Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Spirit of Halloween

Do you celebrate Halloween? By celebrating Halloween I mean, dressing up in scary costumes, carving pumpkins, decorating the house with spooky deco and going trick-or-treating. Well, I don't. Well, not in Malaysia, at least. So, why do people, especially those in Western countries, celebrate them? Here's a lil info I got from this website about Halloween and its origins:

What is Halloween?
Halloween is a holiday celebrated on the night of October 31. Traditional activities include trick-or-treating, bonfires, costume parties, visiting "haunted houses" and carving jack-o-lanterns.

When is Halloween?
Halloween celebrated on the night of October 31 regardless of the day of the week.

What is the origin and history of Halloween? 
Halloween have its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain (pronounced "sah-win"). The festival of Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture. Samhain was a time used by the ancient pagans to take stock of supplies and prepare for winter. The ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped and the deceased would come back to life and cause havoc such as sickness or damaged crops.

Why do we "Trick or Treat"?
Trick-or-treating, is an activity for children on or around Halloween in which they proceed from house to house in costumes, asking for treats such as confectionery with the question, "Trick or treat?" The "trick" part of "trick or treat" is a threat to play a trick on the homeowner or his property if no treat is given. Trick-or-treating is one of the main traditions of Halloween. It has become socially expected that if one lives in a neighborhood with children one should purchase treats in preparation for trick-or-treaters.

What is the history of carving pumpkins / jack-o'-lanterns?
A jack-o'-lantern (sometimes also spelled Jack O'Lantern) is typically a carved pumpkin. It is associated chiefly with the holiday Halloween. Typically the top is cut off, and the inside flesh then scooped out; an image, usually a monstrous face, is carved onto the outside surface, and the lid replaced. During the night, a candle is placed inside to illuminate the effect. The term is not particularly common outside North America, although the practice of carving lanterns for Halloween is. 

Despite the colorful legends, the term jack-o'-lantern originally meant a night watchman, or man with a lantern, with the earliest known use in the mid-17th century; and later, meaning an ignis fatuus or will-o'-the-wisp. In Labrador and Newfoundland, both names "Jacky Lantern" and "Jack the Lantern" refer to the will-o'-the-wisp concept rather than the pumpkin carving aspect.

Why do we wear costumes? 
Halloween costumes are outfits worn on or around October 31, the day of Halloween. What sets Halloween costumes apart from costumes for other celebrations or days of dressing up is that they are often designed to imitate supernatural and scary beings. Costumes are traditionally those of monsters such as vampires, ghosts, skeletons, witches, and devils. There are also costumes of pop culture figures like presidents, or film, television, and cartoon characters. Another popular trend is for women (and in some cases, men) to use Halloween as an excuse to wear particularly revealing costumes, showing off more skin than would be socially acceptable otherwise.

I don't know why, but this year's Halloween really brings back fond memories of our (me and my batch mates, that is - you know who you are!) farewell party-cum-Halloween party during our final year in Wellington, back in 2006. Here are the best pictures from the party: 

Ni kat rumah with my housemates sebelum keluar gi party~
It's HELL. Enter at your own risk!! :D
Err.. witches, hantu, pocong, angel.. semua ada! Hehe..
Get ready.. hantu2, witches, wizards, devil, angel nak nyanyi nih! :D
Bunny pun ada? Heee.. cucuk ekor dia!! XD
My lecturer, Rebecca who is such a sport! And yes, I'm supposed to be a vampiress here.
We got a princess, red devil, gold devil, witch, vampiress and err.. female Indiana Jones?
Angah the Angel with another lecturer of ours - Meredith the Witch :)
Poor Zira.. she got a knife stuck in her head! XD
Farewell, Cohort 1...
Okay, witches, devil and vampiress nak balik dah.. Let's ride on the broomstick, girls!

So there you go.. Halloween is kinda fun, innit? For some, it is often perceived to be 'khurafat' and the like but I think it all goes back to your 'niat' or intention. Don't take this the wrong way, but for me, there's nothing wrong with celebrating Halloween as long as you don't become too obsessed with the celebration/supernatural thingy. After all, people celebrate it just for the fun of it!

Happy Halloween, y'all!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Talk Less, Listen More

Familiar with the saying 'a problem shared is a problem halved'? Yes, definitely. If we tell someone about a problem, it is easier to deal with. I mean, we should not bottle up our feelings as it might eat us slowly from the inside.. agree? That's what I think. Sometimes, when people come to you about their problems, they don't expect you to help them solve the problems. In fact, they don't expect you to even agree with them! Most of the time, they just need someone to listen to their problems and understand their predicament. Yes, all you need to do is just listen.. REALLY listen. For some, listening entails merely hearing. But it's more than just a biological thing; listening is about understanding. You may think you understand, but you don't.

So here I'd like to ask you, are you a good listener?

When talking with someone, do you give your full attention? 

Can you recall most of the details of the conversation?

Do you interrupt someone while he or she is explaining their problem? 

Do you listen with an open and unbiased attitude?

If your answer is 'I'm not sure', then you need to start to listen more.. I believe that only through listening we're able to have a deeper understanding of people, their problems, our surroundings and life itself. But the question is, how??

According to this website, we should:

  1. Talk less. (true, we wanna be heard, not to be preached)
  2. Be approachable and receptive. (if you aren't, it'really is uncomfortable for us to talk to you)
  3. Give the speaker your complete attention. (refrain from doing anything else.. focus!)
  4. Maintain appropriate body language. (yes, eye contact would be much appreciated)
  5. Sincerely work to understand the message. (is it so hard?)
So, you know what you have to do.. In order to understand and be understood, you need to stop being a rubbish listener! Just showing empathy and that you care should be enough. Really. That's all I'm asking for!

p/s: Quoting a student of mine: "God gave us two ears and one mouth so that we listen more and complain less" How true, eh?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Weight Dilemma

"Aida, are you pregnant? You look chubbier than before," asked a senior colleague of mine.

"Whattttt? Nooo. Not yet. That's just me getting fatter. Tsk!" T_T

Yeah, I know, you don't have to point it out so blatantly. Huhu. Well, sapa taknak kurus/badan cantik kan? Gosh, I think I do have a lot of explanation why those love handles stick like glue! 

First, I'm big boned. Face it, we come in all sizes and shapes and you can't blame yourself if it's in the genes rightttt? I'm sure we can't lose weight from our bones, err.. can we? 

Second, I believe my metabolism rate is only so-so. I tend to sweat a lot, but I don't exercise, hence less sweat and my chance to lose weight is slim to none. Unless I do more physical activities, I don't think I'm able to burn a lot of calories from those food I've been eating. I mean, my job doesn't really require a lot of physical energy - mental energy, yes, heaps. I used to be quite active in sports. I play badminton, squash, sometimes I work out at the gym and I swim a lot.. but lately I don't know what has got into me, I keep on giving excuses, not wanting to do them all anymore. I have no time and no will.. help!

Also, I eat unhealthily. I love food but I wanna lose weight too. I really enjoy cooking for other people especially Hubby, but being on my own here makes it worse, really. Here, I don't cook and most of the time I just eat out or tapau food (fast food, slow food, mamak food, ahh you name it). Why? Let's just say cooking for one isn't really my cup of tea. Although it's a cleaner and healthier option, I find preparing for it as a hassle that it's just not worth it at all. And if I do cook, I rely a lot on processed food like sausages and nuggets for my meals, which of course, are often high in fats, sugar and salt. Although it is quick and convenient, but then again, what's the point of eating a lot of fruits and drinking yoghurts and plenty of water if I still eat processed food, right? Tu tak kira unhealthy canteen food lagi.. Ada ke jual Maggi kat sekolah? Tak patut! At least if we make our own homemade meal, we know the ingredients and the amounts that are going into the meal, kan? I believe nothing can be more valuable in our lives than our health.. As the saying goes, 'health is wealth'.. huuu.. I really need to change my lifestyle and make improvements if I want to stay healthy! Moderation is the key here, for we are what we eat. Badly need to cut down on sugar and salt intake, eat less than I usually do, eat more fruits and veggies and exercise more. Heyy, I know all these things.. I used to shed a good 10-12 kilos the last time I followed this routine.. entah kenapa sekarang tak boleh.. 

Once upon a time.. I looked that good
Don't get me wrong, I love myself, no matter how much I weight but I admit kadang-kadang tu penat juga when people look at me and think/tell me I need to lose weight. I'm also tired of not being able to buy clothes in department stores just because they don't have my size (OK, now I'm making myself fatter than I really am :p). Most of all, I'm tired of looking horrible in all clothes (I still love dressing up though, teehee~). But these reasons don't seem to motivate me at all to stop eating unhealthily and becoming more active. Oh I know, lack of discipline and MALAS!!

Now.. err, not that flattering coz dah 'berkembang'  in every way :p

Consistency. That's the trick. Once I get into the pattern of eating healthy meals and exercising even just a bit, I'll start losing weight and it'll be easier. I realize that it's not the easiest thing to do, but the first step is always the hardest, innit? Come on, Aida, you can do it.. start NOW!

p/s: Do you face the same dilemma?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Show Your Co-Workers Some Love

Sometimes, when you hate someone or some people so much, you get annoyed with everything they do. I'm actually getting more and more annoyed with people who are so full of themselves, daring enough to break the rules and creating an unpleasant atmosphere in the workplace. 

I seriously think that there are certain habits that one has at home that should not be brought into the workplace as what's acceptable at home or outside may not be suitable at the latter. What do you think about people or co-workers who are constantly talking or texting on a mobile phone, using communal computers to access Facebook or chat on MSN, and listening to music loudly at work? Inconsiderate and unprofessional. These two words nicely sum up how I feel about these people who fail to distinguish between work and personal life. Well, whatever.. as long as they don't mess with my insanity and serenity.

Firstly, taking personal calls at work doesn't seem appropriate, especially when all you do is chit-chatting and laughing about this and that ALL THE TIME. Texting is still acceptable, I guess. What is more annoying is the loud notification tones on mobile phones. Helloooo.. it exists in order to notify you of a call or a text. Not the whole office!  There's this thing called 'silent mode' y'know.. are you aware of it or are you just plainly stupid? Pfffttt...

Suka sangat phone tu sangkut je terus kat kepala! Hahaha.

Secondly, using communal or shared computers for personal use is just not right. The issue here is when these people take up computer time from other people who actually had (real) work to do. This is really the only thing I don't like about it coz I use the school's wireless network to access Facebook and other social networking websites too. Hehe. Well, at least I use my own laptop for that! Maybe you should too! 

Next, the strong smell of a perfume can be a pain in the ass too. Jangan sampai orang ingat korang jatuh kolam perfume pulak! Just because you love the perfume, it doesn't mean everyone else should be assaulted with the smell too! Pssttt.. spray moderately.

Also, some people just speak and laugh loudly like nobody's business. Yeah, maybe they have too much free time on their hands they can't help gossiping or yacking about their miserable lives.. I couldn't care less.. But kontrol-kontrol lah sikit volume suara tu.. Some people are trying to do some work in here.. they might have a hard time working with the constant chatter/a lot of noise around them. Silap silap boleh kena high blood pressure tau! Whatever happened to peace and quiet?

A world full of noise..

The same goes to people who like to listen to loud music while they work. Actually, I'm one of them. Teehee. Do you know that research shows that music soothes frayed nerves, drowns out distracting office chatter, boosts one's mood and enhances office performance? I mean, if it helps us work better, then, why not, right? BUT the thing is, while I'd listen on earphones/headphones, some people wouldn't! I guess it's okay if your co-workers don't mind the music but some DO prefer a more quiet work environment so if you are to impose background music on them all day long, it will surely drive them up the wall! It's so unfair, right? You wouldn't want the same thing done to you, would you?

Lastly, when it comes to work in the office, be punctual and don't be tardy. I don't care if you wanna keep your boy friend or husband waiting for you to get ready for a date or dinner, but I certainly mind if you're late for a meeting or in handing in paperwork and the like. So, leave your egocentricity at home before it produces a ripple effect on everybody else. 

So, please, please, please, please, please work on that attitude and learn to be more considerate of others.. It's not an issue of who's right and who's wrong but it's all about respect. So, stop complaining about this and that. Your co-workers have a right to be respected, not be considered a fuddy-duddy just because we don't approve of such behaviours. Do us a favour and spare us the misery!

p/s: What bad habits do your co-workers have that drive you nuts?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bukit Merah Laketown Resort

Need a short getaway on your way up north or from north to KL? Stop by Bukit Merah in Perak for a fun-filled holiday!

Lake Merah
Kampung Air Chalet

There are a lot of things you can do there.. I'm sure you won't regret it!

First, you can explore the EcoPark. It's great especially for couples with children who want to be close to animals in its natural habitat. You get to see rabbits, crocodiles, binturong, monkeys of different sorts and many more! 

Sarang burung tempura.. eh, tempua! :p
Sleeping binturongs, and that's hubby on the right ye :p
Poor monkey stuck in the cage
That's a real eagle y'all! At first I thought it was a fake hehe

Don't miss out the animal show as well! Showtimes are at 11.00am, 12.30pm, 2.30pm and 4.30pm respectively.

Look! They can cycle!
And they bowl too! Heee..
Love em wabbits!

Also, don't forget to try out the Skycycle where you get to cycle across the park, and when I said cycle it's not the two-wheeled machine that you sit on and move by turning the two pedals, it's this one right here:

Penat jugak kayuh pakai tangan ni!

The best of all has got to be the Waterpark! From Ecopark, you can take the chairlift to go to the waterpark. I think we had spent a good 3 to 4 hours just to play there - it has so many attractions!

The awesome view of the waterpark from the chairlift

Thirdly, if the lake water is not too low, you can also visit the Orang Utan Island by boat where you get up close and personal with the orang utans. We din go this time around coz we'd seen enough of orang utans in Sepilok already :p 

Anyhu, the last time we went there (last month to be exact), we stayed at Suria Apartment's studio apartment which is about 5-minute drive from the theme parks. Although it's located right next to the PLUS highway and the furniture is kinda old, it's clean, comfortable and has a very nice view. We had a blast with so many things to do! Great for family!

The apartments
The pool

If you don't feel like spending the night there, it's fine. Just consider coming just for a day trip instead. In fact, I wouldn't recommend this place for a long vacation as you might get bored after a few days! Ha-ha, seriously. For more info, feel free to visit its official website.

p/s: Will definitely go there again.. nak main air! Hehe..

p/p/s: All pics were taken with our Olympus Stylus 550WP Waterproof camera :)

Are You For Real?

It's so funny! Who would've thought..?

Like I stated in my blog header: 

"I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you read is not what I meant."

I really don't know why some people are way too quick to assume the worst without asking for the real reason behind things! For what it's worth, it might not be what you think it is. Now come on, snap out of it. Don't sweat the small stuff yeah! Me bukan nak cari pasal ;)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

We Live to Eat!

These three women cannot gather together or they'll end up eating like nobody's business!! XD

Well, for starters, since Sandakan houses various steamboat outlets, we'd decided to have a steamboat dinner at Trig Hill last weekend and it was sooo good! At only RM24++, we got continuous supply of tom yam soup, vegetable soup, variety of ingredients, drinks and ice cream! Yum, yum~

Which one do you want? Tom yam or chi choy?

We also went to English Tea House and Restaurant for high tea-cum-dinner the other day after work, and it was purely comforting, especially when all you want after a long day at work is to unwind, have good meals and chillax with your best buddies at a nice place!

Gambar cilok from its official website hehe

Kalau tak camwhore tak sah lah kan :p
Elcy helped herself to delicious English scones and crumpets with butter, cream and strawberry jam while Lam went for a local dish - Nasi Goreng Kampung, complete with a fried chicken and papadom. 

Fruit tarts and crumpets yum yum
Excited betul dapat scones ha-ha

Me? The catch of the day (barracuda) with garlic rice and sawi!

Life is good!

p/s: Pardon the low quality pictures.