Friday, 29 July 2005

The forecast is for fine weather! The luncheon menu looks yummy! Plan to arrive at Ettalong Beach Resort between 9.30 & 10am. Hot drinks, chocolate brownies and fresh fruit on arrival. Go for a beach walk after lunch. Sit in the sun. Enjoy the day!

That's the plan for the staff retreat tomorrow.

Who says working for the church has no perks?

I can't wait!

Wednesday, 27 July 2005

While we're on the topic of brilliant TV, let me introduce you to House.
Dr Gregory House is devoid of bedside manner and wouldn't even talk to his patients if he could get away with it. Dealing with his own constant physical pain, he uses a cane that seems to punctuate his acerbic, brutally honeset demeanor.
This dude is my hero. He's got just about the most amazing wit and sarcasm going for him that cracks me up all the time.

House has just about become my favourite TV show for the moment.

Wait, I think it probably is my favourite TV show for the moment. Replacing even *gasp* the various CSIs.

And it's on tonight!

Tuesday, 26 July 2005

I'm so excited!

Season 2 of The 4400 is going to be aired at 8.40pm on Channel 10 tonight!

I got absolutely hooked on the first season when I was back in Singapore and the last episode of the season left me craving for more.

Now my questions will be answered!

Although knowing TV series, I'll probably end up with more questions that will only be answered in Season 3....

But still, I can't wait! 3 more hours!
Hear hear Brad Abare from Church Marketing Sucks:
I want to be a part of a culture—not exclusive or inclusive of the Christian bubble—that communicates well. I want to tell stories that get people to respond. I want people to ask questions about answers they don’t understand....(more)
As Christians, we really need to embrace the arts and not look disdainfully at it, keeping it at arm's length, something many churches are prone to doing.

If we make it our own, imagine the stories we can tell to people who love watching and listening to them.

Monday, 25 July 2005

Balmain is such a pretty little surburb of Sydney!

After a disappointing morning spent at Manly Beach (it just somehow didn't connect with my soul), I decided to take the ferry from Circular Quay over to Balmain.

The 15min ferry ride turned out to be gorgeous, filled with breathtaking sights of the Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House, Luna Park and the many sailboats littered on the glistening water.

It was a warm sunshine-filled winter day and I really enjoyed sitting on the open top deck of the ferry, with the breeze in my face. It was also rather funny seeing all the tourists around me get into a frenzy when they realise what good photo opportunities lay in the ferry ride.

My introduction to Balmain was extremely quaint. East Balmain Wharf is a simple construction, and right next to it is a small little park that overlooked the city-scape. There was a mother pushing her two daughters on the swing in the park, and a couple enjoying the sun and the gentle sounds of the water lapping. Walking further up revealed another family having a picnic on the grass, with their children running around chasing each other as kids do.

Reading a little information plaque revealed that many of the historic buildings of Balmain were constructed in the 1800s. This was a rather historic part of Sydney.

In order to get to the town centre, I had to hike uphill on Darling St for almost 15 mins. It turned out to be a really nice walk because of the gorgeous old townhouses with lovely terraces and quaint architecture that lined the street. It reminded me a little of being back in England, with its narrow streets and townhouses with no front yards and really did make me yearn to live there.

I'm no architect and cannot tell you which genre the buildings were based on, but all I can say was that it was really beautiful and I would be extremely happy living in any of those houses, each with their own distinct characters and stories.

One of the things that was rather interesting was the fact that I felt like I had entered the VW Beatle-land or something. Never in my life had I ever seen so many VW Beatles being driven around one town. And most of them were the original Beatles, not the new models. It was amazing how many of them were either parked alongside the road or drove past me!

The town centre itself was rather small, with only two streets of shops offering books, gifts, clothes and cafes galore. And the most beautiful thing of it all is the fact that there were hardly any tourists around. The people around me looked like they either lived in Balmain or were visiting from neighbouring suburbs. Most were sitting with friends in cafes, enjoying a Sunday brunch.

The few hours I spent wandering the streets of Balmain, I had clean forgotten I was only 15mins away from the Sydney city centre by ferry. It was as if I was transported to a little town hours away from a big city. It wasn't until I was sitting at the bus-stop, waiting for a bus to take me to Glebe, that I realised I was actually so close to the city.

Honestly, I would love to live here. But I doubt I would be able to afford it. In my daydream, I imagined myself looking to buy a place in Balmain. In fact, I even found a house I loved. It was a converted flour mill/warehouse and was my dream accommodation. I had always wanted a converted warehouse for a home. The pricetag on the house said $2 million. My bubble burst.

Not only that, the little boutiques sold extremely individualistic clothes that I absolutely adored. They were rather bohemian in make, and all look extremely creative and very unique. So were the prices. Nothing was sold below $100 in Balmain. The cheapest sale item I saw went for about $50. Balmain is obviously geared towards a well-to-do, upper class market.

No wonder I only saw young professionals and older folks there. There was honestly hardly a teenager in sight.

From Balmain, I took the bus to Glebe, another suburb filled with beautiful buildings. What drew me to Glebe, however, had to be the various secondhand bookshops and bookshops it had. It was brilliant! I had no book in mind that I wanted to buy, but I couldn't help myself. I kept ducking in just to browse at the different books they had.

I even found a cafe bookshop complete with a live performing band!

In the end, I did find something I wanted to buy.

I found this little wind-up Jesus in one of the shops in Glebe and it was the funniest looking thing. They had a Virgin Mary version as well. I couldn't resist. It had to be bought.

With Jesus tucked in my bag, I took a bus back to Sydney Central and thus ended my day of exploration.

Wonder where I should visit next....

Friday, 22 July 2005

Melody, Your ideal job is a Emperor of all the world.

Unlike Brian, I quite like Job Predictor!

Tuesday, 19 July 2005

has anybody heard about the suicide bombing in Baghdad that killed 70 people?

No? I'm not surprised.

I was reading The Australian last night and had no clue as well until I came to the second section of the newspaper under "The World" heading. Either I was blind, or there was no mention of the bombing whatsoever in the headlines or anywhere else except that one page of news.

Am I missing something here?

Here's what was on the front page of the news yesterday:

Telstra's plea for free hand
No school means no pay
Police fear attacks by fifth bomber

The London Blasts.

Yes, it was inhumane. It was terrible. It was shocking. I agree that what happened in London was wrong. But the obvious discrimination is even worse!

When the London Blasts happened on July 7, several Australian TV stations interrupted their programming to bring to the nation live news coverage of what was happening in England. The newspapers dedicated several pages to it for the next few days - news, photos, analysis, comments, opinions...nobody could escape media coverage of the London Blasts.

I mean, almost two weeks after the blasts, news about it are still on front page news.

What about the Baghdad bombing?

I can very confidently say that there will be no mention of it from today onwards. It killed 70 people. Certainly more than the London Blasts did. But all it warranted was an article in page 25 of the newspaper. I didn't watch the news last night so I'm not sure if it even got mentioned there. TV programming certainly wasn't interrupted, that much I can be sure of.

Have bombings happened so often in the Middle East that it no longer warrents as news?

Is it because it's in a "developing" country?

Or maybe it's because they deserve it? After all, it was their fault the war on terror started.

Oh no, wait.

Maybe, just maybe it's because it's not happening in the all important West where civilisation is and where lives are considered more important.

Monday, 18 July 2005

I am a crapbag.

Was supposed to take worship at the old people's home at 8.30am this morning. All would have gone well if I had remembered the correct time.

The problem was, I turned up at the place at 8am, completely ready to take worship and the folks were just starting to have breakfast. I was indiginant and fully sure that I had my time right, and they were wrong.

I can't stay to have worship at 8.30am, I thought. After all, I had to be at work by 9am! And if I stayed, I would be late for work!

So I left.

Yup. I apologised to the administrator, telling her I had to be at work, and left without taking worship.

Then I get to work and realise that worship indeed starts at 8.30am and that my boss wouldn't have minded if I turned up late for work because I had to take worship.

So now I feel absolutely horrid and like a complete crapbag.

Visions of dejected old people who had seen me walk into the worship room at 8am while waiting for breakfast, and then realising at 8.30am that I had gone even before taking worship flashes before my eyes.

I am such a crapbag.

Thursday, 14 July 2005

Birthday Presents!

How special do I feel?

I woke up this morning and found three text messages on my phone, with one extremely sweet one from my brother that just made me go "awwww"and another from Maya whom days before had sent me this gorgeous bright orange traditional Malay scarf.

Then as I left to go to work, I found a package just against my door frame. Being late for work, I simply hurriedly grabbed the package and hastily took off.

Arrived at work and struggled with the package, considering Letrica had taped ALL AROUND the entire thing which made it impossible to rip anything apart. Ended up having to use a scissors and extreme force before it revealed...a Terry Pratchett book! And then, as if that wasn't enough, she turned up in my office with another big box, saying that my real present was in it.

She had made me a bright orange blanket (see picture above)! Yup, crocheted with her own two hands. In bright orange. It was lovely. And warm, and made me feel oh so special.

Then my boss turns up in front of my office singing Happy Birthday, and hurriedly shooed me off as we were both going to a seminar in the city.

After the seminar, we ended up meeting the rest of my department in a Japanese restaurant in Hornsby where they gave me TWO MORE Pratchett books (anybody guessed I'm a Pratchett fan yet?). As well as some lovely sushi. And two wonderful scoops of gelati (mmm...gelati...mmm).

I get back to work and suddenly I'm getting birthday wishes from everybody in the office. Which was really cool. Got a few birthday cards too. And then Sophia walks into my office sheepishly declaring that she had forgotten my birthday and swore she will do something with me some time soon (I believe it was more of a promise than a threat).

And then reading all these lovely birthday wishes from the blogging community, emails from my friends in Singapore and England and my dear mother, (whom without her, my birthday would never have happened) and then random text messages on my phone throughout the afternoon! Honestly, I feel so thoroughly spoilt and special!

So anyway, after settling into work, (well, kind of. It was really hard to concentrate when my ego was getting so inflated!) Sophia came into my office again holding a huge bouquet of flowers. The silly girl felt so bad about missing my birthday she tried to make up for it with the flowers. Well, I have to say, it certainly worked! They were lovely orange roses, lillies and yellow everlastings.

Mae turned up later just after work, which was really special considering she had just worked night duty yesterday and and had to do more tonight and would normally have been still asleep at this time of the evening. Turned out that Letrica had called her to come for a birthday dinner she had organised.

The birthday dinner was simply fantastic. Kristin, Letrica, Leighton, Daniel, Mark, Mae and Leah went and had lovely Thai food and then drove off to St Ives from some more gelati, which proved to be absolutely decadant and oh so good.

It's almost 10pm now and I have just returned from the night out. It has been a real nice day, with good friends and great laughs and can I say this again?

Oh I feel so special.

Thank you, my friends.

Wednesday, 13 July 2005

oh my goodness, it just suddenly hit me.

I'm turning a quarter of a century old tomorrow.


Tuesday, 12 July 2005

I couldn't help myself. I started tearing.

While reading the newspaper headlines, I had already started to feel a little down. Then I flicked on ABC News and watch the news coverage of the London Blasts and the 10th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide.

And then we have our dear friend Dubya going on about how the blasts are not going to frighten the US or detract the war on terror.

I couldn't help it. The tears started welling up in my eyes. It was heartwrenching to see the people crying over the loss of their loved ones.

It's just mindless. It is.

And it just makes me so mad. It makes me mad because in the coverage of the genocide, we have world leaders apologising, looking all determined that "it will not happen again".

My foot.

They said it for the Holocaust. Look at Rwanda.

Then they repeated it at the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. Look at Bosnia.

They said it yesterday for Bosnia. Well, look at what's happening in Zimbabwe. In Sudan.

But I guess it's much easier to apologise than to actually take action.

And it's much easier to ignore these countries since it's not exactly happening in the Western world per se.

And the blasts, the war on terror, the horror? Well, read this.

Monday, 11 July 2005

hmmm...maybe I should buy this when I move into my new apartment....

Thanks Faith for the pic!

Sunday, 10 July 2005

just came back from exploring sydney with Letrica and she very kindly let me do some driving. I have this to say.

I cannot believe how easy it is to drive an automatic car!
watched an encore telecast of the live8 concert (have you signed the petition yet?) last night and it got me thinking. No, not the part where Robbie Williams absolutely endeared to me.

It just seemed like a rather odd juxtaposition...

Here are celebrities and other folks trying to make their cause of making poverty history known to the politicians. And their means include throwing huge concerts simultaneously in several main cities to get the attention needed.

We know their cause. We agree with their cause. And we support their cause.

What about the al-Qaeda folks?

Now, I'm not in any way condoning what they have done. I absolutely abhor their activities and definitely do not support their killing of innocents.

But yet, in a way, it seems like they are no different from the live8 celebrities.

They have a cause, and all they're looking for is trying to make it known. In an age where the media is dominated by the activites of the Western world, how else are they going to get the attention they need?

I think about the times when I read about suicide bombings or terrorist attacks happening in the Middle East. The newspaper report usually only consists of a few paragraphs, tucked away in a corner easily missed by the busy reader.

Is it because it happens so often that even the fact that people die from these attacks no longer warrents it as news? Or is it simply because it isn't relevant to the Western world?

Their means are wrong, oh so wrong, but yet, it is a means, just like the live8 concerts, to get attention and to get what they want..

But the thing is, will anyone ever listen to them? Will anyone try to understand and find out about their cause?

I doubt not. Not because what they have done is downright evil and unfair. But they simply won't get listened to because they just don't happen to be from modern Western society.

The world needs a bad guy. And they have conveniently fit into the mould.

Saturday, 9 July 2005

I realise this is a rather late response to the London blasts, but I'm going to write about it anyway. After all, this is a city close to my heart, in a country I stayed in for a year and a place of residence to my dear friends.

How could anyone be so awful as to hit London in such a bloodthirsty way?

Wait a minute, don't answer that. After all, if the question could be answered, September 11, the Bali bombings and numerous other terrorist activities wouldn't exist.

When I first heard the news after returning home late from the exhibition, I very nearly freaked out. After all, I have close friends who would very likely be in London when the bombings happened.

It was all rather surreal. This was a city I frequented when I lived in England in 2003. This was a city that I had fallen in love with, that I would still love to live in for a few more years. The bombings happened at places I used to visit. Edgware Road Underground station in particular was the tube station right near the church I sometimes attended.

I tried contacting my friends but to no avail. I ended up sitting in front of the television watching the coverage of the bombings simply astounded and fascinated in a strange morbid way. I had no way of knowing if my friends were fine. Images of one of them in hospital while the others waited anxiously in the foyer flashed through my mind. (I got a text message later in the night saying they were all fine.)

This was when Kristin asked a question that I'm still unable to answer: "I feel like we should do something instead of simply sitting here and watching the telly. But what can we do?"

And really, what can we do?

What can we do in response to such an irresponsible and horrific act of terror that has caused so much pain and heartache to so many people? What can we do in response to previous acts of terror? What can we do?

Friday, 8 July 2005

the Christian Resources Exhibition is over. Finito. The end.

Rushed from the Olympic Park to the city for a haircut.

Then went to donate blood.

Conveniently forgot to have lunch before that, save for a few bars of chocolate (and yes, I have had at least 3 people tell me I was really stupid to have done that).

Had a sandwich and a few cherries for dinner.

I think I'm just about ready to pass out now.

Thursday, 7 July 2005

now this is interesting.

Finally, a group of people taking a stand against modern media tactics.
Newsbreakers is a nonpartisan, nonviolent media watchdog group. It offers comment and critique on the role of television news in informing the public. The group relies on parody and non-traditional media transformations. It is currently planning future events.
Thanks Kel for the link!

Wednesday, 6 July 2005

Christian Resources Exhibition [1/3]

Finally, after months of slogging, it's good to see the booth come together for the Christian Resources Exhibition.

The theme for the year is "water", drawing from the fact that Jesus is the living water. We're giving away free bottles of water to passers-by, as well as giving them a chance to draw from the well and participate in a lucky dip.

The booth is shared with ADRA, and they are drawing the theme from their developmental work and how they help provide drinking water to developing countries.

Come Friday and I'll be a very relaxed person...

Monday, 4 July 2005

new article written here!

and on another note, in the spirit of Murphy's Law, things have started to go wrong for the Christian Resources Exhibition.

As part of our exhibition promotion, we were supposed to have a lucky dip consisting of various different chocolate bars. Most of them consisted of Mars and Snickers bars.

Guess what happened to them over the weekend?

Today, we found ourselves rummaging through our box consisting of 1100 mixed chocolate bars in order to remove the Mars and Snickers bars. And then having to hurriedly replace the bars, as well as the labels that we have stuck on them.

At least we weren't setting up for the exhibition till tomorrow...

Sunday, 3 July 2005

who would have thought I would be playing touch football this morning?

Who would have thought I'd enjoy it?

I was extremely confused, largely because I have gotten used to forward passes ala basketball. Which meant that I ended up having to run backwards, in order to actually avoid receiving forward passes in touch football.

I couldn't help it. My natural instincts were to run forward upon passing the ball. Which resulted in a lot of running forward, then dashing backwards to get behind my teammate who had the ball. I think I possibly ran twice as much as everybody else.

But it was a glorious bright and sunny morning after more than a week's worth of rain.

And goodness knows how much I needed the exercise.

Saturday, 2 July 2005

In an attempt to create some order in my blog, I have consolidated all the articles I have written here.

These are articles that have been published or submitted for publication to various magazines, websites or some media of one form or the other.

At the moment, it is by no means complete. But I will update it as I trawl through the archives of my computer.
I had an epiphany last night - I have stagnated.

In a way, it's not a new realisation. It always happens. I'm so used to change that once I settle into a routine, I get complacent, bored and lethargic.

And that is precisely what has happened to me over the last few weeks.

I am at my most productive when things are fresh and brand new. I write more articles, I write more letters, I think more, I feel motivated to do more.

But I've simply settled into a routine where I struggle to wake up in the morning to go to work, return home after work and more or less watch TV and waste the rest of my evening.

It is true that things got rather busy upon my return from Singapore a month and so ago. But what is the truth of it all is that I've gotten settled into a routine and have stagnated.

Gone are the days when I would wake up early and eager to go to work because I love what I do so much.

Gone are the evenings when I would sit in my room, furiously typing away about an issue I feel passionately about or about an inspirational thought that just hit me. Or work on a project that fascinates me so. Or even simply enjoy the pleasures of reading.

Gone are the weekends where I would venture out into a new area of Sydney to simply enjoy the experience of exploring and visiting somewhere new.

I don't even write my friends as often as I used to. Which isn't very often, but was more often than right now.

I have stagnated.

I simply don't have the energy to do anything. I feel lethargic. I feel like I completely lack energy and motivation to do anything. I feel stifled in the small tiny room where I eat, sleep and do everything else in. I haven't even written in my diary for about two weeks, where before, I would furiously write in it at least once every two days.

And so now, with renewed determination, I am going to make my life interesting again. I need to revive myself. I want to re-energise myself.

And most of all, I want to be able to go through life experiencing it. And not simply skimming through the surface in a rush to get somewhere. Where, I don't know. But I always feel like I need to be in a hurry.

As in the sermon I heard this morning, God wants us to live life abundantly. To the full. To experience the richness, the activities, the relationships, the things that we are so passionate about.

And that is what I want to strive to do from today.
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