Saturday, 27 March 2010

The Birthday Celebration

We had a birthday celebration at Chili's for Ms Fantaghiro's birthday after work on Wednesday.

Ms Fantaghiro in her many vain poses

Ms Fantaghiro doing her best Amanda pose

Ms Fantaghiro with her birthday card

Ms Fantaghiro with her Southwestern lamb grill. Yummy!

Ou regular menu at Chili's - the Triple Play's awesome!

Ms Fantaghiro happy and full

Tuesday, 23 March 2010


Critically acclaimed vain pot, Ms Fantaghiro

Its her birthday today!!

Ms Fantaghiro has many passions in life
10 things that she loves:
1. She loves food of all kind, but mostly she loves Chilis
2. In love with Bradley James - from Merlin
3. In love with Jang Hyuk - from Slave Hunter
4. Love all the pretty boys - Used to love Ben Barnes
5. Loves stripper shoes
6. Loves Kopitiam
7. Loves to be a couch potato
8. Loves magic-related series - Charmed, Merlin
9. Loves books
10. Loves Hindustani movies & songs - though at one moment in her life she boycotted them

10 things that Ms Fantaghiro hates:
1. The heat - it gives her migraine
2. Migraines
3. Other vain pots - nobody can topple her crown of vainness
4. Skanky b*****s
5. Rude drivers
6. Rude people in general
7. Cruelty to animals
8. Being called fat
9. BlueHyppo
10. Undisciplined parents & children

So, Happy Birthday Ms Fantaghiro
Many Happy returns of the day
May Allah bless you always
May we remain good friends no matter how...

Saturday, 20 March 2010

How to Not Give Advise

I have a dear friend who is on the brink of a life changing situation. The problem was that she wants things to change but was afraid to take the next step. She wants to take the next step now, but I cautioned her to be careful and not let her emotions to get the better of her. Its not as if I didn't want her to move forward and be happy, because I can see how miserable she is. Its beginning to affect her at work. I just felt that it was unfair that she didn't receive her dues. I want her to be happy.

How to not give advise? I mean I did not want to be imposing my opinions on her. There is a very, very fine line when your advise can be poisonous to your friend. Just keep your opinions to yourself, lest you influence your friend to take actions that doesn't come from her heart. They might regret making the decision that wasn't theirs to begin with. They might even blame you for that decision in the future, especially if it backfires. But if it doesn't backfire, they would always wonder if they make it because they want to or because you push it to them.

As a friend, you must always be objective about your friend's problems. Approach it from a different angle than what they present to you. See it outside the box, because you are the observer. The point is for you to be objective about it, because you friend will be emotional. Try to suggest a structured approach, see the pros or cons of the situation, give some recommendations but never impose it on them, try to help your friend find a solution, then closure. Be there for your friend when she needs you. Even if you don't give any advise, just be her listener.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Thank you for the Vote of Confidence

When you're down and out nobody wants to help you.

But when you're up and about, everybody wants to be with you.

It just shows how success can attract people. But it also makes me annoyed cause when we're down and needed help the most, some people just scoff you off.

Take for instance, the new company I'm working in now. It is essentially a sister company to my old company. A few colleagues and myself are only seconded there for two years. But everybody treats the seconders like we're lepers, eventhough we are doing our job to help the sister company for the benefit of all. Why this type of mentality? Because they think we are a corporate company, hence we have more money. Because they think our salary is much more than theirs that they think its fair to dump a truckload worth of jobs & projects on us. Without taking into account that we are newly established and there's only 10 of us for a work worth for 35 people.

So we struggled and preservered. We took 4 new temporary workers. Work seemed to be moving along, we were slowly and surely establishing the new company. Baby steps. Now some of the sceptics began to say to us, "wow you guys now ok lah now oh, you got additional staff" and "when is your office hiring". Now you want to know eh....cause we've done all the hard, groundwork. You think you just wanna come in and reap the benefits, be glamourous in this new shiny company.

Me thinks not.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Snow White & Poison Apples

Snow White died by poison apples, organizations died because of poison letters.

In this case, the organization that I'd worked for for the last 8 years.

I don't know about other government departments, but it has always been the trend in my organization to have a few of this poison letters flying around. Whenever a group of people are not satisfied with the some issues, they write poison letters. The most popular issue for poison letters : overseas posting.

There would always be people who would not be satisfied the other person can get overseas posting. All the slanderous remarks like: "she's sombeody's oxigen, that's why she can go for posting" or "what's so special about this person that he can be cross posted" or "he/she did not perform, there were many complaints about his/her work".

The funny thing about these remarks was that, those people who've wrote the poison letters were probably in that exact kind of position before. Oh ,we do know who wrote the letters, because there are also rumours flying about the writer/s of the posion letter/s! How ironic, right? But when you are in the same organization long, you tend to know who's who and what they're capable of, or so they're rumoured to be! Sometimes they'd brag about it and talk about the issues, and you wonder how they get this kind of info. Sometimes its a mole within the organization who leaks this kind of stories.

Another popular issue is leadership. My organization is quite notorious for having aDG faced with bribery accusation but was acquitted later on. That time there were so many of his supporters, they all were behind him. Now when's he's back in work, some people started to question about his actions such as doing reorg or to send certain people for posting. They say he had ulterior motives. Where are all those people who put him in a pedestal before? Answer: they all been posted overseas for being vocal and disobedient in the eyes of the management. What a cool punishment eh? So now left all those people who were not satisfied with his leadership, and even more dissatisfied cause they can't go for overseas posting for being obedient. They are now free to criticize him, buy they dare not say this to him or bring this on the proper platform. Solution: poison letters.

My take on poison letters: you can't satisfy everyone cause there will always people who won't be happy with how certain things are handled. Its like politics, either you're PR or BN, you play the dirty game. It doesn't matter who's side you are on, dirt would always get stuck to you. Its only a matter of time when the wheels will turn and you'd be up or down, depending on where you were before. Me? I stay away from office politics, and do my work and try not to step on other people's toes. If you do work, rather than waste time thinking and stabbing other people trying to climb the corporate ladder, then I think you'd have more personal satisfaction. Plus we must have a balance with personal life. Leave work at workplace, enjoy your life to the fullest at home. I know that's what I do.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Home remedy: Castor Oil

A few weeks ago, I sprained my right waist because of some exercise. I was in pain for a week, I couldn't bend down or sit down in one place for a long time and I had to pray sitting down in a chair.

My mum introduced to Cik a remedy for knee ache when we went back to Rompin. It's drinking a teaspoon of castor oil mixed with half a glass of warm water before going to sleep. It helps to "grease" the joints. They both drank it and felt generally better the next day.

Then we saw the Yoga for you programme on Astro. It says that the Ayurvedic treatment for osteoperosis is by drinking 1 tsp castor oil mixed with 1 tsp ginger powder and half glass of warm water, because the Ayurveda believed that osteoperosis is caused by wind in your body. It helps to expel the wind in body and strengthen bone density.

So I though maybe I should try the remedy for my waist ache. The oil & warm water concoction tasted like burnt peanut oil. Its palatable unlike the bitter taste of some herbal remedies like jamu, for instance. When I woke up the next morning, lo and behold, my ache was totally gone. It was like a miracle cure. Cik said it was probably due to wind in my body too.

Last night I tried the ginger + castor oil + warm water. My body felt great today and some of the aches I experienced were also gone. Cator oil is known to be a laxative and helps with bowel movement. It is easily found in Indian stores where you can buy the ginger powder as well. Its also known as minyak jarak.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Nasi Dagang

Nasi Dagang made fresh this morning!

Last two weeks I went back to Rompin with my mum. Hubby asked me to buy nasi dagang to tapau back, but it was already noon and nasi dagang is always sold in the morning for breakfast in the East coast area.

So hubby must've been craving for nasi dagang, coz last friday's pasar malam he went out to buy one. Then he was harping on me to cook nasi dagang. I am not good with Malay cooking but fortunately, I copied down the recipe from Cik when I was in Rompin. So yesterday we went out to Carrefour to buy the ingredients including ikan tongkol.

Misplaced the original recipe, called Cik on the phone for the ingredients and made a scaled down version of it and it turned out ok!

So here goes the recipe for Nasi Dagang for two persons, from scratch:

1.5 cup of ordinary rice
0.5 cup of pulut rice
(soak both rice in water for at least four hours)
5 tbsp of coconut milk - add sugar and salt till its very, very sweet & salty
1 tbsp halba (fenugreek seeds)
Red onion, ginger - sliced thinly

1 whole ikan tongkol
(cut it to 5 pieces, cook with water + salt + asam keping)
* can substitue with other types of fish such as tenggiri, kembung, etc or prawns, chicken.

Wet ingredients:
500 ml Coconut milk - or as much as you want the kuah to be
10 pcs of dried chillies - deseeded and soak in hot water
2 inches lengkuas (galangal)
1 inch ginger (halia)
1 inch kunyit hidup (live turmeric)
(blend chillies, lengkuas, halia, kunyit hidup)

Dry ingredients:
1 tbsp of fish curry powder
1 tbsp of serbuk ketumbar (coriander powder)
1 tbsp of serbuk jintan manis
1 buah keras (candle nut)
2 buah pelaga (cardamon)
3 bunga cengkih (clove)
1 bunga lawang (star anise)
1 inch kulit kayu manis (cinnamon)
(dry roast without oil then blend all ingredients)
2 inch gula melaka

1. soak for 4 hours
2. steam the rice, about 15 minutes into cooking or when its half cook, p0ur cold water on top of the rice
3. close lid, wait till throughly cook

4. once rice is cooked, wade thru rice with coconut milk + sliced onion & ginger + halba till it has a glowy sheen. Easy on the coconut milk + halba, or you rice will have a very strong, overbearing taste.

1. Simmer all the wet ingredients till it boils
2. Add fish + 2 pcs asam keping till it boils again

3. Add dry ingredients, and simmer till the kuah becomes thicker (about 30-45 mins) and oil breaks on the surface & season to taste

*Serve Nasi Dagang with cucumber salad (vinegar+onions+cucumber+pineapple - optional)

Cooking nasi dagang seems like a daunting task, especially somebody like me who rarely cooks Malay dishes (not sure if I can do a mean curry). But cooking nasi dagang is simple enough, its just that the ingredients looks like a lot be prepared. Once you have everything ready, its just a matter of throwing eveything into the pot!

P/s: hubby had a second helping!

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Middle Management

With great power comes responsibility, or so says Superman. How did I end up to be middle management?

Being a government servant for the past 8 years, I was always the middle person. I was the go between the bosses and the rest of the staff under my care. If the boss assigned me to do something, I'd call my team and we discuss how best to do it and then we do it. It was mostly one way traffic.

I think it started when I was in Research Division when they entrusted me to take care of 20 research officers (ROs) that was situated all over Malaysia. Their job was to do surveys that the division ask them to do. My job was to monitor them through their work. This includes their quality of work, discipline, salary etc. I barely knew them as my stint in Research was only one year. I've only met 8 out of 20 ROs but I had to do their appraisal as I was their supervisor. How the hell was I suppose to do their appraisal when I don't even know them well enough, some I've never even met?! To be honest, I had to wing it. I had to source info from various parts such as the previous officers who've handled their affairs, state office directors, other officers who've used them on other surveys and on paper - reports, attendance, etc. I had to form an opinion on each individual based on those things, and to best of my knowledge, did their appraisal. That was my part as the first valuer for the appraisal.

I think Top management have it easy. They only amend on the things that you have done. Same thing with the appraisal. The second valuer just put in their score based on my original score and write shorter comments. Middle management do all the work whilst top management just checks my grammar? Hardly seems fair as top management is required to do the thinking and planning. Not just planning to go overseas, but actual planning on how to be more effective at work and achieve our targets. Not just become the boss in name and dumping everything to middle management to settle it.

Middle management is tough. You are the middleman who has to take care of their own backside too. On one hand, you have to please the boss, on the other hand you have to appease your co-workers with their issues - working with inadequate resources, no proper SOP, no backup/support from other div. You have to become the trouble shooter and lend your hands to help them and lend your ears to listen to their problems.

Send me to Management school!

With the new bureau, I became the middle management person. It was conveniently thrust upon me by my so called CEO, as there was no other officer higher ranking than me. Not that I was that high ranking, but I was at the right place at the right time. That said, we are terribly understaffed, overworked and in dire need of a buffer between me and the boss. I can't possibly do all the thinking, planning, executing, monitoring.

Send in the reinforcements!