Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Baby Make Over

Baby Obama, are you really still 3 months old?

Why are you so adorable and irresistible?

Can't wait to meet you in person...

Before the Make-Over:





After the Make-Over:




The Oscar Winning Act So Far

MUAKS!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Choosing the Brand of Faith

The recent media frenzies on New Creation Church in Singapore have caused my eyes sore and my ears all red. It's not the negative public reactions to the Church's development that bother me, instead what the overall Church does and is all about that annoy me.

I considered my self as an "okay" and regular Christian who don't intend to go in too deep and fall myself into the church nut clan. To some extent, I am impressed by and never have problems with other Christian fellows who are very devoted to God and go beyond their limitations to spread God's greatness, in good ways. But in principle, I never agree to and do not believe on Church being overly expanding, capital oriented, too advertised, too rich and awfully greedy. As a Christian fellow, I feel sad having to comment on such practices but I cannot help to keep myself buttoned up.


I was Christian by birth and so were all my siblings. Following our Mom's faith path, three of us were registered as Christians since were born and introduced to Sunday schools since toddlers. We were raised in a family where Confucianism and Christianity were equally practiced. We were exposed to Catholicism to a great extent for 12 years during our schooling days.

Unlike my younger siblings, cousins and close friends who found Jesus in fairly young age, during my growing up period, faith wise, I was always in limbo. It took me over 22 years of solid soul searching process to decide which article of faith I should follow and commit to. Committing here means no turning back at all, even at heart.

It clearly did not instantly happen to me to find the right one but this is something that I will hold on for a long time. Hence, I had to be sure. Some people needed almost all their years of their lives to find it, so I guess I am quite okay to realize this at such age.

Why Christian? Mom is Christian and most of Mom's family are Christian. I believed in Jesus, enjoyed how the congregations sing the Christian songs for worshiping and was comfortable attending Sunday service except the part where I had to lead prayers in public. I sucked.

Why Catholic? I was used to their doctrines and liturgy for too long. Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer and few famous Bible verses were close to my heart. I have great respect to Catholic's liturgy and highly organized way in managing their institutions. I think it's cool all the way long but then, Catholic's rules of the game were simply way too liturgical for me to follow for the rest of my life.

Why Confucianism/Buddhism? Dad is a free thinker with a strong tendency towards Confucianism and Dad's family heavily practice Confucianism. I am used to the all the Chinese traditions and proud being a Chinese with family who still heavily practices these traditions. I have great respects in Chinese history and literature. I am a great believer of the fact that as Chinese who don't live in Mainland, we have to maintain our Chinese traditions to show our Chinese root. I deeply admire the Buddhism philosophies, simplicity teaching and the unworldliness living style that they practice.

Why did it take me over two decades to choose which brand of faith to devote to?

Christianity - Extreme Christian practices and devotees freaked me out. The aggressive recruitment efforts to reach non-believers were simply horrendous to me. Huge commercialization on some Christian churches and pastors with too much fortunes were indeed big turn offs to me. It made me think a lot - is Christian Church really all about wealth?

Catholicism - Catholic liturgy was too rigid for me. All was done strictly according to the book. All the pictures and statues of the holy persons inside the Catholic churches always gave me these weird goosebumps. I felt uneasy and very uncomfortable sitting in a chapel, not sure whether the place was just too quiet or it's because of the creepy atmosphere surrounding the church itself.

Confucianism/Buddhism - The rituals of praying and giving offerings to something hand-made by other humans are way beyond my logic. Some extreme vegetarians and vegans under this belief intimidated me.

After serious thinking, self-willed Bible learning and strong self-assurance, on Christmas Eve 2006 I decided to devote myself Christianity. I wanted to be a Christian but to the level which I am comfortable with.

What the Bible teaches made sense to me and I was comfortable with all its virtues. Even after devoting myself to Christianity, I am still very skeptical about choosing the church for Sunday service or following the services of big famous churches which draw thousands people each time they do their Sunday service. I have gone to almost all big churches' services but still prefer and stick to one which has less crowd, is not that materialistic in terms of both teaching and collection plus possesses this family-knit atmosphere. Those are what keep me going back to the same congregation every week.

Any religion is too sacred to be mixed with monetary issues. Growing church is not about huge surplus cash flow management or growing their Church bank account's numbers to over 8 or 9 digits. But some church leaders have managed to convert this spiritual phenomenons into millions dollar businesses.

All the buzz words about Church partnering with real estate powerhouse, constructing behemoth recession-proof church building which costs only God knows how many million dollar bills and Church Leader earning more than S$ 500,000 annually- they are simply disturbing and have caused both believers and non-believers to question the essence of Christianity which is not and never about money at all.

Why all this should happen?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

St. Paul and A Dead Man

I managed to get up earlier this Sunday. I had not much plan today but did not intend to stay at home the whole day either, so I decided to go to church. I've tried to rush my morning rituals before leaving the house but still, as usual, I came late to church for about 30 minutes. Service starts at 10. I left the house at 9.50. By 10 o'clock I was still waiting for the train in the station. So, there I was - arrived at Carlton Hotel by 10.30.

When I arrived, I was not allowed to come in to the room for a while as they were praying. I came in exactly when it was the time for the sermon. I think all the people there know my 'rubber time' habit already and never comment again on my weekly lateness.

During the sermon, I was so sleepy and bored. I kept checking my hand phone but there was no message for me and I don't play cell phone games either. Bored. I was pretty awake only when the preacher delivered some jokes and her life experiences. The rest of the time, I was gone. Out of earth.

I managed to catch the preacher's message on Mother Theresa and her student who was possessed on one Monday. But I like her last humor and its message best, shared before she closed her sermon.


St. Paul in Heaven

Once upon a time, a good person died and St. Paul greeted him in the gate of the Heaven. He was a good person and by right, should be able to enter the Heaven. However, he met St. Paul and St. Paul told him that in order to enter the Heaven, he should gain 100 points from the questions asked.


St. Paul: Tell me some good things you did when you were alive that make you eligible to enter the Heaven.
Man: I always went to church every Sunday.
St. Paul: Hmm, good. I give you 2 points for that.
Man: Only 2?
St. Paul: Yes. Anything else?
Man: I always gave 10% of my monthly earnings to church.
St. Paul: Alright. I give you another 2 points for that.
Man: I also opened a Soup Kitchen for the needy.
St. Paul: Very good. I give you 1 point for that.
Man: That's it? Just one? Alright. I lived with only one woman for 50 years. Never cheated on her, even at my heart.
St. Paul: Fantastic. I give you 3 points for that.

The man cried.

Man: Oh Lord. This way, I can only enter the Heaven by the grace of God.
St. Paul: Come on in.


The message was that people should stop thinking about themselves. At the end of the day, it's not 'About Me' that counts but it is all about accepting the fact that 'This is Me'.

Another Green Pilot Project

After waiting for more than 2 weeks, the sunflower seeds that I spread did not show any progress. Almost nothing at all and I am tired of waiting.

After Week 9

Yesterday, I decided to move on. I bought and spread another flower seeds - this time I am trying Nemophila or Baby Blue Eyes. The name sounds cute so the plants themselves are supposed to be cute too, I guess. I hope they grow fast.

My Balsams look quite healthy and green, but have yet to show any signs of flowering. Anyway, I'm still happy!

Balsam - Week 9


Movie Review: Confessions of A Shopaholic

Light, hilarious and definitely entertaining.

The flick makes me think - what if that one doomed day that Rebecca Bloomwood had happens to one of us, unexpectedly? People spend too much, still have fixed and other bills to pay and suddenly are out of job with barely savings. What would you do? Clearly Shopaholics Anonymous won't help much here. They can't help people to get away from the debt collectors. Only money and mind management would help apparently. Be safe!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Sweetest Sweets

Last Thursday, one of the speakers of the conference that I ran surprised me. After I greeted one of delegates in the registration table, Mr. Van Schaeren of Belgium suddenly presented me with a gift. Mr. Van Schaeren is a marine lecturer from Antwerp and flew all the way to Singapore just to give a 45 minutes speech at the conference. He was honored to be invited to speak in Singapore and had a chance to visit this island for the first time.


"This is a little gift from Belgium. I thought of giving this to the organizers. I hope it survived after the long flight. You can share the content with Shirley", he said. The gift was cold, as if was just let out from a fridge, heavy and beautifully wrapped.

Later that afternoon when Shirley and I opened the box wrap, we found out that he gave us a box of Leonidas chocolates. We could not believe that someone has just given us massive amounts of signature pralines from Belgium. Fresh and just brought directly from Europe! This is just sweet!



We both were so touched by his kindness and thanked him many times. Good people nowadays are in short supply but they still exist indeed. One of them is surely this Mr. Van Schaeren - kind, sincere and sweet in nature. In return, after the conference Shirley and I bought him a small souvenir of Singapore - just as a little token of appreciation. Not expensive but I hope he could feel our goodwill in it.

Pralines Assortments in the Box:
Butter Cream

Eve Fondant
Dark chocolate with butter cream with vanilla flavor


Manon Fondant, Milk and White
Chocolate praliné with coffee butter cream



Manon Cafe Fondant, Milk and White
Chocolate praliné with coffee butter cream and a whole hazelnut


Ganache

Poésie Fondant
Dark chocolate, ganache with Cointreau


Liqueur
Cerise Emballée
Dark chocolate, whole morello cherry with liquor cream


Feuille Fondant and Milk
Milk chocolate with vanilla flavoured liquor


Marzipan
Bûche Pistache Fondant
Dark chocolate, pistachio flavour marzipan


Fraise Massepain
Marzipan - strawberry flavour


Noix Massepain
Pure marzipan topped with half a walnut


Praliné

Bûche Pralinée Fondant, Milk and White
Praliné coated with dark, milk and white chocolate


Carré Croquant Fondant and Milk
Dark and milk chocolate, praliné with crisped rice


Casaleo Fondant, Milk and White
Praliné with crisped rice coated with dark, milk and white chocolate


Gianduja Emballée
Pure praliné


Moka Fondant and Milk
Dark and milk chocolate praliné with a hint of coffee flavour


Noisette Masquée Fondant, Milk and White
Dark, milk and white chocolate praliné with a whole hazelnut


Seahorse Milk
Milk chocolate with vanilla flavoured liquor


After meeting quite a number of Europeans at the conference these past two days, I think of my times spent in Holland a couple years back. Now I terribly miss and am dreaming about Europe again. The atmosphere. The people. Autumn and spring. European small villages and beautiful architectures. Wish I could return to Europe again very soon.

Europe, wait for me. I'm coming over again soon!!!

"Have faith in your dreams and someday, someday
Your rainbow will come smiling through
Whatever you wish for you keep!"

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Baby from Heaven: Signed, Sealed and Delivered

"Where did I come from?"

"The stork brought you to us."

In western culture, a white stork was believed to send babies to couples by bearing the infant wrapped in a sling held in its beak and deliver the baby in front of the couple's front door.

Stork and the Baby.

In Greece, baby Hercules was believed to be found by childless Alcmene and Amphitryon on Earth when he was about to be killed by Hades.

Baby Hercules.

In Japan, Momotaro came to earth in a giant peach and was found floating down a river by an old childless woman who was washing clothes there.

Momotaro.

According to the Tale of the Bamboo Cutter in Japan, Kaguya Hime was discovered as a baby inside the stalk of a glowing bamboo plant by an old childless bamboo cutter, called Taketori-no-Okina.


Kaguya Hime.

In Denmark, a woman received a magic seed and when she planted it, a tiny girl named Thumbelina emerged from its flower.

Thumbelina.

In Indonesia, a beautiful baby girl called Timun Mas was found by childless farmer couple from a golden magic cucumber plant.

Timun Mas.

Moving on, all of the parents who found the babies were so thankful and took care of the babies with so much love until they grew up.


What would you feel when one day, someone knocks on your door and passes you his or her newborn?


Baby in the house.
Surprised! Surprised!

Happy, blessed and immensely thankful as you have someone new in your family.

Excited as you got a new baby to play with at home.

Great and full of love as the baby is darn adorable.

Baby Jennifer - 3 months old /6 kgs.

Her name is Jennifer Anastasia. I have not met her personally but my sister just sent me her photos few minutes ago. I was instantly hooked to her! She looks so cute and adorable. No wonder, a lot of people fall in love with her, including my Mom. My Mom calls her Baby Obama because of her somewhat dark complexion. No pun intended.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

September Girl

Facebook quiz: What does your birthday say about you?

Result: September

Analysis: Virgos are....

Suave and compromising. Careful, cautious and organized. Likes to point out people's mistakes. Likes to criticize. Stubborn. Quiet but able to talk well. Calm and cool. Kind and sympathetic. Concerned and detailed. Loyal but not always honest. Does work well. Very confident. Sensitive. Thinking generous. Good memory. Clever and knowledgeable. Loves to look for information. Must control oneself when criticizing. Able to motivate oneself. Understanding. Fun to be around. Secretive. Loves sports, leisure and traveling. Hardly shows emotions. Tends to bottle up feelings. Very choosy, especially in relationships. Systematic.

All correct! 100 for the quiz creator!

Movie Review: Street Fighter


She is pretty. She can fight and play instrument very well. But she is angry almost all the time.

This was the second time catching movie with both Desy and Devy after Madagascar 2. It poured hard all afternoon so I waited for the rain to stop at Desy's place in Toa Payoh after lunch at Toa Payoh Hub. I had a lot of laughters and loads of childhood nostalgic talks with Desy. I bet not so many people would understand this, unless we grew up from the same realms or at least similar upbringings.

I am so going to miss this girl real bad when she goes back to Indonesia next May. I must admit that I don't get to meet many people with her candor and wisecrack potentials. God, I don't want this! What would I do without her?

The Palace

Classic fairy tales often celebrates the case where every kingdom has a King, a Queen, a very beautiful Princess and a handsome Prince.

Sometimes there are villains pictured in the stories who try to ruin the Kingdom's peace. These black sheeps could be in the form of step-mothers, step-sisters, witches and so on. But eventually all of them were eliminated from the casts. Then the tales' endings will portray the enviable romance between the beautiful Princess and the handsome Prince.



They fall in love, get married and have cute little princesses and princes. King and Queen rule the kingdom peacefully and all of the royalties live happily ever after.

Reality:



Back to Earth, little had people, or rather normal little girls, known that in every Kingdom, usually there was a King or Emperor, a Queen, eunuchs and a harem of imperial concubines.



The Emperor was the sovereign ruler of the empire or in simple words, he was the leader of the empire.



The Queen was the female equivalent of the King, often she indicated the wife of the King and possessed almost the same power as the King in the empire.



Eunuchs were the castrated men, employed by the Emperor and some served inside the Imperial Palace. They symbolized loyalty and political power. Some of them reported to the concubines or often called as the Harem staff but many grew as the most trusted person of the Emperor, valuable advisers to the Emperor and politically powerful. They gained immense power that occasionally superseded that of Prime Ministers. Often, they represented a clash of ideologies or political agenda within the empire.

Concubines were the beautiful and intelligent women of lower social status of the official wife of the King and with whom the King shared his bed. Some rulers maintained both wives and a harem of concubines. The King's favorite could rise herself to the supreme rank in the Harem.

Rationale and Translation:

Few days ago, I was invited to a dinner by a friend. He shared a lot about his dark-jungle survival manuals and other worldly philosophies. At present he works in a place where he often experiences tears than joy, a total contrary of his previous workplaces. From the outer-skin, his current workplace seems like a garden, full of beautiful flowers. But behind the flowers and the green leaves, the place is full of snakes and they do bite.



He has been working in this place for the past 6 to 7 years. He claimed that often he feels pressurized by the job and the bitter politics within his company. He cries. But to date he endures in the company for the longest time because of the principle he deeply applies, that he is never a quitter. He says that he would only quit the job when he himself realizes that he would not be able to add value to the company again. As long as he is still able to leave marks and grow flowers in the garden no matter how threatening the snakes inside the gardens, he would stay there.

Philosophically the old system within the Palace works the same as in the modern work place, anywhere and anytime. There are a lot of envious eunuchs and concubines trying to gain the King's trust.

He advised me that in order to survive in a politically-incorrect Empire, one must find a way to be the King's favorite concubine. Not as the eunuch nor just one of the other concubines, but the best one. One whom the King loves the most. The King loves her. The Queen herself might like her too, if not, the Queen herself would not be able to do much harm on her due to the King's favor.

Eunuchs will always be there. Wicked and politically powerful. Some would feel threatened by the concubine's position in front of the King's eyes and try to destroy her position. But eunuchs cannot do much. The concubine might be in the position where politics wise she can't go any higher, but she is real safe. She can stay in the Empire for a long time and maintains her low profile position. She can always shine and gain trust from the King subtlety. She can always get the King's supports in everything that she does and he always watches over her behind her back.

There is no point fighting the eunuchs and bluntly serving their political wars. The best way is to keep quiet and/or gain the King's trust and love quietly.

** Images are randomly taken from internet source.