Monday, August 31, 2009

So They Say #2

Without duty, life is sort of boneless;
it cannot hold itself together.
~ Joseph Joubert


Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Essentials in a Christian Home

Rev Victor Vethamani's sermon today was taken from Colossians.

Colossians 3:18-4:1
Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting for those who belong to the Lord.

Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly.

Children, always obey your parents, for this pleases the Lord.

Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged.

Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Serve them sincerely because of your reverent fear of the Lord. Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. But if you do what is wrong, you will be paid back for the wrong you have done. For God has no favorites.

Masters, be just and fair to your slaves. Remember that you also have a Master—in heaven.

Now that I am looking at the verses, I find it interesting that a longer instructions was given to the slaves, and I believe it would be also relevant to us as workers in our time. It may be more extensive compared to the others because there isn't much of a 'relationship' between slaves and masters compared to wife and husband, father and children, children and parents. This is a good reminder to us because it is rare to find workers that are conscientious in their work and sincere to their employers.

I have also noticed that there are no instructions for mothers, but to fathers. Are fathers the only ones who tend to aggravate and exasperate their kids? What about mothers? What would be the best advice you would give us?


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Do social networks make people self-obsessed?

Check out this article in BBC News, Status Update: Who cares? (BBC News, Thursday, 27 August 2009 12:49 UK).

I may not Facebook much or send Tweets at all, but I do blog everyday. So I'm self-obsessed? I wonder ...

I started blogging in March 2006. I began with the purpose to just express my thoughts, nothing more than that, and todate, the purpose hasn't changed much. I blog because I needed a place to put down my mullings and going public through a blog gives me a sense of quality check as far as my writing is concerned and more importantly to have blogger friends to kind of as a monitor of my thoughts. So far so good.

I have joined Facebook in 2007, and after spending a couple of months getting connected with friends and playing with the applications and games, my interest waned. I log into Facebook very rarely. But since I started using the iPhone in April, I have been checking it a bit more often but more as a lurker, just to find out what has been happening with the people.

I have registered with Twitter only a few months ago. I think I only tweeted once and retweeted some. But what I really like about Twitter is that I have turned it into a news feed, and I have never been so updated with the current news and events ever before in my life.

And did you know that there is this macroblogging site call Woofer? If the 140 character in Twitter is too few for you, try out the minimum 1400 character Woofer. What will they come out with next?


Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Clogged Drain and A Controlled Mind

And so we stayed at home, Calvin with his computer as usual, and I with the laundry and a clogged drain. I have tried using chemicals to unclog it but it hadn't work. And the laundry has to be done and so I had to improvise and use buckets instead to drain the water. I think I burned quite a lot of calories washing several loads of laundry today. And I still have to figure out how to unclog the drain.

Meanwhile I have been viewing some videos in on Buddhism, more particularly on Meditation in the Discovering Buddhism series.

Buddhist meditation is about transforming the mind, the discover what the mind is really all about and from that find out what what life is all about. It involves a lot of concentration on a targetted object, be it the breath or Buddha. This is my preliminary understanding of meditation in the Buddhist worldview. Christian meditation on the other hand is prayer and the study of Scripture.

The ultimate of Buddhist meditation, I think, is the meditation of emptiness, but I have not really understood what they meant by emptiness, which is something abhorred by Christian and yet embraced by Buddhist. Emptiness to them is said to be not merely voidness but that it contains cognizance. How emptiness can contain cognizance is beyond me. If it does contain anything, it wouldn't be emptiness now, would it?

One of my reactions in the studying of Buddhism is having mixed feelings about it. While the more I read and learn about Buddhism the more I find it a very attractive religion, I also learnt several things that are so far from the Christian truth.

Buddha was a man who attained enlightenment and was freed from the so-called cycles of life. And so it is every Buddhists' goal to emulate this man who found the path and who has shown them the path to attain enlightenment and to be freed as well. As such, the religion is quite self-centered. Although they made it a requirement that one's motivation must be right, i.e. it is not only for self but for the world at large, I find it hard not to notice that it is still very much a self-attainment thing for them. Also, it very important for them to find a real-life guru to follow. It is not only a book, they need to find someone who has attain it to help them attain it as well.

When it comes to meditation, as Christians we pray and let the Holy Spirit guide us on what to say and what to pray and think about. We study Scriptures and let the Holy Spirit reveal God's truth to us. Buddhists on the other hand, use much effort to practice and control their mind to concentrate on their object of meditation. To them, it is a reality that it is all in the mind - the mind is a powerful thing that can change anything it will to change.

I find that hard to believe. Can a person trust his mind all the time? Your eyes will see strange sights and your mind imagine confusing things (Prov 23:33). To me, the overarching question is this: what is Buddhism's good based on? What is good? By what standard is good measured by? How do you know that you are good in your mind? How do you know that you are doing something that is good, to yourself or to anyone?

You'd notice that my mind isn't so coherent at the moment, i.e. I'm all over the place. The Buddhist would comment that I have yet to master the art of meditation to help me focus and concentrate my mind. But I'd say that I am searching, and when I am searching, I let my mind wander and it may happen on something I have not realised before. And the only standard that my mind is put up against is God himself: Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind (Psalm 26:2).


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Will be an incomplete food week

SH's car broke down and it will be in the workshop for longer than expected. As such, our Food Week wouldn't be a Food Week after all. We also planned a trip to Sungai Klah tomorrow to bring my parents there for a day, but it wasn't to be.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Food Week Day #2

We were at Decanter Bukit Damansara today for our Day 2 of Food Week and Calvin had a great time.

First he had the carrot soup and half a dozen of escargot. As usual the mommy forgot to take photos, until it was too late. The soup was good, the escargot wasn't.

He ordered the Cheesy Sandwich for his main meal. He enjoyed it. I ordered the Stewed Oxtail - no good. It was regretful.

For dessert, Calvin went against my advice and ordered the Hot Banana Pancakes. I was glad he did because it was utterly delicious. Again, the mommy was so eager to eat, she forgot to take a picture! This photo is "borrowed" from I also ordered one of my favourite - the affogato, it couldn't taste any better.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Food Week Day#1

School holidays have begun and the beauty of it this time, Calvin has his mommy at home the whole week!

We did not make any travelling plans but thought that since Calvin is some sort of a food connoisseur (the truth is, he just loves to eat), we could make this a food week and try something new everyday, or something we have not tried in a long time.

Our plans are not concrete and so we inadvertently began with San Francisco Coffee. Calvin loved their Fettucinne Carbonara but have not eaten there for awhile now. And so it was a very nice start to the food week.

Fettucinne Carbonara for Calvin, Roasted Chicken Bagel and Caramelatte for me. Yummy!

And here's to a great week and hope we don't get any pinches*.


* Pinches is a word coined by Calvin. In Malay it means "jelak". I am not sure if there is an English word for it. It means a feeling that you get when you have eaten too much of something that you just don't feel like eating anymore of that particular food. The thought of it can even make you nauseous.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

History Channel's Inside Islam

I came back from church today and switched on the TV, which is a rare thing. I turned to the History Channel only to discover that I have missed "Inside Islam". It would be good to watch as a follow up of the Ministry in a Pluralistic Society lectures.

So what the next best thing to do? YouTube, of course!

Check it out here if you are interested (there are 9 parts of about 10 minutes each). But be warned of two things:

1. I think the videos are "censored" in at least 3 sections. If I remember correctly, one on the Sufis, another on the American muslim lady's comments on the covering of head and another on the attack of the Ottoman Turks. If you watch it, let me know if I am right.

2. As they always say it, history is not "pure" history, in that they are presented in the context and interest of the historian. These videos are made as a response to the 9-11 catastrophe.

Let me know what you think.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Must Watch: Pixar/Disney's Up

We watched the new Pixar's movie Up and absolutely loved it! I was engaged in the movie from beginning till the end. I got teary eyed in the beginning and towards the end, it made me cry - and it wasn't easy wearing 3D glasses!

Ratatouille was Pixar's best until this one.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Why wasn't it like this before?

Heheh. I am just refering to my coffee. It has been about 2 weeks since I left KPMG and I am missing the coffee there already (and my friends as well!) So I got myself to the nearest Gloria Jeans and ordered my usual cup of Caramelatte.

But why didn't they look like this before?


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Misbehaving Christians?

What should be done when Christians show unacceptable behaviour? I have a few accounts that is fresh in mind, which has been occupying my thoughts. These are not uncommon, and I can be guilty of some of it some time or another. But what should be our response to them?

1. Christians who swears and use expletives
2. Christians who are rude and accuse others without any basis in church settings
3. Christians who nurture resentment towards others in the family of Christ
4. Christians who unknowingly are insensitive to others

The pastors and leaders of the church play a crucial part in this but what if they are not in the picture? What if it happens in small pockets of the church with no pastor or leaders involvement?


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What happens to me online after I die

I know the title of this post sounds morbid - and I had to change the usual second person address back to first person. It was during Weng Hung's wake service that I brought this up with SH, that it will be a good idea to include important online information in wills for easy access. He just smiled but I kept thinking about it.

Then I read this recent Time article. What do you think?

How to Manage Your Online Life When You're Dead
By Gaƫlle Faure Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2009


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

SUFES on sale?

I received an sms from Daniel last week informing me that SUFES, one of my favourite bookstores, in on sale. I plan to forget about it but Noel sent me this sms yesterday:

I did not go to SUFES today and I did not buy WBC on Exodus, The History of The Christ by Schlatter, The Moody Handbook of Theology by Enns, etc. I did not spend more than 350 ringgit. Pearlie must not not go there! Note the double negative. Substantial books are not not going at 15% off the normal price. When are you not going?

Obviously he was in denial and it is obvious to me that he did buy all those books. I called him up this morning and before we knew it, we find ourselves in SUFES contentedly browsing through the shelves.

I got these:

The Lotus and the Cross
Jesus Talks with Buddha
by Ravi Zacharias
Noel told me about this book which he said was excellent. I look forward to reading it since I am afterall to do an assignment on Buddhism.

The Compact Guide to World Religions
by Dean C. Halverson, ed.
I was reluctant to get this - I am not really a fan of "compact books". But I give in on this one so that I can have a quick read on the major religions of the world

The Apologetics Study Bible
Holman Bible Publishers
For whatever reasons I decided to walk to the bible section and Noel followed me. I was telling him about The Message when his eyes spotted this study bible and nothing could pry it out of his hands. I thought it would be a handy bible to have and so I got one too.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Catching Up with Twitter

I am quite happy twitting except that I am using it to read news and current happenings more than anything. I am following 61 twitters but the more active ones that turn up in my iPhone's Twitteriffic are BBC World News, BBC Breaking News, CNN Breaking News, The Star, Newsweek, Time, New York Times, Amazing Photography, Photography News and Mashable. That is quite a lot to follow but it is keeping me up to date.

Do you Tweet?


Sunday, August 16, 2009

My Black Dress

Grace Notes is getting along in its rehearsals to get ready for our concert on 12 and 13 September 2009. The ladies had their measurements all done up and dress design selected. I have picked several designs for the ladies to choose from, with each of us wearing a different black dress. The dresses are currently work-in-progress. I went for a fitting today and I love it!


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Ronda Utara Day 3

Moving out of Taiping
As expected, there was no time to go to Penang and so we decided to roam around Taiping a bit and then to drive slowly back to KL using the trunk road. We had breakfast in the same place we had lunch.

We spent quite a long time in the Lake Gardens as it was a haven for photographers. The scene there was beautiful.

Finally, I now have a decent bench photo :)

All praise and thanks to our God for his wonderful creation and allowing us to a part of it. Praise the Lord.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Ronda Utara Day 2

Still in Ipoh
We wanted to go to Foh San for the most famous dimsum in Ipoh. We were told that the crowd would be there as early as 6.30am and so we planned to wake up at 6 and head off early. But we were too comfortable in bed and it wasn already 7+ by the time we got there.

It wasn't that bad - we still got a table, albeit the last one.

Chee cheong fun, egg tarts and prawn rolls.

Har gau - prawn dumplings.

Pei dan chook - century egg congee.

Our verdict? Well ... no big deal -- we've tasted better dimsum in KL -- Yuen Garden in Puchong to be precise. My complaint was that the dimsum carts were not heated carts and by the time the food was served, they were cold. The only nice decent serving was the congee.

We weren't too satisfied with our excursion in Ipoh - we kept getting lost and the food wasn't so great. And so before we left, we wanted to give it one more try and headed to the place which were closed when we got there yesterday evening before dinner. Alicia has been here before and she was glad she finally found the place: Kong Heng.

We found the place quite homely - may not look so, but we felt very happy and comfortable when we settled in at a table.

We had the famous Ipoh white coffee -- yummy ... -- I know I kept using the "famous" word, but they are.

Ipoh fruit rojak. This is one of my all-time favourite food but I have not tried the Ipoh variety before -- it was fabulous!

The rojak stall.

Next stop: Kuala Kangsar
After being satisfied finally with Ipoh, we headed off to Kuala Kangsar. But we did not stay too long there and took very few shots. We did not look for any food and decided to head off to Taiping instead.

The famous Malay College Kuala Kangsar - I told myself that this would be the "Eton of the East", and I was right (refer to the Wikipedia link).

Next stop: Taiping
Taiping is located in the northern part of Perak and its name means "eternal peace". Read its history and its 40 firsts here.

It was late and we were starving by then and found Taiping a much easier town to maneuver. We found the eating stalls quite easily.

Char kuey teow

Pak gor yi mai and lin chee kang

After lunch, we checked into Legend Inn, the most decent looking hotel by our standards and rested for a bit. It was soon dinner time and we ended up in another food arena near the Lake Gardens - no pictures though, I was so tired by then I just ate when the food arrived.

After dinner, we drove around town. Unbeknownst to me, I did not switch on my headlights and we were driving around in the dark. I kind of feel something was amiss and I kept telling Alicia that the town was extremely dark! I only found out about it when we got back to the hotel. God really took care of us to ensure we got around safely. To put it satirically, he would have told one of the guardian angels, "Go and look out for that silly girl, she forgot to switch on her headlights." Thank you O Lord for again taking such good care of us.

Alicia took this photo of the entrance to Taiping Zoo with her Lumix night mode option. We wanted to go for the Night Safari but changed our minds when we did not see a soul in sight.

We were soon settled in for the night and we were totally down and out.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ronda Utara Day 1

Alicia and I had been planning to drive up north to Kampar, Ipoh, Kuala Kangsar and Taiping, and if we have the time, to Penang as well. The highlights of our trip will be the local food and of course photography - Alicia with her Panasonic Lumix and I with my Canon 40D.

I wanted to go blind, i.e. without any plans and just happen upon it as well go along but Alicia being Alicia, she is a planner. She was all ready with maps and guidebooks. I'm fine with that as well and off we went!

We began our trip at 9 in the morning after a dimsum breakfast in Kuala Lumpur (KL). The dimsum wasn't so nice and so we do look forward to savouring dimsum when we get to Ipoh.

Our first stop: Kampar
The name of the town was derived from two Cantonese words: kam pou, which means precious gold. It probably refers to its previously rich tin reserves.

The quaint little town.

I spotted this watchmaker from a clock shop hard at work ...

... and a keysmith.

Some grocery storekeepers - the one in red asked if I were an investigator.

We stopped by this shop to get some biscuits. They were hot off the oven and they tasted oh-so-good. These biscuits have a weird name - lou po bang, in Cantonese - translated: wife biscuits. I have no idea why they are called that, but I found a plausible story here.

It was then lunch time and we scouted around looking for Kampar's famous beef tripe noodles. We could not find it and started asking the locals there and directions were given, and off we went to find Onn Kee Noodle Stall.

The stall owner recommended some vegetable juice: bung dai woon in Cantonese, daun pegaga in Malay, and pennywort leaves in English. We had it for the first time. How does it taste like? Well, if you add salt to it instead of sugar, it'd be vegetable soup.

Ah! The oh-so-famous beef noodles. Delicious!

Next stop: Ipoh
Ipoh is the capital city of the state of Perak. I did not take many pictures here because of the fact that we are mainly lost. We could not get ourselves familiarised with the roads in Ipoh. People from Ipoh will probably laugh at us since we came from a more complicated city, namely Kuala Lumpur, and yet to find the place, where most of the interesting places are, consists only of two main roads.

By time we got to the places where we wanted to try out the food, they were already closed for the evening and the shops that serves dinner are not opened yet. We were basically stuck in between and so we just drove around. I was the driver and hence I did not get any photos.

Alicia got this one - Wisma Taiko - we joked that we must go through Taiko (big brother) first before we got on our way from one main road to the other.

It was finally time for dinner and we headed off to the "four-corners" shops, and settled for Onn Kee Ipoh chicken rice. If you noticed, the name of the shop is the same as the name of the beef noodle shop in Kampar. What a coincidence.

It was the sunset when we got there.

The place was soon crowded with people.

One of the "four-corners" shop selling take-away salted chicken and duck.

Taugeh or boiled bean sprouts with rice ...

... and steamed chicken. This is one of Ipoh's famous cuisines. However, sad to say, we did not enjoy the food at all. It wasn't that good and wasn't that different from the ones we have in KL.

But what happened after the meal was an experience for me. A lady who was walking about selling raffle tickets stopped by our table and commented that we have a lot of food left. I could not finish the food and had a lot of rice left in my plate. To my surprise Alicia said, "Yes we could not finish it and would you like to have it?"

Leftover food? I didn't know what to think. I wouldn't have thought of doing things like that but my cousin is a kind and caring person. She asked for the food to be packed, telling me that if the lady did not mind, it would be better for the lady to have the leftovers, since the food will be discarded and wasted anyway.

The food was soon packed up and given to the lady. Then we saw her asking an old man by the roadside if he would like the food and he took it. I am still quite beside myself over the happening, not so much over the leftover food but the plight of the needy.

We soon settled down in Ipoh after having checked into a hotel. We stayed at the Ritz Garden Hotel. I did not get a picture of the building. This picture is from one of the tourist website. It does not look very nice from the outside ...

... but we were most pleased with the inside. The beds were so comfortable with really nice cotton sheets. We slept most soundly in the night.

Thank you O God for a safe journey and a wonderful first day.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My first so-called photo shoot "job"

Sue asked me a favour to take photos for her catering business. And so I had a blast today in her house taking hundreds of shots of the finger food she had so painstakingly prepared.

First, I had a field day with the bruschettas. I took these the most because being amateurish with photography, I had to get used to the place, the lights and all.

Then there were the fruit tarts. There were more shots but my favourites were these couple of closeups.

Taking photos of brownies proved to be the most challenging of all. It is just so difficult to bring life of out a blob of chocolate mass. But I think these look alright.

And with a glass of milk with an angle, I quite like this shot.

The cookies were no brainers. Though I still think something is missing.

Then the oh so glorious cupcakes - I adore them, and they were super delicious too!

And if I really have to choose, off all 330 shots, these two are my most favourite ones.

Check out Sue's website here: Scrumptious simple indulgence
(if it is not up yet, check it out later)

Photos (c) 2009 Pearlie Ng