Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Happy Merdeka!

This is going to sound absolutely ignorant, but I just realized that Malaysia is turning 49 in two days! Ignorant not because I didn't know Merdeka was on August 31st, but because I was under the impression that Malaysia was turning 50 - there goes 8 years of Malaysian history down the drain. And yes, I've always had an issue with the Malaysian education system - but that's for another day.

In Penang, Merdeka usually means two things -- I'm either stuck in a traffic jam because some stupid person I happen to be stuck with (read: horrendous ex-boyfriend) has the bright idea of going to Esplanade to watch fireworks OR I'm hanging out at someone's house waiting for the stupid fireworks to avoid being stuck in traffic. Why fireworks? I know it's a cause for celebration, but it was a cause of celebration 49 years ago, isn't it time we turn that celebration into pride, respect for our past and remembrance? Malaysia's come a long way from its days of British rule (and yes, there are pros and cons to it -- the deterioration of the English language in primary & secondary schools these days are a testament to this). Hmm, maybe I should think about tutoring when I come back to Penang next year. Anyhoo...since I am stuck (interesting word of choice, since technically, I'm here voluntarily) in a different continent, where else would I go but to star.com.my -- yes, I was looking for a mainstream take on Merdeka, and lo and behold, I found something to amuse myself with -- a quiz from Star Online titled "How Malaysian Are You?" (complete with a photo of nasi lemak and a tiny image of Tunku Abdul Rahman -- sigh, I know food is important to Malaysians, but it's kinda sad seeing the father of Malaysia's independence barely the size of the yolk in the nasi lemak).
It's not so much the results of the quiz that amused me, by the way, the results don't matter much to me because I think the questions & answers are flawed and not objective enough -- which is actually the main agenda of this rant. People who know me well will understand that I usually have a lot to say when something irks me, so I'm commenting (see comments with **) on every single question from the quiz (yes, I know it's only for fun, but so is my blog!).
  1. You wake up in the morning, go through the morning ritual, and get ready to chow down your 'sarapan pagi' which consists of …

    • nasi lemak or roti (as in canai, telur, sardine etc), and Milo panas or kopi 'O'

    • scrambled/poached/coddled eggs, toast, turkey ham and coffee

    • roti bakar and half boiled eggs, and fresh orange juice.

    • char kway teow or some kind of fried noodles, and sky juice

    **What's wrong with us Malaysians who would have toast with half boiled eggs, smothered with kaya and butter and a huge cup of nonfat cappucino, preferably from Peets? Where in the world can you find fresh OJ in Malaysia anyway? Bluff. I'm certain you can't find fresh (and I mean freshly squeezed, chilled OJ, minus the sugar, minus the water, minus the ice) from Mandarin Oriental or the fruit juice store at the local kopitiam.

  2. You prepare to go to work. Your mode of transportation:

    • A Proton or Perodua

    • Public

    • A Japanese make

    • A Continental car

    **See, I'm currently forced to take public transport coz it's freakin expensive to park in downtown San Francisco, but if I had a choice, I would totally drive, simply because the public transportation takes way too long and inefficient. But I drive a VW Beetle -- so what does that make me?

  3. You get caught in a traffic jam caused by two men arguing over the seriously-dented Proton Iswara that's sitting right in the middle of the road. You…

    • zip past without even a glance

    • slow down, y'know, just to enjoy the scenery

    • slow down to take note of the car registration number

    • curse repeatedly at the line of cars slowing down to do one or all of the above

    **Horn really loudy - just because I love to horn and I do it whenever I get the chance. And then scoot right by, unless of course I see blood - then, I'll slow down. Always in the mood for a gory accident, btw, what's 911 number for Malaysia? 991?

  4. You do your best impression of Maiker Shumakker, but an annoyingly slow driver in the right lane (he's only going 65 in a 60kph zone) forces you to slow down. You…

    • cut him on the left

    • flash your lights at him until he moves to the left

    • honk at him and make splendid gestures with your free hand

    • follow patiently until either of you has to turn off

    **There are two types of drivers in Malaysia - people who drive waaay to slow, and people who should audition for Fast & Furious 3. I'm neither. And I happen to a very polite driver, albeit a little risky. And it's spelled Michael Schumacher!

  5. Getting past the slow coach, you get pulled over by a traffic policeman, who approaches your car. You wind down your windows. He says, "Lesen?". You say:

    • "Sorry bos, tak perasan. Sumpah tak buat lagi!" (Sorry sir, didn't notice the speed limit. I swear I won't do it again!)
    • "Camna? Boleh settle ah?" (Anyway we can settle this?)

    • Nothing of consequence. You quietly take the summons with every intention to pay.

    • Nothing of consequence. You quietly take the summons, keep it in your glove compartment, and leave it there. For good. Or until you're forced to dig it out again.

    **Smile. And feign ignorance. And then show my California's driver's license - coz my Malaysian driver's license is expired. Ham up my fake ass American accent and pretend that I've been away for years, and this is my first time driving in Malaysia. Hey, double standards exist, I don't condone it but why shouldn't I exploit it while it's still there?

  6. You arrive at your workplace. Before you can commence work, your superior hands you an invitation to a very important client's wedding. The dinner ceremony as stated in the card, starts at 6.20p.m. Which actually means,

    • 7.00pm

    • 6.20pm

    • 6.25pm

    • 6.10pm

    **Erm, it's a client's wedding. First off, why am I invited? Secondly, if it says 6.20pm, one should totally be there on time.

  7. You head for the special lunch function, a buffet, organised by one of your company's clients. The grill can only turn out six slices of salmon at a time. You're first in line and there are many others behind you. You...

    • grab all six. Hey, you were first in line after all

    • grab all six and stay in line for the next batch; you've got many mouths to feed

    • take one slice and share it with the others at your table

    • decide to help yourself to the piles of pickled jellyfish instead

    **Hate grilled salmon. Don't like buffets. Loath people who pile food on their plates. Show me the dessert line anytime! Mmm, cupcakes.

  8. Driving home, you decide to pay your friendly neighbourhood VCD/DVD seller a visit; it has been awhile. You're on a first-name basis with the dude manning the counter, but you, like everybody else, prefer to call him…

    • Bos

    • Macha

    • Brader

    • Sir

    **None of the above.

  9. You find nothing "new" at the VCD/DVD spot, so you decide to go to the movies. The ad playing on the big screen is reminding folks to turn off their mobile phones, which prompts an immediate response from you. The response?

    • A big, loud bwahhahhah laugh because the ad is really hilarious.

    • You switch off your mobile phone.

    • You don't do anything. You don't quite understand what the ad is trying to say.

    • You set your mobile phone on silent mode.

    **I can't stand people who don't respect the movies. If you at the cinema, you're freakin supposed to turn your phone on vibrate, shut the fuck up, sit the hell down. Don't even think about whispering, don't even think about going to the restroom in the middle of the movie and the only I'm adding this last one is because people have actually done it to me -- don't even think about bringing your 6-month old baby to watch a three-hour, action movie. Comprende? Anyone who breaks my movie rules in the cinema gets popcorn in their hair.

  10. After the show, you decide to meet up with your kaki. Arriving at the stall you spot the perfect parking space. Problem is, a lady driver on the opposite side, has signalled that that spot is hers. You…

    • let her have the parking space, but it comes with a price. On her part. (A scratch here, a deflated tyre there, etc).

    • quickly turn into the parking space before she does.

    • look for another spot because she was there first.

    • grab your baseball bat, and make sure she sees it.

    **It depends. If she looks bitchy, then I give her a stare down. If she looks friendly enough, I give her the spot. If it's an empty parallel spot - anyone else can have it. I suck at parallel parking.

  11. Your friend calls for Nescafe kau-kau. What is he asking for?

    • coffee with some cow parts

    • coffee with extra sugar

    • coffee, extra thick

    • Nescafe on a plate

    **Is it just me but how retarded is the first answer choice? Ish. If the place serves Nescafe on a plate, it deserves a mention in Klue coz that's old school, man!

  12. You start talking, and the conversation veers to that about the Dec 15 deadline set by the government for registering prepaid phones. Of course, as far as you're concerned, you will:

  13. register your prepaid phone by Dec 15?
    • wait till the deadline is extended, and then register?

    • wait till the extension to the deadline is extended, then register?

    • wait till the authorities give up and registration becomes voluntary, then go around telling everyone "I told you so?"

    **Duh, it's called a deadline for a reason. Obviously would have had it done waaay before Dec. 15.

  14. Home. You switch on the idiot box on. You see this hugely popular Malaysian pop star onscreen. After picking your brain for his name, you come upon one that sounds right. That would be…

    • Juwie

    • Mawi

    • Sawi

    • Marvin

    **Erm, Sawi is a vegetable and the only Marvin I know is a martian. Who the hell is Mawi? Process of elimination - Juwie - is he/she male/female??

  15. You decide to start surfing channels when suddenly transmission is disrupted. You immediately know that it's…

    • raining outside

    • cloudy outside

    • snowing outside

    • because of the rats

    **Ahh, good ol' Astro. Obviously rain. And it's only a drizzle coz when it pours, Astro is fine.

  16. With the TV not working, you start flipping through the newspaper. You come across an article about a worldwide survey on "rudeness". Malaysians are ranked third in the world. Your reaction?

    • Funny but we really do deserve the ranking. Perhaps, it's time to change. (Acceptance)

    • Who do I sue? (Smug)

    • We're third rudest? Really? (Denial)

    • Who do I beat up? (Angry)

    **Hey look, another stupid survey for me to rant about! Ish.


Monday, August 28, 2006

Stupidest research ever

So here I was, scanning the news - and what catches my eye is this headline: "Taller people are smarter: study." Come on! That has to be the stupidest research ever - there is absolutely no way that anyone can prove that someone is more intelligent just because they're taller. Fact in point, I know a ton of people who are taller than me and much dumber. And I mean MUCH MUCH dumber. Total ditz.

I'm totally offended by this research and plan to write in to the retarded researchers about this. I encourage anyone who feels that being petite or of average height does not equal being less intelligent to do the same. Click here or see below for article.

Taller people are smarter: study Fri Aug 25, 5:53 PM ET
While researchers have long shown that tall people earn more than their shorter counterparts, it's not only social discrimination that accounts for this inequality -- tall people are just smarter than their height-challenged peers, a new study finds.

"As early as age three -- before schooling has had a chance to play a role -- and throughout childhood, taller children perform significantly better on cognitive tests," wrote Anne Case and Christina Paxson of Princeton University in a paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The findings were based primarily on two British studies that followed children born in 1958 and 1970, respectively, through adulthood and a U.S. study on height and occupational choice.

Other studies have pointed to low self-esteem, better health that accompanies greater height, and social discrimination as culprits for lower pay for shorter people.

But researchers Case and Paxson believe the height advantage in the job world is more than just a question of image.

"As adults, taller individuals are more likely to select into higher paying occupations that require more advanced verbal and numerical skills and greater intelligence, for which they earn handsome returns," they wrote.

For both men and women in the United States and the United Kingdom, a height advantage of four inches equated with a 10 percent increase in wages on average.

But the researchers said the differences in performance crop up long before the tall people enter the job force. Prenatal care and the time between birth and the age of 3 are critical periods for determining future cognitive ability and height.

"The speed of growth is more rapid during this period than at any other during the life course, and nutritional needs are greatest at this point," the researchers wrote.

The research confirms previous studies that show that early nutrition is an important predictor of intelligence and height.

"Prenatal care and prenatal nutrition are just incredibly important, even more so than we already knew," Case said in an interview.

Since the study's data only included populations in the United Kingdom and the United States, the findings could not be applied to other regions, Case said.

And how tall are the researchers?

They are both about 5 feet 8 inches tall, well above the average height of 5 feet 4 inches for American women.

A copy of the paper can be found at http://papers.nber.org/papers/w12466.pdf.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A really random post

This will be the most random post ever. Okay fine, maybe not ever since I can't predict the future, but most random so far. :)
  • I'm on a quest to search for the world's most comfortable black stiletto pumps.

  • I paid $100 total for a pair of Paul Frank sunglasses and Ben Sherman skirt. Good deal? Hmmm...

  • I ate at a restaurant where our waiter had a glass eye, the sugar was pink and the cake was 5 inches in height.

  • I am strangely attracted to Tony Leung.

  • I have a stash of $12 worth of British candy in my drawer - and I'm worried that it's only going to last me for the next 3 days.

  • I miss Malaysia -- the weather, the food, the people -- the last time I was this homesick was six years ago. E-mail me if you know someone who works at FH Kuala Lumpur or Singapore!


Monday, August 07, 2006

Strange fruit of the day: Pluot

Originally uploaded by audreytmv.
So you would think that growing up in a country that calls durians the king of fruits and having tasted dragonfruits, nonas (aka sweetsop or custard apple) and cikus, you would think that I've seen and tasted it all -- apparently not.

Every Monday, my company has a box of fruits shipped in to us from The FruitGuys. What's cool is that you'll never know what you're gonna get. So instead of opting for a boring ol' banana, I've decided to try anything that looks or sounds weird. I had a squished plum last week that tasted a little fuzzy on my tongue, but decided to try my luck again today. I had a PLUOT, pronounced plu-out. It's a genetically engineered fruit, a hybrid of a plum and apricot. What's scary is that it's also known as a dinosaur egg -- creepy reference to extinction if you ask me. Anyway, it tasted pretty yummy, it look like an apple (I had the green looking one at the back), crunchier than plums but as sweet apricots.


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Sleepy afternoon at work

I'm sleeeepy, soooo sleepy. Having lasagna for lunch when you have to get back to work is not a good idea. Actually, going to work in general is not a good idea. Don't get me wrong, I don't my job (fine, my internship) but what I hate is not having anything to do - and it's days like this when I'm just bumming around, checking e-mails for the 100th time and blogging. Yes, blogging at work. The most frustrating part is that when it gets busy, it gets CRAZY busy. This is only my fourth week at Fleishman-Hillard and it's the only day where I've actually had time to do anything personal. Every day has just been deadlines back-to-back.

Then again, apparently the reason it's slow around here now is because it's summer and most people are out of their office. So while people are happily taking their vacations in some exotic country, I have to sit in my cubicle and pretend to work. Heh. Yes, I have my very own cubicle - with my name etched in it too. Exciting, huh? And from where I sit, if I arch my head in a certain position, I even get a view of the outside world! That's what you get when your cubicle is right across from the SVP/Partner's office.

Sooo...what's been happening at work? Well, I was chauffeured in a Lincoln Town Car to a meeting in Richmond, trying hard to get client interaction with Visa or Yahoo (according to other interns, client interaction is almost unheard of), worked on media outreach for Cathay Pacific and research projects for confidential new business clients that we're pursuing.

And there you have it, my wrap up for the past four weeks. And oh, I've been getting up at 6:30 am every weekday and in bed by midnight. Amazing. The good news is, using Yahoo IM is accepted in FH (because Yahoo is a client), meaning, it's time you logged on to your Yahoo Messenger if you want to bug me!