I usually take a long break from work during the last week of every year but more often than not, I almost always have to come back to work for a day or half a day to cater to others' schedules and requirements.
The most memorable one was when I received a call from the firm's partner to go back to work on the last day of the year. I remember receiving the call when I was happily buying books in Pustaka Sufes. I readily agreed and ended up attending a meeting with a client on 31 December of that year.
This time, I came back to work midway through my break today for a meeting with a head of division. No one in my team is available to attend to it and so I had to. The amusing thing was that the meeting, albeit important, was only 15 minutes. But then again, that is what I call a good meeting - quick, effective and decisive.
My good friend Ee-Tan and I had a good time of catching up during lunch today. We were at Farm to Plate in Damansara Kim. Food there is excellent, but more importantly, the tête-à-tête with my good friend was great and timely.
I just started attending CDPC Puchong about 5 months ago, and I am beginning to get to know the people there. I took the opportunity to join in the small caroling team of 15. We went caroling today at Pangsapuri Enggang in Puchong to spread the good news and love of Christmas. It was wonderful to be able to bring the songs of the birth of Jesus, the message of the love of God and prayers for the people.
The Christmas message this morning by Rev Wong Fong Yang centers on the salvation that comes from Jesus.
Reading from Matthew 2:1-12 on the visit of the magi after the birth of Jesus, the magi had told Herod, the king of the Jews, of Him who has been born King of the Jews. Herod was troubled and wanted to know where this king will be so that he can get rid of him. He brought together all the chief priests and scribes and asked about him. These leaders were well versed in Scripture and were quoting from Micah 5:2 about a ruler who will come forth from Bethlehem. The magi then went searching for the king and found him in Bethlehem. They worshipped him and then departed away from Herod after being warned by God not to return.
An important lesson to learn this Christmas is this: are we indifferent about Christmas like the Jewish leaders, that even though they knew Scriptures, they were apathetic? If our hearts are not moved, if we don't look at Jesus to transform and change our lives, Christmas will just pass us by, not affecting any parts of us at all.
Or are we hostile, like Herod, afraid that this King will overtake our lives that we kill the message, letting it not affect us?
Or are we searching like the magi for the King of the world, to bow down and worship Him, with gold for the King of kings, frankincense for the Lord of lords and myrrh for the sacrificial Lamb who takes away the sin of the world?
I am not that very active in Facebook except to post my daily blog entry in there and once in awhile to check out on what my friends are up.
But this one thing became one of the most fun thing I did on Facebook: being a llama for one day.
Doug Joseph put up a challenge that anyone who gives a wrong answer will have to post a picture of a llama in their Facebook profile for a day. I took a look at the riddle and thought, hey I know this.
But too bad, it was not the correct answer and had to put up a llama profile picture. I used the same
llama picture Dous used, which looked kind of dorky. I didn't mind, because I should have thought a little bit more before answering.
A few of my other friends took the challenge and got caught as well, and accompanied me as a llama for a day. Just that these two good friends of mine, both sisters, Rose and Allie, used really awesome looking llamas.
Isn't this the coolest looking llama with an awesome hairstyle?
And Allie drew her own: a sweet and docile looking one:
It was definitely quite a fun day llama-ing along.
I inadvertently took part in a chain mail-like event, except that it has to do with books. It says:
"Wanted: Participants for a book-loving social experiment...Buy your favourite book and send it to a stranger. You will only send one book to one person. The number of books you will receive depends on how many participants there are."
What attracted me to it was "book-loving social experiment", note the word "experiment" and "favourite book".
So I signed on and wondered how this "experiment" would work and how the results will be tabulated and I thought that the sending of your favourite book adds a nice touch to it.
When I received the instructions, it did not first occur to me that this is nothing other than a book exchange chain mail. But it did dawn on me that this sounds very pyramidal - that it will only work for you if you are early in the game.
I thought more about it and felt that since it does not meet the initial reason why I would take part in it, I made up my mind that I would not be participating in this. And so I opted out.
My hubby played a tune this morning and asked me if Bach wrote it. I listened a little more intently and said no, Bach would have written a more complicated piece than that, and asked him who composed it instead.
An artificial intelligence, he said, which I am not at all surprised because my husband is really into that topic these days. He is a quiet man but if you get him to talk to you about this topic, you will never hear the end of it.
He then played me a series of 10 tunes, all with the same sound and almost the same tune, but with slight differences. He asked me one by one if the pieces were composed by Bach or the AI. I played along, I listened and gave my answers. In the end, I actually scored 8 out of 10 and my hubby was so impressed with me, which I must say is a rare thing. I am not sure how I did it. I just listened and somehow could tell which is Bach and which is the AI, except for two.
According to the article, "to test if their AI composer could pass for Bach, researchers tested 1,272 people with varying expertise in classical music, giving them examples of Bach’s arrangements and the AI’s. More than 75% of the listeners taking the test were classical music enthusiasts or studied the type of music. The Sony team found that 50% of listeners couldn’t tell the two apart, and the more complex the music sounded, the more often people thought it was composed by Bach."
I have not had time to do any Christmas shopping lately with all the choir practices I need to go to and the Christmas events over the weekends and so I went with my son to Sunway Pyramid after work yesterday to get some stuff I needed.
And since I have not brought my son for dinner of his choice in quite awhile, I let him decide. We ended up in TGIF. I don't really like the food there but thought the Sizzling Chicken and Cheese would be nice.
After ordering it, I wanted to log it into my calorie-counting app and lo and behold, it says that the meal is a horrendous 1150 calories! I was like, are you kidding me. It is 50 calories shy of my daily quota.
I decided to just consume half and had the balance packed for takeaway.
I cannot imagine the times I was there in TGIF consuming all its high calorie content meals. Don't think I'm ever going to eat there again.
I am in total agreement with the article and the paper. We are so busy these days we forgot to take time to think and mull, or as the paper suggests, to do nothing. I love doing nothing and being lazy but I feel so guilty about it.
I want to just sit and stare into space and let my mind wander but I worry I will be labeled as useless, lazy and with nothing to do, and therefore I do not deserve to be where I am.
However, the article suggests that it pays to be lazy and bored, to do nothing and just be.
I really, really like what the writer says in the paper. Take a read and tell me what you think.
I was just commenting to my hubby that we Malaysians are quite blessed in the sense that we are exposed to different languages from young and most of us, if not all, are multilingual or at least bilingual.
This may not seem much to us but it is in fact something good. Most people I suppose are only familiar with one language, or two at most.
And I would say that the one good thing that came out from the British colonisation of our country is the wide usage of the English language, of what I see is one of the most coveted language to acquire for Asians in particular.
Just check out this story I read a few days ago where parents of South Korean children would vie for the 30 limited spots available to learn English from American soldiers and United Nations officials in a school located in "scariest place on earth", in the Korean peninsula's Demilitarized Zone.
I also happened upon this YouTube video which I find quite entertaining.
I have used this MyFitnessPal app as far back as 2011 but stopped after awhile. A few months ago, I commented to my hubby that I must reduce the portions of food I eat and he said it will better to count the calories I take per day. I was reminded of this app and started using it since Oct and have lost 4 kg or about 9 lb so far.
As such, I fully recommend this to anyone who would like to lose some pounds.
Here's a good review of the app from Apple, scoring a 4.8 out of 5. And I can see that from the last time I used it, it was since bought over by Under Armour.
I got interested in the word "amuse" today. It was mentioned in the sermon this morning.
The speaker wanted to highlight that one of the biggest distractions of our time is entertainment, that we all just want to be amused and be entertained, and as a result removing us from the more important things in life.
He then said that the word "amuse" consist of two parts: (1) the prefix a- meaning without and (2) muse meaning to think, in that when we amuse ourselves, we are not thinking.
However, the prefix a- meaning "without" originated from Greek, and muse, "to think" from Middle French, Middle English and Medieval Latin. And so there is no way that amuse would mean "without thinking" or "without thought" to take the speaker's point of not succumbing to amusement and entertainment.
The word amuse originated from Middle French with two parts to the word: (1) the prefix a- to expressing causal effect and (1) muser meaning to stare stupidly.
And this does point to the same message of the consequence of us spending too much time staring at the idiot box.
My Advent devotion today is still on the Magnificat, but Bryan Wilkerson's lesson was that the Magnificat is not only a praise chorus but a protest song--so apt for us today as we face uncertainties both politically and economically, wherever we are.
Just look at these verses here in Luke 1:51-53 (NIV) in Mary's Magnificat:
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.
Wilkerson says Christmas isn't only about peace and joy. It's about justice. It's about the lowly being lifted up, the hungry fed and the oppressed set free. The verbs in the verses all hold the aorist tense, signifying something that has already happened. We need not wait for it for it is already done in Christ.
When Jesus was born, he is the King of kings and Lord of lords. His kingdom is now established on earth and his government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven's Armies will make this happen! (Isaiah 9:7, NLT).
I was reading today's Advent devotion on Mary's Magnificat and thought I'd also find one to listen to. It so happened a few days ago I was looking for the best choral music ever written and was working on compiling a playlist. I found this in my list:
Arvo Pärt - Magnificat (King's Choir)
It is an amazing piece, and in accapella. Not only the words of Mary rings beautifully but Arvo Pärt has put up a wonderful piece of music. And I learnt a new word - tintinnabulation. It means a ringing or tinkling sound, like the sound of bells.
And apparently, tintinnabulation is the most important aspect of Pärt's Magnificat. According to Pärt's biographer and friend Paul Hillier, the Magnificat "displays the tintinnabuli technique at its most supple and refined."
Just listen to the voices ringing. Isn't is so lovely the way the voices are put together? Do you hear those clashing semitones? How does it make you feel?
Ever since I subscribed to Apple Music only 2 weeks ago, I am in musical bliss. It's so wonderful to be able to listen to anything I want to listen to. But the funny thing is, I had that when I was with Spotify Premium but I wasn't into it. I suppose I like the Apple Music interface better, and I'm having a better experience searching and listening to music I love.
Anyway, I found myself suddenly singing this one and only Cantonese song I know how to sing. A very sad song, but very lyrical and melodious. I went and search for it and found it in Apple Music. Now it's nicely sitting in my favourite songs playlist.
I attended William Chan's wake service this evening. He has gone home to the Lord on Saturday after a difficult fight with a rare form of cancer. I don't know him that well but from the eulogies and testimonies shared this evening, he had indeed fought a good fight and stayed faithful to the calling of the Lord till the end.
He was the Captain of the Boy's Brigade 18th Petaling Jaya Company and at the end of the service, the Last Post was performed. In military tradition, the Last Post is the bugle call that signifies the end of the day's activities. It is also sounded at military funerals to indicate that the soldier has gone to his final rest. I never knew about it before and when it was played, I was so moved and touched by this very emotional and special moment of sending home a loved one to the Lord.
I am thankful to my God for today. For whatever reason, I found so much joy in him, so much so that I think I am getting a glimpse of what it would be like when I am with him, when I am home in heaven.
It is no coincident that today's sermon is from 1 Thess 4:13-18, the hope of resurrection. We have hope in the living God. "We will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words." (v. 17-18)
I know I am still addicted to Korean dramas however much I tell myself they are a waste of time. But I saw the Korean pop music playlists on Spotify and Apple Music. I was avoiding them but I nonchalantly went and checked them out today, and that was it -- I am hooked to it now.
I knew some of the drama male leads in my favourite dramas are singers as well, and I am surprised they are actually good. On the contrary, I have yet to find a drama female lead who sings well. The few that I tried listening to have quite poor vocal quality.
Here are three of my favourites:
Joo Won - If I Were (Good Doctor)
I fell in love with this song when I heard it in the Good Doctor, and that was an awesome scene. Joo Won plays an autistic savant who becomes a pediatric surgeon. Too bad this song is not available in Apple Music though it is in Spotify.
Kim Bum - I'm Going to Meet You Now (Boys Over Flowers)
I just could not stop listening to this one. I'm quite impressed with his vocals. The romanization and translation of the lyrics into English is found here.
Hyun Bin - That Man (Secret Garden)
The lyrics do not appeal that much to me, but it is after all my favourite drama and he really emotes the song very well.
I am doing a revision for the final module in our manager's development programme and I'm trying to get back into reading this book Games at Work, How to Recognise and Reduce Office Politics by Mauricio Goldstein and Philip Read.
Games at Work, How to Recognise and Reduce Office Politics
by Mauricio Goldstein and Philip Read
I have started reading it when I last bought it March this year but stopped halfway. Like when I was reading Eric Berne's Games People Play back in 2009, I found it hard to follow the descriptions of the games. You can see I am not a very structured person, and I need more effort to work structures out, to unpack them.
I wanted to also check out on this avoidance game that people play but I don't seem to find it in Berne's or Goldstein's book. I found this article useful though: Being Ignored as a Bullying Tactic.
Games are played in at different intensities and levels in our lives, be it personal, in a team, or in an organisation at large. Goldstein said that game playing is often a subconscious activity and it does the damage beneath the surface. We all need to reduce our games and become more authentic. A team that reduces games becomes more trusting and connected. An organization that reduces games becomes more believable, meaningful, attractive, creative, and productive.
But it is not easy. A lack of awareness of games played and the presence of an unhealthy culture would encourage people to play them consciously or unconsciously and this will certainly thwart the success of the business. It is worse still when it is played from the top.
But it starts with us, where we are: to be a leader who journeys from self to service...coping to character...from games to giving (Goldstein).