Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The annual "looking back" year-end post

Yes it has been a while since I've been here.

Christmas was incredibly busy and tiring, with all the stress of present-buying and worrying what to give who and dealing with the crowds and devoting all my energy to willing people to stay away from the shopping mall I would be visiting that day. Stressful is also when I have to get as much work done as possible while doing all of the above. And keeping Schrobbenmaster entertained on his holiday in KL.

I think I managed to do all of that - without too many frowns and sighs - pretty okay.

In a way, I'm glad December 25th has passed, and I'm glad I can still enjoy my little Christmas tree with the wooden toys and red shiny balls. But the year is coming to a close and it's kinda nostalgic.

The time is drawing near when I'll be moving (immigration allowing) to NL, and it's starting to scare me, all the people and things that I'll be leaving behind. It's gonna be really hard. And also knowing that I might have to leave everyone at the airport and fly alone, that's kinda worse. I'm crossing my fingers that Mumsy Bumsy can find time off work and a cheap flight to go with me.

The best presents I received this Christmas were from:

Schrobbenmaster: A new Lacoste purse. Really needed a new purse as the threads were already unravelling on my old one.

Mumsy Bumsy: "Maxi the mini", a soft toy version of Maxi, my Silky Terrier. Except that the soft toy is a Golden Retriever. She said she couldn't find the exact breed, but nevertheless, Mini Maxi is soft and good company for falling asleep. And will keep me safe in NL.

So what have I achieved this past year?

Off the top of my head, I suppose I have...


  1. Kept Goodputty Design going for another year (2 years now!)
  2. Visited friends in Melbourne after some time
  3. Visited Bangkok for the first time
  4. Visited The Netherlands for the first time
  5. Stayed out of Malaysia for 3 months in one go, longest ever
  6. Learnt Dutch
  7. Designed a wedding invite for one of my closest friends
  8. Twisted my ankle
  9. Learnt how to cook about 8 dinner dishes AND cooked almost every day for 2 months
I guess that concludes my end-of-the-year post. Will definitely try to get another in before we actually say Goodbye to 2009 *sniff*.

Until then, hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and here's to a brilliant ending to 2009 and a promising start to 2010!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Dutch Embassy. FAIL. Incompetent and incapable.

I haven't been writing much because I've been quite upset the past week and I can't write when I'm not happy.


---


On a separate note, I just wanted to say that with all my complaining about Dutch grammar and Dutch language being difficult to learn, I realised a few days ago that English pronunciation is even more complicated. The two vowels "ie" together in Dutch are pronounced only one way (right?), but in English, you have "pie", "thief", "pier", "drier", "friend" and probably a few more I can't think of right now. I definitely don't envy people learning English as adults.


---


Anyway, here's the story of why I've been unhappy the past week.


The Dutch Embassy in KL: FAIL. And I found out yesterday... the Dutch Embassy in Singapore: ALSO FAIL.


I have been making effort towards getting an MVV, which is a temporary residence permit for The Netherlands. Among the things I have to do are to sit for an exam called the inburgering exam, which is to make sure your knowledge of Dutch society and the language are sufficient to live there.


There are lots of information available online and there are official books to buy to practise. But sometimes you just want to ask someone directly about things you're unsure of. Here is my experience with the KL Dutch Embassy.



I would like to ask if, in the inburgering exam, there are one or two nazeggen sections? When I took the sample test from the Naar Nederlands package, there was only one, but I am currently doing some sample practise tests with my teacher, and there are two sections to repeat sentences. It has me a little confused.
Another thing, is there a waiting list to do the exam and do I have to make my appointment to sit for the exam early, or can I just call a week ahead and arrange a time to go to the embassy?


And the reply I received was:
Dear Jun-Yi
We do not know because we do not take the exams.  You will be using the head phones and will directly dealing the exam dept.   so I really do not know wheather it has 1 part or 2 parts
thanks
Carol Peters


Can you believe the way she replied me? I was surprised and annoyed with this reply. How can they not be able to answer my questions "because we do not take the exams"? If they don't know it, why not FIND OUT? What are they here to do, if not to help Dutch citizens and Malaysian citizens? This was my first experience of their laziness. Secondly, they did not answer my question about making an appointment to do the exam. Such a short email and she can miss out this question? It just doesn't make a good impression on me, that this person is not observant and not careful in her dealings with the public they serve.


So I asked again...


How about making the appointment to take the exam? Is there a waiting list, or can I just call up a few days in advance to make the appointment?


And take note of her answer. It's important:




You can call up the embassy and make the appointment anytime. 
thanks
Carol



After stewing about their incompetence and laziness to find an answer to my question about the structure of the exam, I let them know I wasn't happy with their "We do not know so don't ask us" answer.


Could you please find out if the Nazeggen section has one or two parts? There is no one else I can ask the answer about the Dutch exam as you are the Dutch Embassy. If you can't tell me how the exam goes, how else can I find out? It's really important for me to know and be prepared as this exam, I believe, costs 350 euros and I'm taking it quite seriously.


After this email, I thought she would at least make an effort to write one little email, or visit the website related to immigration to find out. She took two days to write this to me:




There are 2 parts in the exam. One is the language and one is th cultural.  If you need more info I think you will have  to write to the IND where you made payment for the exam maybe they will be able to help you more.
I very sorry that I cannot assist you  more.



Thank you.
Carol Peters



Did I not already know this? Was this my question? Omg.


Anyway, after that, I found out that I was mistaken earlier, and there are indeed two nazeggen sections. However, advised by Mumsy Bumsy and Schrobbenmaster, I did not inform the embassy of this so that they could either let someone else know they are stupid and lazy or just continue living blissfully in their ignorance.


Finally, after several weeks of Dutch lessons with Geraldine, 3 times a week for 2 hours each time, the time to take the exam arrived. I had planned to take the exam in the first week of December so that Schrobbenmaster could send in all the documents for the processing of the MVV application before the holidays started. And so that I would have my permit (if approved) in time to head over at the end of February or early March.


I called the embassy on the 1st of December to make an appointment on the 2nd, but they said they weren't available and if the 3rd was okay, so I said yes and made the appointment for 2pm.


The day arrived and I was really nervous, not helped by the silent and empty lobby where I could hear the tiniest tap of my feet echo on the tiled floor.


After 5 to 10 minutes of having my passport and doing whatever they have to do, a blonde girl brought me to the exam room. She was nice and understood that I was nervous and told me that I could take my time if I wanted to, but I told her that I wanted to get it over with. I did all the fingerprint scanning, and she registered me into the exam system. While doing that, she asked me to read laminated A4 cards on the structure of the exam.


And there, right in front of me, was the exam structure. 2 nazeggen sections, 1 korte vragen section and 1 tegenstellingen section, in addition to the Dutch society test. It was right there the whole time, and the lazy woman who replied my email did not even know that! Imagine my disappointment again. I didn't dwell on it because I had other things to think about, but I was just thinking to myself, not for the first time, "Omg.".


I sat there, with the headphones comfortably on, heart beating quickly and trying to keep my head clear. I chose to do the Dutch society section first so I could attune myself to people speaking Dutch to me. So I sat and waited while the blonde girl dialed a number on the phone. And dialed again. And I waited. And watched her. As she dialed again. Then she goes, "Let me just double check this number.". So I go, "Okay.". And wait. And she dials again. And one more time. And finally says, "There's something wrong, let me check with my boss if they've changed the number.".


She leaves the room and I sit there on my own, not wanting to remove the headphones in case the next time I put it on, it doesn't fit as comfortably. Yes, I get quite paranoid about little things that might jeopardise my results.


1 minute passes...
2 minutes...
5 minutes...


It feels like 10 minutes have passed, but it's possibly just under 10 and more than 5, sitting on my own in the exam room with my headphones on, tapping my fingers on the chair. All I know is that I was in the embassy for just over half an hour, without achieving anything, except that they now have my fingerprints on file and will be able to find me if I ever kill someone in The Netherlands.


The girl comes back after what is ages to me, and says apologetically, "I'm so sorry, but I have bad news.". Jolly good. I remove my headphones and wait to hear it.


"It seems that the phone number has changed and we have to wait for the Orange network in the UK to start work and give us the new number. But that means that it's 5pm our time and we're closed then. So tomorrow morning I'll give you a call and you can come in, about 12.30pm to do the test, as we close at 2pm tomorrow (Friday)".


What could I do but say "Okay"?


I headed home, frustrated. I had put so much effort into being ready for this moment, taking classes right up to the day before, listening to the audio CD in my car and memorising 180 words and their opposites.


The thing was, my friend Euying had experienced this same thing a year ago. There had been no sound when they called up the exam centre. They told her it would be fixed. She waited a month. And they finally told her, "I think you should do it in Singapore.". Wtf! So she told me while I was having lunch with her at her home in Eindhoven: "If the same thing happens to you, don't wait. Just go to Singapore. I wasted a month of my time on them and time is money. You need to get your application processed.".


I decided to give them a chance till Friday morning.


I studied again on Thursday night, when I shouldn't have had to. I set my alarm for 9am to call them in case they forget to call me.


All groggy the next day at 9am, when of course they hadn't called, I called them instead. And she says the same thing, that they haven't fixed the problem, and, "To be safe, I won't promise that you'll do it this afternoon, but probably Monday.".


It was very, very irritating because now my plans were being held back. Schrobbenmaster was supposed to hand in our documents that day itself. I had hurried to renew my passport, get my unmarried certificate from Putrajaya, and he had done his own arrangements and got his certificate (which is valid for only 30 days). And now because of the KL Dutch Embassy's incompetence, everything had to be put on hold.




On Thursday itself, Schrobbenmaster had already called up the ministry in NL to scold them for this. And on Thursday, they told him that there was no problem with the connection. Then on Friday, he called to scold them again. They then told him there was a problem with the exam centre's connection with the KL office and that the IT department would be at work on it immediately.


I couldn't leave it in their already-proven-to-be-incapable hands, so I sent an email to Singapore:


I'm a Malaysian citizen who has made an appointment with the embassy in Kuala Lumpur to take the inburgering exam, but they have postponed my exam TWICE now with the reason of technical difficulties, and it's very upsetting for me.
I was advised by a friend who took the exam last year and faced the same problem. She ended up doing the exam in the Dutch Embassy in Singapore. I was wondering if you could make this allowance for me, as I would rather not wait for Monday to find out that my exam has been postponed yet again.
The reason they give is that there is a technical problem with the exam centre in The Netherlands. If you don't have this problem and everything is working properly, I would like to make an appointment with you in Singapore to take the exam. Your quick response would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Jun-Yi


Then we gave the KL office the weekend and a Monday to sort it out.


On Monday I called the embassy again and she tells me the same thing, that she's still waiting and still not receiving any updates.


On Tuesday (yesterday), I received a reply from Singapore:



Dear Ms Lee,
You need to come in contact with the Dutch Embassy in Kuala Lumpur to make the necessary transfer to this Embassy if you wish to sit for your civic integration exam here.  
Please note that our next available dates for the said exam will be from 20 January 2010.
For collection of the approved MVV, one needs to collect at the same Embassy where one had sat for the mentioned exam.

Best regards,
Mei-Li Sim


What the hell! 20th January 2010? That is just over 6 weeks from the date I'm supposed to have taken the exam! Will they compensate me for this 6 weeks when my application could be halfway through it's processing? Hell, no!


I forwarded this mail to Schrobbenmaster, who called up the Ministry again and spoke to the head in charge.


And paraphrasing Schrobbenmaster, her reply was:


You don't have to rearrange with KL to do it in Singapore, it's bullshit that the next exam date is 20th January as it's mandatory to have the exam done within 7 days, and you don't NEED to collect the MVV at Singapore, as they should send it over by post and arrange all the formalities.


She was apparently very upset with the behaviour of these two embassies we had asked help from. And she was taking steps to get a solution for us asap, opening an emergency file and setting two people on the case. Which is what has to be done to get these two embassies to buck up and stop passing the responsibility onto each other, as if they can't communicate with each other, and making the public they serve do everything for them.



Additionally, doing the exam in Singapore would have cost us more time and money. Not to mention, my Dutch skills are slowly deteriorating as it has now been a week since I had my last Dutch class. We are expecting to receive some sort of reimbursement or compensation if I have to take my exam somewhere else besides KL. It's their incapability and incompetence that's causing all this trouble and, potentially and probably, a difference in my results in the exam.


It will be 7 days since my appointment to take the exam tomorrow, and we'll see what happens by then. After tomorrow, I feel that we are perfectly within reason to really put pressure on them and, in a manner of speaking, step up the aggression.


Will keep everyone updated.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Perfection doesn't come often

I just love heavy rain at night without all the stormy elements like thunder and lightning. There's something very calming and romantic about quiet, heavy rain.

Feeling really comfy on my bed with the MacBook Pro, Ivy on iTunes and my Christmas tree lights twinkling outside. I love my lights so much I actually sometimes stand at my bedroom doorway just to look at them for a few seconds every once in a while.

It's a wonderful night :)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Dinner at Alexis Ampang and 'cleansing' the house (somewhat)

Another Dutch class down, two more to go...

Planning to take the exam next week, so I'm really crossing my fingers that the IND contacts us soon to make an appointment with the embassy. Until 2 or 3 weeks ago, I was in two minds, first about wanting to sit for the exam asap so that I could get it over with, and second that I wanted it to be as far away as possible so that I had more time to learn. I think right now I'm at a sufficient level to sit for the exam fairly comfortably. And so I just want it to be over.

---

On Saturday night, I went out for dinner with my Dutch teacher, Geraldine and her boyfriend, Wijnand. My 'partner' for the night was Musicmaker Nick. Or Maniacal Nick. I think I like Maniacal Nick better.

We went to Alexis Ampang, where the first thing I asked was: "Do you have the chocolate cinnamon cake tonight?". OMG if you haven't tried it, GO GO GO! After our delicious main meals, I wanted to order the cake for nagerechten (dessert). The others were still too full from their individual pizzas so I ordered my cake first. When it came, the scent was so divine, and it just made my heart melt with its loveliness. I offered a bite to everyone (genuinely!) but they declined. However, after enjoying half the slice, I decided that I really couldn't keep this piece of heaven to myself, while leaving everyone at the table so ignorant of it. Maniacal Nick agreed to a bite... and like everyone's first reaction to Krispy Kreme ("It's just a doughnut!"), his eyebrows raised to high heaven and he said, understatedly, "Ooh, it IS good!". And ended up taking several mouthfuls after. Wijnand and Geraldine caved in soon after, but I'm sure were being polite by not taking more than one forkful.

I miss it! I want it right now! Can't wait till Schrobbenmaster comes and we can go to Alexis just for cake. I was once disappointed and had to have the Chocolate Steam Pudding, which was nowhere in the same region as the Chocolate Cinnamon, so I think in the future I'll have to call Alexis before going to check if they do have it. Especially if I go there only for the cake.

Anyway, dinner was really good. Conversation was flowing and interesting. Wijnand said my Dutch 'g's were commendable, and Geraldine told him that I had a slight Russian accent when speaking Dutch (which is what Schrobbenmaster told me as well... very strange!).

Cynthia Utterbach from the International Jazz Series was performing that night but we weren't planning to stay for the show. We did end up listening to two songs before hightailing it out of the restaurant so we wouldn't be charged the RM25 for cover. I really think, though, that after having a main meal at Alexis, they should give us a discount for the show. Like pay RM10 instead of RM25. Because we've already spent hundreds of ringgit there, unlike someone who turns up, pays RM25 and orders a glass of ice lemon tea and sits for 2 hours.

---

This morning there was supposed to be a charity group coming over to my condo to collect donations left at an open area on the ground floor. I hadn't had time all weekend to set aside some things I wanted to give away (especially important as I'm leaving soon, and should really decide what to keep and what not to keep), but I hurriedly put together some food cans and shoes I never wear and brought them downstairs. It wasn't much, but I guess my house feels just a little more 'cleansed'. I hope they come back again, because there weren't many donations at the open area when I went. We were only given about 3 or 4 days notice, I believe. I think a week would have been better to alert people to gather things to give away.

Oh well, did my good bit for the day.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Rather painless visit to government departments

I hate doing anything official because I have the impression that it's really slow and no one will be able to answer any of my questions etc. I also hate going out of my house. Yes, even though there are many, many photos proving otherwise... I'm actually really comfortable at home in front of my Mac.

But what needs to be done needs to be done.

There is an official document I had to request to certify that I'm unmarried, which I need to send in to the Dutch embassy to get my residence permit. Thankfully, I have a friend who has done this before, so she just told me to head to the Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara (National Registration Department) to request the document, then move to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to get it legalised and stamped.

I really cannot be bothered to get up extra early to do things so I figure I'll take my chance and have faith. I had also called the customer service at the JPN yesterday and was told that Thursdays are the best days to get stuff done at the Marriage/Divorce department because they only have counselling and no ceremonies.

So I decided to just go ahead and do it today. I got up, had my tea, took a shower, had some lunch, played some Facebook games, then set off.

I took a new road which was very pleasant. It's the Maju Expressway which heads straight to Putrajaya (also turns off at National Sports Complex, Bukit Jalil and some other places). There were cars but it was a smooth drive. Toll is a more expensive RM2.50, compared to other roads going to Putrajaya. I'd rather pay that then face irritating KL drivers though.

I even decided to go to the JPN without a map. I figure that since Putrajaya is the administrative capital and was built to house all these government agencies in one area, it should be easy to find. Such faith I have. I just followed all the signs to Kompleks Jabatan Kerajaan (I think that's what it said... basically means government department complex) and I saw Kompleks C, D and E. Where the heck is A and B? Because JPN is not in C, D and E! Finally, I had to call Mumsy Bumsy to look for the exact address online. She told me to go to Precinct 2.

Once there, I saw a bunch of humongous buildings as well. This time it was right. All the jabatans were here. The kompleks were only housing the ministries. I'm pretty sure they signboard didn't say Kompleks Kementerian Kerajaan though. Which they should have, to make it clearer (Kementerian = ministry).

Anyway, I found the JPN and parked at the big area outside which only costs RM4 per entry. Good thing too, because who knows how long one has to wait at these government departments?


Photo of JPN by qunut13 on flickr. If you're qunut13, I hope you don't mind me using your photo. I tried to sign in to send you a message, but stupid flickr kept sending me to the main Yahoo! page. Lovely photo, by the way.

At first, with such a huge building, I expected to be lost and have to walk ages before reaching somewhere. But it was actually pretty alright. Within a few steps of walking in from a side entrance, I reached the info desk where the friendly lady pointed me in the direction of the Marriage department.

By the way, I wanna add that I was driving around Putrajaya and was really impressed (yet again) at all the buildings and the roads. Very nice indeed. Much better than having to brave KL traffic going to two government buildings.

I took a number and waited half an hour for my turn. I got some forms and was told to go to the Commissioner of Oaths so that he could witness my proclamation of being single. Unfortunately he was out for lunch and only back in 15 minutes. So I waited outside.

While I was there I wondered... government employees here only work from 8.30am to 5.30pm, right? They don't have to work overtime do they? And if they don't, shouldn't they just get 30 minutes lunch break? That's how they do it in Dutchland. Because, honestly, there's nothing to do for one hour. And everyone else in the private sector who works 10 to 12 hours also gets one hour lunches? Not very fair.

Anyway, this Commissioner guy was the worst person I encountered today. Absolutely didn't like him even though I only dealt with him for 2 minutes. First, he was late back from lunch. His female assistant, who was very nice but kinda dumb (let's give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that she's new), opened the doors 5 minutes past, and he strolled in 10 minutes after that. She gestured to him that I was there first, so he called me over. I said "Hi.". He just looked at my letter and form. Asked for my IC. Filled in the necessary. I said "Thank you.". Nothing from him. Fat ass. Even stamped and signed my official forms on top of a bloody newspaper! Can't even set your table up nicely in an official manner?? He only told me, "Pay there." and pointed to his assistant. When I got up, he looked at the other two couples in the room and announced (I can imagine him opening his arms in a self-important, grandiose way), "Semua." (which means, "Everyone.").

Fat ass.

I paid RM4 for that silly stamp and signature.

Went back up to the Marriage counters and waited 20 mins to send in my forms. Then another 10 mins to get the official document. Paid RM5 for it.

So far, I've only paid RM13 for everything. Pretty well cheap, eh? Very pleased.

I go down to the info desk to ask the way to Wisma Putra, the Foreign Ministry building. She directs me, but of course, I don't understand directions and I end up driving up and down that big, wide jabatan road until I decide that it's definitely not on this road. Shouldn't everything be on this road, I wondered. So I looked for a location map and discovered that it's on its own little hill, set apart from everyone else. Geez!

Nice building though. Once I reached there, it was free parking, a big plus.


Same deal with spOt_ON on flickr. Couldn't sign in to send you a message. I also colour-corrected your photo slightly, as the original is too yellow. Ahem.

Went to the guardhouse to register. I said "Nak pergi bahagian konsular." (Going to the consular section). The other guard who was sitting behind suddenly looks up and goes, "Eh, you Melayu atau Cina??". I'm so surprised by this question I actually almost say "Melayu". I think my mouth wanted to say "No no, I really AM speaking Malay even if I don't speak it well!". Instead, I went "M... m... Cina!" and he told me how surprised he was, because I spoke with a Malay accent. And I wanted to tell him that I actually don't speak it much, but what actually came out was, "Tapi saya tak cakap banyak..." and trailed off into silence. Which he took to mean that I didn't even say much, how can he tell I have the proper Malay speaking accent? And he replied that he could just tell from my accent. I suppose a Chinesey accent speaking Malay IS pretty obvious, after all.

"Nak paagi pahagian kansula..."

Anyway, the people in the konsular weren't very friendly or chatty, but at least I was in and out of there in 20 mins, with my precious stamp and signature. It cost me RM10, the most expensive so far. But still cheap enough. Very very sweet!

Wanted to hop on over to the Immigration Department next to renew my passport for another 5 years, but it was already 3.45pm and some departments close at 4pm. Kind of a bummer because I wanted to finish everything official today, but I'd rather go home and beat the rush hour traffic than drive around looking for another building.

So passport renewal is next week then. Should also take a really short time since we now have electronic passports (and it's so cool we have them!) and I think I remember being able to renew them just at a machine. Hopefully that's all it takes. We'll see next week!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ugly new RM50 note, and the impressive Dutch

The new RM50 note is really ugly. What a waste of money spent on such a goshawful, old-fashioned design! Like frachely said, "... it looks like currency from Cambodia or some such place...". I'm not dissing the lovely Cambodia, but we are far advanced of the country, surely our currency design should show it too! Our old RM50 design was perfectly useable and quite pleasing to the eye. Check out these new hideous combo of colours on the new hideous note. I'm so disgusted thinking of the money spent on redesigning something that didn't need to be.




(Apparently it is better at deterring counterfeiting... but why not just improve the old note? This is so ugly!)

Malaysia. Gah.

Okay, due to popular demand, here is the existing and going-to-be-phased-out RM50 note. I actually thought of putting this up earlier for my foreign readers, but then got lazy because there was no photo I could find of both the old and new note together.




In my two decades of knowing about money, this is, I believe, the third design of the RM50 note. Why does it need to be redesigned so regularly? Update: Just found out it's the fourth series. So in 50 odd years of independence, we need four redesigns? Four?! How many times has the pound or the US dollar note changed in the last twenty years? Serious question. If anyone knows, please leave a comment.

... hmm...

I actually meant to write about something else, and the new RM50 note slipped under some books caught my eye so I decided to drop in a line about how ugly it is. Instead, it turned into quite a major rant. And now I've forgotten what I was gonna write about in the first place.

Oh yes (switched between browser windows and saw what triggered my post).

The Dutch have this calendar called the verjaardagskalender (is that the right word??), which is a calendar they keep every year for birthdays. It has numbers and months, but no days, so it's useable every year. It was my first time seeing such a thing this year in Dutchland. In a way, I'm kinda impressed by the practicality, and on the other hand, sort of amazed that they can keep a calendar, the same design, every single year and not get bored of it.

In English/Malaysian culture, we have a yearly calendar. We buy a new one every year (or get given one by clients/printers/shops)... I probably diligently flip mine for 2 months then leave it for the rest of the year. Frankly, I have not much use for a calendar, as my iMac can show me everything with a click of the middle button on my Mighty Mouse.

So the only reason I'd get a calendar is because it looks really nice, is innovative, creative, has some awesome illustrations... you get my drift. Therefore, I couldn't ever get a verjaardagskalender that I'd be happy with. I'd pick one up and think, "This is really nice, maybe I should get it... but what if I get sick of it in a few months? It's kind of a waste to get something like this then...". And then I'd just put it down.

So... I guess what I'm saying is how impressed I am by Dutch practicality in having something like this. And their staying power (a very good thing for me hehe). And at the same time, I'm impressed, in a slightly less positive way, that they can live such a "boring" existence, in terms of seeing the same thing every single year, when they could have a new, fancy calendar instead. Guess practicality overcomes aesthetics when it comes to the Dutch?

Does any other culture have a verjaardagskalender?

Before the inburgering exam...

Well, well, things are moving along pretty quickly now. Just found out yesterday that, contrary to what the Dutch embassy told me (grrrrr!!), I don't just make an appointment to do the exam. They should really be more informative and tell me the whole process, or at least direct me to a website which will give me instructions. Isn't one of their functions being a foreign embassy to help citizens of both countries with matters concerning both??

Thankfully, me being paranoid and nervous about the inburgering exam, checked out websites to try and find out exactly what to expect and if anything has changed, seeing that the Naar Nederland package I have is freaking 4 years old. Found a page in Dutch from which Schrobbenmaster then informed me that I had to fill in an application form to register with the IND (Immigration in Netherlands) that I wanted to take the exam. They would then give details for bank transfer of the exam payment. After processing, they would inform me and I could then make an appointment with the embassy to take the inburgering exam.

Apparently all this takes 1 to 2 weeks, so finding this information yesterday was really timely as I want to do the exam in 2 weeks.

Now I feel really pressured with time because before I take the exam, I have loads of things to do! I have to renew my passport at the Immigration Department, get a certificate of "singledom" at the National Registration Department in Putrajaya, and hop on over to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to legalise and certify it as a true copy.

Yep, I'm also curious as to why an official document from the NRD, which will have the government stamps and all, has to be legalised and certified yet again by the Foreign Ministry. Oh well. At least they're close by to each other, which is the whole point of Putrajaya, right? I'm about to test it's useability and IT HAD BETTER PROVE RIGHT.

On a more positive note, I took a mock exam last night and did pretty well on it. So I feel a little more confident about going for the real one.

(I'm getting really distracted from writing because I'm watching Friends at the same time, so I think I'm gonna sign off right now.)

Oh, and one more thing... goodputty::paperie has something new - and free - for Christmas.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Schrobbenmaster in Kampung Baru and MORE bad Engrish!

I woke up this morning with a dry mouth. Must be the Ruffles I was stuffing my face with last night. They're so yummy!

Because I've been waking up early every day for the past few days, I woke up at an irritatingly early 9.30am this morning. So I pulled on my eye mask and slept again till 12pm. Bliss! Strangely (or maybe not so strangely), in my dream I was decorating a shop which was in the middle of nowhere. Signs of Restaurant City creeping into my dreamworld as well?

Hmm... I also dreamt that my partner had found someone new, but then I started doing ballet all over this airport/shopping mall, and suddenly he realised that his new interest wasn't that great after all. It was a nice reunion. Heh. Straaaaaaange!

Anyway, speaking about partners, let's get back into the real world. Just found this solitary photo of Schrobbenmaster in Kampung Baru snapping photos, tourist-like. He looks really... Caucasian in here. Which is when I realised that, normally, when I look at him, I never think of him as that. Is that strange, you think? But I guess cuz he looks all touristy here, it reminded me that he indeed, is Caucasian.



And here are two last random photos from my Blog folder. Then I can delete it! And remove a little clutter from my desktop! Muahahahahaha.....



I love those striped pyjama pants of mine.

Anyway, this is a flyer for a cake shop. Those flyers are always mass-distributed on people's cars and mailboxes. I just thought it was funny they called a cake "Mocha Barbarian". I really wonder if they intended to write something else, but spelt it wrongly, just like my all-time favourite signboard which says "No Dumpling" instead of "No Dumping".

(Incidentally, in the flyer, Doraemon is spelt wrongly, and so is Raspberry.)



Among the other bad English printed on this box, check out the white words at the bottom. If you can't read:

The Cartoon Shape, Interesting Function! Let we the together small animal studies music together, feel a happiness together.
I just love spotting really bad English. Perhaps someone should learn how to use Google Translate. Or perhaps they should improve the translation system on Google for Chinese and Japanese languages.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The senseless way to get into The Netherlands

In the inburgering exam I have to take in order to get my temporary residence permit in The Netherlands, there is a section called 'nazeggen', which means 'repeat sentences'.

It is an absolutely pointless test to see if you should enter the country or not. This exam is for absolute beginner's level Dutch. If they want to test our level of Dutch, the more sensible sections include answering questions and hearing a short story then seeing how much you can retell after hearing it.

But to repeat precisely Dutch sentences??

You wonder why I'm complaining?

The sort of sentences they give are expressions like (in Dutch) "It is so warm that the birds are falling off the roof" or randoms like, "It is my fault that I like gardening more than you do".

Daymn!!

How can a beginner level hear and catch each of those words spoken quickly, much less remember them? They range from 5 to 11 words in one sentence.

Would make much more sense, if they really wanted to ask us to repeat sentences, to ask us to repeat sentences that we should know at our level. Sentences like, "Can you tell me the time?" or "Which platform does this train leave from?".

Again, I say, how the heck are we expected to be able to repeat precisely random sentences that a sour, lonely woman sitting behind a desk makes up in her head?

IND Nederland! Come on, please, if you have to force everyone to sit for an entry exam, at least make it sensible!

Obstacle course in Seremban

First off, let's start with a really adorable picture of my dogs.



Now that's over with...

Several months ago, I took part in an obstacle course in Seremban. I've always wanted to do obstacle courses cuz I love a mental + physical challenge now and then.

Royal Yelly and I partnered each other in this. This particular course was high up in the trees, not one of those crawling under obstacles and stuff you see on TV. There always has to be one person on the ground, watching, encouraging and reminding their partner what to do. I guess when you're up there you tend to forget simple guidelines like looking straight ahead, or putting your hands in certain positions for optimum balance.



That's Royal Yelly on the right carefully switching the big clips that hold us safely to the wire should we slip and fall. There is also a way to clip them up so they don't get twisted and accidentally open.



This section was the SCARIEST of them all. Looking up, I wondered why everyone took ages to cross this, but once I was up there... oh boy... the ropes hanging down with the tyres are actually the ONLY thing that you hold on to while trying to walk across on that single line of rope. And the tyres are actually not that close to your body. Shit, I was hanging on to my dear life on this section. The others were a breeze, but this was the real challenge.



That's me at the end of that horrible horrible section.



This is the last section which was fairly easy until the end when it wasn't as tight and it started swaying.



This is to show how high we are.



I just found it funny that we have such an association with a shopfront announcing it like that. So old school.

Tired now, can't end this post in a nice and humourous way.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Languages, frachely's visit, and I'm back at Barsonic!

Well, hello after a long time!

Been having pretty busy days for the past week or so. I don't like being busy! But that's life.

To start from the most recent happenings, frachely was in KL over the weekend staying at my abode. After Dutch on Saturday, I picked her up from Corus Hotel in town, followed a Google map screenshot I saved onto my iPod (so organised and high-tech huh) and arrived safely at Sookie's house to collect money from her grandmother.

Ooh, that sounded wrong.

... to collect payment for some work I did for Sookie's company.

Yeah, that sounds less gangster-y.

I also had to attempt to speak Cantonese to this sweet little old lady and it felt so funny. I was using really basic words but I think my accent and intonation went alright. Albeit a little Western but still better than a (typical) Westerner's attempt.

I remember last week at Canton-i, I asked the waiter in Cantonese for the WiFi password (which I had to rehearse in my head beforehand), and he pointed at the menu and said it's "Canton i", I wanted to ask him if it was with the dash/hyphen. So, in my head I was thinking "Speak in a foreign language!" and I really almost said, "Met de dash?"

Okay, so "dash" in English might not be "dash" in Dutch, but I'm sure most Dutch people would've understood me, especially when seeing me point at the dash in the name.

By the way, silly waiter, the password is "dragon-i" not "canton-i"! Wasted so much of my time trying it and failing until I had to ask the captain instead.

But anyway, I digress. After collecting my money, we drove to Bangsar where we had lunch at Delicious. I had the Duck Confit Spaghettini which was full of olive oil and really nice. The hot mocha is also good. Very thick, but better than diluted.

Then a walk up the road to Moca, Mooie and Tea & Sympathy. My three favourite places to shop at. I'm losing hope in Mooie though, because everything there is way too "young" for me. Or too Hong Kong.

Home to rest, and for dinner I made my famous Chicken Basil. Except without the basil. So we renamed it the Chicken, Peppers & Coconut Milk Delight. And the use of the word "Delight" is just to poke fun at Chinese restaurants' naming of dishes with "Delight", "Special", etc, when it really isn't anything special at all. And it probably just means they don't wanna write what's in the dish.

After dinner we changed and got ready for Lapsap at Barsonic (woohoo!). We arrived quite late and missed the guestlist by a measly 12 minutes. Stupid people at the door. Come on, it's just 12 minutes... if it was half an hour, I would understand. But don't you also go above the speed limit by more than 12 km/h AT LEAST??? I'll give you my whole wardrobe of (stylish) clothes if you can prove you don't. Pffft.

Lapsap was awesome by the way. Halfway through there was this white dude who started playing. He was alright for a few minutes but after some time it was really monotonous and almost boring! You can't compensate by turning the volume up and blowing cold ice air into the crowd! Thankfully, Lapsap took over after that and wow, the energy was just explosive from then on.

Okay... I only just wrote about one day and I'm already feeling exhausted. Here ends my blog post on this cool, rainy Monday.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Reasons for your stupidly long wait at bars

Okay, what I started in reply to a comment by RedDog in the What a bartender sees post...

I agree it takes really long to order, pay and get your change at a bar. It's really annoying because even when I'm working behind the bar, I can see people waiting for their change while the beer they ordered for their friends is slowly losing it's head (probably could be used as a metaphor for the person waiting as well). And I feel kinda bad for those people. Also when ice starts melting in their cocktails and they end up with something more watery than alcoholy.

One of the reasons it goes so slowly (at least in WIP, and probably the same in the majority of bars) is that there are so many drinks to have to make. Maybe it's not the same in the West, where most people order beer or straight drinks (liquor + mixer). Those can be done in a jiffy. In WIP, loads of people order cocktails. Those take on average of 3-5 minutes to make. So firstly, the rate of outgoing drinks is low.

Secondly, in a big bar like WIP or Zouk, there will be about 8-10 people working behind it. There has to be clear separation of duties. Hence, two people at cocktails, two people at tapped beers, etc. And there are only two people who are authorised to key in orders into the machine. And those two are normally the supervisor/manager, who are on cocktail duty (more complicated drinks). So they aren't always free. I sometimes find myself waiting next to the cashier for them to come back and key my order in to be made.

Next, when the customer pays, the money goes to a different cashier, because the people behind the bar don't handle the cash. Maybe because of dirty hands, maybe because of complications with both dealing with drinks and calculating money (when it gets busy, your head does start to go a bit bonkers if you don't remain calm). At the bar, there is only one cashier which receives and returns money. Sometimes that person isn't there. Sometimes that person has loads of other bills to deal with. Hence the slowness.

Everything added up, when you go to a bar on a busy night, things do tend to slow down. There is probably a better way, perhaps hiring just one sole person to be the cashier at the bar would do it. But then again, WIP is understaffed at the moment. I can't say the same about Zouk because I don't know about them. But if WIP is finding it hard to find staff to recruit, I'm assuming there's not many people out there who are available. So maybe these places are always understaffed, hence the irritating slowness at all bars.

Perhaps then, people should stop offering cocktails on their menus. And we should start ordering easier drinks. Or perhaps we should all take up part-time jobs behind bars to ease the load. Thank you, thank you. Seems that I'm doing my part for the community (albeit the drunken community) after all.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

PHOTOS: Central Market old facades

I'm currently working on my Dutch teacher's website design. Have a rough idea of how I want it to look like, but can't get the exact design out of my head. It's in there somewhere, that lightbulb of a design... just need to nudge it out lovingly :P

So in the meantime, here are some more old photos from the Blog folder on my desktop.

I suppose in the spirit of travelling, tourists, foreigners and Malaysia, Truly Asia, I'll show some shots I snapped from my phone while driving in town. Don't mistake Kuala Lumpur for Bangkok or most other South East Asian countries. It is a modern city in terms of its buildings, nightlife and skyscrapers. However, we do still retain some of the *ahem* old character. Which I'm quite fond of, by the way.



I believe this batch of photos was taken as I was driving past Central Market, towards the Masjid Jamek area.



I like the character of these buildings. If only the people in the area would be a little more civilised.



I don't mean THEY'RE uncivilised, I just mean the people there in general. I like how they're wearing hoodies and caring about being fashionable. It's just a tad funny to be wearing hoodies in KL. But then *ahem* I do wear boots to work behind the bar. I have the excuse that it's more comfortable for standing around for 6 hours than ballet flats though. Yeahhh.....



Maybe they're not so uncivilised after all, if they oppose the ISA. And not everyone can be artistic. Give them a break, man :P



However, with the effort put in, an 8 year old CAN produce artwork like this. Don't be crude, people. If you wanna get your voice heard, do it in a manner that appeals to people, not repel them!

Okay, back to work.

What a bartender sees

Just a quick one before heading into the shower and popping a Midsomer on the new Samsung LCD ;)

Was posted at the cocktail station tonight at WIP. Nicer to make straight drinks like whisky water, whisky coke, vodka lime, gin tonic etc. Not as tiring and painful for my muscles as making mojitos.

Interesting watching people all around. Sometimes people treat you differently when you're standing behind a bar instead of in front of one. For the record, please never call someone by the hand gesture of "Come come" like you're calling an animal. That is just plain rude, and it shows your level of sophistication.

Westerners tend to be nice, with the exception of a few, who are usually female, who are really arrogant and can't seem to smile when making any orders. Guys are jollier but can sometimes be really impatient. Hey, if you come to a popular bar when it's busy you do have to give us some time.

Kinda good-looking people tonight. Well, only two or three, but those two or three were much better-looking than average so it helps the night pass by easier. My standards are high.

Oritey then, I'm all sticky and yucky so catch you guys tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Sometimes I'm proud of myself

I'm so glad I spent all that money in previous (more prosperous) times on my design books. I used to "steal" books from Slavedriver's studio and keep them for ages. Proved very useful. But he's recently asked for some of them back, one of which is a packaging/folding design book. I thought, "Bah, I don't need that because I hate packaging and I don't really do work like that anyway.".

And today I realised that I do, in fact, need it to see how to fold a CD cover. I tried Googling for it but no luck. Then the lightbulb "ding"ed above my head and I remembered that I did buy one such book some time ago. Walked into the office (these days I work on the dining table... gives me more of a casual mood) and found said book. Smiled to myself and gave myself a pat on my back for being so foresighted.

Incidentally, did you know that 'Googling' is a proper word according to the spellchecker? It told me 'realised' was spelt wrongly (Americans!) but 'Googling' is a perfectly legitimate word! Amazing. One day perhaps 'Goodputtying' will be a word too. There goes the big red underline telling me it isn't yet.

Okay back to work. Just had to blog about my ingenious and foresighted thinking.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Busy bee! MJ's This Is It and are Chinese men really crooked?

It's been a few days since I last posted, but I have been so busy the last weekend that I literally only opened my laptop for 2 hours on Sunday night out of the entire weekend.

It started with Saturday morning, getting up early for Dutch class, and facing a traffic jam that's worse than weekdays (seriously, what is happening??), then straight to Bangsar for dim sum with Mumsy Bumsy, Royal Yelly, aunt, uncle, cousin and grandma. I gave a ride to my Dutch teacher to Bangsar and we had a nice conversation on the way over. In English though, otherwise I would probably have taken the wrong route back to Bangsar and ended up at KLIA.

I was scheduled to work at WIP that night, so when I got home I tried to get a couple hours of rest. I've been so tired the past week, no idea why.

On Friday night, though, Mumsy Bumsy's friend got tickets to watch Michael Jackson's This Is It at Pavilion, and I was really looking forward to it and seeing what he had planned for his fans on his last ever tour.

Well, unfortunately of course, he didn't even make it to the tour. But it was a really good watch. A documentary-style, behind-the-scenes film. It was matter-of-fact, it wasn't a tribute, nor like his memorial where everyone is partial towards MJ. This was straight documenting of his tour preparation, but of course with very brief statements from his dancers, directors and technical people about how he is/was like to work with. The dancers' parts were the most touching because they were so overwhelmed about being able to dance with him onstage. I'm sure not one of them needed to be taught the choreography for songs like Thriller, Smooth Criminal, Beat It and loads others!

On another note, I just heard a saying over the weekend that I've never heard before:
The only thing straight about a Chinese man is his hair.

Haha. Pretty true, I guess! Poor guy if he's born with naturally wavy hair then.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Birthday Goodputty! Things are great but others are sucky

I only just realised that the second anniversary of Goodputty Design has passed me by without me noticing!

I guess I should do something special to give clients who have supported me and all that jazz because studios tend to do that (as we are told in the countless expensive design books we purchase), but I don't wanna rush something out and do it for the sake of doing it. It just wouldn't come out right.

Happy 2nd birthday anyway!

I went out for dinner tonight looking for sizzling hot plate noodles, but couldn't find any in the shops near my place. MAYBE tomorrow at the Pavilion food court? I'm going to Pavilion tomorrow night to watch Michael Jackson's This Is It! How Thrilling. I'm actually being Bad and skipping bartending tomorrow just for that hehe. Well, it's Human Nature to choose fun over work, right? Okay, enough of the song names, I'm just making you roll your eyes.

Beat It.

On a side note, just for frachely (and anyone else interested), check out the music of GusGus. So far I've heard two songs and it's sounding good. Another one is Flunk.

Had another early morning today for Dutch class. Also, my uncle came over to help me fix my backyard tap. Well, he came to check it out and buy a new tap for me, and when I came home, I fixed it all by myself! How handy am I, huh?

Early morning, hence the tiredness in the afternoon. Took a really, really speedy nap of 10 minutes before dinner and I'm feeling much better for it. The creative juices seem to be filling up as well. All sorts of fancy ideas spilling out. How great is that?

I miss Schrobbenmaster because he's been working at Leiden Centraal for the past 2 days and will be there till Sunday. Sucks.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"It's not my department" attitude at Tan Boon Ming. Bad!

Tsk.

I woke up this morning at 10.30am, without any alarm, which is really an improvement because ever since I came back I've been waking up at lunchtime if I don't set my alarm. I've been feeling really heavy and drowsy the past couple of days, but feeling much better now. Sleeping times may be going back to normal!

I went to the living room to check my phone if anyone had called. The washing machine is supposed to come within 1pm to 3pm today, but knowing delivery people, they'll always come when you least expect it. So I already half-expected to find a missed call on my phone. Which I did.

So I called the washing machine shop to ask if they'd called earlier. The guy was at lunch so the woman who answered asked me to call back. I asked if she could just tell him to call me back, and she says, "I think better you call back in an hour.".

So I tried asking about the call earlier. "I'm supposed to get a delivery at 1pm, but someone called me this morning..."

And she interrupted me and said, "Sorry, I'm not in charge of delivery.".

Aaarrghhh!!

Well, they had better come today because I was really so excited about getting a new washing machine, and if I don't get it today, someone's gonna get an earful!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Really fake real real fake real flowers

I just got back from IKEA with Mumsy Bumsy. We were looking for mundane things like shelves and small saucepans. And as always happens at IKEA - and no one is immune - we bought other things as well. I got new cooking utensils for under RM2 (my current ones are kinda destroyed) and a new toilet bowl brush. Oh, and a new purple pot for my new balcony table plant. It looks really nice!

While I was browsing the pots and plants area, I saw these pots of brightly-coloured gerberas that were quite nice. I had to lift one out of a pot in order to measure the pot, if it was big enough for my plant. I was surprised by how it felt! It was kinda rubbery and didn't feel like a plant. That's when I realised the gerberas were fake! No wonder they were so bright and thriving in that underground of an IKEA building.

Mumsy Bumsy came over a little later to take a look. I asked her if she wanted plants to place around the house and the gerberas caught her eye as well. We walked round the pots looking for one which was suitably "in bloom" and yet didn't look too artificial. While Mumsy Bumsy was admiring one of the bright red flowers, I started touching the petals of another. And was amazed by how real it felt. I was really impressed by the attention to detail and the materials they must have used to make the petals. The leaves were a little rubbery, but the rest of the plant was really well done!

Mumsy Bumsy finally chose a plant, picked it up and looked at the label, then said, "Why does it say it needs direct sunlight?". I thought for a bit and replied, "Maybe it's so it looks real.". There was a pause. And Mumsy Bumsy goes, "These plants are real LAH!".

Egads, there I was, marvelling at how real the flowers felt, and actually stroking it and peering closely trying to see what material they made it out of, when the whole time, it was true Mother Nature!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Clocks go back, Liverpool wins and Ultraman saves the day

Just a quick check-in before I head to dreamland. Yes, I do dream every night.

Nothing much different from the routine Sunday today. Took an enjoyable nap in the afternoon, and was pleasantly surprised to find out time was moving slower than I expected. Until I spoke to Schrobbenmaster who told me the clocks had gone back in Europe already. I was looking at my iPod, which is still on Amsterdam time so that I don't have to calculate what time it is in Europe, and thought that it was earlier here in KL. Gah, that extra hour had been snatched away from me.

I have dinner every Sunday with the dad and family, and tonight the aunt and cousins came over as well. It just happened that tonight was also a big night (or rather, afternoon) in the Premier League. My cousin, The Doktor, is a huge Liverpool fan along with my stepmum, but they were both overpowered by the Manchester United supporters in our living room.

Eventually, Liverpool won 2-0, so I know someone who'll have sweet dreams tonight!

I spent most of the game destroying bad guys with little Ultraman finger action figures with Baby Arran (okay, he's 3 years old, but he's the baby in the family). The bad guy we had to defeat was Royal Yelly controlling an Ultraman impostor, who was stuck in the Halloween Lift, which couldn't stop going up and down. After we destroyed him, my Ultraman hero got stuck in the Halloween Lift instead, and the bad guy was resurrected from the floor at our feet. But Baby Arran wouldn't have any of that, and promptly picked up the impostor, ran to the end of the living room and threw him on the floor where Royal Yelly couldn't resurrect him again.

Too complicated a storyline? Go back to your soap operas.

Time for some vocabulary studies then off to get some much-needed rest before a work meeting tomorrow.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Work at WIP, eerste Nederlandse les and PHOTOS from Schrobbenmaster's birthday

See my dedication to my blog readers? All 3 of you? Okay, 4... no, 5 that I know of. How popular am I, huh?? Anyway, I was saying I was so dedicated to you guys because my right arm and shoulder is really sore, but I thought of you guys and how I entertain you when you're bored, or when you're on the train, or on the poopbox, or simply vegging out in front of the TV, reading during commercials.

Last night was my first night at WIP behind the bar and I was placed at the mojito station. Geez, we must've made nearly 150 to 200 mojitos last night? And it wasn't even as busy as it normally is. Muddling (crushing) the lime, mint and sugar together sure needs muscle power! I think I might be at a different section tonight though, as the bar manager wants me to learn everything asap. Also, it's really tiring standing up nonstop. If you're working the whole time, it's not so bad. But when you have to just stand and look attentive, gosh... my back really hurt a lot.

Incidentally, it's funny watching intoxicated grown-ups. And the westerners tend to be more subdued here compared to, say, in England. But that is probably because they're older here. And they also tend to drink alone more than Asians.

Yesterday was also my first Dutch class. It was fun. She went through exercises to see how much I already knew, and she said I was already pretty good in the basics. Well, I can tell you, I probably am the best at things to do with trains and train stations. She asked me to match 'de' and 'het' with the nouns in the exercise (they are similar to 'le' and 'la' for French nouns). And then she asked how I knew it was 'de trein' so confidently. Yaaah, if she only knew how much time I spent in train stations. Geez, the best Dutch sentence I know is probably, "The train to *insert place here* will leave from platform 5 at 5.30pm.".

Anyway, more photos from Dutchland. The weekend before I left for KL was Schrobbenmaster's birthday. I've already put photos up of our dinner at Azzia, where we went on his birthday itself. The day after, his parents came to Rotterdam to spend the day and have dinner.



Schrobbenmaster wearing the shirt we hunted high and low for, a gift from his parents. Finally found one that fit well and that suited his style in de Bijenkorf. Dutch brand from Amsterdam, just so happens.



The parents.



The menu.

First, we all got Dutch menus. Then Schrobbenmaster asked the owner for an English menu. And this is what I got. After staring at it for a couple minutes, I swapped it back for the Dutch menu. That one makes more sense. Tell me, what's a clams sailor's blouse? How are you supposed to order that and know what's coming out?

The next picture is just from a newspaper, with a headline I thought was cute. Cuz the spelling used is so un-English, it looked cute to me.



Maybe I should rename my blog: "Sjoebs Boebs".

Time to clean up the house. And hopefully not strain my arm any more than it is. I hope my dad's massage chair is working cuz my neck and shoulders seriously need some rubbing as well.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

PHOTOS: Art class #2... such yonks ago

Since Schrobbenmaster gave me his old MacBook Pro, I've only been using it and neglecting my big old 24" iMac. Aww, poor thing. It's just so much more convenient using the MacBook when I wanna watch shows in bed, or want a change of scenery from the office to the dining table.

Anyway, Royal Yelly (formerly known as Yelleh Belleh) needed help with the scanner on the big iMac, so I decided to poke around in my old files. And once again found a folder with photos called Blog. And there's even a Blog 2! So I guess you folks can look forward to lots of pictures in the near future.



Wow, it feels like such a long time ago. These are photos I took of the kids doing one of my favourite lessons: filling up a cow with patterns and things they like. Encourages creativity.



One of my favourite students goofing around.



Her cow turned out very nice indeed. I think I may have lent her a hand somewhere in there, but on the whole, very nice. I always make my students fill everything with colour cuz I hate white space in artwork (let's not go into professional paintings and all that).



Egads, that boy, I remember him!! Very naughty, very noisy, impossible to control. But turned out to be an intelligent, creative boy (when it suited him). Yes I know, usually it's the intelligent kids that cause trouble. But their parents really have to teach them to respect authority at the same time. Can't just let them do whatever the heck they want! Especially when it disrupts other people's learning experience. Anaelle (above, my favourite student) is proof of that. Heh.



I can't really tell who this is. I had a couple of blonde little girls in my class. But I'm pretty sure it's my fave student. Joking around again. Maybe she's trying to be Wall-E. Note how she's taped her mouth shut. Kooky.



This is a really old photo. I did this lesson quite early on, blowing paint around to create shapes and patterns. In here he's creating a volcano. Which ended up really, really, really... quite awful.



Nothing special about this piece, except I like the way the colours mix at the bottom... those red, purple, yellow streaks are quite a turn-on to me. Kinky.



Okay, I DID have more students than just this girl, but I guess she was always the most interesting.



This is a really typical pose of hers. She's always so curious and so interested in everything. And she'll just open her mouth and ask straight out. Never rude though. Kudos to her parents. French parents.



This is another cute one who joined late. Extremely quiet, until she goes bonkers. I had her, for one whole class, keep repeating, "Where's my gum, yo?" gangsta-style, just cuz she liked the sound of it. Even some of the other students were asking her to stop. And then they got addicted to it too. Sigh.

I miss the kids, but I'm glad I'm not taking the class anymore. It was just too much work thinking up lessons every week that were interesting enough. I also wasn't getting paid as much as I should have been for the amount of time/work I put in. Well, maybe in Dutchland they'll value art lessons more and I can charge the equivalent of what my Dutch teacher is charging me!

(First Dutch class tomorrow, btw. Gotta wake up early, arrghh!)

PHOTOS: Working in Amsterdam and train journeys

Schrobbenmaster started his first job in September, and three weeks later, he came home and told me that his office needed a part-time designer for a week, as their full-time designer would be on holiday in Ibiza when a certain festival newspaper was supposed to be created.

So I said fine, that sounds great. It'll give me something to do and a little money on the side.

Well, one week turned into two weeks, which turned into two and a half, which ended as three. And only then because I already had to fly back to KL. I even met the poor designer who had gone to Ibiza and who then came back and had nothing to do for the two weeks I was there. Bah, that's life.

For those of you who aren't on my Twitter, here are photos of the office I was working in, in Amsterdam.



I started out by sitting at the designer's desk, which is right at the end of the office, all alone, until Schrobbenmaster joined the company.



Schrobbenmaster at his spot, and one of the bosses sitting in the special cubicle further back on the left.



The main entrance to Leiden Centraal, and the banners for the festival.



When the full-time designer returned from Ibiza, I shifted to the spot next to Schrobbenmaster and I started bringing my own laptop to work on. The screen is connected to it, and it was more useful having a larger screen to work on. It's currently showing the full program of the festival. That was the worst page to work on!



In Dutchland, people usually eat lunch in their office and they only get half an hour. The office orders food to be delivered, and everyone makes their own sandwiches or salad or whatever cold stuff there is. And drink milk. So healthy. In some offices, the employees pay a minimal amount monthly for the food, but in this company, they provided us with lunch.

Shown above is brown bread with... probably some sort of ham and some sort of strong cheese in it. They sometimes had crab mayonnaise which was like the kani mayo sushi I love to buy at Jusco. And only in the last few days I decided to try the sambal manis, which made me regret not having it sooner. It was so delicious! Turns out everyone else thought so too, and I only managed to eat it for 3 days.



In the train on our way back from work. That's a new shirt I'm wearing, actually the only long-sleeved top I had. I had gone out with the sole purpose of purchasing a long-sleeved top to wear to work. Also looked for boots because I was feeling rather loser-ish wearing my ballet flats with socks.



Egads! That's the program I'm working on again. Oh, wait a minute, no, Schrobbenmaster had requested to see it because he was organising something. And I was typing a blog post about the journey back home.



This is from another journey, when we were sitting in the cramped space just outside the main seating carriage and near the doors. We sometimes sit there when it's too crowded in the carriage, or we just want some privacy. It's not very comfortable though, as you can see.

Whoopee, ending here. Tired eyes.