July 31, 2008

Everyday stranger

It is a fact that most people live in the city don't talk to strangers, they keep to themselves and when a stranger does try to talk to them, their radar goes up, and they wonder what this stranger is after. But if you go within small towns, you see people are the complete opposite. They are more friendly, with a smile on their face, greeting strangers.

My sister who lives and works in Singapore leaving home at the same time every day. She gets to the MRT station at the same train each morning, every day, would most likely meet with pretty much the same people going to the same direction. For years, she would probably sit on the train with the same person but they never exchanged pleasantries, no eye contact, no head nod, no hello.

On the other hand, I'm a pretty social person. I can easily talk to everybody, the postman, the girl at the news stand, the jamu vendor, the girl in the small kiosk who sells instant noodles, teh botol, etc, the patient at the doctor's waiting room ... but it was never anything other than a brief chats. When I had my dog, Fatso, I would walk him regularly each morning. By doing this have made me new friends who also own dogs. We often bump into each other around the same time so we could chat, and our dogs could run and play together.

Inter personal communications have long been replaced with electronic communications such as cell phones, email, IM etc. Our living is full of these close encounters where we never make contact in person. We may know from the television or the internet about what's happening thousands of miles away, day and night. But do you know who is the person you see each day on the way to work or the person who lives next door to you?

**Image stolen from flickr**

July 29, 2008

Me and the love for batik

If you happen to walk down any road in the capital city of Jakarta or other places like Bandung, Surabaya and Yogyakarta, chances are you will find a lot of women wearing batik which range from sundress to formal office wear. At the same time, we can even find many girls dressed in batik tops and jeans. Back then, the youngsters almost always associated batik as a traditional attires that were worn by the elderly (moms, aunts, uncles) at wedding parties. But now there are so many relaxing, younger, and cute designs available from tank tops, baby dolls to beautiful coats you can choose.

At home after work, I always wear batik daster (a casual dress worn by many Indonesian women) because it's just so comfortable. I also have a quite number of batik collections from kain panjang (batik fabric), table clothes, cushion covers to knicks knacks like batik wooden statues. I bought them at various crafts expo here in Jakarta. In the self portrait above I wore a Bali batik sundress. A gift sent by my dear friend, Eka from Pernik Unik in Bali.

July 28, 2008

Feng Shui tips

I have been fascinated with Feng Shui for a long time. Feng shui is understanding the flow of chi (vital energy). This energy symbolizes life, health, prosperity and everything that is positive to us. The basic principles of feng shui are the yin and yang. Yin is feminine, cool, dark and lifeless. Yang is masculine, hot, bright and full of life. Therefore we have to create a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang forces. Whether you believe in the philosophical approach or not, feng shui is fun and sometimes a bit illogical. Here are some tips from Lilian Too's Little Book of Feng Shui:

Water Features Work Best In The North
Mini water fountains and small ponds in your garden bring exceptional money luck when located in the north or southeast corner.

Ratio of Windows
The ratio of windows to doors in all your rooms should not exceed 3:1. Too many windows cause all your luck to seep away. It is also better not to have windows on the wall opposite the door.

Use Mirrors to Enlarge Tight Corners
Large mirrors are excellent for enhancing the stale energy of a tight or cramped space. This is especially recommended for tiny halls or foyers. Place the mirror on a wall that does not face the door. Let the mirror create a feeling of space but do not let it reflect the door directly since this will cause all the good fortune to dissipate.

Keep a Pet
Pets are especially good feng shui in homes that are left empty during the day. If the family are out working or at school, yin energy accumulates in the silence and stillness. This can be countered by the lively presence of a dog or cat or fish.

Do Not Sit With Your Back to The Door
Never sit with your back to the door. You are more likely to be cheated and betrayed and to lose in any office politic. If you are presently sitting in such a way, rearrange your office and change your sitting position immediately.

Do Not Sit With Your Back to A Window or A Bookcase
If you sit with a window behind you, you will lack of support. In any crisis or difficulty you will be among the first to suffer. Place a solid cabinet behind you to symbolize the mountain. But do not place a bookshelf there since this signifies knives cutting into your back. Open bookshelves should be closed up since they create hostile energies in the office.

The Best Place to Sit In An Office
The ideal sitting orientation is diagonal to the door, facing it. Desks should not face the door directly since the incoming energy will be too powerful. It is a good idea to have a light directly above the door to create auspicious yang energy in the office.

Play Loud Music Once A Week
Clear your room with loud noise. In China the lunar New Year was celebrated loudly with drums, cymbals and firecrackers to wash out all energies and welcome in the new. You can do the same with loud, happy music. Play it for ten minutes-that's enough.

July 26, 2008

Meeting duo Anita & Ecky and Therry again!

Left to right : Ecky, Therry, Anita.

The last few weeks I've been fortunate to meet my blogger buddies, Sima, Therry, Toni, a long time cyber pal from Manila (Tess), and today I have a pleasure of meeting two best friends in real life and in cyber-world, duo Anita and Ecky.
Therry and I were late when we reached Cazbar (am not sure what time the appointment was) but everybody looked happy. The four of us had a nice get-together, with lots of good conversation, and plenty of laughter. My first impression when I saw Anita was ... wow, she is gorgeous! Unlike what certain blogger said about Anita, in my opinion Anita is not a snob! In fact, she is a sweet, down to earth person, looks well groomed and classy...something obviously I can't relate to. Bottom line is Anita possesses a beauty, elegance and style and carried them off so effortlessly! Now that is how ladies should appear and behave. And the person who does not like her doesn't know the real person that she is. I wouldn't be so quick to judge a blogger by her/his blog. The best possible way would be seeing how that person is outside their cyber life (note : I don't get bribed to say this...LOL!). By the way, lime green isn't an easy colour to carry but I think that shade really suits her. She rocks in that dress...
Meanwhile, Ecky is a stunner with an enviable figure, she is very pretty and has a lovely smile. It was a blast and great to get to know some of the bloggers in person as you all can see from the pics above. Now if you do not see me in any of the pics , that was because I pressed the button behind the camera, LOL!

July 24, 2008

Questions of the week

1. How long does it take you to get out of bed in the morning?

2. If you had an elementary school reunion, how would your classmates remember you?

3. When having an argument with your significant other, do you raise your voice? Have you ever given him or her the silent treatment?

4. If you received mail at your home addressed to The Sexiest Person in the Neighborhood, would you open it or assume it is for your neighbor?

5. Do you consider yourself a hopeless romantic or romantically hopeless?

6. Are you an only child, first born, middle, or youngest in your family? Do you believe in the idea that birth order plays a large determination in personality?

7. What lesson did you learn as a child that still hold true?

July 23, 2008

PSR Syndrome

Does this scenario sound familiar? You spot a bargain and have to snap it up. But by the time you've got it home, you realise that you don't really need it and, sure enough, it is consigned to a wardrobe or a cupboard, never to be worn or used. You, meanwhile, are consumed with feelings of guilt. This ..."I liked it, so I bought it. Then why do I feel so guilty?"...have a name for it: Post Shopping Regret (PSR).

Research reveals that women buy on average 71 items of clothing a year, but around eight are never worn. The problem is that it's so easy to get bundled into the buy, particularly when it boasts a 50% discount sticker or a two-for-one offer. For many women, it is not the item itself that matter, but it's the sense of achievement, the thrill of the chase the clothes, handbags or, shoes for as little money as possible. So, are you a compulsive buyer? Do you ever buy things and regret it the next morning?

July 22, 2008

My new gadget

I have decided that it is time to join the bandwagon of DSLR camera users after having a great time shooting all sorts of photos with my compact point-and-click Canon PSA700. I've had this camera for a couple of years now, and would like to to step into an SLR camera. My photography guru friend, Toni Wahid, owns a Canon EOS 40D, but that's a few hundred dollars more than my estimate budget. I don't want to spend more than $1000 on everything put together. So, after narrowing it down to EOS 400D or EOS 450D, I opted for the 450D. It is a well-built, light weight and easy to hold in my hand type of gadget, the controls for setting are also within easy reach.

Toni and his friend at the camera store have been very helpful with the tips on how to take good pictures...but I was a slow learner, I don't think I remember everything that have been told...LOL! Basically they both advised to invest the money on the right lens than a much more advance camera. Because good lenses will work with whatever camera you have and will hold its value well. In photography, Toni said, the camera cost is often the tip of the iceberg. It's the lenses that really drive up the cost. Toni also has been very generous to let me borrow his Canon EF-S 18-55mm (f3.5-5.6) Lens, and I bought a Canon EF-S 55-250mm (f4.5-6) IS Lens. Combined, it makes a good setup for a DSLR beginner. Big thanks to Toni for taking time to teach me how to use this new toy!
Now, with this purchase my sweetie is a $1000 poor but he does not mind at all...LOL! In the meantime, I've been trying to get a little practice with my new DSLR as you can see below:

July 17, 2008

Are you afraid of ghosts?

An Indonesian writer who lived in France once wrote in his journal that he could sense there was a ghost presence in his apartment in Paris. Being a religious person, he tried to let his rational side take over, but it was not always easy! Sometimes he couldn't sleep at night because he thought he was hearing voices! Later on he found out the source of the problem was a pair of keris (Javanese dagger) that was bestowed to his son-in-law from somebody. For some people who are interested in the world of spirits, they believe there are 'mahluk halus' (unseen creatures) living in the daggers. Just like human-beings, there are good and bad spirits.

In Indonesia it is common when someone feels that his/her house is haunted by spirits, they would ask for a help from shaman (dukun) to get rid of the disturbances. My late parents also did that kind of ritual whenever they built an extended room in our house. I recalled dad also sticked some papers in Chinese writing that he got from the temple in the entrance and some other places he believed was occupied by the spirits. When my youngest brother had a seizure, both my parents were panic and thought he was being possessed. Since then mom never forgot to attach a small red color triangular shape cloth into my bro's shirt. Inside the cloth there was a paper in Chinese writing from the temple to protect my bro from any disturbance of bad spirits. I didn't feel anything weird or scary around our house. Even though I admitted I couldn't walk down our house long corridors without a shiver. Especially when it was my turn to shut down the genset (generator set). Back then we didn't have electricity supply from the PLN, so every household usually owned one genset which would be run around 5pm to 11pm. Well, I'd never seen one, but that doesn't mean they're not there. When I lived in the dormitory, there were stories about a headless nun and other spooky things. I remember even going to the toilet at night became a problem...LOL!

What's your story? What are your experiences with the spirits? Have you ever seen a ghost?

Safe Sex Fashion

If you thought condoms had only one use, think again. In the hands of a fashion designer like , Adriana Bertini, condoms can be transformed into some surprisingly stylish outfits. These colorful and extremely unique dresses were created to help fight AIDS and increase awareness of the deadly disease. Ms. Bertini used the latex products to make one-off bikinis, ball gowns and even a wedding dress. The condoms that are used to make the clothing are men's and women's condoms that have been rejected by industry quality tests or past their best dates, which would otherwise be thrown into the trash or burned. Who knew condoms could be so beautiful?

But considering they are dresses made of rubbers I think they would be really warm to wear in a tropical country like Indonesia, wouldn't they? Not sure I'd like to wear one at all...:) Would you wear it?

July 15, 2008

Will you live to 100?

Chance You'll Live to 100: 69%

100 is looking pretty likely for you right now. You've made your health a priority.

So kick back, keep doing what you're doing, and enjoy the great life you've made for yourself.

And you might get to see what the world is like 70, 80, or even 90 years from now.

I nearly choked on my tomato salad when I see my quiz result that I have 69% chance to live to 100!!! Wow, way too many years left ... it would have been quite hilarious if I am still blogging at my 100th birthday, LOL! ...so much for healthy eating, huh?

While living to be 100 would be pretty cool, nobody in my family has yet lived past 80. If I have a full health and mental capacity, I can have a little fun, and get a little crazy at times, I don't mind to live to a ripe old age like 100 years or more. Otherwise, I do not expect to live that long. I can't think of anything worse than a prolonged and miserable old age.

What say you. Would you like to live to be 100 (or more) years old? Would you be interested to see what takes place in the next 50-60 years???

July 14, 2008

4 Surprising Reasons To Get More Sleeps

I was wondering how many hours of sleep you get (on an average) each night. I sleep about 6 hours each night. It is said that sleep could have more effect on your health than you think . Here is the article I quoted from Reader's Digest, November 2007 issue :

It could make you thinner.
The less sleep you get, the higher your body mass index tends to be. Research showed that people who sleep five hours a night were found to have 15 per cent more ghrelin (a hormone that boosts hunger) in their bodies and 15 per cent less leptin (which suppresses it) than those sleeping eight hours.

It could boost your memory.
Sleep plays a key role in making new memories stick in the brain. A Harvard experiment showed that subjects taught complex finger movements such as a piano scale recalled them better after 12 hours’ sleep than 12 hours’ wakefulness.

It can fight colds, ulcers and even cancer.
Good sleep boosts the immune system. Melatonin, produced when you sleep, is a cancer-fighting antioxidant. Night-shift workers may have up to 70 times greatest risk of breast cancer. Also, the chemical to repair damage to the stomach lining is secreted during sleep, so staying up all night regularly could raise your risk of ulcer.

It can slow down ageing.
Persistent sleep debt affects carbohydrate metabolism and hormone function in a way that may increase the severity of age-related chronic disorders. A large-scale study concluded that people who sleep six to seven hours a night live longer than those sleeping less than 4-5 hours.

So how many hours do you sleep?

Award and meme

Lovely Rima at A Chocoholic's Piece of Mind gave me an XXXtraordinary blogger Award! Thank you very much Rim, I really appreciate it!
In the meantime, I have been tagged by Ecky and Therry about The Age That I Wish To Go Back To.
Usual rules apply…
# Write about the one age that you wish to go back to and why?
# Tag 5 bloggers
# List 5 bloggers you want to tag and link their blogs
# Let the blogger you want to tag know they been tagged by comment in their blog or etc.

Well, this is a tough question. Everything that I've gone through my life so far had highs and lows, some that I don't want to remember at all. But for the sake of the tag, lets review part of age I wish to go back to.

I wish I could go back to my high school years in Yogyakarta. Even though I stayed far away from my parents (home town was in Bandar Lampung, Sumatra) I was so confident of myself, I had big dreams and optimistic with my future. I was a member of the school marching band, I was carefree, I loved the school trips to the Borobudur, Prambanan and many other temples surround the area and wrote my trip reviews after that. My favorite pastime was to visit the Sultan palace in Yogya, watching the local artists making batik, clay pottery, wood carving. Maybe that’s what started me on crafts addict? I also missed the dormitory life with different people from different walks of life and different characters. Believe or not, dormitory life is an extremely happy thing. You made new friends, experience independence, difficulties and enjoyed the fun being a teenager even though we had had so many rules and restrictions to follow. Life was good, my only concern then was to stay in top three in my class!

But this happiness was short lived. When my dad was seriously ill, I decided not to continue my education to the university but joined my oldest sister to work in a remote area where you had to fetch the water from the well each time you wanted to take a bath. My first job was as a junior secretary at a French join venture hydro-electric power project. Gone are the days where I could run around under the rains without a second glance, and I didn't socialize much either given the location of my workplace. But I don't feel sorry for myself. I know I'm not the only one. It happens to millions of other people and you just have to cope with it. Hardship has been a companion of mine for years and I guess these made me a stronger person. So that's it...I’m telling you boring things about myself, LOL!

notes : instead of passing this meme on, please feel free to tag yourself and let me know where to find your answers, thank you.

July 13, 2008

Meeting a blogger friend (Part 2)

Another fellow blogger who I had the pleasure of meeting is Therry from Therrysays. We decided to meet at the mall near my area. She doesn’t live in Jakarta, but she was kind enough to drive and beat the traffic to visit me. Eventually she made it to the Mall and there I found a cheerful young lady who always has a smile on her face! Once you meet Therry, she will catch your heart! I always thought that she was a lot taller than me, but she's just slightly taller than my niece, L. Therry is a sweet and shy girl, and will open up once she feels comfortable. I must admit that I was quite apprehensive about meeting this witty, a bit explosive (sometimes), very outspoken girl in the blogosphere who can move from laugh-out-loud humor to frank emotion and astute observation without skipping a beat. She wasn’t always politically correct, just being honest. But in flesh, Therry is a sweet lively young woman who is very easy to get along with.

We had a nice lunch, with lots of good conversation, and plenty of laughter. The most interesting part is, of course, our pets!! It was so much more fun to talk and laugh in person. I think blogging is a cool thing. You have done all the introductions, post entries etc. online, so face to face you can get into more interesting conversations straight away, rather than small talk. Isn't it amazing how so many of us feel like friends even though we've never met in person? We moved to the coffee shop, where the talking, the laughter, the understanding, continued and strolled the mall a bit for window shopping. We each got so carried away with our ramblings, we kind of forgot the time! The conversation eventually took off after I mentioned to Therry about the printed handbags I've been seen in one of the shop at the second floor. You might ask “what’s all the fuss about”... but to Therry and me, these bags we're eyeing is really cute. Therry chose the Dachsund's print design and I chose the one with kitty prints. We are like two grown women who can't get enough of hello Kitty or Snoopy and looked for an excuse for clinging to our juvenile...LOL! My kitty bag is large and roomy enough to easily hold everything, from camera, cellphone, wallet, tissues paper etc. Our last stop before we headed home was to the pet shop where Therry bought some food supply for her four legged baby, Micah. And I got a new collar for my cat, Suneo.

Thank you Therry, it was like we have known each other for ages. Thanks for your time , it was great meeting you and hope we can meet again in our next rendez-vous!

Meeting a blogger friend (Part 1)

Two weekends ago, for the first time I got to meet a buddy blogger , Sima, from Cancer Sucks. Through reading and commenting each other's blogs over the last few months, Sima invited me to have a meet up at her house. Sima is a breast cancer survivor who lives one day at a time and also a regular contributor in one of English-language newspaper in Indonesia. Survivor is indeed a weird word when applied to cancer, because there's no guarantee you can outlive the disease. You merely survive another day. Sima's blog tells about her cancer medical treatment in a straight-forward, yet easy to understand language that I found endearing. Even though I don't have a cancer, through her writing I learned that you can keep enjoying life in the midst of difficult challenges.

Sima and I didn't spend too much time on our first rendez-vous. I was caught by the heavy traffic and by the time I reached her place it was already 3pm. We only spent about two hours talking (in between a delicious lunch) about our families, our lives and our pets (Sima has a cute kitty cat named Lulu). I was comfortable talking to her, this blogging thing is really quite special. We all make choices of what to reveal about ourselves, our problems through our writing. Sima is a one brave, inspiring little woman, a joyful, sweet woman with a great sense of humour. She is still battling her cancer right now and she is a two year Survivor. Her attitude toward life is exuberant and contagious! Thank you Sima, for being such a great influence.

July 11, 2008

A Belgian chocolate in Javanese packaging

I was strolling through the super market minding my own business when I spied a display of local chocolate bars called "Monggo"...a Javanese word for "please". I hadn’t heard of this brand before and was interested with the wrapper which is so Indonesia featuring 'becak' (a three wheel bicycle taxi), 'Semar' (Javanese shadow puppet character) and 'gunungan' (gunung, mountain ... the most important requisite in the wayang performance).
One of the variant "Caramello" was even labelled 'Belgian Chocolate'. Out of curiosity, I picked up 2 bars to try. They are dark chocolate, to be more precise, well dark chocolate with 'stuff' added, to be even more precise. In Caramello they used ginger extract but I cannot identify the ginger taste at all.

July 10, 2008

Questions of the week

1. Have you ever taken your cell-phone in the shower with you, just in case someone calls you?

2. What did you want to be when you grew up, and are you what you wanted to be?

3. Who or what irritates you the most?

4. What's the most valuable things you've learnt?

5. If your house was burning, what would you save?

July 9, 2008

Upgrading beauty

Many years ago growing old was all about grace and happiness lasted in the lines of a smile. But then came Botox and Collagen to turn back time. As we live in a visual world, body image obsession is growing year by year, and quick fix solutions like botox injection or plastic surgery are becoming increasingly common in today's 'Nip/Tuck society. People all want to look younger and feel better. While we can a do a great deal about the kind of clothes we wear, the food we eat, and the colour we dye our hair, we cannot do anything about the fact that we are going to get older. Cosmetic surgery is no longer seen as an exercise in vanity. Instead it was seen as an accessible way of improving looks. Newspaper and magazine pages present celebrities with their impeccable features everyday, even though these representations are unrealistic. But there is this "curse" that says 'once you start, it's hard not to continue.' There are people who go to extremes like Michael Jackson and Jocelyn Wildenstein. They try to reconstruct themselves and lose their sense of reality eventually. Ms. Wildenstein for example, how can she not see that she has turned herself into a scary monster? It never crossed my mind that I want to look like my cat, Suneo.

Well, it has never been easy to hold back the tide of time, but it has also never been so easy to take a personal decision about how we want to age. People think I'm a lot younger than my age, especially from behind...LOL! I'm quite fortunate, I have a fast metabolism and an active lifestyle, which have kept my weight at around 48-50kg throughout my adult life. When I feel my clothes getting tight I'll increase my walk in the morning and go on a veggies diet. I would never have plastic surgery because aging is not a sin and I cannot race time. After all image is not as important as character.

What about you my faithful readers? Do you think you should have cosmetic surgery to enhance your look?

*picture stolen from the Dailymail

July 8, 2008

Just for laugh


His dizzy aunt—————————-Verti Gogh

The brother who worked at a convenience store———Stop n Gogh

The cousin from Illinois—————–Chi-ca Gogh

His magician uncle—————–Where-diddy Gogh

His Mexican cousin——- ————A Mee Gogh

His Mexican cousin’s American half brother—————Grin Gogh

The ballroom dancing aunt————— Tang Gogh

The bird lover uncle——————–Fla-min Gogh

His nephew psychoanalyst—————- E-Gogh

The fruit loving cousin——————Man Gogh

An aunt who taught positive thinking————— Way-to Gogh

A sister who loved disco———————-Go Gogh

So there ya Gogh

July 3, 2008

In a baking mood

The baking mood has come upon me at last and I decided to try out Pandan Roll Cake recipe from Sedap cookbook. This is my first attempt making swiss roll using the chiffon cake recipe and I was quite satisfied with how the cake turned out even though I still couldn't really roll it up nicely. Well, it has been such a long time since I baked my last swiss roll. I hardly bake for myself, only for my family/friends or special occasions, but this time I volunteer to bring cakes for a gathering with Sima and her friends tomorrow. I planned to make Pandan Roll Cake and Prol Tapai Singkong before the meet-up. Got to wake up early to get them done.

July 2, 2008

A risk worth taking???

Two Indonesian men is making top headline in the news recently for agreeing to sell their kidneys in Singapore where one of the potential recipients was Tang Wee Sung, the Chief Executive of CK Tang, a well-known Singapore retailer. The Straits Times reported that one of the Indonesians had agreed to sell his kidney to Mr. Tang, for 150 million rupiah ($16,290), but the deal was canceled when the health ministry intervened. Organ trading for transplant is illegal in most countries including in Singapore, but increasing numbers of people are doing it. In fact, it has become such a big business that some people are setting themselves up as 'transplant broker/middlemen'.

Kidney damage is usually 'silent' and not noticed at an early stage, and people with diabetes and hypertension (two major causes of kidney failure) are prone to have this problem. But the shortage of legitimate organs is creating a black market where the rich are willing to pay whatever the cost to save their own lives, while the poor need the money to survive. People sell their organs because of poverty, they're desperate to get the big money incentives. In today's world everything has its price, and the organ trade is no different. Legal or illegal, organ trade seems sadly inevitable, but kidney sale is open to abuse where people might taking organs from unwilling donors as reported by the Dailymail a few months ago. Take a look here : Revealed : "Secret operating theatre of the Indian 'Dr Horror' who sold organs to Westerners".

I'd like to hear what you think about this issue. If you had to sell an organ for money, would you? Should the sale of human body parts be legalized?