It's Not Nag, It's Just Me

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Bringing In the Christmas Spirits

After two straight nites of sleeping really late or lack off it (depends how you look at it), one is due to rushing deadline while the other is socialising, i just can't get my brain to function now to work on the questionnaire or even a report.

So, the best is to continue doing something easy until those creative juices come back in. And one simple task will be album reviews. As mentioned in my earlier post that I bought a few albums, so here i am reviewing one of it. Josh Groban's Noel.

Boast of 13 tracks, this is one safe to buy Christmas album as most are traditional pieces while the new ones are very beautiful. Here's a track by track scoring:

1. Silent Night - the starting part was a bit too silent but he managed to pack it in towards the end. the production of this track was not too far away from the traditional, so it's quite a safe piece.
2. Little Drummer Boy - the first time i listened to this song, it was performed by Boney M. What JG has done or the producer had done here is creating a refreshing version. The acoustic guitar, the power vocals and the drum beats. Definitely a must listen.
3. I'll be Home for Christmas - Now this track is a bit way off, if you asked me. While it will be very relevant and touching for the US and probably the UK audiences but to the rest of the world, perhaps a separate version will be much appropriate. This track was laced with audio recording of the soldiers and family of the soldiers currently post in Iraq.
4.Ave Maria....ahhh...very church feeling. It's like sitting in a big church, filled with lit candles, a choir of children and in the middle of it is a grand black piano. Then JG standing in front of the choir and belted out this calming and lovely track. Just close your eyes when you listen to this track and visualise it. Lovely!
5. Angels We Have Heard on High. A very simple and light track featuring the voice of Brian McKnight. A bit mismatch in terms of the vocal, Brian's soft and smooth while Josh's strong and sharp. But a nice one anyhow.
6.Thankful. Perhaps one of my favorite track in this album. Beautiful melody and meaningful lyrics. What else can David Foster not do? Definitely bringing tears out.
7. The Christmas Song. I like Nat King Cole's version. I fell in love with Amy Grant's. JG gives me another reason to make this my favorite Christmas song. 'nuff said!
8. What Child Is This. Mmmm. Had never much like this just OK to me.
9. The First Noel. Another unique combination. Earlier on it's with a R&B artiste, now we have country singer, Faith Hill. I believed Celine Dion would have do much better though I'm not saying that Faith is bad, just that I had my benchmark set.
10. Petit Papa Noel. After 9 tracks of English pieces, we were finally offered a French track. But shouldn't this be sang by a female since it's about a little girl asking Santa Claus not to forget the little red shoes? I have not heard Celine Dion's version but should be good.
11. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear. Another familiar piece, but nothing extraordinary.
12. Panis Angelicus. From the beautiful french song to another beautiful Italian piece. However, I do believed that this piece is much better handled by Pavarotti or Borcelli.
13. O Come All Ye Faithful. Ahh..the last track and what christmas album will it be if it's not to include this one. Do not like much of the arrangment here. Too 'churchy'.

Words of wisdom from JT: Get yourself one for Christmas sake...

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Keep Moving Forward

A few days ago while buying some DVDs, I was given a choice of either The Simpsons or The Robinsons, as I only have one quota left. The Simpsons was very much the simpsons, silly, funny at times and of course Bart getting naked. The Robinsons was Disney and very likely to be family oriented and safe.

Probably expecting nothing out of The Simpsons, I decided to go for the Robinsons. And I didn't realise that it was such a sad touching animation given the fact we had so many animations about animals, monsters or superheros that Meet The Robinsons, though touch based on futuristic theme but was in fact quite down to earth as well.

Coming from a market research point of view, the target audience for this movie should be family with children aged 8-14 years old or adults looking for a feel good movie. I will definitely get my nephew to watch this when he's a bit older as he's too young to understand the underlying message of the movie.

Basically, the story of MTR is about an orphan giving up hope of being adopted after failing for 150 or so times, and wished to find his real mother, perhaps she will want him back now. One thing lead to another that the movie then bring out the fun aspects of introducing time travelling, bringing Lewis, the key character into the future and meet with a very optimistic and funny antics family, the Robinsons.

Being a Disney movie, one will quickly learn that the Robinsons is Lewis future family. And their optimism is very much the influence of Lewis himself, the motto of 'Keep Moving Forward'. And it was this subject that led to a very touching ending. Yes, it's a happy ending but one that will bring tears out of you. A few touching moments include: Adult Lewis meeting young Lewis and adult Lewis showed young Lewis his office, Young Lewis saw his real mother and of course Baby Lewis, Young Lewis saying goodbye to his future son (which they had became good friends) and of course, Lewis finally meeting the current timeline Robinsons followed by Rob Thomas' Little Wonder. Really kicking in.

Or perhaps it was where i am at the moment that really bring those tears out. If aspirin is the remedy for headache, perhaps this movie is the remedy to my previous post on Iraq. Anyway, i'm leaving you with the lyrics to Little Wonder.

Let it go; Let it roll right off your shoulder
Don't you know; The hardest part is over
Let it in; Let your clarity define you
In the end; You will only just remember how it feels

Our lives are made; In these small hours
These little wonders; These twists and turns of fate
Time falls away, But these small hours
These small hours Still remain

Let it slide; Let your troubles fall behind you
Let it shine, Till you feel it all around you
And I don't mind; If it's me you need to turn to
We'll get by; It's the heart that really matters in the end

All of my regret; Will wash away somehow
But I cannot forget; the way I feel right now

In these small hours; These little wonders
These twists and turns of fate
Yeah, these twisted turns of fate
Time falls away; Yeah, but these small hours,
These small hours
Still remain

[While we cannot change our past but we could shape our future - JT]

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

One Man, One Word, Millions Life

While on my way back from Pattaya, I flipped through the pages of the November GQ, hoping to find any articles which I have yet to read. Found a few but it was the last one which had me feeling uneased and troubled. Upon reaching home, I decided to write this entry though I have yet to complete reading the whole article but it is already had me feeling saddened and angry yet helpless.

the article was written by Chris Health and located as the last main article in GQ. You might wonder how interesting a GQ article could be if it's not about actors, glammed up designs and trends.

Titled Out of Iraq, the main page itself shown an Iraqi, sitting in a room, holding a cigarette, with bandage on both his arms and multiple healing wound on his chest. Quite a startling photograph. The article was about Iraqis who had left Iraq due to the recent war and currently refuged in neighbor country Syria and how these refugees are doing currently. And what did escaping from Iraq meant to them. The author interview just a few of these refugees and they are in fact holding good career prior to the war, a war started out of assumption, a war started by a megalomaniac, an invansion that perhaps have a much different agenda rather than to help free the country from a dictator.

If you feel annoyed by my last sentence, perhaps I just wish to state that this is purely my own opinion and my outake from the article. No apology offered as I believed no offense should be taken.

Before I continue, just to provide a few quotes from the article:
"...If the act of becoming a refugee is the act of leaving the hell of your old life, it is also often a step into a different kind of hell. A step not onto the solid ground of a new life but into the midair of no life at all"

" they left the house they were crying, knowing that, unless the situation changes, tehy may never see Iraq again"

"...Under Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, only a priviledged few were allowed to travel abroad. Now as supposedly free citiziens of a nascent democaracy, everyone is allowed to travel but they are welcome almost nowhere"

"We did not have the perfect life in Saddam's time...but the one thing he offered to his people was peace and living in safety"

Going back to my previous statement, is this what Iraqis had requested for? Or is this just an assumption from one person that this is for the good of the Iraqis? If it is, tell me how good is this? And this is not just about Iraq, but it is everywhere.

Look at Thailand, yes, the ex-PM could be one hell of a corrupted person but he did offered the people a positive economy, wiped out the drug lords.

Back in M'sia, opposition parties will continue to find flaws and proofs about wrong doing and so on when Dr. Mahathir was the Prime Minister but looking back then, isn't Malaysia had a bright economy. Isn't his decision of fixing the exchange rate save Malaysia a lot of trouble.

Coming from a layman, perhaps our only action was through the ballot poll but at the same time, what we want is just like any common person living in the world, a good career, providing the best to our family and able to live in peace and comfort. I once had a chat with a Thai friend regarding to the ex-PM and he labelled me as a pro but all I told him is that, my mom always told me, it doesn't matter who's the King, as long as the King can offered his people food and peace, that's a good King.

And if we were coming back to the Iraq case, if Bush intention was to help the Iraqi achieved a better life from the dictatorship of Saddam, then tell me, what is Bush's action or solution in assisting these 4millions and growing refugee in Syria?

While you might say that my analogy was totally wrong but I just felt that One Man's decision cause millions to suffer while One Man's action is not likely to have any significant impact at all. Have one's action in reducing the impact of Global Warming have any actual implication? If the world came to an end tomorrow, will this person be safe from it all as he did changed his lifestyle to reduce global warming? I doubt so.

And going back to my recent review of Robert Redford's Lions for Lambs...if you don't stand for anything, you will fail for anything. But what is there to stand for when anything just does not seem to be worth standing for? The world is dying yet all megalomaniacs of this world is only thinking about invasion, debating on religion, on homosexuality when in the end...we will still have no choice but to succumb to the wrath of nature. Yeah, 'the at least we try' phrase do seem nice to here and say but is it necessary anymore?

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Of Beauty, the Beast and the supporting characters

Few weeks ago, i've been invited to visit Pattaya to check out a famous restaurant there and I automatically agreed and took it as a paid-holiday assignment. Since it was a dinner assignment, there was a little dilemma of what time should that be but in the end, we decided to give 6pm a go as we were quite tired and hungry after the 4 hours travelling from Bangkok.

As we reached our target venue, we were 'greeted' by the host, which her role seemed to only pass out the card to all patrons without really advising them what to do with it as if we can read her mind. Well, being in Bangkok for a certain period as well as having experience with Food Loft, we were quite aware of such concept.

To our surprise, the restaurant was quite empty and quite. And because the day was getting dark, we couldn't really enjoy the seaview, hence we decided to sit inside the main hall. Overall, the ambience was literally quiet and cold. We believed the total patrons during that time were less than 10. Despite that, it took the staff sometime to come to our table and put the table number onto our pre-assigned food card.

Without much further ado, we went our different route to explore the restaurant of its food offered. A few visits to different stalls, we decided to go western and Vietnamese. I took the liberty in order the Chicken chop while my companion ordered the infamous Vietnamese pancake. Both orders seemed to went smoothly without much problem though the staff manning the counter could have be a bit more welcoming, at least with a smile or a 'hi'.

However, the most interesting part of the evening had to come from the beverage counter. Since it was relatively cold, i was thinking of getting something hot. And since the menu are mostly cold drinks, I asked a simple question of "Do you have something hot?" to the staff and all I got was a 'What?' response. Perhaps the question was a bit lengthy for him to digest, I shortened it to just one word "Hot?" but still failed. Finally, I went more specific and said 'Hot tea' of then he asked me to go to the opposite counter to order. And i thought this was supposed to be a beverage counter. Should be much appropriate to have a sign that said 'Cold Beverage Counter'. I decided to change my mind and order a Fresh Coconut instead. Until now, I still could not understand how could the word 'Coconut' could possibly become 'Chocolate' considering the pronounciation is relatively different. I already had some doubt when he asked me if I wanted Ice to go with my coconut, which I said no. He came back with a glass of cold chocolate. Not sure if I should laugh or cry.

After finishing our meal, we decided to order again, this time we went to the 'dim sum' counter. Perhaps the best out of the three as the female staff was all smile and welcoming. Sadly, it took more than 15 minutes for our three plates of 'dim sum' to arrive and it's quite salty too, especially the Fried Prawn Dumpling.

As the time reaching 7'o clock, the restaurant start to get busy with customers and this is where the service, I believed started to deteriorate. While the Supervisor was very focus and busy attending customers, however, her face was quite serious and at times including the way she stands while assisting the customers. I'm not going to explain how one should stand but perhaps the management could treat their staff to a nice restaurant in Bangkok and observe how professional staff actually service the customers.

And the presentation of the food, it's just too oily. When the Vietnamese pancake arrived, we can clearly saw drips of oil splattered all over the plate and as I picked the plate, my finger easily touched the oil. Similarly the Chicken Chop, I believed, the chef could have absorb the oil from the chicken with those kitchen towel before sending it to customers. Currently, it's as if it's dip into hot oil, pick it up and drop onto the plate and send it out. And let's not go to the french fries. It's unmentionable.

And coming back to the topic of the service deteriorated, it was the cleaning part. With more customers leaving, most of the tables were left uncleaned for more than 10 minutes. And when the staff decided to clean it, all they did are to transfer all the dirty plates and tissues into one table. And that table had to be the table in front of me. Imagine enjoying your meal while facing a stack of dirty plates and used tissue. Speechless.

Oh...and coming back to the title of this entry. In Disney's Beauty and the Beast, the Beast at the end turned into the prince charming while all the supporting characters returned to human form. And if Food Wave is the castle and the customers are the 'Belles', the Beast and the supporting characters will have a lot to do to ensure the 'Belles' finally see the beauty behind the Beast.

One simple and easy advice, please visit Starbucks next door, and learned from them, how they service their patrons and the effort they put in upselling and cross-selling.

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Pattaya Fried Rice

Well, this entry ain't coming from Starbucks but from a hotel room in Pattaya.

Things did not turn up as scheduled or expected for me as usual. The class ended 15 minutes later than expected due to some debate on the Thai word usage or definition. Then the rush to get all the required stuff into the bag and the rush to the bus station.

Based on what was reported in the world wide web, the time took to reach Pattaya by bus should not take more than 2.5 hours. Anticipating that we manage to catch the 12.30-is bus (seems there's one every 30 minutes), we should reach Pattaya before 3pm, which will give me much ample time to rest, do some work before conducting my audit work for dinner.

Unfortunately, it took more than 4 hours and those of you who knew me, I get all stressed up if things went beyond my control, schedule and planned all went awry. I still remembered when I was the event organising chairman for my ex-company annual dinner in the 6 star hotel ballroom. On that day, it rain cats and dogs, most of my committee members arrived late mainly because they were busy doing their hairs and make-ups...leaving a lot of things not done yet. And that evening, I really let all the vulgar words out to all my committee members.

Anyway, coming back to the trip, honestly, it was kinda dreadful considering it was a hot Saturday afternoon, it's a 4 hours trip with many stops and many on and off passengers, not much sign was seen on the distance to Pattaya except for the sign 'to Pattaya'.

I finally reached the hotel at 4.30pm, tired, stressed up, thirsty and hungry. Luckily, the staff at the hotel were very professional, providing good service without me having the need to use my Thai language. The room was quite neat and comfy with the exception of the ridiculous toilet, reminds me of the hotel i stayed when i was in Tokyo.

To make it worse, the Wi-Fi was not free at all. Since i'm already hooked up to the internet these days, i decided to pay for it and get on with life. Okay, the results of my audit in the next entry.


Sunday, November 11, 2007


Was invited to watch a heavy drama called Lions for Lambs. Not a bad movie but compared to Crash, it still quite far behind.
In normal circumstances, I might give this one a skip considering it has
1. Tom Cruise in it (finds his movies less & less appealing and it's always about him and no one else)
2. Robert Redford. Not really a fan of his.

But since it's an invitation and the fact that there's Meryl Streep in it, I decided to give it a try.

Overall, the movie consist of 3 stories which kind of interwined with one another. There's
a. Robert Redford as a political science professor having a heavy discussion with one of his 'bright' student who seem to be not interested in life anymore
b. the Senator (Tom Cruise) giving an exlusive interview to a well-experienced journalist (Meryl Streep) about the latest military strategy
c. Two soldiers whom quit their study to join the army and fighting for their life in Iran

You will need to watch this movie to understand how these 3 stories linked to one another. Don't worry, it's just heavy drama but will not required much of your brain to link them. However, it will leave you with a moral question, which is very subjective depends on which angle you are looking at it.

The question in this case is 'Knowing the outcome will be the same, will you tried to fail or rather failed to try?" Remember that the outcome will be a Negative outcome.

If you were to ask me, I definitely not able to give you a very clear answer since life is much more complicated than that. The ethical question, the post-action question, etc. etc. Perhaps when it comes to my work, I will definitely tried knowing that it will fail while when it comes to relationship, I would rather be the one that failed to try.

Considering that your work is more about functional while relationship is more about emotional, therefore by failing to try, there will always be some kind of hope in it. And in life, isn't it hope that keeps us alive, keeps us going on, keeps us to be where we are? Anyway, i'm not in a position to give judgement.

Tom Cruise "I'm not running for President"
Robert Redford "If....If..." after the two students mentioned about they will be able to make a difference when they return from their army duties.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Even Stars had its Flaws

It was Friday, the end of the work week. Crazy morning & afternoon. So when a client called for dinner & drinks, I just grab it. Can't blame me for that since she wanted to introduce me to her colleague of which I've been communicating for a potential bio-tech study weeks ago and it has been a while since we last went out for dinner/drinks. In addition, I also need to inform her about my MD's decision of rejecting her invitation for participating in her global seminar early Dec.

anyway, she was meeting with the event manager of Marriott Resorts and Spa to run through the venues and stuff, so she decided to have the dinner and drinks there as well. Initially, we planned to have it at one the main restaurant, serving barbequed seafood but it was just too packed and hot that we decided to move to another restaurant within this spacious and beautiful hotel.

It's called the Traver's Din. A very nice restaurant with quite interesting menu from Asian to western. even the drinks are a plenty, including one that called Suffering Bastard. I just go safe and order my usual Mojito, which was not bad but could have been better in terms of the presentation as well as the drink itself. Firstly the glass that it came with looks too normal and cheap, like some normal clear glass one would get in the Chinese restaurant. It should have come in a high tall glass. As I sip the drink from the straw, my tongue felt something sandy from it. Upon further checking, it's sugar. A good cocktail bartender would have make sure the drink is well mixed and prepared. Still can't beat Sirocco at that.

The event manager ordered for us some appetizers which were not that exciting or unique but the BBQ ribs is excellent. Tender meat with the right sweet bbq sauce. However, an area that the staff was careless on is the condiment plate. Although it's only a condiment, presentation of this aspect is also important considering the status of the restaurant. There was mustard on the side of the plate, some kind of stain as well. Just doesn't look proper.

As for the main meal, I have the San Francisco Prawns, price at 750baht, mind you. Since it is a fine dining restaurant, one would have expect a long wait for the main meal to arrive, which it did. As it arrived, the dish looks quite appealing, seven large prawn covered with orangie cream sauce and surrounded by asparagus and tomato. Then there's the side dish of warm white rice. Unlike Chinese meal where the rice is one of the main component, here the rice is simply thrown in as a side dish, like the baked potato or the chips when you ordered the steak.

The taste of the prawns was great. Fresh and succulent. And the sauce was just right. Not too creamy and not too salty, with a tinge of the sweet Chardonnay mixed in, just make it perfect.

Overall, I would give the experience a 7.5 out of 1o. 1 point for the loud music. I mean people are dining and chatting and we have to really shout to one another. 0.5 point for the condiment presentation and 1 point for the Mojito.

Well, we finally left the place at 11pm feeling well-fed and a good social session.

Next up, a restaurant in Pattaya. Beware, cause this heartless auditor is coming to town!

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

When Twice Becomes a Failure

When it comes to food and services, it is quite true that no matter how good your food is, when your service sucks, you just fail, mainly because food is something people can easily find alternative unlike government agencies that no matter how bad their services are, we still have to endure them with a smile.

For lunch, I visited Black Canyon Coffee this afternoon. If i have to give it a pass or fail score, it already failed right at the beginning. I was at the outside browsing at the menu, when suddenly a staff came out and shouted, asking people to visit the restaurant. As I enter, no staff take notice of me and I find a place where I'm easily noticed but still after a few minutes, none of the staff realize that i just came and without a menu or cutleries on the table. FAILED! In providing good service, the staff must be alert at all times. And because the restaurant is only half filled, I believed it is easily for the staff to recognize who are the new customers, and yet...

Suddenly one of the staff passed by and kind of asked me if i have order or not. So I briefly tell her 'no' and she came back with a worn out menu. Considering that this restaurant business is quite okay (I've passed by many a times), I believed the management should have allocated some budget for maintenance. FAILED again.

One good thing is that one need not to wait long for the food and the presentation seems acceptable. Taste wise, okay. I had one of its specialty, rice with soft shell crab and hot basil. At the price of 95 baht, I do find it value for money.

After finishing the drink, I asked for the bill and the staff nodded. 7 minutes later, the bill has yet to appear and looking at the cashier counter, I don't think it will appear anytime soon. So I decided to ask again for the bill and only then it arrived. To me, when a customer need to ask for the bill twice, your service already FAILED considering the restaurant is half filled. Having so many staff and yet not able to deliver such simple requirements.

No matter how good and how good pricing your food is, when your service fails, you fail!

Buck up!

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Friday, November 02, 2007

Contented = Refused to change = Denial?

In this world, there are people who are just contented with where, who and what they are. This is really something that i just could not understand especially those that has yet to reach their golden age. Even the Golden Girls are seeking challenges here and there.

Oh, who am i talking about? It's the production people in my company. Part of their role is to help us to do the charting aka pulling out the data from the tabulation and put it into chart form, as simple as that. While i have no problem of their performance but there are times when it is really annoying when instead of putting in your effort in analyzing the data, you put more time in making the chart readable, don't even talk about presentable.

A chart with font size '8'. Gosh! It's like all they care is to extract the data into the chart, and that's it. I have to squint my eyes to look at the numbers. Don't they realized that the minimum font size should be '10'. Gosh!!!!!!!

Another thing is the usage of color. Again, all they care about is to have the line color differentiated without even care about it being readable or not. light shade of pink or purple. Current wave vs previous wave of which the color of previous wave line is much much prominent and bolder than current wave. Gosh!!!!

I don't think that i'm being picky or too's just Presentation 101. Basic stuff. Just like you should know not to wear a white socks with a black leather shoes...unless you are Michael Jackson, else it's horrendous!