Wednesday, 31 December 2008

New cat on the blog

Just had to share my latest Photoshop piece of work :o). Rrrreeeuw!

The new Catwoman.


Versus the old.


Halle Berry, step aside ;o).

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Merry Christmas!

We spent Christmas this year at Martin's parents' home, and it is always a cosy time with lots of delicious Christmas food. Here in Denmark, there are traditional Christmas food, with the main dish being roast pork and/or roast duck.


There are other traditions too, such as celebrating on the 24th instead of the 25th. It's not that Danes are impatient people who cannot wait 1 day more to celebrate, eat and open their gifts...nor is it to get 1 more day off from work (25th and 26th are official public holidays, but companies tend to give the 24th free as well). The main reason is that Danes used to celebrate Yule - a pagan celebration. However, after Christianity came to the country, they decided to incorporated this into Christmas...and I as I understand, compromised to celebrate it on the 24th instead of the 25th.


Anyway, Christ wasn't born on 25th December, so whether Christmas is celebrated on 24th or 25th December doesn't really matter. The main thing is to remember what we're celebrating, enjoy being with friends and family, and keeping the spirit of giving.

Here are some traditional Danish Christmas food:


Æbleskriver - eaten with icing sugar and/or jam. Usually, you'd drink a warm wine drink called "glögg" as well, with raisins and chopped almonds in it.


Flæskesteg - roast pork with crispy crusts, eaten with brown sauce, red cabbage, and some berry thingy. The picture above shows the roasted pork in the background (with crispy crusts on top) and apple filled with berry thingy in the foreground.


Here's my plate of roasted duck, caramelised potatoes on the left (yummy!), a couple of prunes, and red cabbage at the very back.


And Christmas dessert! This is called ris alamand, and it is basically a cold and sweet rice pudding chopped almonds in it. Eaten with cherry sauce. There is usually a whole almond inside the big bowl of pudding, and if you're lucky enough to get a serving with this almond in your plate, then you get a gift. I didn't get the almond this year :o(.


The whole family at dinner :o). My mother-in-law at the left, followed by her mum, her sister, her brother, her man and me.


IQ puzzle thingy, where the aim is to get the red car out of the jam. Was quite fun actually, and I managed to solve all the challenges that were given to me :o).


Martin's gift to me - a B&O BeoCom 6000 phone :o). This is the one that is often seen in Hollywood movies.


Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas! Or, as you would say in Danish: God Jul!

Here's one of my favourite Christmas songs by some Danish artistes. The first 2 girls who you see in the music video are actually 2 sisters who are ½ Malaysians and ½ Danish, and were the singing duo called S.O.A.P


Sunday, 21 December 2008

2 chapters in 1 day

Many things are official now. For one, I will not be stepping into my current office anymore - last day of work was last Friday, and my desk has been cleared of all my personal belongings. It's going to be strange indeed not to have to go to that office again... .


Time to...say goodbye. *Sob* *Sob* There are actually 2 more who are not in the picture because they couldn't be at the office on Friday.


On another note, I am pleased to announce that I've signed my contract with my new company also on Friday :o)! Kinda symbolic that the ending of one chapter and the start of another happened on the same day. But yes, I will have a new job from February next year :o)! It's going to be in the travel industry still, and it's going to be more challenging for me. I'll be starting as a Project and Sales Manager there, so as you can imagine, I'm quite excited :o).


Anyway, I would like to thank all my colleagues for a wonderful professional relationship and friendship all these years - am gonna miss working with all of you indeed! And all the best in your future! Will make it a point to organise a reunion at least once a year, so that we can keep ourselves updated with each other, expecially with those who stubbornly refuse to join Facebook ;o).

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

I felt the Earth, move, under my bed...

...and it was measured 4.7 on the Richter scale. Denmark experienced an earthquake this morning at 06:20hrs, and this is a flat country that does not have any natural disasters. Much like in Singapore.

I received an sms from a friend this morning at 08:35hrs, about shaking, earthquake, 4.7 level, scary, fragile and precious life, etc... . It was around 2hrs later that I read it, while still half-asleep. I was thinking "WTH is he babbling about?" Nothing in his message was making sense to me, and I did seriously think he was delusional or something.

I mean, hello? Earthquake? In DENMARK? Gotta be kidding, right? What drug was he on? Or maybe he had just snored so loudly that he thought it was an earthquake? Besides, if it was true, I would have heard something from Martin about it by then, but no... .

Then less than 5 mins after thinking this thought, Martin sent an sms asking if I felt an earthquake this morning. Now THAT finally got me wide awake. So there really WAS one? I was starting to feel disappointed that I had slept right through it! My mum used to say that even if an atomic bomb exploded, I would not wake up...and if I had slept right through an earthquake, then her words would certainly hold true... .

I laid in bed, soaking this all in. Looked around the bedroom...looked at the wardrobes...and then BAM! It suddenly hit me (a realisation, not the wardrobe), and my memory was jolted! I remembered waking up during the night to the sound of wardrobes that were violently shaking! Those few seconds became clear to me again, and things started to make sense at last.

I had woken up during the Danish royal rumble, heard my wardrobes banging each other (wardrobes need sexy time too, I guess), and the very first thought I had was "Wtf is Martin making so much noise for when he's preparing to go to work, and so exceptionally LOUD this time?" I was about to tell him to "SHUSH, lah!" until I saw that he was actually still innocently snoring sleeping away. My Martin(i) was shaken, not stirred... .

That really had me rather confused about the noisy wardrobes then, but it kinda ended almost as soon as it started (5 secs), so before I had more time to speculate what the din was all about, I fell right back into deep sleep. If there had been no news about this earthquake, I swear that I'd not have remembered this incident at all! Like a dream that you forget about as soon as you wake up.

But yay! I did experience this somewhat consciously, and it was kinda cool. Something to talk about indeed. If we ever have kids + grandkids, I can now say "You know...mummy/grandma experienced and survived an earthquake in 2008." ;o) Perhaps I should even get one of these t-shirts ;o).

Maybe I'll get them as Christmas gifts for all survivors I meet this Christmas! Hee...hee... .

Good there weren't any damages nor loss of lives though. Otherwise, the tone of this post will of course be much different. Earthquakes that can be measured but not felt are apprantly often registered in Denmark. This is the strongest one felt in Denmark since 23 years ago, where there was a similar sized one with the epicentre in the North Zealand part of Denmark.

The one this morning had its epicentre in South Sweden, and Copenhagen was around 65km away from it, as shown in the picture below:


The epicentre of the earthquake (Photo: USGS.com)


Seismic activity shown on DMI's magnetometre. Time shown is UTC time - 1hr earlier than Danish time. (Photo: dmi.dk)


Had sent an sms to my sister to ask if she felt anything, and no...she slept right through it too. I guess I'm not the one anymore who is capable of sleeping right through an atomic bomb explosion, huh? I also guess that I'll be the one who is going to be bringing Martin to safety instead of the other way around, should something disasterous happen during the night... ;o).

Btw, I'm wondering about this (as written in the article): "...concerned members of the public across the country telephoning police... ." Seriously? The police? For a crime the Earth committed? Or do they really have a "Stop Earthquake" button somewhere that they can push?

Sunday, 14 December 2008

I don't trust big banks

Anyone familiar with the energy company, Enron, scandal in the US in 2001? Despite being named by Fortune magazine as "America's Most Innovative Company" for six consecutive years, it was later revealed that its reported financial condition was sustained substantially by institutionalized, systematic, and creatively planned accounting fraud.

Denmark is now having an Enron scandal of its own, in the name of a company called IT-Factory. Although the scale of the fraud is much lower than that of Enron, the similarities are quite similar. For one thing, IT-Factory was awarded "Denmark's Best IT-company" in September last year, and CEO Stein Bagger had himself recently been named Danish Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young, after seemingly miraculously rescuing the company from crumbling.

Read the story here.

What I want to talk about though, is the way the banks involved handled giving out loans to IT-Factory. Danske Bank (Denmarks biggest) is expected to have lost 350 million DKK (S$100 million) because of this fraud. Other banks like Nordea Bank and Jyske Bank had also lost some money, but not on such a large scale (10 million DKK - 25 million DKK).

I'm no expert in finance and the like, but it does make me (and many others) wonder how banks can agree to loan out huge amounts of money to companies just like that without doing thorough checks. When we requested for a loan of around 1 million DKK for our apartment, they required several papers from us such as our pay slips for the last 3 months, and our tax papers from the previous year.

When my VISA card from Jyske Bank was eaten up by the ATM in Rome last year, and I wanted to re-apply a new one, Jyske Bank didn't want to send me the same type of card with the same credit terms because I was not having much savings in my account there anymore. They can only offer something else that was worse than what I had. I had decided to just close my account there in the end, because it would be their loss anyway for losing a customer.

So yeah, one would expect more stringent and scrutinizing checks on companies who want to borrow hundreds of millions of kroners, right? Apparantly, fake contracts, invoices, statements of accounts, etc seem to be accepted too. Note to self on that... .


There should be a law that banks can only use money that they have for investments and loans. This applies on a private and personal scale too - never spend more than you have, and if you do, make sure you can afford to pay back.

Anyway, we received a mail from Danske Bank 3 days ago, inviting us for a meeting with them for a couple of hours where they can give us suggestions on making our private finances better, easier or cheaper, in the areas of our daily finances, investing and pension.


First line says: "We are happy to have you as a customer of Danske Bank." I don't seriously believe that. Not when we have peanuts in our Danske Bank account amounting to no more than 100kr a month, because all our savings after paying off the monthly loan payments to them are transferred over to another non-Danske Bank account.


1st paragraph says: At Danske Bank, we work with advise teams that are made up of advisers with competence within daily economy, investing, pension and housing economy. That means, you can get light on your private economy from several angles and improve your total economic situation.


They have got to be kidding, right? These are the guys who just lost 350 million DKK on one really bad investment. These are the same guys who advised Danish entertainer, Finn Nørbygård, to invest in IT-Factory, so he borrowed some millions from them to invest in this company's stocks, only to end up losing up to 700 million DKK on this bad advice.

It would have been more appropriate for them to send out this invitation on 01 April, so that if anyone questions them, they could just turn around and say it was an April Fool's joke... .

But yeah, since when did the big banks care about their customers' interests anyway? I've given up on these big guys a long time ago. We did manage to get a good loan agreement out of them for our apartment (20 years with 4% fixed interest), but that's it. The smaller banks are the ones with better interest rates on the savings account, and they provide better service too.


The bank I use now for my salary/savings account gives an interest of 4.5% on the very first kroner you put in. Interests earned this year alone from this account will amount to around 5800 DKK (S$1660). This is money "earned" simply by saving up. Sure, it's not giving any high returns compared to if we invest our savings in stocks, etc...but then again, the saying "easy come, easy go" still holds true till today. I'd rather sleep well at night.


The big banks though, they don't give you back a single kroner. Even if you, as an average customer, have a LOT of savings, you'll earn at most 2.75% interest. While of course, they make millions in profits.


So to Danske Bank, I say: Thanks, guys...but no thanks. I know you need money now, but you ain't gettin' it out of me.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

My piano debut - Apologize by One Republic

I'm almost done learning this song. Still some mistakes here and there, but well...you can watch this video on my progress first. Practice makes perfect anyway...and since I've never had any real piano lessons before, I think I've accomplished quite a lot already... .

video

So...what do you think? All this learnt from a tutorial online by David Sides :o). Btw, I think my fingers look like crazy spider legs jumping around ;o).

Friday, 12 December 2008

Lazy me

I should be a bear. One who hibernates throughout the winter season. I've been clearing my vacation days before my company closes our Copenhagen office, which means that I've been off pretty much for 1½ months in Nov + Dec, and it's wonderful not to have to get out into the cold to go to work during these months.

The problem is, it makes it so much easier to just waste the "day" away (I say "day" because right now, the "day" seems like "night" anyway since there is no sun shining in the morning/afternoon - just gray clouds). When I say "waste", I mean "sleep". I'm a night person, so I tend to be more active and awake at night, but very lazy in the day if I don't have any activity to get me out of the house.

Good that I've started Danish lessons then. Gives me reason to pull myself out of Dreamland. Gosh! I miss the sun! Who stole it?!?! I get up when it's dark, and I go to bed when it's dark. See, told you I should just be a bear and sleep for 4 months a year... .

I would make a good bum, if that was a "job". Just exist in the world. What a waste, huh? But ok, I've been working hard for 11 years, so I guess deserve a couple of relaxing months before I start a new job again.

There's a guy who lives at the ground floor of one of the apartments in our estate. I walk pass his window pretty much every day, to and from work. He would be sitting by his kitchen window when I pass him in the morning, and again when I pass him in the evening. It doesn't matter what time of the day it is, he'll be there. Also weekends.

We've been living here for 4½ years already. That's at least how long he's been wasting his life away staring out his window! I don't dare to know how long exactly he's been doing that. Our estate was built in 1991, so I don't hope it's been almost 2 decades that he's been doing this.

A neighbour who has been living here since almost the beginning told us that this guy broke down after his wife died. Ever since then, he's just been existing, not living. It's really sad, because he's probably in his early or mid-50's, so he still has many years left of his life. Too many to waste away like that. Hmm...well, he's a heavy smoker so maybe he won't have that many in the end. You can smell the thick smoke whenever you walk pass his open window, and the one side of his kitchen walls is literally yellow from his heavy smoking.

Anyway...what do you do really, if you don't have friends, family...even a purpose in life? What can you do? Well, this guy...despite being the unofficial neighbourhood watchdog, has shown me what I never want to be for as long as I am still alive as a human being.

Now, if I evolve into a vampire after my tendency to be more awake and active at night than during the day during these couple of months, then that's a different story. I'll just be living/existing then to hunt, drink blood and sleep. Oh, and make vampire armies ;o).

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Big love!

This video clip (true story, by the way) never fails to bring tears to my eyes every time I watch it... . Well ok, maybe not by the 10th time in a row...but you know what I mean... .

I'm more of a dog person than a cat person, but there's something about big cats that really makes me like them...especially tigers. Nice that I'm a Leo ;o).

Anyway, get some Kleenex ready! True friendship knows no boundaries... .

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Mit første post på dansk

Ja, jeg starter intensive dansk undervisning i morgen, så skal jeg begynde at skrive lidt mere dansk her, ikke ;o)? Jeg synes at det er nu på tide at jeg forbedre både mit talt og skrevet dansk, især når jeg har boet her i næsten 12 år allerede... . Og nu har jeg også masser af tid til at lære rigtigt dansk, før jeg starter på arbejder igen.

Men hvorfor taler jeg ikke flydende dansk efter så mange år her, spørger du. Det er en godt spørgsmål, og jeg har nogle grunde...ok, ok...undskyldninger for det. Først og fremmest, lad mig siger at jeg kan godt forstår og læser dansk. Måske ikke 100% (80%), men jeg kan godt klar det. Det er bare sværere for mig til at tale og skrive på dansk, og det er derfor at jeg vil gerne have undervisning til det nu.

Sagen er, at jeg arbejder i et firma som bruger engelsk som arbejssporg i næsten 11 år. Der er kun 2 ud af 10 kolleger som er dansk, og 2 mere som er dansk talere. Derfor, taler vi mest på engelsk i kontoret. De fleste af mine venner er internationale mennesker, eller er danskere, som taler godt engelsk. Så er det bare nemmere for os til at taler på engelsk, og mine dansk venner vil også gerner forbedre deres engelsk. Martin hjælper ikke så meget i den her afdeling også. Vi taler dansk til hindanden for ca. 10-15min om dagen, og så skifter vi ubevidst tilbage til engelsk. Det er bare nemmere, og der er ingen grunde til stor misforståelse, da engelsk er mit første sporg alligevel.

Jeg ved godt, at mit skrevet dansk i denne post er ikke 100% korrect dansk, men jeg håber at du, som en dansker eller en som kan forstår dansk, kan godt forstår hvad jeg skrive nu. Det er et svært sprog, men jeg er tillid at jeg vil blive godt nok til det en dag, for at arbejder i et firma som kræver flydende talt og skrevet dansk.

Ønske mig held og lykke til det!

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

United Nations of friends

Anyway...moving on from Trollie news (it was fun to poke it for a while, but now that it's sitting under the bridge licking its wounds, it would be human for me to ignore its existance).

I was just looking at my "Friend's List" on Facebook, and it's amazing to see how many people I know from around the world! Of course, we have different degrees of friendship, but I'll just use this term loosely for now to simply mean "people I know".

If I do an alphabetical list of countries of where my friends come from, it would look something like this (numbers indicate how many from each country):


Australia, Austria = 5, 1
Belerus, Belgium, Brazil = 1, 1, 5
Cambodia, Canada, China, Croatia = 1, 3, 7, 1
Denmark = 88
England, Estonia = 10, 1
Finland, France = 6, 4
Germany, Ghana = 2, 3
H = Hmm...no, no one from Hungary.
India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast = 3, 6, 1, 2, 3, 1
Japan = 5
Kenya, Korea (South) = 2, 4
Latvia = 1
Malaysia, Morocco = 5, 1
The Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway = 3, 3, 3
O = Nope, don't know anyone from Oman... .
The Philippines, Poland, Portugal = 9, 2, 2
Q = Don't know anyone from Qatar either.
R = Nor Russia.
Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden = 77, 2, 1, 6
Thailand = 5
Uganda, USA = 1, 13
V = 0 from Venezuela, nor am I friends with the Pope from the Vatican.
W = 0 from West Virginia
X = I challenge anyone to find a country starting with X.
Y =0 from Yemen nor Yugoslavia.
Z = 0 from Zimbabwe nor Zaire. Well, I know 1 from Zaire, but he's not on Facebook.

A whole United Nations of friends :o). Well, at least every continent except the North and South Poles is represented... .

Monday, 1 December 2008

Why do trolls do this?

Interesting...

In profiling my personal pet troll, beefsoup69 and all his/her other split personalities, I'm starting to see a more clear picture of him/her:


  • Some lead boring lives.

  • Some suffer from severe depression or other conditions, and have a need to cause trouble to make themselves feel better.

  • Low self-esteem causes many people to hate their lives or feel they are not exciting enough to be liked or loved...

  • Some trolls are deeply disturbed, filled with hate and resentment.

  • Some feel they have no control over their own lives, and it gives them pleasure to feel they have control over others.

Conclusion: such people really have no life, and do suffer from a mental disorder called "Internet Troll Personality Disorder". I wasn't wrong in my previous assessment of him/her at all! Damn...I should be a psychologist or something! Call me Doctor.


Anyway, I have sent Trollie crying back under its bridge where it belongs, and where it won't be bothering me anymore. Let's see it itch to comment more on my blog when it can't find the comment button anymore. Let's see it read all my posts...and do nothing more than just read. Let's see if it will still come back for more...and if it does, I'll be very honoured because it means that it actually LIKES what I write. As one blogger said, "You're doing something right if trolls think you're important enough to annoy."


And as Robbie Williams sings: Let meeeee...ENTERTAIN you!!!


Infinity points to Sheila, minus infinity points to Trollie.


Btw, Trollie boy, here are some dating tips for you, as it would appear that you're lacking a lot of love, either from someone from the female species (probably never kissed one before), or from your mama (probably never got kissed yourself):


1. STOP SITTING BEHIND YOUR COMPUTER ALREADY!


2. Look into the mirror and say: "I'm good enough, I like myself, I'm smart enough, I look good, I'm not going to be a coward anymore, and I'm going to give people a chance to like me!" I recommend chanting this at least 10 times a day.


3. Now, go take a shower, put on some clean clothes...yes, that includes clean underwear, put on some deodorant, shave...under your armpits too if you have to, and put on a smile!


4. You're now set and ready to meet a girl and go on your very first date! If you keep good behaviour, you might get lucky and get your very first kiss!


5. Seriously...didn't I already tell you to get that trunk of yours off that chair? NOW, boy NOW!


Good luck!


Aww...look - aren't they sweet??? Trollie success.