Monthly Archives: March 2008

Joke of the Day

Mood: Laughing

I saw the funniest thing today! Love it! Love it long time!

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Easter Greetings

Mood: Hippity Hop!

Joke of the Day

Mood: Laughing

A colleague sent this to me earlier today – an oldie but a goodie – enjoy!

FIVE MINUTE MANAGEMENT COURSE

Lesson 1

A man is getting into the shower just as his wife is finishing up her shower, when the doorbell rings.
The wife quickly wraps herself in a towel and runs downstairs.
When she opens the door, there stands Bob, the next-door neighbour.
Before she says a word, Bob says, ‘I’ll give you $800 to drop that towel.’
After thinking for a moment, the woman drops her towel and stands naked in front of Bob, after a few seconds, Bob hands her $800 and leaves.
The woman wraps back up in the towel and goes back upstairs.
When she gets to the bathroom, her husband asks, ‘Who was that?’
‘It was Bob the next door neighbour,’ she replies.
‘Great,’ the husband says, ‘did he say anything about the $800 he owes me?’

Moral of the story:
If you share critical information pertaining to credit and risk with your shareholders in time, you may be in a position to prevent avoidable exposure.

Lesson 2

A priest offered a Nun a lift.
She got in and crossed her legs, forcing her gown to reveal a leg.
The priest nearly had an accident.
After controlling the car, he stealthily slid his hand up her leg.
The nun said, ‘Father, remember Psalm 129?’
The priest removed his hand. But, changing gears, he let his hand slide up her leg again.
The nun once again said, ‘Father, remember Psalm 129?’
The priest apologized ‘Sorry sister but the flesh is weak.’
Arriving at the convent, the nun sighed heavily and went on her way.
On his arrival at the church, the priest rushed to look up Psalm 129. It said, ‘Go forth and seek, further up, you will find glory.’

Moral of the story:
If you are not well informed in your job, you might miss a great opportunity.

Lesson 3

A sales rep, an administration clerk, and the manager are walking to lunch when they find an antique oil lamp.
They rub it and a Genie comes out.
The Genie says, ‘I’ll give each of you just one wish.’
‘Me first! Me first!’ says the admin clerk. ‘I want to be in the Bahamas , driving a speedboat, without a care in the world.’
Puff! She’s gone.
‘Me next! Me next!’ says the sales rep. ‘I want to be in Hawaii , relaxing on the beach with my personal masseuse, an endless supply of Pina Coladas and the love of my life.’
Puff! He’s gone.
‘OK, you’re up,’ the Genie says to the manager.
The manager says, ‘I want those two back in the office after lunch.’

Moral of the story:
Always let your boss have the first say.

Lesson 4

An eagle was sitting on a tree resting, doing nothing.
A small rabbit saw the eagle and asked him, ‘Can I also sit like you and do nothing?’
The eagle answered: ‘Sure, why not.’
So, the rabbit sat on the ground below the eagle and rested. All of a sudden, a fox appeared, jumped on the rabbit and ate it.

Moral of the story:
To be sitting and doing nothing, you must be sitting very, very high up.

Lesson 5

A turkey was chatting with a bull.
‘I would love to be able to get to the top of that tree’ sighed the turkey, ‘but I haven’t got the energy.’
‘Well, why don’t you nibble on some of my droppings?’ replied the bull. They’re packed with nutrients.’
The turkey pecked at a lump of dung, and found it actually gave him enough strength to reach the lowest branch of the tree.
The next day, after eating some more dung, he reached the second branch.
Finally after a fourth night, the turkey was proudly perched at the top of the tree.
He was promptly spotted by a farmer, who shot him out of the tree.

Moral of the story:
Bull shit might get you to the top, but it won’t keep you there.

Lesson 6

A little bird was flying south for the winter. It was so cold the bird froze and fell to the ground into a large field.
While he was lying there, a cow came by and dropped some dung on him.
As the frozen bird lay there in the pile of cow dung, he began to realize how warm he was.
The dung was actually thawing him out!
He lay there all warm and happy, and soon began to sing for joy.
A passing cat heard the bird singing and came to investigate.
Following the sound, the cat discovered the bird under the pile of cow dung, and promptly dug him out and ate him.

Morals of the story:
(1) Not everyone who shits on you is your enemy.
(2) Not everyone who gets you out of shit is your friend.
(3) And when you’re in deep shit, it’s best to keep your mouth shut!

So You Think You Can Dance: Top 12 Performance & Top 10 Revealed

Mood: Losing Interest

So I think you’ve lost me.

I didn’t see Monday night’s elimination episode, so I don’t how the judges made their decisions. But I can tell you this – the judges got it wrong wrong wrong!!!

After watching the Sunday night episode, I really thought I had the eliminations pegged. It was definitely time to go for JD, so I completely agree with that decision.

But Camilla???

So let me recap my observations from Sunday night. With only 6 couples left in the running, the show had to be beefed up somehow to take advantage of the prime time timeslot. In came a surprise challenge for all the couples, where each couple had to pick a song in an already locked-in selection of three, pick their own costumes from an already locked-in rack of costumes, and choreograph a routine using the music and the costumes.

In all fairness, I thought the surprise challenges were fun – there were some good routines and some cute routines. Everyone gave the challenge a good go and it added some different flavours already infused in the show.

As for the regular choreographed pieces, I must say I wasn’t too impressed with those.

Kate + Graeme: Jazz. These guys are dancing better and better together every week. I thought they did a really great job on this piece – really energetic and quite a visually spectacular routine. After the routine, we were told that Kate had pinched a nerve in her neck earlier in the week and Sunday night was the first time the couple had performed the routine in full. Tell you what – she is one tough little cookie – you certainly couldn’t tell she was being hampered by an injury as severe as a pinched nerve in her neck.

Rhiannon + JD: Surprise Challenge. The routine was fun and cute, and I liked the "lift" that saw Rhiannon front flip up to JD and JD catching her ankles and flipping her over his shoulders. That was pretty cool.

Jemma + Rhys: Surprise Challenge. I really loved their routine. I thought it was definitely better than Rhiannon + JD’s routine and it was really great to see these guys doing something of their own. They continue to look like they are having fun, which is good to see. Go you good things!

Vanessa + Henry: Contemporary. Um, so this piece had a capoeira flavour to it, which seemed really interesting when you listened to the choreographer talk about it. I’ve seen capoeira demonstrations and this Brazilian form of martial arts is fast paced and highly energised. This routine wasn’t. There was no real dancing in this routine – it was a very crap and slow demonstration of capoeira by two novices set to music that was entirely unsuited to the concept. Sorry, guys, but Bottom 3 prediction from me. Oh, and don’t get me started on Vanessa’s hair. I’m going to send her a big bundle of hair bands.

Camilla + Anthony: Lambada. Oooh … Lambada! Didn’t they do that in Dirty Dancing? With Laura and Sermsah eliminated last week, Camilla and Anthony became a new couple and they certainly looked striking together. The routine itself was great – lots of twists and turns for Camilla, but not much going on for Anthony who was just leading Camilla around the floor. The thing that was missing was the "heat" between these two – maybe they haven’t had that candlelit dinner that Bonnie has suggested to other couples as a way to get to know their partners better? Anyway, I liked this routine.

Demi + Jack: Surprise Challenge. How much do I love these guys? They are sooo damn cute! The routine had me in a fit of giggles the whole way through. Fun to watch.

Jemma + Rhys: Musical Theatre. The most solid couple in the competition, as far as I’m concerned, who just keep getting better and better and better. I am and have always been impressed with these two, right from the very beginning when they scored the gorgeous Waltz to Celine Dion. Their costumes were fab, the music was fun, and they danced so well together. This was sooo right up Rhys’ alley – he looked so comfortable doing this routine. Jemma was a little bit awkward in bits, but I thought she did so well to try and match Rhys’ ability.

Kate + Graeme: Surprise Challenge. Another fantastic job by these two. The fast paced routine held my attention throughout and I loved what they did with the piece and the music.

Rhiannon + JD: Hip Hop (with Nacho Pop). Yes, I’m a Nacho Pop fan. I think he’s terrific. And Sunday night’s routine was another good one. This was a custom-made tailor-fitted routine for JD – he looked so comfortable doing this – but I couldn’t help but think that he and Rhiannon got this routine as a weird sort of apology from the SYTYCD folks after that ill-fated Tango. Rhiannon looked cute, as usual, and even though she didn’t quite "pop" as much as JD, she still did a good job.

Camilla + Anthony: Surprise Challenge. I thought the routine was a bit laboured – maybe these guys were tired after a long week, and Camilla was exhausted after doing all the work in the Lambada. That final lift / spin thingy was a bit nail biting though – same lift as the one Camilla and Sermsah executed during the Top 20 Performance (ie. Week 1) and same little slip – only this time it was Anthony slipping. Maybe Camilla is slippery?!

Vanessa + Henry: Surprise Challenge. Henry is not a convincing geek, but he can certainly ham it up with the best of them. The routine was cute and both did a fine job hamming it up for the routine.

Demi + Jack: Contemporary. Damn. I have to say I wasn’t sure about this routine. It was so fast paced and so frenetic and so very busy that I just wasn’t entirely sure what was going on. Jack, as usual, did a fabulous job. But Demi, my little favourite, almost did a JD – towards the end of the routine, Demi seemed to pause for a split second, as if she was a bit lost and forgot where she was up to in the routine. Sitting in my living room, I was screaming "No, don’t do a JD!" Thankfully, she recovered very quickly but not before the judges all noted her moment of hesitation.

My predictions were Vanessa + Henry and Rhiannon + JD definitely in the Bottom 3, and tied for the remaining spot were Camilla + Anthony and (with tears in my eyes) Demi + Jack. In which case, the SYTYCD dream would end for JD (about time!!!) and (now big gulpy hiccupy unable to breathe howling) Demi.

So it came to being that the Bottom 3 as voted by the Australian public were Rhiannon + JD, Camilla + Anthony and Kate + Graeme. Oh no, the Kate Kiss of Death was back!

At this point, I would have said the SYTYCD dream would end for Rhiannon and JD. In my opinion, Camilla and Kate were better dancers, but then again, Bonnie had previously repeatedly mentioned that Rhiannon was trouble for all the other dancers because she was so good, so the choice would have been difficult amongst the girls. Still, my money would have been on Rhiannon.

But noooooooooooooo. Oh no. The twats eliminated Camilla. So you think you can judge? Overwhelmingly, that answer from me is NO.

With no show on Easter Sunday (as the episodes are taped on Fridays and there will be no taping on Good Friday), I’m glad I have just over a week to re-evaluate my loyal following thus far. At this point, I’m unlikely to bother, but just like the wronged partner on Cheaters, I need time away to sort through my feelings and deal with the emotions post fall out.

Calvin & Hobbes 18/03/2008

Mood: Giggling

I am a huge fan of Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes. Today’s strip made me laugh out loud. It IS the story of my life!

Cha-Cha-Cha-Changes… Again…

Mood: Annoyed

I am growing quite tired at being upset by the people I work with for no real reason.

On display yesterday was another fine example of "what not to do" – yet another fine mess that was slowly and painfully played out over the last couple of weeks. For a group of people who claims to have specialist skills in change management, they don’t practice what they preach when it comes to dealing with their own crises and staff members impacted by changes in the workplace. And I’m over it.

After what seemed like an eternity of closed door meetings, secret teleconferences and hushed conversations, it was finally announced that our division’s NSW Manager was leaving the company. Whilst this was big news, it didn’t really impact me as far as my day to day activities or my project activities were concerned. And I could have waited to hear the news when the rest of the company would find out – on Monday next week, via an email from my General Manager.

A bit of quick background first. The company I work for has a quirky way of relaying news about departing staff members. Most of the time, a non-descript email is sent to all staff announcing the news on the leaver’s very last day (oddly aimed to arrive in our inboxes at around the 3pm mark). It was not unusual to receive something along the lines of "It is with regret that I announce Joe Smith has resigned and his last day is today. Please join me in wishing him well." If the leaver had been with the company for a few years, then the email may contain slightly more details to note the person’s achievements and/or involvement in high profile projects. And if the person was leaving on not so happy terms, it may take weeks for some to realise that Elvis has left the building.

I don’t agree with this practice. Considering we are asked to (and most leavers do) give a month’s notice upon resignation, if the departing colleague wants to tell everyone well before their last day, then they should be allowed to. Instead, there is this unnecessary shroud of secrecy about the departure and the leaver is usually told not to say anything to anyone until their line manager or general manager is ready to issue a circular announcing the forthcoming event.

So it comes to being that the NSW Manager will soon be leaving the company after nearly 9 years of service. A haphazardly organised "emergency" teleconference was convened yesterday afternoon, for which all divisional staff were asked to drop everything to attend, and at which the announcement was made. His last day will be some time in the week after Easter, meaning that he handed in his resignation some time at the end of February.

Now, let me reiterate that the NSW Manager’s departure has little to no impact on me from a professional point of view. I am not upset that he’s leaving – after all, his new job is exactly what he wants and suits him down to a tee, and we all need to look after ourselves. Good on him for taking the leap and moving into the next phase of his career.

What I am upset about is the way the Senior Management Team dealt with what they perceived to be a crisis. The way the news was handled saw a large amount of unnecessary nervousness and unease created amongst the staff members who had the misfortune of being based in the headoffice and were party to the dramatic scenes played over the past two weeks. Oh, and did I mention that the last time a sudden and unexplained flurry of activity took place, I thought I was going to lose my job after the division I was working in was dissolved?

Let’s start with the General Manager. She is a highly animated, highly energetic manager who, in my opinion, is very reactive. The more stress she is under or the bigger the crisis, the more animated and loud she gets. She is usually based in Melbourne, and has been spending a great deal of time in our Sydney headoffice over the past weeks. The first sign of trouble came in the form of an off-the-cuff comment – that she was going to be spending a great deal of time in Sydney in the coming weeks. The next sign of trouble was the great number of lengthy closed door meetings between her and the NSW Manager. Next came another comment as she was heading into yet another closed door meeting – "unless someone dies, I am not to be disturbed". The final nail in the coffin was played out like The Last Supper – she took the headoffice based team to lunch on Wednesday, during which she "paved the way" with some tidbits of information she felt we should have.

Then there’s the NSW Manager. He’s as introverted as the General Manager is extroverted. He was a site-based project director and rarely spent any time in headoffice. So little did the NSW team saw of him that when we were asked what we thought of him during our performance reviews, most of the team said "He’s a good manager but I wish I saw him more often." And then, suddenly, we got what we wanted – he was in the headoffice all the time, behind a closed door with either the General Manager or the Operations Coordinator.

And then there’s the Operations Coordinator. She is just as highly animated and loud as the General Manager, if not more. Her voice is so loud that even she knows she should not have confidential conversations sitting at her desk. Over the past few weeks, she would disappear behind a closed door to have lengthy telephone conversations in the quietest voice possible. And while I know she means well, she has the subtlety of a sledge hammer. Every time someone asked about the NSW "restructure" (which had been in the pipeline for months), she would say "I’m not allowed to tell you – you’ll find out in good time – watch this space."

So here’s what I would have liked to have seen:

1. The closed door meetings to have taken place somewhere else. If those meetings were that confidential, which they were, they should have been held in a meeting room far far away from the headoffice based team and other prying eyes and ears.

2. From the General Manager, less "flapping about" and definitely less of those comments that I found to be flippant, and because I found them to be flippant caused me a great deal of unease and discontent.

3. From the Operations Coordinator, any made up excuse as to why she couldn’t talk about the news. For example, instead of saying "I’m not allowed to tell you – you’ll find out in good time – watch this space", I would have preferred "I don’t actually know what’s going on; please feel free to ask the General Manager".

The whole thing was a mess. It didn’t need to be such a mess. The knot in my stomach grew every day, which did not ease even after the announcement yesterday afternoon. It was still there today, which only started unravelling slowly after someone scratched the surface just enough for the veneer to break.

I did not need to be upset for no real reason. But seeing that sudden and unexplained flurry of activity in the headoffice, and feeling the breeze as the General Manager flapped about here and there wound me up so much for no real reason.

I don’t like being upset at work. Yet there I was today, talking with a colleague about stuff that was totally unrelated to the mess, when all of a sudden the flood gates opened and I was bawling my eyes out as the stress of the last few weeks proved too much to handle. Now, really, did the Senior Management Team need to carry on like they did and cause that much silent stress amongst their staff? For a bunch of change management specialists, they sure don’t seem to know how to put their own house in order.

And it’s all official. I just checked my inbox and the email is there – albeit appearing in my inbox at 6pm on a Friday evening. Trust me, I could have waited to read it on Monday.

Dinner For Two

Mood: A Little Bit Nervous

For the first time in a long time, I’m going to be cooking for someone who has never sampled my cooking. "A little bit nervous" is understating my jumble of nerves right now!

I love cooking, but cooking for one is usually not so much fun. Over the years, I’ve tried to adjust the yummy-looking recipes to suit dinner for one, so that I don’t end up eating leftovers for a week. But more times than not, the recipes either don’t work out due to reduced ingredients not quite meshing with the required cooking time, or I just end up buying enough ingredients to make the recipe in full as it was too hard to buy small amounts of fresh food.

Whenever I get a chance to cook for others, I tackle the task with gusto and relish. I really do find cooking therapeutic – I enjoy creating yummy dishes to share with family and friends, and thankfully, my family and friends all humour me by eating the food, which, for the most part, is enjoyable, even if I am still guilty of cooking too much!

When I still had my North Ryde apartment, I had a large kitchen with a fantastic stove and an even more fantastic oven. I use to host regular dinner parties, cooking for anywhere between 4 to 12 people. I loved those nights – the condition of entry was a bottle of wine, and friends would drop around for good hearty feeds and relaxed company and conversation. I loved that kitchen – I miss that kitchen.

Since moving to St Leonards in 2001, my days of entertaining in my home came to a grinding halt. Amongst many reasons was the fact that I was now the proud owner of a teeny weeny itty bitty kitchen with a teeny weeny itty bitty convection oven that was not big enough to house any of my baking dishes. Most of my baking dishes and trays have been in storage ever since, with a select few making their one annual outing to my parents’ place for Christmas dinner.

A few years ago, I managed to commandeer someone else’s kitchen every weekend for about eight months and reignited my passion in cooking. I was able to cook for people again, entertaining up to 16 people for winter dinners and gourmet BBQs.

Other than the annual Chan Christmas Dinner Extravaganza, I rarely get a chance to cook for others. So I am understandably nervous about cooking for someone else tonight. I’m making a simple ratatouille using the fresh veggies I have in my vegetable crisper (zucchinis that really need to be eaten, and finger eggplants that I bought on Sunday) and serving it on short pasta (can’t remember what shapes I have – I’ll work it out when I get home), topped with blanched asparagus (also purchased on Sunday).

I hope I don’t kill him!

Updated 12/03/2008 @ 11.02am

I didn’t kill him. The ratatouille turned out quite well and was well received. I still have 4 more portions to get through!