Monday, March 31, 2014

Been there done that...not impressed

I first saw the TWG tea house in Sunway Pyramid a month ago and was impressed with its grand set up. I had wanted to try it out but did not because I was also kind of put off at the same time. I felt it was too grand for a tea house - it's like fine dining but they only serve tea and light snacks.

I had a meeting planned in KL today however, and we decided to have it in the TWG outlet in Pavillion. Just to try it out.

Verdict? Not impressed at all.

Food is not great. Tea is bland. Prices exorbitant.

And I felt deceived as well. Its logo had the year 1837 in it together with its initial TWG. You would think that the tea house is established in that year but no, it isn't. It was founded in 2008.

Judge John Saunders had harsh words for TWG Tea for using the date 1837 in its sign, when in fact the company started in 2008.
Company officials explained that 1837 referred to the year when the Chamber of Commerce was founded in Singapore, which was then an important tea trading hub. Its inclusion was meant to celebrate that year, they said.
But Judge Saunders found this was not the "real intention". He said: "There is no doubt that the existence of the date 1837 in TWG Tea's sign has led people to believe that the company was established at that time."
He noted, among other things, that Bloomberg Businessweek had published an online report in October 2011 saying the Singapore-based company was founded in 1837.
Source: The Straits Times

To me, that's plain deception.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Expository sermon on Roms 16:1-16

The sermon this morning was an expository sermon on Romans 16:1-16, which is interesting since the whole section consist of Paul's personal greetings to and commendation of a group of people in Rome. And it was in fact an excellent sermon on What Makes a Healthy Church.

The speaker Rev John Folmar's main point is that congregating as a church is very necessary. It is not enough to meet online or the worship alone at home. From the passage, we can see evident a diverse group of people – race, gender and origin – with one common bond in the cross of Christ, sharing in love and hospitality. This cannot be accomplished without meeting frequently.

The body of Christ, the Church, must meet and be together, as often as we can - "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Heb 10:24-25 (NIV)


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Total klutz

I am a total klutz today. I tripped and fell big time but thankfully I am not hurt, except my pride.

I remember reading here that negative emotions fade faster, which is good but I think we remember bad things better than good ones.

What do you think?


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Costume rentals

I have never rented a costume before and I am quite surprised when I visited a rental store today. My company will be having its first ever company dinner and as usual, departments are to put up events and off we went to rent some costumes for our performance.

There is certainly a whole variety of costumes for rental and they seem to have quite a good business and demand as well.

I am really not so adventurous and settled for a decent looking one. My colleagues look just absolutely fabulous in super hero costumes - Mrs Incredible, Batwoman, Captain America and Superwoman. The less super hero ones will be an apache, King Leonidas and myself as Princess Fiona.

Today is really the most hilarious day of the year for me. I simply couldn't stop laughing.

Someone said we should hang our colleague down from the ceiling as Superwoman. But I thought that would take too much work and preparation and said no, we could just lay her flat on her tummy with the hands stretched out on a roller table and just push her out. We nearly died laughing.


Photo source: McCullochs Costume

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Body massages

I always love a good body massage. The best one I had before was this masseur in a Thai massage place near my home. She was extremely good. But sadly, the place closed down and I can't find her anymore.

However, the one I had in Chiang Mai was by far the best. It's the Fah Lanna Spa, in the Night Bazaar. I remember getting lost in the comfort, wanting more when it ended. And I simply love Chiang Mai. I should go there again soon.

I have tried Thai, Balinese, Malay, Chinese and Swedish massage. It is hard to decide but I think I prefer Thai.

However, I am not sure if there is anything spiritual about it. I read somewhere that Thai masseurs perform their own puja or prayers before they begin work. At the moment, I am taking it as their own spiritual discipline, not connected to their services. The only one time that I had to stop using a masseur was this Malay lady who kept uttering incantations when giving the massage.

The new place I am working in now has a Thai Odyssey outlet nearby. I am looking forward to trying it out in the next week or two.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

People, people, people

God made us and he made us different. Imagine him making us all alike. Same look, same built and exactly the same personality and behaviour. Life would definitely be much, much easier (...or maybe not) but much less interesting!

I wouldn't know which I'd prefer (as if I have a choice!), but here we have it, having to live with and manage our lives--at home, at work, in our faith community--with all kinds of people.

It does feel tiring having to manage so many types of people in a day, but that is the beauty of the cauldron of life as God has designed it.


Monday, March 24, 2014

eBooks vs. Print Books AND Kindle vs. Kobo iPhone app comparison(updated)

Note: (27/4/2014 - I've changed my mind drastically about Kobo. Check it out here.)

I started going electronic in my reading back in year 2011. Three and a half years down the line, I have not read so many books since my childhood days, and it is indeed a good thing. I have read a total of 87 books since I got back to my reading discipline - all by the grace of God, and my ereaders.

There has been much debate between my friends, my husband and I on whether it is better to read ebooks or print books, and I have come to the conclusion that it is very much a personal preference. It is between (1) the smell and feel of books and the easyness of annotation and notes, and (2) the mobility, convenience and access to thousands of titles all there in your hands, and the use of electronic functions like search and dictionary. 

But one thing for sure, a print book just need this one characteristic for it to win big: it does not need batteries, just sunlight. If ever you are faraway from an electrical source, your ebooks are as good as nothing.

By the way, it is time I re-do the comparison between the Kindle and Kobo apps for the iPhone and iPad, especially after Kobo made some improvements recently. 

PerformanceKindle performs better. It has less waiting time and moves to a new chapter like another page.Kobo has a few seconds of waiting time from chapter to chapter.Kindle
Turning the pagesIt now gives a very smooth page curl turn. Smoother than Kobo.The new version fares badly in page turning. I keep having problems turning between pages, turning back when I swipe to turn to the next page. As such, I have turned off page curl, but with only slight improvements.Kindle
Search functionIt has the so-very-important search function.It has incorporate a much needed search function not long ago.Draw
Reading between devicesKindle synchronises reading seamlessly between devices and backs up notes and highlights via Whispersync. It actually asks you first before the syncing to ensure you want to do it. I find that smart, so it does not automatically go to a page I do not want when I change devices.The new version syncs between devices pretty well now. But if you remove the book from your devices, all your annotations are gone.Kindle
Storage of booksI am able to archive books in Kindle, so I can choose to keep a selected number of books in my devices.I can remove books from my app and later add it back by bookmarking it in the site. A longer process having to do it from the kobo website, not directly from the app like Kindle.Kindle
Reading in landscapeI like the way the iPad displays the book in landscape mode. It columnise the book into two making reading much easier. It really feels like I am reading a book book.Kobo does it all in one huge column.Kindle
Highlight and notationAccess to the highlights and notes in three taps.Same as KindleDraw
DictionaryOxford. Access right on the page you are reading, hence it might be truncated but most of the time, it is sufficient, though the text is extremely small.Webster. Access right on the page with the ability to scroll. Provides options to check it out in Wikipedia and Google within the app. The dictionary function in the new version has a delay.Draw
Screen orientationKindle's screen orientation lock is very intuitive and can be performed in the midst of reading.It uses the iPhone/iPad's orientation lock.Draw
Screen brightnessThe new version allows you to change the level of brightness in the app but it changes the device's brightness as well, which is undesirable.You can change the brightness of the screen right there on the book while maintaining the device's pre-set brightness level.Kobo
Reading ProgressionKindle kept it simple. One progress bar in any page you are reading. It is good, important really, to know how far you are at any one point. However, it does not show you progress by chapter, which I suppose just like a print book.It only show your progress within the chapter and book.Kobo
InterfaceKindle's interface could be improved. It will be nice to have books in shelves. Not necessary, but nice to have.I like Kobo's interface and it looks better. Books can be displayed in shelves. Display of books can be customised, new folders can be created. It logs your activities, reading patterns, it keeps track of which book you have finished. The awards a' la FourSquare are pretty cool, not necessary, but cool. The new version has a home page that shows you additional data like recommended books, average hours of reading, etc.Kobo
TextKindle fully justifies the text in the page leaving big gaps in some of the lines. But it allows you to change line spacing.Kobo justifies to the left and is easier to read.Kobo
Copy and pasteA hard-to-get thing but still, I wish I had it. Kindle allows me to share selected text in Facebook or Twitter. But I am not really a social media fan.Kobo does not have it too but at least it allows me to email selected text, albeit limited. I email what I need to myself but if it is a long piece, it is quite troublesome.Kobo

It was a draw when I re-evaluated it in early 2013, and it is still a draw.


Post-script 20th April 2014: the more I use Kobo, the more irritated I am. It is almost impossible to turn the pages successfully. And so I am adding more weight to the first of the criteria above and declare the Kindle app the winner.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Book Review: Unafraid, Lineage of Grace

Unafraid, Lineage of Grace
by Francine Rivers

It has been a good week of a reading phase for me, finishing three books, all of which are really good books, especially this one, Rivers's retelling of the story of Mary, from the conception up to the ascension of Jesus.

I was not too comfortable with Mary's over possessiveness of Jesus but after all it would be a struggle for a mere human to be the mother of the Son of God. She was also portrayed as being understandably impatient for the kingship and lordship of her son as the Messiah, to save Israel from the power of Roman rule.

But what I found interesting was these two things. (1) Mary saw the difference between Jesus and her other children. Jesus was a perfect son, whilst his siblings were difficult to raise. Accounts of Jesus before he began his ministry is limited and it is interesting to know how perfect he would be as a son, a brother, a nephew, a worker, and a friend to others round him. There is nothing bad about him. Perfect and good. For once, "can't you just be like Jesus" will be a fair statement for Mary to utter to her other children! (2) Rivers suggested that the reason Jesus chose John, his disciple, to take care of Mary was because all her other sons and Jesus's disciples would be martyred. Only John lived to a ripe old age. So only he was able to care for Mary, a widow with no sons.

Unafraid may not be an easy read because one tends to speed read through the familiar parts, and I kept having to stop myself to read it slowly, but unsuccessfully. However, it is enlightening to see it through the eyes of Mary, albeit as mostly fiction.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Book Review: Divergent

by Veronica Roth

I received a promotional email from recommending me to read Veronica Roth's Divergent before its movie premieres. And I did, I got a copy and started on it. It was pretty interesting and the reading was easy that I finished it in one sitting today.

I find that is it similar to The Hunger Games - dystopian and involving a young girl discovering who she is and being set in her life to be the saviour of her world. The other similarity is Harry Potter - houses or in this case, factions. When the children reach the are of 16 (instead of 11), they go through an aptitude test for their personality and then a choosing, though they choose it for themselves, whether Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless or Erudite.

It's alright for an easy read.


Friday, March 21, 2014

Fusion Haven in Seri Petaling

There was no CG meeting today and I took the opportunity to have dinner with my parents. I did a search for eating places in Seri Petaling and we decided to try Fusion Haven.

We go to Seri Petaling all the time but this restaurant is somehow situated in a location we seldom pass by and so we never knew about it even though it has been in operation for 10 years. The reviews in various websites have cited to between 4.5 to 5 stars out of 5. So, off we went.

And we were spoilt for choice. I could not decide what to order but I settled for these:

Mango Salad

Smoked Duck Pomodoro Alfredo

Mushroom Soup

We also had the german sausage platter, pork balls spaghetti and escargot. I was very happy, the food was superb, excellent and we will definitely be planning for another meal there.


Photo source:, Trip Advisor,

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Book Review: Business for the Common Good: A Christian Vision for the Marketplace

Business for the Common Good: A Christian Vision for the Marketplace
by Kenman L Wong and Scott B Rae

I bought this book quite awhile ago but did not have the urge to read it, though I did try. I picked it up again about five days ago and found it a wonderful and much needed read.

It is a part of a larger integration series that attempts to integrate the Christian life to various areas of living. This book deals with the integration with our work and career in the business world.

Its conviction is that "business, from a Christian a calling to transformational service for the common good", using the Scriptures as a compass to guide us in our work life.

The book covered these areas in its chapters:

1 Your Work is an Altar
2 The Shape of a Calling to Business
3 Business and Spiritual Formation
4 Wealth, Success and Ambition
5 Business and the Global Economy
6 Ethics in the Workplace
7 Leadership and Management: Serving Employees
8 Marketing: Serving Customers
9 Stewardship and Sustainability: Serving the Garden and our Neighbours
10 Emerging Directions in Business

I have been trying to figure out the theology of work for awhile now and this book certainly served to help me understand better what I do and how I can live out my Christian life more holistically and faithfully in all areas of my life.

This is indeed a must-read if you work in the marketplace.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014


I had a good discussion in the office with my colleagues today. I had ask one of them to work on an office email etiquette guideline and mentioned that he should include a guideline on bcc: (blind carbon copy).

It is my practice that I do not use the bcc: unless I bcc: all the recipients in my email. My colleague asked me why, and I told him that I have encountered situations where it got awkward when someone did not realise that he was a bcc: recipient and proceeded to send a reply to all the intended recipients.

My colleague did not believe me and insisted that a bcc: recipient will not be able to reply to all except the sender.

He did a test and got his answer.

So, never send an email with bcc: recipients unless all of them are bcc: recipients. If you really need to send an email secretly to someone, send the email proper to the intended recipients first and then forward that copy of email to your secret recipient.


Monday, March 17, 2014

Nice to have

I am not much of a jewelry person. I buy them at times but I end up not wearing a single piece - no rings, earrings, necklaces, anklets or bracelets.

However, I have an upcoming event and I need a necklace and matching earrings. I saw some at the Swarovski store but I just can't spend that kind of money.

I would love this, a Swarovski Tranquility Necklace.

But ended up with something much cheaper and not Swarovski.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Love Your Enemies

We had a bible study on Friday on Matthew 5:38-48 on loving your enemies, and it has been occupying my mind over the last couple of days.

I was in conversation with a good friend over our experience with the people we encounter and it reminded me about this teaching on loving our enemies.

"But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." (v.39) Jesus taught us that even though we are insulted, we should not be thinking of retaliation, but to take their well-being in mind and adjust our actions that will point them to Christ. (Hughes, Sermon on the Mount, 2001)

"And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well." (v.40) Jesus taught us that even if we are being ripped off, we are to act radically as far as to offer him more so that they will be bewildered and ultimately see Christ in us.

"And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles." (v.41) Jesus taught that even though we are being compelled to do what is expected of us, we should do it joyfully and putting our best and our whole heart in it.

These are tough things to do for our enemies, people who hates us, who wants nothing but our ruin. But it is not only how we are to do those things but how we can do them wisely.

This has also reminded me of a quote from the book Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card:
“In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them...I destroy them.”
This is quite a powerful statement and I agree with it except for the last three words.

We do indeed need to understand our enemies and I find that when we come to really understand what they want and what they believe, and when we see them through the eyes of Jesus, we will love them for they are but fallen and in need of Christ, we will pray for them, and hope that the very holiness of God will "destroy" them and restore them.

So, how do we interpret "loving our enemies"? I do not think it is to invite them to sup with us, to allow them into our inner lives, but to love them is to know them, to understand them and to pray for them.

Easier said than done obviously, but it is what Jesus expects of us.


Saturday, March 15, 2014


I had my third session with my personal trainer on Thursday and he brought me through some free weights exercises. I felt tired after that but no pain whatsoever.

The pain was dreadful today. The muscles in my arms, particularly in my right, is so painful I could not even straighten them. It seems I have what is called DOMS - delayed onset muscle soreness. I call it OUCH, in capitals.

Whatever it is, it hurts bad and it will continue to hurt bad for 72 hours...and don't you dare tell me "no pain no gain".


Friday, March 14, 2014

Francine Rivers

I found out about Francine Rivers from my reading of Tony Reinke’s Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books. His recommendation of Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead was disappointing. As much as it was a Pulitzer Prize winner, it comes off to me as a plotless rambling novel that goes nowhere.

Redeeming Love
by Francine Rivers

However, I was attracted to Francine Rivers’s Redeeming Love. She retells the story of prophet Hosea and his marriage to the prostitute Gomer, in his obedience to the command from God. The story is told with the California gold country, 1850, as a background. It is an amazing story – of the grace and love of God, who will receive anyone who comes to him in submission, no matter how dark their past is.

Lineage of Grace
by Francine Rivers

I am now reading her 5-book series in Lineage of Grace - Rivers’s stories on the 5 women in the genealogy of Jesus: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary, entitled Unveiled, Unashamed, Unshaken, Unspoken and Unafraid.

I have not read any of this so-called historical fiction in the biblical realm before but I find Rivers being quite faithful to Scriptures, with quite an acceptable poetic license in making it into a fuller and more developed story. I like how she built the characters, making them so real and personable, giving me a fuller understanding of the narrative accounts in the bible, though I need to remember to separate fiction from fact.

I was quite blown away with her story on Tamar. She has given historical and cultural details that I am not aware of.  I like her story on Ruth too and I was brought to tears in many parts. However, I am not too pleased with her take Naomi’s relationship with Boaz. I am reading the one of Bathsheba now and I am also not so in agreement with her take on Bathsheba, but she has brought up many issues in both David and Bathsheba’s actions.

I am indeed looking forward to reading her account on Mary. I have written a short one here myself. It will be interesting for me to read hers.


Post-script on 15 March 2014: I have just finished reading Unspoken on Bathsheba and I must say it was a difficult read. Difficult because it was full of violence, vengeance and hatred. However, I also saw the weakness and humanity of David, which will give it more colour and depth when I next read the Psalms that he wrote.

Post-script on 23 March 2014: review on the final book of A Lineage of Grace -

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Know your bible translations

I thought this is just too funny, but quite aptly accurate.
What do you think? Which are your favourite versions?

My favourites are the NLT and ESV.



Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Getting old

I am invincible. That was what I thought until I came to the realization now that I am indeed getting old.

I used to give no thoughts to my health and bodily functions and capabilities. I did get sick of course, but nothing I could not fix with enough rest and medication.

But I can't have that outlook anymore. I am getting warning signs in various parts of my body that it is certainly wearing down.

"For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down -- when we die and leave these bodies -- we will have a home in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long for the day when we will put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will not be spirits without bodies, but we will put on new heavenly bodies. Our dying bodies make us groan and sigh, but it's not that we want to die and have no bodies at all. We want to slip into our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by everlasting life.

God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit. So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. That is why we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. So our aim is to please him always, whether we are here in this body or away from this body."
~ 2 Corinthians 5:1-9 (NLT)


Monday, March 10, 2014

Have I caught the gym bug?

I have always hated exercise, preferring to snuggle in with a book instead when time permits, not running laps or pushing weights. 

But I have just joined a gym and signed up with a personal trainer, partly because I know I have to pull, or force really, myself out of a sedentary life and partly because my husband became a gym freak himself and has been nagging me ever since. 

I have been to the gym every weekday for the past two weeks and I am surprised that I am enjoying it quite a bit. I just bought a pair of Brooks running shoes today. Can't wait to try it out tomorrow. 


Sunday, March 09, 2014

Come home

The entire nation and the world is worried for the mysterious disappearing of flight MH370, and it is looking bleaker and bleaker by the hour.

The radio played the One Republic song "Come Home" in the afternoon, and I was almost in tears. Too poignant of a song for the moment.

Lord, have mercy.


Saturday, March 08, 2014

Gone are the days I never blogged about

I wanted to log my travels over the years today and I was able to do it because I have been faithfully blogging back then. My good friend Melissa asked me a question yesterday if I have stop blogging entirely. My reply was that I found myself thinking and musing not as much as before. But after looking through my travelogue here in my blog, I realized what I have missed.

I stopped blogging when I began working in a highly pressured environment in 2009. I had no time to write or even think, other than work stuff. As such, I stopped my daily blogging for more than 4 years already and now living to regret it.

I have tried several times to revive it but I could not keep at it, daily posting that is. It never went beyond a week or so.

And I have lost more than just a good log of my days, thoughts and experience but connection with my blogger friends as well and that is even sadder.

What would it take for me to get back into a daily thing?


Friday, March 07, 2014

We are what we eat

I am back in a working environment where there are lunches, lunches, lunches and lunches, just when I am all set to cut down on my calories and get fit again.


Thursday, March 06, 2014

Naps are better than coffee

I wake up very, very early every weekday morning to drive my son to school, and being a night owl by nature, I tend to stay up pretty late at night. As such, by every Thursday afternoon, I would be stoned. Don't even talk about Fridays.

It is Thursday noon now, and seriously, this is what I need. Oh for a 20-min nap.