Friday, August 31, 2007

So Fat! And You Did the Flying Fox?

 

With Dr. Wee's capable right hand man, Chris Koh and supportive colleagues
 

One of our colleagues doing the flying fox

My eldest sister called me from Kuching. I told her my body was aching all over because of the survivor course and the flying fox at our Company retreat in Changi. I explained to her what we did.

"So fat! And you did the flying fox? What if the wire breaks?" asked sis, incredulous.

"My boss, Dr. Dennis Wee and Senior Associate Vice-President, Mr. Lionel Ng, encouraged me to go up there. They said I'd regret for it would be once in a life time so I went up lah", I told my sis casually.

In reality, it was frightening for I have phobia for heights. I remember when I first came to Singapore, I dared not even look out of my friend's 12th storey apartment. I had tried roller coaster and downhill skiing before, but at least you have your feet rooted to something. For the flying fox, your feet are dangling in the air, with only a security hook and a little T-bar to support your buttocks. Then you zoom down from a three storey height. I remember telling the staff on duty that I would like to retreat but he was so encouraging.

I tried to talk Lionel out of persuading me. "What if I had a heart attack? I'm never afraid of death....but I do not want anyone to feel guilty or let my siblings end up suing the company!" In reality, I know I have a strong heart albeit my heavy weight. But we have also heard of youngsters dying of heart attacks after some jogging.

When I zoomed down, I realised that the ropes which I held on were a little too long so that I had my arms wide open, and I clung to the ropes for dear life. Due to over-exertion the arms ached terribly the next day.

Mm....quite fun after all. It would not be the first and last time. I am going up there again next year during the company retreat. If a 53 year old lady like me could do it, anyone also can lah. Join me.....anyone?

Gan Chau
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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

"Thanks for Your Time"

A young man learns what's most important in life from the guy next door.

It had been some time since Jack had seen the old man. College, girls, career, and life itself got in the way. In fact, Jack moved clear across the country in pursuit of his dreams. There, in the rush of his busy life, Jack had little time to think about the past and often no time to spend with his wife and son. He was working on his future, and nothing could stop him.

Over the phone, his mother told him, "Mr. Belser died last night. The funeral is Wednesday." Memories flashed through his mind like an old newsreel as he sat quietly remembering his childhood days.


"Jack, did you hear me?"

"Oh, sorry, Mom. Yes, I heard you. It's been so long since I thought of him. I'm sorry, but I honestly thought he died years ago," Jack said.

"Well, he didn't forget you. Every time I saw him he'd ask how you were doing. He'd reminisce about the many days you spent over 'his side of the fence' as he put it," Mom told him.

"I loved that old house he lived in," Jack said.


"You know, Jack, after your father died, Mr. Belser stepped in to make sure you had a man's influence in your life," she said


"He's the one who taught me carpentry," he said. "I wouldn't be in this business if it weren't for him. He spent a lot of time teaching me things he thought were important...Mom, I'll be there for the funeral," Jack said.


As busy as he was, he kept his word. Jack caught the next flight to his hometown. Mr. Belser's funeral was small and uneventful. He had no children of his own, and most of his relatives had passed away.


The night before he had to return home, Jack and his Mom stopped by to see the old house next door one more time.

Standing in the doorway, Jack paused for a moment. It was like crossing over into another dimension, a leap through space and time The house was exactly as he remembered. Every step held memories. Every picture, every piece of furniture....Jack stopped suddenly.

"What's wrong, Jack?" his Mom asked.

"The box is gone," he said


"What box?" Mom asked.


"There was a small gold box th! at he kept locked on top of his desk. I must have asked him a thousand times what was inside. All he'd ever tell me was 'the thing I value most,'" Jack said.


It was gone. Everything about the house was exactly how Jack remembered it, except for the box. He figured someone from the Belser family had taken it.

"Now I' ll never know what was so valuable to him," Jack said. "I better get some sleep. I have an early flight home, Mom."


It had been about two weeks since Mr. Belser died Returning home from work one day Jack discovered a note in his mailbox. "Signature required on a package. No one at home. Please stop by the main post office within the next three days," the note read.

Early the next day Jack retrieved the package. The small box was old and looked like it had been mailed a hundred years ago. The handwriting was difficult to read, but the return address caught his attention. "Mr Harold Belser" it read. Jack took the box out to his car and ripped open the package. There inside was the gold box and an envelope. Jack's hands shook as he read the note inside.


"Upon my death, please forward this box and its contents to Jack Bennett. It's the thing I valued most in my life" A small key was taped to the letter. His heart racing, as tears filling his eyes, Jack carefully unlocked the box. There inside he found a beautiful gold pocket watch.


Running his fingers slowly over the finely etched casing, he unlatched the cover. Inside he found these words engraved:


"Jack, Thanks for your time! -Harold Belser."


"The thing he valued most was...my time"


Jack held the watch for a few minutes, then called his office and cleared his appointments for the next two days "Why?" Janet, his assistant asked.


"I need some time to spend with my son," he said.

"Oh, by the way, Janet, thanks for your time!"

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away,"

Think about this. You may not realize it, but it's 100% true.

1. At least 2 people in this world love you so much they would die for you.

2. At least 15 people in this world love you in some way.

3. A smile from you can bring happiness to anyone, even if they don't like you.

4. Every night, SOMEONE thinks about you before they go to sleep.

5. You mean the world to some one.

6. If not for you, someone may not be living.

7. You are special and unique.


8. When you think you have no chance of getting what you want, you probably won't get it, but if you trust God to do what's best, and wait on His time, sooner or later, you will get it or something better.

9. When you make the biggest mistake ever, something good can still come from it.

10. When you think the world has turned its back on you, take a look: you most likely turned your back on the world.

11. Someone that you don't even know exists loves you.

12. Always remember the compliments you received. Forget about the rude remarks.

13 . Always tell someone how you feel about them; you will feel much better when they know and you'll both be happy .

14. If you have a great friend, take the time to let them know that they are great.

Send this letter to all the people you care about, if you do so, you will certainly brighten someone's day and might change their perspective on life...for the better.

To everyone who reads this article in my blog, I say, "Thanks for your time".

Thanks to Sin Ah Chan for emailing me this article from Australia, and for making me even more determined to prioritise my time.

Gan Chau :-)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Seeds of Life!

As the youngest in the family, and with siblings much older than me, I had always enjoyed getting to know my siblings' friends. It is always so nice to learn from people who are older than us. No wonder, it had enhanced my maturity as I was growing up.

It was a thrill to be in contact with one of my siblings' old friends, Ya Chan and her husband. They now live in Melbourne with their children. It is even more thrilling for me to find out that Ya Chan is computer literate, unlike my siblings, who until now, have still not overcome their phobia for things electronic. Ya Chan always sends me interesting emails. I am posting this interesting article on "Seed" for my readers. Enjoy the article!

A successful business man was growing old and knew it was time to choose
a successor to take over the business. Instead of choosing one of his
directors or his children, he decided to do something different.

He called all the young executives in his company together.

"It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO," he said. "I
have decided to choose one of you."

The young executives were shocked, but the boss continued. "I am going
to give each one of you a seed today - a very special seed. I want you
to plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with
what you have grown from the seed I have given you. I will then judge
the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next CEO."

One man, named Jim, was there that day and he, like the others, received
a seed.

He went home and excitedly, told his wife the story. She helped him get
a pot, soil and compost and he planted the seed.

Every day, he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After
about three weeks, some of the other executives began to talk about
their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow. Jim kept
checking his seed, but nothing ever grew.

Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing. By now,
others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn't have a plant and
he felt like a failure.

Six months went by - still nothing in Jim's pot. He just knew he had
killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had
nothing. Jim didn't say anything to his colleagues, however. He just
kept watering and fertilizing the soil - he so wanted the seed to grow.

A year finally went by and all the young executives of the company
brought their plants to the CEO for inspection. Jim told his wife that
he wasn't going to take an empty pot. But she asked him to be honest
about what happened.

Jim felt sick at his stomach. It was going to be the most embarrassing
moment of his life, but he knew his wife was right.

He took his empty pot to the board room. When Jim arrived, he was amazed
at the variety of plants grown by the other executives. They were
beautiful--in all shapes and sizes. Jim put his empty pot on the floor
and many of his colleagues laughed. A few felt sorry for him!

When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his young
executives.

Jim just tried to hide in the back.

"My, what great plants, trees, and flowers you have grown," said the
CEO.

"Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!"

All of a sudden, the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room with his
empty pot. He ordered the financial director to bring him to the front.

Jim was terrified. He thought, "The CEO knows I'm a failure! Maybe he
will have me fired!"

When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had happened to his
seed.

Jim told him the story.

The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Jim. He looked at Jim, and
then announced to the young executives, "Here is your next Chief
Executive! His name is Jim!"

Jim couldn't believe it. Jim couldn't even grow his seed. How could he
be the new CEO the others said?

Then the CEO said, "One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room a
seed.

I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me
today. But I gave you all boiled seeds; they were dead - it was not
possible for them to grow.

All of you, except Jim, have brought me trees and plants and flowers.

"When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another
seed for the one I gave you. Jim was the only one with the courage and
honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one
who will be the new Chief Executive!"

Moral:

If you plant honesty, you will reap trust

If you plant goodness, you will reap friends.

If you plant humility, you will reap greatness.

If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentment

If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective.

If you plant hard work, you will reap success.

If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation.

So, be careful what you plant now; it will determine what you will reap
later.

Make it a great week ahead!!

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Purity of Children's Art

 

 

The lovely children's art on display at the IRAS Building at Novena

I had to see the officer at the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore. When I went to the building, I saw some huge display of children's art on one of the walls.

I love children's art. Children show their purity, innocence and spontaneity in their art. My eldest brother, Kee Yong, used to conduct art classes in his music school. I enjoyed watching the children paint as they immersed themselves in their own little world of perceiving things as they are.

Before my brother moved to his music school, he used to conduct art classes in his home. I was often asked to help keep an eye on the children after classes. I often enjoyed listening to the children talking among themselves.

Once I heard two boys asking one little girl, "What do you want to be when you grow up, huh?

"I want to be an astonaut", she replied....missing out on the "r" probably due to her missing front teeth".

"What? Astronaut? Cannot lah. You be ballerina. We boys go to the moon!"

"I want to be astonaut" repeated the little girl.

"No lah...you stay at home and be ballerina."

"I want to be astonaut" asserted the little girl.

"You so skinny....you stay home and be ballerina".

"I WANT to be astonaut" the little girl insisted and this time, she burst into tears.

I ran to her rescue. "Ok...boys....let her be an astronaut."

The little girl must now be in her thirties. I wonder if she still holds on to her dream.

Ah! The purity and innocence of children!
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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Why Can't Faith Be As Small as a Marble?

When I first started going to Sunday School in Primary Six, I read that if we have faith as small as a mustard seed we could move the mountains! Throughout my years of growing up, I had often pondered as to why God only requires faith as small as a mustard seed.

Why couldn't God ask for faith the size of a basketball or maybe a tennis ball? Or maybe the size of a golf ball or a ping pong? Or maybe something a little more conspicuous than a mustard seed .... a marble? A mustard seed is so tiny....like a little dot! I am now beginning to understand why God only needs a mustard seed from us, His two legged creation.

As the great Creator, He understands how we have been made. It is so difficult for people to have faith. Some even had the privilege of witnessing some of the miracles that Jesus had performed....yet they still did not believe!

Let us consider our own interaction with one another. Have you not experienced doubts expressed by someone who should not have doubted you at all, given that you have helped the person and have proven your responsibility and committment?

During the past three times when I was moving from one home to another, I had decided to use the movers operated by the drug addict ministry. Each time, I had never asked them to quote me, because I would always given them more than what they would charge by way of supporting the ministry. I also decided to bless the workers with a meal...either lunch or dinner for their hard work. Recently after my big move, my best friend, Amu, wanted to give me a pine wood dining table with 4 chairs, and 2 easy chairs...just what I would need. I found out that most commercial movers would charge $50/- per trip. I called the drug addict ministry.

When I handed the supervisor an ang pow (red packet) I was surprised, he received it with hesitation and said, "My boss said to collect $120/- from you. My eldest sister who was staying with me while on vacation exclaimed, "What .... so much to move just these few light items?"

I told my sis it was alright as I wanted to support them. I smiled and took the ang pow back and paid $120/- as requested and suddenly thought of the mustard seed! How realistic of God in His expectation of us. Oh! God! Help me to develop my little mustard seed of faith in you to be slightly bigger, like the size of a marble! You are indeed worthy of all our trust and faith in You.!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

You and I Are Special!

I remember I just could not wait for the snow to come down. I had just arrived in Grande Prairie in late August, and the maple leaves were just beginning to turn golden in colour! My landlord, Dr. Smith, assured me that around Halloween (31st October), there would definitely be snow on the ground.

The snow was late in coming down. On November 5th, there was still no sign of the lovely, white, powdery stuff. One early morning, there was a sudden knock on my door. Dr. Smith woke me up at around 4.00 a.m. "Choo! It's snowing! Get up!"

It was so nice to feel the snow coming down. I caught some snow flakes in my hands and brought them into the house to examine them. To my surprise, the snow flakes looked so beautiful! They had patterns and looked like diamonds! Later I found out that no two snowflakes are alike!! I am overwhelmed by God's massive and huge creativity. Snowflakes are here and gone the next moment when the weather warms up! Yet, the mighty Creator has taken the trouble to make each snowflake so uniquely beautiful! Just like man's fingerprints and DNA. No two are alike! Is this the reason why God said you and I are special, each with our own finger prints and DNA?

Contrast this with the fashion created by people. There is always this cycle of mini, midi and maxi skirts and when designers seem to run out of ideas, they create the "beggar look" with holes here and there! Now we have the latest Japanese craze...the bandage fetish! Lovely young girls have bandages wrapped around their arms and even one of the eyes, so that you can't help but be reminded of Haratio Nelson who was blind in one eye and perpetually had a bandage on the blind eye.

When people find out that I am a Christian, some of them would challenge me, "You believe in God. Have you seen God personally?" My answer is always, "No, I have not seen God. After all faith is believing in what you have not seen. Yet, I have seen God in His many creations. In the beautiful wild flowers that bloom for only a day in the dessert, the unique snowflakes and frost in winter, the wild birds of the air and my own special finger print on my identity card! It is easier and more logical for me to believe there is a great Creator than to believe that all these things happen by chance.

Instead of putting the pictures of snowflakes in my blog, readers can look at the numerous pictures of snowflakes in the web, and see for themselves the magnificence of the various patterns of each snowflake. Then they will know that they are as special as the snowflakes - they are uniquely made.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Just to Ponder .....(1)

Since discovering the joy of using the computer, I have learned so much from the internet as well as wonderful articles sent by my friends, relatives and associates.

I am starting a "Just to Ponder" series and am sharing with readers worthwhile articles which I received through the mail. After each article on "Just to Ponder" I will follow it up with an article on my experience or thoughts on it. And now the first one sent by my friend, Judy Poh. Enjoy!


Dear all

This will help us to reflect the way we treat others.

God Bless
Judy


SUBJECT: Five (5) lessons to make you think about
the way we treat people.

1 - First Important Lesson - Cleaning Lady.

During my second month of college, our professor
gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student
and had breezed through the questions until I read
the last one:

"What is the first name of the woman who cleans the
school?"
Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the
cleaning woman several times. She was tall,
dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her
name?

I handed in my paper, leaving the last question
blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if
the last question would count toward our quiz grade.

"Absolutely," said the professor. "In your careers,
you will meet many people. All are significant. They
deserve your attention and care, even if all you do
is smile and say "hello."

I've never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her
name was Dorothy.

2. - Second Important Lesson - Pickup in the Rain

One night, at11:30 p.m., an older African American
woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway
trying to endure a lashing rainstorm. Her car had
broken down and she desperately needed a ride.
Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car.
A young white man stopped to help her, generally
unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960s. The man
took her to safety, helped her get assistance, and
put her into a taxicab.

She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his
address and thanked him. Seven days went by and a
knock came on the man's door. To his surprise, a
giant console color TV was delivered to his home. A
special note was attached..

It read:
"Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway
the other night. The rain drenched not only my
clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along.
Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying
husband's bedside just before he passed away... God
bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving
others."

Sincerely,
Mrs. Nat King Cole.

3 - Third Important Lesson - Always remember those
who serve.


In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less,
a 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and
sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in
front of him.

"How much is an ice cream sundae?" he asked.

"Fifty cents," replied the waitress.

The little boy pulled is hand out of his pocket and
studied the coins in it.

"Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?" he
inquired.

By now more people were waiting for a table and the
waitress was growing impatient.

"Thirty-five cents," she brusquely replied.

The little boy again counted his coins.

"I'll have the plain ice cream," he said.

The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on
the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice
cream, paid the cashier and left. When the waitress
came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the
table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish,
were two nickels and five pennies..

You see, he couldn't have the sundae, because he had
to have enough left to leave her a tip.

4 - Fourth Important Lesson. - The obstacle in Our
Path.

In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a
roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if
anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the
king's wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by
and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the
King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did
anything about getting the stone out of the way.


Then a peasant came along carrying a load of
vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the
peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the
stone to the side of the road. After much pushing
and straining, he finally succeeded. After the
peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed
a purse lying in the road where the boulder had
been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note
from the King indicating that the gold was for the
person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The
peasant learned what many of us never understand!

Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve
our condition.

5 - Fifth Important Lesson - Giving When it
Counts...

Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a
hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who
was suffering from a rare & serious disease. Her
only
chance of recovery appeared to be a blood
transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had
miraculously survived the same disease and had
developed the antibodies needed to combat the
illness. The doctor explained the situation to her
little brother, and asked the little boy if he would
be willing to give his blood to his sister.

I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a
deep breath and saying, "Yes I'll do it if it will
save her." As the transfusion progressed, he lay in
bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did,
seeing the color returning to her cheek. Then his
face grew pale and his smile faded.

He looked up at the doctor and asked with a
trembling voice, "Will I start to die right away".

Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the
doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his
sister all of his blood in order to save her.

"Work like you don't need the money,
love like you've never been hurt,
and dance like you do when nobody's watching

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Lady in A Million

It was heartwarming to read about Ms. Sng Mui Hong's stand on her refusal to sell her kampong land for $33M. Soon after an article was written about her, curious readers and property agents flock to her kampong. Ms. Sng has also been sought after in the past for many thought her to be a rich heiress.

Yet this lady prefers the simple and serene life in the kampong. Where rents have gone up skyhigh, it is heartening that this landlord is not moved by greed to increase her tenants' rents. Her rents are from $6.50 to $30.00 a month. I can imagine many people saying, "Sell lah the land..take the $33M and move to a modern bunglow. Why bother to collect such paltry rents!". When landlords have been pushing up rents, these kampong tenants are indeed lucky to have a landlady who is not mercenary. In her own words, "I take after my father in my philosophy of life. As long as I have enough to eat, I don't hunger after money or to be rich."

I can emphathise with Miss Sng's feelings. Having been brought up in the kampong, I also enjoyed my years of upbringing until I went to Canada to further my studies. In the kampong, everyone knows everyone....and when tragedy struck, nearly all the kampong folks would turn up to help. The kampong was our playground, where we raced each other on bicycles, caught fish in the rivers, and played "robber and policemen". Our rent to the landlord was MR9.00 a month. (About S$4.20). Now it is MR23.00 a month. Our attap house is built on about 5,000 sq. ft. land, and we could grow so many fruit trees - rambutans, guavas, papayas, chikus and bananas. We always felt so rich and happy.

It is also heart warming to read that though Ms. Sng's siblings have married and bought their own apartments in the city, they allow their sister to remain in the kampong as they know she loves living there, and can continue to preserve the land in memory of their parents. What a sharp contrast to some families who fight tooth and nail over properties left by their ancestors. Miss Sng proudly declares, "My family ties are not for sale".

I am sure we have much to learn from this spunky and unique lady...Miss Sng... indeed she is a lady in a million!

Gan Chau

Friday, August 17, 2007

Tock! Tock! Tock!

Sometimes, there are certain experiences that stay very long in our memory! I would like to narrate a little experience I had one early Sunday morning. Perhaps some would regard the experience as really insignificant but this insignificant experience has loomed largely in my life!

I was extremely tired for the week had been one of hectic schedules. The lack of sleep for almost six consecutive days drained me of my energy, so that I decided I would sleep in the following day, being a Sunday.

By now readers would know I am one person who sleeps like a log of wood. I could wake up without knowing that it had rained heavily with lots of thunder bolts during the night!

Strangely, this time, I heard "Tock, tock, tock" on the window panes of my bedroom.
The sound became a crescendo. I opened my eyes but there was nothing by the window panes. I went back to sleep. "Tock, tock, tock" I heard the crescendo again. I opened my sleepy eyes but could see nothing by the window. Thinking that I was dreaming, I went back to sleep. For the third time again, I heard the incessant knocking on the window pane. This time, I saw a bird pecking on the window pane. In exasperation I woke up and said, "Alright! I'm going to church!"

Despite my tiredness, I was quite attentive in church, for the pastor delivered a very interesting and mind-boggling sermon! I left the church, spiritually and physically refreshed! Since then, I have always attended church on Sunday mornings, even if I am tired and feel like sleeping in.!

Whenever I feel sad, frightened or disheartened, I will think of this incident. For us Christians, we do not believe in luck - that things happen by chance. Everything happens for a purpose. If God cares enough to send a little winged creature to tap on my window panes....He cares about even more important issues... my health, career, safety, etc. It is this knowledge and assurance that give me the confidence to know that I can enjoy His peace and serenity in an otherwise turbulent world of strife, wickedness, and danger!

Gan Chau

And I'll Be There....

When Winson Lim, a very active and dynamic toastmaster asked for help with judging at speech contests, I invited Jeffrey Williams, a responsible and helpful toastmaster.

Jeffrey immediately replied, "Thanks for the invitation and I'll be there."

How lovely and comforting to the ears when someone says, "I'll be there". This is especially so in Singapore where everyone is always so busy. I remember I used to teach English for Business in the Regional English Language Centre. I had just returned from Canada, and was not used to the lack of hospitality in this country. People are just too busy to cook and invite friends home for a meal. I shared with the class how hospitable the Canadians were. One of the students was so encouraged that he decided to open his home up for the class party when the course ended. 24 students promised to turn up. At the party, as the time was getting later and later, and there was only a turn out of half the class, the host became disheartened. His mother kept asking, "Any more coming?" We looked anxiously at the huge amount of food that had been prepared....sticks of delicious satay, lontong, salad, noodles, desserts, etc. 15 students turned up....the remaining 9 conveniently absented themselves with not even an apology!

It was the same for another class. The hostess wanted to throw away all the remaining food which I quickly collected to give to my neighbours! Papa had brought us up never to discard food unnecessarily!

Hence, whenever I cook for a party I would always discount a small number who somehow would not be able to turn up. Having realised how difficult it is for a hostess to prepare, cater or cook, I always make sure that once I promise I would turn up, I would race and heaven and earth just "to be there" for the gracious hostess.

The same thing applies to toastmasters' activities. Once I promise to take on an appointment, "I will be there", even if a buyer dangles a cheque before me to close a property! We must always prioritise a promise and a committment. I guess this is the reason why the Exco of Changi AIA Toastmasters' Club are quite stringent on their rules. If a speaker or an appointment holder could not turn up after having been given a slot, he/she will be barred for one year!

Let us always be there when we say we will be there. Let us not be too busy with our daily schedules that we are so encompassed with our own life. When we look inwards, our world is very small, but when we extend ourselves and look outwards, our life becomes more challenging and exciting! Let us say to at least one person/organisation, "I'll be there whenever you need me".

Gan Chau

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Dog Quotes

My buddy from the University of Alberta, Dr. Richard Tam, sent me some quotations on dogs in an email. I would like to share with my readers.

Dog Philosophy

The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail
instead of
his tongue.
-Anonymous

Don't accept your dog's admiration as conclusive evidence that you
are
wonderful.
-Ann Landers

If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where
they
went.
-Will Rogers

There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your
face
-Ben Williams

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves
himself.
-Josh Billings

The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.
-Andy Rooney

We give dogs time we can spare, space we can spare and love we can
spare.
And in return, dogs give us their all. It's the best deal man has
ever made.
-M. Acklam

Dogs love their friends and bite their enemies, quite unlike
people,
who are incapable of pure love and always have to mix love and
hate.
-Sigmund Freud

I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird
religious cult.
-Rita Rudner

A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around
three times
before lying down.
-Robert Benchley

Anybody who doesn't know what soap tastes like never washed a dog.
-Franklin P. Jones

If I have any beliefs about immortality, it is that certain dogs I
have
known will go to heaven, and very, very few persons.
-James Thurber

If your dog is fat, you aren't getting enough exercise
-Unknown

My dog is worried about the economy because Alpo is up to $3.00 a
can.
That's almost $21.00 in dog money.
-Joe Weinstein

Ever consider what our dogs must think of us? I mean, here we come
from a
grocery with the most amazing haul, chicken, pork, half a cow. They
must think
we're the greatest hunters on earth!
-Anne Tyler

Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should
relax and
get used to the idea.
-Robert A. Heinlein

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not
bite
you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man.
-Mark Twain

You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a
look
that says,
'Wow, you're right! I never would've thought of that!'
- Dave Barry

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.
-Roger Caras

If you think dogs can't count, try putting three dog biscuits in
your
pocket and then give him only two of them.
-Phil Pastoret

I'd rather have one dog as a pet than ten lousy people as friends.
My goal in life is to be as good a person as my dog thinks I am.

Gan Chau

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Will It Ever Snow in Singapore?

Sometimes when the weather gets really humid and warm, I think of the lovely, cold winter which I love so much when I was studying in Canada. I took to the cold like a duck to water.

Of course, it helped that God has blessed me with natural double insulation, so that I could go around dressed with minimal clothes and not get bloated up with padded clothings!

I remember how I would gulp down my hot coffee and made a beeline for lectures. As the lecture rooms and theatres were connected by passageways to my apartment, I often did not have to bring along my coats. I would dash into the classes, with beads of perspiration much to the astonishment of my classmates.! At that time, I did not own any pair of jeans....I mostly wore skirts! Some of the students regarded me as a freak; some even thought I was an Eskimo from Alaska! Those who knew me were shocked I was from Malaysia.

Once I was in Quebec in June, during the summer holidays, on a month French Immersion Program organised by the University of Alberta. We were so surprised to wake up one morning to find snow on the ground! We sang Jingle Bells, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, and were in high spirit because we never expected snow in summer. I guess I was the happiest for I thought if it could snow in summer.....who knows....one day it might really snow in Malaysia and Singapore!

With the weather becoming more chaotic, who knows, one day it might really snow in Singapore!!

Gan Chau

Yours truly, Uniquely Malaysia (1)

My sister is on vacation and staying with me right now. She only enjoys playing games on the computer. Not bad for a start. In contrast, I do not like to play computer games. Whenever I come across interesting articles on the web or those that were sent by my friends, I would call for her attention. I recently came across an interesting post by the mediaslut in Harro, website for famous influential bloggers. Here it is.


DEAD MAN'S PHONE BILL WILL HELP IMPROVE MALAYSIA'S GDP BY THE TRILLIONS!

How much of a SMS, talk time on a mobile phone and 3G data would a dead man need to use in order to have a bill totaling a few TRILLION Ringgit?

USA Today picked up the news from the New Straits Times that a Malaysian “received a USD$218 trillion phone bill and was ordered to pay up within 10 days or face prosecution “.

The report also reported that the bill belongs to the Malaysian’s late father who passed away in January 2007 and the account was closed since.

The bill total? 806,400,000,000,000.01 ringgit!

If the bill was already in the trillion of ringgit, one would have thought that with good customer service Telekom Malaysia would do away with the 0.01 ringgit.

Oh gosh! The things they do in Malaysia! Sometimes in a cute and humorous way too.
Telekom Malaysia is so exact and detailed that the bill even came to an ending of one Malaysian cent! After this, perhaps it would be easier for my friends to believe me when I tell them that my identity card age is one year more than my biological age. For six years in Primary School I often wondered why I was always the smallest and shortest in class. One day, I brought this to my papa's attention and only then did he explain the mistake made at the Registry of Birth and Death.
The officer had written down the year by mistake. Since papa thought it meant I could go to school a year earlier, he did not bother to correct the officer! As my birthday fell on 12th December, it meant that I was almost two years younger than many of my classmates especially those who were born in January and February!

Since I enjoy growing older faster, I always give people the age as stipulated in my identity card. Saves me the trouble of telling a long story lah! I guess this mistake pales in comparison to the Malaysian man who was set ten years older! If I were this man, papa would probably have done something about the mistake!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Dogs Make My World Go Round!

 
Yeager, the handsome Alsation, alert and sharp ...ready for action!

 
Got it! Yeager's coveted prize... his favourite green ball.

 
The lovely sheepdog, Chewbaca (Chewy) who is so huggable!

 
Chewy performing one of his many stunts!

I love it most when I visit my clients' homes ...especially when they have dogs!

When Patrick and Melinda asked me to market their executive flat, my colleagues, Vanessa Yong and Vincent Owyong and I went to visit them at their semi-detached home in Serangoon Gardens. I know Melinda has two dogs and was eager to meet them.

Lo and behold! What a huge Alsation Yeager is! He is 4 years old and has long hairs... my first time with a long haired Alsation. I must confess that Alsations are the only dogs that make my heart beat very fast as I am gradually overcoming my fear of them!

Two decades ago, I was almost bitten by an Alsation that was allowed to roam around the neighbourhood by its owner around Cornwall Gardens. After tutoring a student, I walked along the long and quiet stretch of Cornwal Road, and was surprised when an Alsation approached me. I froze and prayed real hard. The dog put its two paws on my shoulders! Though frightened, I remained as calm as I could for I remember mum always advising us to be calm around dogs! Luckily it did not bite me, but refused to leave me for the next few minutes! Gradually, it got bored and decided to walk off. My student told me that the dog had bitten five people and complaints had been lodged against the owner. Thank God for His protection. From then onwards, I could only admire Alsations from afar! They are such handsome and intelligent dogs!

Melinda assured me that Yeager is a gentle giant. I overcame my fear and hugged Yeager! He gives in to the smaller sheepdog, Chewy, who sometimes bullies him. Though smaller, Chewy does not give in with his fight for the green ball with Yeager! Chewy performed some stunts for us such as rolling over, dancing with his two legs, etc. The couple's two children also joined in the fun.

It was indeed heartwarming to see a family so united and cohesive with their love for dogs. Melinda told me she had just got another puppy - a long haired daschund! Without offending anyone, I believe animal lovers are generally happier people! :-)

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Best and Cheapest - Laksa in Orchard Area

   
The lovely lady, Mdm Tan, who cooks the laksa "with her heart".

If you are around Sommert MRT station, and you are budget-conscious and a laksa lover like me, visit the staff canteen at Singtel Building on Exeter Road. The canteen, at the basement, is also open to the public, although the Singtel staff get a little discount off the public price. Still, where else can you get $2.00 per bowl for delicious laksa?

As I do not like cockles, I specially request the lady not to put them. I also prefer the finer type of mee hoon and have it mixed with yellow noodles. We Penangnites, do not like the thicker type of mee hoon that Singaporeans prefer. Since I also do not like fish cake, the lady replaces them with prawns for me. I am impressed that after my first order, she remembers my special preference! The stall is also very clean. I had read a review on Mdm Tan, and Lee Hsien Yang is also one of her regular customers!

The gravy has just the right touch of coconut milk - not too rich. I used to frequent this stall for breakfast when I was living around Killiney Road. Now I still visit the lady when I am around the vicinity. Try it! It is tastier and more economical than the Depot Road Laksa which charges $5.00 per bowl, and $6.90 if you want some prawns added!

Gan Chau

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

A fun day at Hong Kah North CC

 
Elissa, the immediate past president and founder of Hong Kah North Toastmasters' Club manning the booth with some of her members

 
Devi Haridas, from Dover Toastmasters' Club, doing a short presentation on the beneifts
of becoming a toastmaster.

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JOIN HONG KAH NORTH TOASTMASTERS' CLUB!

 
A lovely Indian dance presented by the cute little children

What a carnival! What an interesting event! My eldest sister from Sarawak went with me for the first time to Hong Kah North Community Centre. As Hong Kah North Toastmasters' Club is one of the Div. U3 clubs, I went to give some moral support. Devi Haridas, kindly helped to present the benefits of becoming a toastmaster to the packed hall. Quite a number of people showed interest to find out more about becoming toastmasters.
It was indeed a creative and unique way of creating awareness and recruiting new members for the club.

There were also many booths on Flower Arrangement, Chinese Calligraphy, etc. The children participated in a drawing contest, while the Senior Citizens had a great time in the karaoke room, crooning away.

The stage performances gave the crowd a chance to watch belly dancing, cha cha, Indian dancing, Wu Shu, Silat (Malay pugilistic art), Chinese Orchestra, etc.

Dr. Amy Khor, the Mayor, also gave away prizes and awards to deserving students. Perhaps many of us would take such events for granted, but my sister, was utterly impressed. She thought that community clubs are great to create a healthy, learning, environment. They also provide everyone to get together, promoting racial understanding and harmony.

Gosh! I have to confess that I have been living in Singapore for 25 years and this is my first experience of a carnival at a community centre....all because of toastmasters' activities. Since the past one year, I have been able to visit many community clubs where toastmasters' activities are held. For those of us who could not afford country and golf clubs, why not join the community clubs. It costs only $60/- to join the Hong Kah North Toastmasters'Club. All it costs is $20/- for 6 years membership at Community Clubs. Get your passion cards .....with the 5Cs....cheap, convenient, creative, closely-knit, and charming! You will be won over by the fun and down-to-earth people you will meet.

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Matching by Chance

 
The lovely teak buffet hutch left by the previous owner

 
My old bookshelf and console with brother Kee Yong's autumn painting

 
My $100/- second hand Kawai piano that sounds as good as it looks

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In case, readers think I am going to write something on matchmaking, they are mistaken. So read on....

My client, Mr. Chia, called me up concerning one of his investment properties. Apparently he sounded like he was in a bad mood, so I asked him why he was upset.

"All my furniture don't seem to match...and I have paid so much money for them", lamented Mr. Chia. He had just moved into his sprawling bungalow at East Coast.
A self-made millionaire, he made most of his money through shrewd property investments. He shared with me that he upgraded from an hdb flat and he never quite unpacked all his belongings for soon after, he would sell his flat to buy another bigger property. He had only moved into his semi detached house last year, and sold it to move into his bungalow. He is someone who buys and sells properties faster than you can say, "Good morning ladies and gentlemen!"

In sharp contrast, I had also just moved into my small hdb flat. The previous owner had left me some pieces of furniture, most of which I gave away, except for the buffet hutch and tv console. Somehow they blended in with my old furnture.

This time, I did not have to buy any plates, glasses, etc. They were all donated to me by my friends who had one too many in their cupboards. I am the easily happy and contented type and am grateful for donated items. Before I moved, I also gave away many items. Strange....the more I give, the more I receive.!

God reminds us to look at the wild flowers and birds of the air. He takes care of them and He also takes care of us...even in small matters concerning matching furniture! Ah! The simple pleasures and joy of life!

Friday, August 10, 2007

My First Guests for Dinner

  My first guests for dinner... Amu and her nephews, Amos and Silas and niece, Abigail with eldest sister who is the cook.

href="http://bp2.blogger.com/_9TxznTye3zI/RrxknEokuMI/AAAAAAAAAZo/ACfN3Yn8F9c/s1600-h/CIMG0896.JPG">  Amu holding up the blanket made for me by eldest sister.

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  Amu holding a dress with smoking for a friend's daughter.

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Eldest sister Lee Lee doing an Indian dance.

Since young, my parents had taught us to be hospitable by their very own examples. Papa and mama loved to entertain at home....whether it was simple home cooked lunch or some lavish dinner. Although we were not rich, guests enjoyed themsleves because of papa's delightful stories and sense of humour. Somehow food always taste nicer with jocund company!

Hence, it is not surprising that hospitality is in our blood. Eldest sister came to visit me for the month of August as she wanted to help me organise the flat as well as to cook healthy food for me. As it was National Day yesterday, I took my sister to Marina Bay to have a look in the morning. We decided impulsively to call Amu over together with her nephews and nieces for a dinner gathering. It is appropriate that Amu, being my best friend, should be my first guest!

Sister is such a natural cook. Everyone enjoyed the dinner after which we had a little concert with me playing the piano and sister doing an Indian dance. My sister is such a versatile lady!

We were also able to see fireworks from my bedroom windows, as Marina Bay is quite near my apartment in Little India. I am indeed so grateful to God for all His rich blessings.
We thanked God for the great weather and heartwarming celebration.

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Stand Up, Stand Up for Singapore?

 

 

 

The wonderful and efficient staff at Singtel, Exeter Road

I had taken my two mobiles out of my pockets when I went into the Ladies' washroom at our Toa Payoh office at HDB Hub. After an hour, when I realised my phones missing, it was too late....someone had pocketed my handphones. Not much of a find, I guess, for my two phones were almost in disrepair for they would get disconnected while I was half way through a conversation. I had difficulty pressing the keys to sms. My friends kept asking me to change the phones. Hence, with the loss, I found myself heading for Singtel at Exeter Road, near Sommerset MRT Station.

I knew that Singtel had undergone some renovation and was looking forward to seeing what changes have been made. I was surprised that the new counters have no seats.....the staff as well as customers have to stand! I noticed one young boy slouching his upper part of the body and placing his head and chin on the counter, with his body in arched position. I guess if customers feel tired, how about the poor staff who have to stand almost 8 to 10 hours a day!

This time, I was given two free new models as my contracts have expired. As I am not adept at learning new gadgets it took me a while to master the use of the phones. I am grateful for my friend's patience. I then realised that I could not retrieve my old numbers from my SIM card. My friend told me I should inform the officer who would then download the numbers for me. The previous time, when I changed my mobiles, the numbers were automatically transferred.

I guess it is not easy working on our feet. In our company, we can look at listings on the computers which are placed quite high up so that agents have to stand to work at the computers. I already find it tiring to stand for just a few minutes.

I wonder what is the great idea that Singtel has for its counter staff to stand when working? Does it really improve productivity? If it does, I would like to know more about Singtel's rationale. Why does no one protest? Do people just do something because they have been told to do so? What consequences can be dervied when a person stands for unnecessarily long hours? Or are the staff, dressed in bright red T-shirts with a tinge of white, standing up for Singapore even when at work? :-)
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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Yours Truly, Uniquely Singapore (12)

Papa had 6 children. He sent the older three to Chinese schools, and the younger three to English schools. Being the youngest, I fell under the second category. I suppose papa had wanted his children to be trilingual, if not at least bilingual. But somehow I never had the chance to study Chinese. I picked up some Mandarin while studying in Canada. I had two scholars from China who shared a flat with me... hence when I came to Singapore, people often wondered about my Mandarin with a Beijing accent!

While studying in Canada, I learnt about Lu Shun, Li Bai, Tu Fu, etc. and was enthralled when I found that the University of Alberta was offering courses in Chinese Literature (in English). Naturally I took up some courses.

A colleague, Elena Ho, recently sent me this email on Lee Bai's poem. There was no acknowledgement of writer's name. However, I can safely conclude that they must be written by a Singaporean or Singaporeans. Singaporeans have unique ways of expressing themselves. After reading the version by Osama and Bush, I could not help adding my version on MM Lee Kuan Yew.

Lee Bai's Poem



(Chinese Version)

Chuang qian ming yue guang

Yi shi di shang shuang

Ju tou wang ming yue

Di tou shi gu xiang


(English Version)

The moon light is pouring down
on my bedside

Like white frost spreading
on the ground

I look up the bright round
moon in the sky

And lower my head thinking
of my dear hometown


(Singlish (Phua Chu Kang) Version)

Bedfront Moon Bright Bright

Think Is Floor White White

Lift Head See Moon Moon

Bow Head Miss Home Home...




(Ah-Beng Version)

Bedfront Orr Pi Sai (pick nose)

Think Think Go Pang Sai (think of going to the toilet_

Pick Up Tai Gor Tai (handphone)

BS While Lau Sai (bull shit while having diarrhoea).





(Latest Reservist Army Version)

Bedfront Lau Bark Sai (tears
drop)

Thinking About Exercise(reservist
mobilization)

Drop Dead Look Into The Sky
(run until no breath)

Sim Kor Sia Lang Zai? (my heartache
nobody knows)





(Osama version)

No friend at my side

Think think Bush will fight

Lift head but where to hide?

This time don't know when will
die?





(Bush version)

Can't sleep since that night

Think think where he hide?

Bomb bomb friends will say
I pai (pai - wicked)

No choice ask them go fly kite



MM Lee Kuan Yew's version


Bedside with lovely moonlight,

At 42 years old, Singapore is really bright.

Lift head, see my lovely nation,

May everyone have a great celebration!

Gan Chau

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Volunteers are Successful People!

Papa passed away on 7th July, 1972. It is now almost 35 years....yet I still remember all the things that he had taught us. One of the things that stood out most in my memory is "If something is worth doing, it is worth doing well". Papa said that if we had to sweep the floor, we better sweep every nook and corner and leave no dust unturned! He also mentioned if we wanted to help someone or be a volunteer in some organisation, it is even more imperative that we do our best....even better than our paid job.! The art of helping people is noble and hence one should give one's best. He also said that great volunteers are usually very successful people!

How wise of Papa. All these years, I have been observing and reflecting over what papa taught us. We have many great volunteers in nursing homes, hospices, SPCA, Salvation Army, etc. I have met many great volunteers in Toastmasters' Clubs. Many of these members are highly successful people, yet when they volunteer their services as leaders, they give of their very best.

Mind you... some of the activities in toastmasters such as organizing workshops, gala dinners, conventions are really time consuming jobs. Yet, these volunteers excel in their services! Even for those who volunteer on a regular basis as appointment holders and evaluators in various clubs .... they deserve a pat on their backs! Active participation in toastmasters' activities not only helps a person to become a better speaker, but also a better leader!

Pastor Derek Hong once mentioned in his sermon on time management, "Give a busy man a job; somehow he gets it done and does it successfully."

Gan Chau

Friday, August 03, 2007

Packing or Unpacking?

I have been unpacking the past few days and the progress is really slow for I have to wade through the "mountain" of boxes to put them in their respective wardrobes, bookshelves and kitchen shelves.

I did not realise that the ceiling of my flat is higher as it is an older flat. Now I have to buy a small step ladder which can be moved around easily to enable me to reach the higher shelves. I wish I were at least 1.65 metres tall instead of 1.53 metres tall. I showed my tenant, Frank, how I used to cook in the kitchens in Canada. I would place two hands on the table top and push myself up so as to reach the higher shelves. That was almost 3 decades ago. Today, I have to depend on the step ladder.

Many things have been given or discarded. I was in a rush to pack and just threw everything into the boxes. Now when unpacking, I realise that some things can still be given away or discarded. I am trying to have less clutter around the home so that cleaning can be a breeze. The fun thing about moving is that it helps us to find things that we have sometimes forgotten about....eg old photos, little gifts, name cards, etc.

It would be fun to know readers' response....do my readers prefer packing or unpacking?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Fantastic Maths!

Sometimes when I think of the uniqueness of people in this little dot on the world map, I would smile. Of late, I have been pondering over the "fantastic maths" of our people.

When the government increased the GST to 7%, which simply translates an increase of 2% over the previous GST amount of 5%, many businesses also started to increase their prices!

Yesterday, I went to my favourite Yong Tau Foo Cafeteria at Cuppage Road Plaza, and immediately the lady alerted me to the price increase. Of course, my eagle eyes had spotted the words, "One piece - 60 cents". It used to be 8 pieces for $3.50 and the operators increased the price to 7 pieces for $3.50. Now it would be $4.20 for the same 7 pieces. I looked around, inhaled deeply and smiled at the lady. Calmly I walked away, choosing to have lunch at the nearby Isle Cafe. Is it any wonder that Isle Cafe is as crowded as before, because the operators did not increase their price. In sharp contrast, the Yong Tau Foo Cafeteria had a much smaller crowd...a far cry from the usual crowd.

However, I guess the crowd will come back again, after customers get used to the new increased price.! As for me, I will continue to be more diligent in my home cooking! May also end up making my own Yong Tau Foo with fresh fish from Tekka Market. :-) Join me....any one?

Gan Chau

Starhub or Singtel?

When my two year contract with Starhub ended last month, I decided to terminate the contract and look at cheaper internet options. I asked for advice from computer-intelligent people like my colleague, Vincent and my tenant, Frank.

I was thinking of changing my 8 year old television which is still working but has to be operated manually as the remote had died a premature death. It was tempting to opt for Singtel which had the promotion of giving away a free high definition television. Vincent was not in favour of the idea and I decided to drop the connection. I also do not like the idea that I have to connect a land line for a telephone number. A land line is not necessary for me as I am always on the move.

Since I was around Cuppage Plaza today, I decided to drop by at Starhub to see what they were offering. They too had a promotion of giving a free laptop computer for their ultimate internet plan. Finally I decided to opt for the cheapest express internet plan at $49.00 - quite fast at 6mb.

I was almost thinking of not connecting an internet line as I can use my laptop in the office. However, I was concerned for my tenant, Frank, who is renting a room in my apartment. He needs the internet to communicate with his family overseas.

I was amazed at the speed and efficiency of Starhub. I took the free modem home so as to save the $52/- installation charge. Frank set up the system for me.

Gosh! The apartment is still in a mess with unpacked boxes. However I miss the computer so much and yearn to write in my blog again.!! :-)