Friday, January 30, 2009

Danger Zone

At my last cell group meeting, we were asked to share about times when we were in danger and God has protected us from harm. For the most part, my life has been relatively safe and boring, though there were a few times I recalled when I was sort-of in danger. Like apparently when I was a kid, I swallowed an eraser whole and amazingly didn't choke to death (it came out in my poop later, according to my mum. I remember none of this). Also once, when I was too young to remember, my parents left me and my brother at the car for a while and the car was on the slope outside our house. My brother was standing next to the open door of the car while I was sitting inside when the handbrake decided not to work and the car rolled backwards. I don't know the details, but somehow or another I think my parents managed to stop the car and my brother was unhurt. I imagine I was sitting in the car completely oblivious to what had just happened.

And then there were the times I was in danger because I sort of put myself into that situation. Like when I was visiting Brisbane and I was went canoeing on my own. I went too close to the mouth of the lagoon heading out to sea and might have been swept out to sea if I hadn't mustered the strength to row against the current and get myself back. It was a pretty good workout though. And in Brisbane, I went solo sky-diving and everything went great until landing when I was supposed to pull both of my parachute handles to slow down the parachute so I could land easily. But for some reason, I forgot to do that one important thing and I landed like a tonne of bricks. Well, not really. I DID remember that in case I was falling too fast at landing, I need to roll to reduce the impact, so I did that instead and somehow escaped without breaking anything in my body. I even got the video to show my rather hilarious, and potentially painful, drop from the sky.

Today I can add another dangerous situation to the list. I was driving my car, with my dad next to me, and we were waiting first in line at the traffic light near my house. Once the light turned green and I moved the car forward, my dad suddenly yelled at me to stop and I also saw it... this fella coming from the right was zooming past the same traffic light even though the light was red on his side. I think he was coming at at least 60kph and had already past the white line on his side of the traffic light. I hit the brakes and blared my horn non-stop, and only then did the guy stop his car and reversed back behind the white line. He looked kind of confused, so I'm guessing he didn't notice the traffic light or perhaps he just wasn't concentrating on the road. Anyhow, IF my dad had not been there to tell me to stop and IF I had not seen the guy coming and I had just kept driving, I'm 100% sure he would have rammed right into my car, into the driver's side where I was, and I wouldn've been badly injured or worse.

Either I was one dang lucky girl or someone up there has REALLY looking out for me. I like to think it's the latter.Thank YOU, God.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What would you do...

... if you were in a company where:

1) Your boss is being micro-managed, has an oversized ego and is constantly picking on you for every little thing you do wrong in the fear that you are giving him a 'bad' image, when in fact most people you work with have no problem with you. And the nit-picking from the boss gets to the point where you become paranoid that anything you say or do will get you into trouble, and this of course affects your ability to do any work.

2) Big bosses in the company act like lords of the earth, and they are only interested in seeing you achieve the numbers they want but don't care to hear about the practical issues you or your team are facing. And it seems for the most part that the company operates out of fear of making the big bosses unhappy. And you are told that this is normal in any other company, but you think otherwise.

3) As a result of all this (and more), you are sick of the company's culture and have the opportunity to leave but your team members are suffering from work overload and everyone else, except your boss, wants you to stay in the company coz' they really need people, and most people in my team actually appreciate your work. And as much as you can't stand your boss and the management, you really don't want your team members who are pretty nice people to die of work overload. The fact that you have an overwhelming sense of responsibility to handle the tasks given to you, and right now there is no one to take over, kind of makes you feel rather guilty about leaving people in the dust too. Ideally, the company SHOULD be able to just bring in more people to take over, but for some strange reasons that are probably bureaucratic and political, it's just not that easy. Again, that comes back to crappy management decisions.

4) As screwed up as the boss and the management is, you actually do enjoy the work itself, plus benefits are good and it is stable enough to survive a rough economy. Changing jobs at this time is also probably not a good idea. Even though I believe God will provide, I still wonder if this is really from Him, or am I'm just doing what I want and taking for granted that He will take provide... only to possibly later on find that I made a mistake?

Yeah well, that's my dilemma now. I've already sent in my resignation, but I was told that I can still retract it, and some people in my team have asked me to stay. So now I'm wondering what to do. I spend most of my day thinking about all the issues I've had to go through at work, all the problems my boss has had with me, wondering if I was justified in the things I did, wondering if resigning is the best thing to do, wondering if I'll possibly face the same issues in my next job or God knows what new issues will pop up, and just thinking nonstop about it to the point where I think my whole head of hair will eventually turn grey if I keep on thinking about it. And I have one week left to decide. Hrmm....

My bro's wedding pics

I do remember promising some pics of my brother's wedding, and haven't had the time to post them yet. Fortunately, the wedding photographer saved me some trouble, so here you go:

Enjoy. :)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Fun stuff to do in the US while waiting for my big bro to get hitched...

My bro is married today! Woo hoo! Congrats to him and his new wife, Keonghi da cool Korean chick! :D

Wedding pics aren't ready yet, so I'll keep ya all entertained with my list of fun stuff to do in the United States (or rather, in Knoxville, Tennessee) while waiting for my bro to get married:

1) Go 1120 feet under a mountain to see a waterfall!
The first couple of days of my trip to Knoxville, Tennessee were kept well busy as my bro and his wife took me, my mum and his wife's mum to go visit Ruby Falls at Chattanooga. Ruby Falls is a very cool waterfall located way underground in a mountain, and has a very interesting history behind it, which you can read about here. Basically we took an elevator 1120 feet deep down into a mountain, where we exited into an underground cave full of fantastic rock formations, and at some points were pretty narrow.

As my brother would attest to, it was quite scary. Fortunately, I am in no way claustrophobic, so I quite enjoyed myself. Some of the rocks resembled everyday objects, and were given names to match.

For some reason, I was rather hungry after the walk though the caves. :P Kidding!

At the end of the walk, we reached the best part of the whole place, which was the underground waterfall, Ruby Falls!

They had fancy colour-changing lights there to make it look even more awesome. And there was also a walkway around the pond where the water fell into, so I took a pic there almost directly under the waterfall, and this was what came out:

Not quite what I expected, but looked pretty cool nonetheless. After all that, we had to climb back out the mountain and my bro and I ended up like this.

2) Go see fishies!

Ok, so visiting an aquarium isn't a big deal, but I always like seeing anything wildlife-like and like taking good pictures of them even more, so allow me to indulge in showing off a few of my nice piccies of some of the residents of Tennessee Aquarium.

Aren't they all purty? The last pic isn't very clear, but I thought it was cool to show the mini jellyfish with the bright flashing coloured lights. It is, of course, much cooler to see them in real light, flashing away their multi-coloured lights like a...a.... bright multi-coloured flashing thingy!

3) Drive up a mountain (or two)!
My mum and I went to visit the Great Smoky Mountains yesterday with some of the other wedding guests who are my bro's wife's friends. I got the picture to prove it!

My camera does very littl justice to the mountains. Like seriously. They look much more awesome than this.

Close up shots, on the other hand, look MUCH better. It was so cold the night before that the leaves and branches totally froze over!

There are also lots of places with water running down the rocks, forming little waterfalls. I managed to catch a rainbow formation in this mini waterfall. Nice-ness!

Further up the mountains, we finally came to a point were snow had fallen, so we got to stop and have a snowball fight, and I got to practice my swing.
I also got to make a snowman! Ain't that even cooler?

Unfortunately the others I went with wanted to go off quick so I didn't have time to make the eye, nose and hat. And since it was only a 5 inch-high snowman, a hat would've been quite a feat to make.

4) Shop til you drop!
Well, actually, my mum was doing all the shopping for clothes and cosmetics and God knows what else. I was mostly walking around from shop to shop, looking for stuff at reasonable prices, but everytime I would calculate in my head the conversion rate from ringgit to US dollar and decide not to buy anything coz' I can get similar stuff in Malaysia for cheaper. So I end up like walking the whole mall in about half an hour and then coming back to my mum who's still stuck at the first boutique and asking "Are you done yet?". In case you're wondering, I am so not a shopaholic.

One fun thing about shopping for clothes in the US is that I have absolutely no problem finding clothes my size. Among Asians, I'm considered larger than the average Asian gal... but around here, almost every other American lady is the same size or larger than me. There are sections of clothes in departmental stores labelled 'Petites', and they all fit me nicely, which makes me very happy! :D And their clothes and shoes are mostly made of good quality stuff, not like in Malaysia, where most material is pretty crappy. If I were earning in USD, I would be quite happy shopping in US. Most of the clothes, shoes, and bags here looks really nice too, although I came across this monstrosity which made me wonder if I should laugh my head off or scream my head off.

Only in America, I believe.

Another fun thing is walking into shops with 'themes' and observing how the shop attendants. Like at a shop selling coats and suits for men, all the male shop attendants are wearing nice looking suits. At a shop selling only black and white coloured clothes, the attendants only wear black and white clothes. At a shop selling clothes for plus-sized ladies (all the clothes there were way too big for me, by the way. Makes me even more happy. ;P), all the shop attendants are... you guessed it... plus-sized! It was quite amusing... too bad I don't have the photos to show it. The shop attendants would've thought I was nuts to take their pics.

Of course, there is no lack of interesting knick knacks in American stores, and I just couldn't resist getting my hands on (*drumroll please*....) the Super Dooper Pocket Pooper!!!

It's a little toy reindeer that comes with little brown, round candy. The head can be flipped open and the candy poured in through the neck. Then the candy can be dispensed from the rear end of the reindeer, so it looks like POOP. Just the type of sick humour that yours truly can appreciate. :D And when you've eaten all the candy, you can replace it with other small round candy. But since it's hard to find small, round, brown candy, you could probably replace it with those white or green small round mints which are much easier to find. The you can say the reindeer is pooping snowballs, or even better, radioactive waste blobs... or maybe giving birth to green alien offspring! And the reindeer doubles up as a keychain too, so that makes it even neater. :)

By the way, I bought about ten of these pocket poopers to give away to people whom I really like or whom I think share the same sick humour as me and can appreciate a pocket pooper. But if you really want one and if you're fast enough to ask me, and I like you enough, I might give you one too. :P Might help if you offer to be my slave for the next couple of weeks or so...

5) Eat, eat, eat!
Aaaah, the infamous Malaysian indulgence... FOOD. Well, Americans seem to love food twice as much as Malaysians, coz' whenever we eat out, the food portions are practically double the portions of Malaysian food. Seriously. My mum and I went with my bro's wife and her mum to IHOP (that stands for International House Of Pancakes, for the uninformed), and we made the mistake of ordering individual meals for each of us. And we had to go through the delightfully yummy yet sinfully torturous task of having to wolf down all of this!

My mum had gigantico bacon and cheese burger with fries. She couldn't finish it.

That was my meal of sirloin tips, with two eggs, two hash browns and two of IHOP's famous buttermilk pancakes. Almost all went down the hatch, save for some hash browns, and I felt delightfully guilty after that. After that I decided anytime we ate out, it was best to order one meal for both of us to share. That rule has served us quite well.

Another dish worth mentioning is the spaghetti and meatballs from this Italian joint called Sbarro. I tried it the first day I landed in the US at the airport, but failed to take a photo. I totally fell in love with the meatballs. Especially the fact that they are BIG meatballs. One BIG meatball = about 3 or 4 Malaysian normal meatballs, and tastes really good. The spaghetti was pretty good too. So when I saw Sbarro's again at the mall, I got myself almost the same stuff, except I ordered ziti (or penne pasta) instead of spaghetti, to give it a try. And this time I got a photo of the ziti and BIG meatballs. Doesn't look like much, presentation-wise, and the ziti wasn't as good as the spaghetti, but the meatballs are still hmmm.....

I have a feeling I will slightly more prosperous than usual for CNY this year...

On a slightly related but not really related note, my bro and his wife ordered online some extra special Chinese tea for their wedding ceremony. What makes this tea extra special is that it's actually a bunch of long tea leaves woven with a flower, and the flower and leaves 'bloom' in hot water, as can be seen below!

Ain't that neat? I thought that was so neat, I want to get the same tea for my wedding too and make all my guests go "Ooooooh! Blooming tea!". Of course, I'd have other things to get for my wedding first... like a poor sod who's willing to marry me. Hur hur.

My bro and his wife had a wedding rehearsal followed by a nice dinner at a Korean restaurant the night before the wedding ceremony.

Yeah, I know that's not particularly interesting. I just needed an excuse to put this pic up.

Now you know where I get it from.

Wedding pics coming soon!!!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

He will provide

I've been halfway around the world in the United States for the past few days, counting down the days til my big bro's wedding. Of course, I'm really happy to be here to celebrate with him, to finally meet his fiance who is a really cool chick, and of course I have photos of us and our respective mums who are here going to visit some fun places in the first few days. I haven't edited the pics yet though, and I'm saving it for next time, as I have other stuff to blabber about that I haven't had the chance to do til now.

I've resigned! AGAIN! I didn't really intend to do it so soon, at least not til after I returned from my trip, but something happened a couple of days before I left that made me decide enough was enough. Won't go into the details of that coz' as fun as complaining is, I think I've already done enough of it to anyone around me who was willing to listen and I don't feel like I need to add any more to the plate. It was a very tough and rather bittersweet decision for me. Tough because resigning means giving up pretty good benefits, and now with the economy kind of in the pits, it's not really a good time to be jumping ship. And there's no guarantee that I won't have a fresh bunch of problems in the next company I join. Also, while I relish the fact that I am now *almost* free (still have one month's notice to serve. Ugh) from having to put up with the company's crap, I've also gotten quite close to some of my colleagues, and I regret that my leaving means they will have more work to do. And right now, they already have a lot of work to do. Unfortunately for them, staying in a company for the sake of my colleagues is a lousy reason to stay. But still, I had a lot of things to consider when making this move.

Something I didn't really tell anyone (probably coz' I was too busy complaining about my company) is that after the first incident in November 08 when I got sooooo frus that I told my boss I was going to resign, after cooling down and considering the points above, I was having second thoughts about whether it was a good idea to resign after all. And I was worried that my chances of getting another job offer now are low due to the bad economy. So I really prayed about it and ended up being so unsure of what to do, that I just did up my CV and sent it out to four different companies and asked God to decide for me. After all, if anyone knows what's best for me, it would be Him! Basically, I asked Him that if I am to stay at my company now, then keep the doors shut, don't let me get any job offers, and puh-LEEZE don't let me go through any more crap with my boss. But if I'm meant to leave the company, then I prayed that He would open the doors and I would get at least one good job offer.

Since then, God has opened the doors wide and I have not just one, but two other companies wanting to hire me. One is a German certification body, doing environmental auditing, such as I what I do now, and they need my experience in a specific area (Ceh-wah! ;P). I went for two interviews, one with the director who is a German dude, and the other is a manager and my future immediate boss, and both interviews went super well, so they're going to make me an offer. And the office is only 5 minutes away from my house! How cool is that??

*Ahem*, anyway the other company was one I didn't apply to...but a very interesting one nonetheless. My old boss at Mad Science heard that I wanted to leave my company now and asked me to meet him up to discuss whether I was interested to return to work at Mad Science. And as he thought I did a very good job when I was working there previously, he wanted me to return not just as a normal instructor teaching classes, but in a sort-of managerial position where I'll basically be running the whole company in my boss's absence (and he's away, like, ALL the time). Needless to say, I was like "Whoa!". The prospect of being the manager of my old company and having a lot more freedom to do things how I would like is... pretty cool. But it is also very daunting, coz' there are a gazillion challenges, like I would have to deal with a bunch of issues going on at the company now and I would have to handle EVERYTHING from planning events, HR issues, bringing in more business to the company on top of teaching classes. And right now, the benefits are still blah, which is why I left in the first place. BUT if I am miraculously able to handle all this and the company does very good business later on, the benefits will definitely come then. But that's a big IF... this company is basically still a small business, and running small businesses are always risky.

Nevertheless, my old boss is still going to make me an offer, and then I will have to decide between two job offers... most likely going for the German certification body that's only a heavenly 5 minutes drive from my house (petrol not cheap, MAH). Even then, with two prospective offers, I still wasn't totally sure if I was supposed to leave my company now, and I asked God for another sign... This time I really had no idea what kind of sign He could give me, so I just prayed that if I'm supposed to leave the company, that my boss to do something else really unreasonable to push me over. Something like refusing to approve my leave for the US, which I applied for weeks ago. I didn't think it would actually happen, especially since my other superior was ok with me taking my leave, but lo and behold, two days before I'm supposed to go, I found out he actually didn't approve my leave. Again, long story, don't feel like explaining the details, but it was enough for me to finally decide to fly the coup. And that's the way the cookie crumbles.

I guess it sounds pretty dumb to resign before I've even gotten the job offers in my hand, but after all this, I do believe all will be well. My church is repeatedly saying that even though many people predict 2009 will be a bad year economically, we should trust and believe God will provide for us. From what I've experienced so far, I'm pretty sure of He will.