number so I can report the fella to the police. Though I doubt they would be much help either. Knowing the efficiency of our police force, they wouldn't do a thing unless the crazy cabby actually tried to kill me or something. Hmm... is it any wonder why there are so many crazy drivers around.

Well, a lesson to learn from that.... If I wanna scold a crazy driver, do it in when he's way ahead of me and can't see whatever hand gestures I make at him. Haha! I still wish someone would make that Fart-O-Matic I was talking about before. If it's powerful enough, the gas released from the back of my car would sicken the driver behind me so much, he wouldn't even think of trying to bully me. He would end up puking by the side of the road or something. :Þ *Sigh*...wishful thinking.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Emailing in the office and Adobe Intimidator

The other day at cell group, some of my working friends were mentioning about how their colleagues and bosses would prefer to be emailed rather than have face to face chats. Apparently it's because they may not necessarily be free when people want to talk to them, but they can read their emails at their own leisure anytime.... and also because some bosses want to have things in black and white so they can refer to the emails in case they need to clarify things (and potentially get their employees in trouble). And in my office, when anybody has any issues, instead of taking the person aside and talking to them about it, they send emails to each other....sometimes even to the whole office (which right now is only five people)! I guess it's kind of sad that people are so used to contacting each other through email these days that they would prefer it over personal human contact.... even within the same office where everyone is so close together, you just need to talk loudly a bit in order for everyone to hear you. At the same time, I know I myself have used email for the same purpose, to talk to people about certain issue without actually having to confront them and possibly get involved in a blowout. Also, I'm the kind of person who gets tongue-tied easily when it comes to fragile situations like that, so I prefer to really sit down and think about what I should or shouldn't say first before writing anything. Whereas in a conversation, once I say something I don't mean, that's it... there's no erase button to change what I said. So it does help to avoid unwanted misunderstandings and the tension of a face-to-face confrontation... and yet I still can't help but wonder whether people like me become a bit too reliant on technology, so much that we lose out learning how to build personal relationships. Perhaps one day in the future, everybody will be talking to each other only through computers. Wouldn't quite be the same as the real thing. But anyway, I just find it an interesting trend.

Anyway, one of the things I'm supposed to learn how to do at work is using Adobe Illustrator. We need to use this program to design posters and flyers or whatever that needs to go to print, and my supervisor lent me the cd to install in my comp. And since there's no one to teach me, I pretty much have to learn it up on my own. The thing is, the help topics in this program would make just as much sense to me as it would in Greek. The terms used are either completely alien to me (eg. opacity masks, rasturize, etc...) or I understand what they mean on their own, but not what they mean in the program (eg. vectors, slicing, knock-outs, etc...). And there are a billion and one things that can be done with this program. Just that it would take me a billion and one years to understand how they're all done. Right now, it's just so exasperating, I'm actually thinking of going out and buying 'Abobe Illustrator for Dummies'.

Ok, me needs to get to bed again!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Church anniversary and jobhunting pressure

My church had our 32nd church anniversary celebration today at the Sime Darby Convention Centre near Sri Hartamas. As always, the place was full of CBC-ers from all the different branches, and since some of the congregation are Mandarin-speaking only, we have some Mandarin worship songs where I just stand there clapping my hands and going "La dee daa..." . And there will always be a Mandarin translator who translates whatever the pastor says, and quite often they cut each other off during the sermon and I wonder why they can't be patient enough to wait for the other guy to finish talking first, but I suppose they are so gung ho about the sermon that they just can't wait to say it all out. And like last year's anniversary, the focus of the service was on missions, and we all prayed for the missionaries who are going out to different countries to minister to them and spread the gospel. We also launched the beginning of a 21 day period of 24 hour prayer, which confused me for a while coz' I was wondering how on earth people can pray for 24 hours... til I figured out that it's supposed to be that at every hour for the next 21 days, at least a few people are praying for something so that there is some continuous prayer day and night. So we only pray for a certain amount of time each day, not 24 hours! (Haha, it's the lack of sleep, I swear!) So of course, we'd need people who would be willing to pray at certain hours of the graveyard shift, and quite a number of people were willing to pray during the graveyard shift. Yay!

The pastor was also talking about missions and relating it back to the bible, but I dunno if it was because of the pastor having to pause ever so often to let the translator speak, or because the sermon was a bit too deep for me, or because I was still kinda sleepy, or maybe a combination of everything... but I had such a hard time concentrating on the sermon, let alone trying to understand it. Oh well, I kind of tried. :Þ I did remember after the sermon that another church elder was telling us that there would be ushers holding offering bags for the missionaries, and he said something like "I'm not asking for your money... I'm asking you to be a channel of blessing for God!" and I was thinking, errr... but you're asking us to bless the missionaries with funds to go their missions trips, so technically you are asking for money.... so just say that you are asking for money lor... Of course, I'm not complaining about giving... I know we need to give for the church to do God's work... just that it kinda irks me when they say things like that. Really reminds me of sales people, who try to put things in a better light in order to 'make a sale'. I'd much rather they be straight forward about it and say they need the money... I'm more than happy to give anyway and I'm sure most other people there today would've been to. Anyway, that's just my opinion. It is very encouraging to see that CBC is sending out so many missionaries to other countries. I hope I at least will have the willpower to pray at least half an hour every day... which is so little compared to what they are doing but more than what I have been doing so far as my prayer life has been pretty blah for quite some time. I know that I should pray more and I actually feel that I miss having that quiet time with God, but I always never get round to doing it coz' I'm a lazy bum... so....must....try..... harder....!!

Anyway, I also had a little nap today in the afternoon. I slept at 4pm and planned to wake up at 5pm to wash my car since I had to go out with my parents and elder bro and sis-in-law for dinner later.... but I ended up shutting off my alarm when it rang and sleeping til 7pm. Shows just how much I needed to catch up on my sleep. So now I'm pretty well rested, which is good. :)

At dinner, my mum was telling me that I should try looking for another job. She's been telling me to jobhunt several times now, coz' she seems to think my company is on the verge of shutting down or something, or that there's no prospect of promotions. Which irks me as well, coz' the company is pretty stable now, even though it's not making much profit yet but we are working on getting more business and as such, we need as much help as we can. If I leave now, just when I'm getting to know the ropes, they have to look for more staff again, and the company will take even longer to expand. And even though I agree there is a risk that a small company like this can shut down, I doubt it coz' the franchise has been superbly successful in so many other countries, so there's a lot of potential for it to grow here as well. Just that the boss is busy with other businesses that he can't focus on this company so much. And that the turnover of staff here is pretty high, so he needs to get permanent people. So I'd feel kinda bad leaving the company when I just started working here and they are in need of people who can do the job well, and I think I am pretty good with teaching the kids. But my mum and also my brother says that there's no point being loyal to a company coz' if the company losses money, the boss will just let me go like that. Which is also possible, I agree, but if I am REALLY good at the job, and I do a lot to help bring in more business, chances are that he would prefer to keep me over other staff. And I know I can do well in this job, rather than in research or management, coz' I don't have passion for research and I don't know nuts about management. At least in my job now, I know I'm doing something I'm good at, and at the same time I can pick up other skills, learn how to get in more business and possibly learn to manage other staff in the future when we start to expand. If I leave to work in a really big company, I'd just be another small fry in a big company where I might not be so good at what I do. I would be compared to other staff, so what would stop them from letting me go if they think I'm not as good as others? And if I simply simply change jobs, it wouldn't look good to prospective employers either to see that I have only a few months work experience in several places. To them, it would seem that I lack loyalty to one company, and that does not reflect well on me.

So my idea is to do my best here at Mad Science until at least the beginning of next year when they do the work appraisal. Then I can see how much my salary changes and what other perks I get. If we have better business by then but the salary increment is crap, then I will try and look for other jobs lor. I would only have worked here for slightly over half a year, so I can still get other jobs if I want to. But if the perks are pretty good and the company is expanding and I am promoted, then why should I leave? At the moment, of course I can't expect to get salary increment so soon, but my mum seems to worry that it will never happen, therefore I should just up and leave to a better job first chance I get. Good grief, as if going for job interviews is such a fun process. Plus I would have to take leave to go for interviews and I only get 8 days leave a year. And if I go for leave so often, my supervisor will start getting suspicious. It won't reflect well on me at all. And I don't even want to leave the company yet coz' I like what I'm doing! Yaaarrrggh! I wish my mum would just leave it alone and let me work for a few more months. I know she means well, but I don't need this pressure!!!!

Bleh, time to get to bed again. *Sigh*

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Clay colleague, scary sales, university after-effects and other miscellaneous nonsense

Once again, I'm sitting here feeling kinda braindead after another night of little sleep and having to wake up early for work (dang, I hate working Saturdays). I did have a reason for staying up late last night though. One of my colleagues is leaving to continue her studies and today was her last day at the office, and I thought since she's been pretty nice, I'd give her a little gift or something. I had recently bought some new special clay that's pretty good for making pretty much anything we can think of, and since I'm not really into buying gifts from a store coz' that's so impersonal, I thought I'd make a little clay figurine of a Mad Scientist....which is supposed to look like a cute little version of my colleague. Not quite sure if it came out that way, but it's the thought that counts. :P The rest of us were pretty prepared to take over her table and stuff after she packed up today, coz I decided I want her table (coz' now I'm sitting behind another colleague and there's not much space for us to move around without bumping into each other's chairs), so I was dumping some of my stuff on it. And another colleague wanted her drawer, which has little wheels on it to move around, so he took it. So we were pretty much vultures hanging around to salvage her stuff. Bwahahaha!

We also had to sit through a sales talk on how to approach and negotiate with schools about having our classes in their schools. So now I pretty much have to be one of those annoying sales people who have to talk crap about how good their 'product' is and all that stuff. Bleh, the irony of it all. I have to turn into one of my pet peeves! If only the company was bigger, then I could concentrate on doing a few things like classes and birthday parties, instead of having to do EVERYTHING. But oh well, if I do really well and get a lot of schools in, hopefully I get a good pay raise next time it's time for salary evaluation. Woo hoo!

Anyway, I was thinking about how sad it is that I kinda have so much I wanna blog about, yet everytime I come home, I feel too braindead to really blog about anything good. I miss the times when I would really think through and analyze stuff, and the times I could really write lots of poetry and even some good songs. Now I just don't have the time and energy. And all I wanna do when I come home is watch tv or surf the net or play games, then sleep. How sad. I think all those years in university has caused my brain cells to deteriorate to mush, and now my brain is programmed to just "Work, Eat, Sleep, Work, Eat, Sleep, Work, Eat, Sleep" to spare it the agony of having to think to much....just to make up for all those years at uni. No wonder I've been saying so many silly things at office. I don't even wanna go into that. It's embarassing.

So anyway, I was reading my big brother's blog today, and just wanted to share something interesting he wrote.... just coz' I'm too lazy to think of something interesting to write, myself:

While (my friends and I) sat and ate ice-cream waiting for the show to start, we started talking and eventually the conversation came round to how fast some people decide to get married. Rachel and Wisam had known each other for two months, and then he proposed to her. We compared that courtship to a drag race. Sometimes you just know where you need to go, and there's no sense taking corners, you just go in a straight line as fast as you can. Then Kevin said Roy had proposed pretty quickly too. I'd been subject to a few comments about my singleness of late, so I thought I'd ask Roy what the correct method of courtship was. He, being a pastor, surely wouldn't give me bad, worldly advice. You know, the sort you get from magazines.

He said "Well, first, you make a move. Then you wait for her to make a move. Then you respond with a move, and then she makes another move."

I blinked a couple times. "So it's like chess?"

"Yes, it's like chess. Then eventually, after a lot of moves, you ask her to marry you, and that's checkmate."

"Huh, ok."

"Yes, basically you're asking a girl if she'd like to play chess."

I thought about that for a bit, then I asked "Well, what happens if you make three moves in a row?"

He shook his head. "No you're not allowed to. Then you lose. However, while you're waiting for her to make a move, you can remind her that you made a move."

"Isn't that in itself considered a move?"

"No, it's just a reminder."

I thought about it a bit more, and then decided I was neither good at chess or courtship. Maybe someday she'll just fall in my lap when I'm not paying attention. I kicked back, finished my ice-cream, watched the fireworks, and looked around me from time to time at all the chessplayers, young and old, sitting on folding chairs, lying on the grass, gazing up at the sparkling, smoky sky.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Busy as a bee...bzzz...bzz...

Work is getting really busy these days. I think it's doing something to my brain cells too coz' every time I come home and I think that I wanna do other stuff or blog, my brain goes into shut down and I don't get round to doing whatever it is I wanna do. Could be due to the lack of sleep coz' I have yet to kick my habit of sleeping later than I should. Among some of the many tasks I have been assigned to deal with at work are:

1) Prepare for classes...now I'm gonna be in charge of two classes instead of just one coz' one of the other instructors is giving his class to me. And it's a class full of super hyper kids, some of which not only don't sit down or pay attention, but also make a heckuva lot of noise. Way worse than my first class. I'm so glad I only have to deal with them for only one hour a week, or else I would just go deaf in the class.

2) Do birthday party shows whenever they come around

3) Writing out minutes for meetings (which can be quite long considering my boss blabbers a LOT)

4) Call up parents and school teachers to inform them of anything that they need to be informed of

5) Check through our class kits to see if any items are missing. Coz' each class has a kit of stuff to be used during the class to do demos or experiments or whatever. And some of the kits aren't complete coz' the company decided not to buy them from Canada since they were charging an exorbitant price. So now we have to fill the kits ourselve with whatever we deem suitable, and quite a number of the kits are so not complete. My job to find out what's missing. Bleh.

6) Call up people in charge at the National Science Centre to try and book dates for upcoming Mad Science camps

7) Call up people in charge at some schools to try and negotiate for us to have classes at those schools (so we get more business, and hence, more money). Anyone who helps get us a lot of schools have higher chance of getting promoted, according to the boss. So I hope my feminine charms can help me nail quite a few schools. Hehe!

8) Other miscellaneous nonsense like posting letters, and other stuff I can't think of at the moment coz' my brain is in non-functioning mode again

Me thinks I'd better get to sleep. Hopefully next time I'll think of something else to blog about other than work. :P