After less than 2 weeks...

...I've submitted my answers to the exam, which I've posted about here. Nervous about this as the quality of the answers are probably borderline in my opinion. Oh please let me pass.

If I don't, I'll blame it on Nick and Llyod who introduced me to Trickster hehe. I've already forwarned Nick :-)

Wedding dinner & red packet

How much red packet do you give for a wedding dinner? I understand the convention is to give enough to cover your share of the cost of the dinner i.e. cost per table divided by the number of people at the table.

The logic behind this is to help the newly weds in covering the cost of the dinner. Yes, that is definitely a good way to help them, especially if they are your loved ones but only if you can afford to do so. Unfortunately, due to society’s convention, it’s better to decline attending such dinner, even if it’s in the honour of your loved ones, than to turn up with meager red packet.

I recounted to my colleague during lunch that during my younger days, my family has to avoid going to wedding dinners simply because we cannot afford the red packets. Or at least minimise the number of members attending. We were rather poor back then. My colleague (who thought that anyone giving anything lesser than conventional amount are misers) suggested that we just don’t attend. I responded that that is not the point. The point is that it is stupid that we cannot go as a family to celebrate the wedding of people dear to us simply because of society’s convention.

Do you decide to attend wedding dinner of people close to you only if you can afford the cost or simply because you truly want to celebrate their wedding? Shouldn’t the latter be the determining factor rather than, “Geez, what will people think of my $20 red packet?”

If I ever hold a wedding dinner, I shall forbid anyone from giving me any red packets or presents to avoid such dilemma. The presence of people close to me is more than sufficient, and so I would hate that society’s convention may just prevent some of them from attending.

PS: James, perhaps you got this right for your birthday few months back.

Stumble over shoes

Last Saturday, I was supposed to attend a friend's function. However, due to some unexpected circumstances, I ended at VivoCity with nothing on my agenda.

Now, I dislike going out without having some sort of objective. Even objective as simple as "Dinner at xxx" is good enough for me to venture out. Window shopping is a borderline objective for me since I usually don't want to do that.

So I tried to think of meeting up with some friends. Problem is that I've met a bunch of them the night before (movie, dinner and coffee) and I don't want to bore them ;-) Tried SMSing and calling another friend whom I haven't met for a while but as expected, he's still sleeping (it was just past noon).

So I just walked around VivoCity. It is a mall I rarely go to and so there are plenty of new stuff to see. It's a good thing too because I stumbled upon Daiso: a $2 Japanese store. Got a few stuff from there and most importantly I bought something to cover the legs of my chairs, with sponge in them (what are these called?). I was using stick-on rubber that did prevent scratches to the floor but often leave black marks. Besides these, I bought a pair of pimpled soles (acupressure hehe), seeds (to grow plant), a cute pot shaped like a bucket and some hooks.

My phone's pouch is worn out. Its bright red colour has turned dull and its edges now show its underlined whiteness. I was vascillating between buying new one or just stick with this one when my mobile phone's screen protector was literally ripped off. Guess I was rather rough when inserting the phone into the pouch. The inside part of its opening is quite rough and so not entirely a surprise that the protector was ripped off. So that does it: I bought a new screen protector and a new pouch (cloth type).

Just went my feet were telling me to head home, I stumbled (yet again) upon an exhibition of shoes. It was part of a shoe design competition organised by Crocs. What attracted me was the unusual design. Definitely not the wearable kind.

Took some pictures with my gimpy handphone cam (names were given):

Colours of the wild
Colours of the wild

Spirit of the lion dance
Spirit of the lion dance

Wherever you go
Wherever you go

Puffer fish
Puffer fish

Botticeli's garden
Botticeli's garden

The chameleon
The chameleon

Durian does the disco
Durian does the disco

Crocky fruity
Crocky fruity

Sweet-walk
Sweet-walk

Fresh from nature
Fresh from nature

We Could Be In Love

Lol sorry for this sudden lingering nostalgic songs. I love these songs but seems they are not popular enough to be played on radio.

This particular song is so cheerful. Gives a warm glow in my heart...especially if I daydream haha.



Lea:
Be still my heart
Lately its mind is on it's own
It would go far and wide
Just to be near you

Brad:
Even the stars
Shine a bit bright I've noticed
When you're close to me

Lea:
Still it remains a mystery

Chorus (Both):
Anyone who seen us
Knows what's going on between us
It doesn't take a genius
To read between the lines Brad: ohh
And it's not just wishful thinking
Or only me who's dreaming
I know what these are symptoms of
We could be in love

Lea:
I ask myself why
I sleep like a baby through the night
Maybe it helps to know
you'll be there tomorrow

Brad: Lea:
Don't open my eyes Ohhh
I'll wake from the spell I'm under
Makes me wonder how Tell me how
I could live without you now

Both:
And what about the laughter
The happy ever after
Like voices of sweet angels
Calling out our names
And it's not just wishful thinking
Or only me who's dreaming
I know what these are symptoms of
We could be in love

Brad:
All my life
I have dreamed of this
But I could not see your face

Lea:
Don't ask why two such distant stars
Can fall right into place

(Repeat Chorus)

Both:
Oh, it doesn't take a genius
To know what these are symptoms of
We could be Lea: ohh
We could be, we could be in love

Brad:
Could be in

Please Be Careful With My Heart

Any chance anyone know where to get hold of Jose Mari Chan's album that has this song and Beautiful Girl?

Boy, the music video looks so old. But I love this song. Hope I get to sing it with someone special in future ;-)



If you love me like you tell me please be careful with my heart
you can take it just don't break it or my world will fall apart
you are my first romance and i'm willing to take a chance
that 'til life is through i'll still be loving you
I will be true to you just a promise from you will do
from the very start please be careful with my heart

I love you and you know I do there'll be no one else for me
promise i'll be always true for the world and all to see
Love has heard some lies softly spoken
and I have had my heart badly broken
i've been burned and i've been hurt before

So I know just how you feel trust my love is real for you
i'll be gentle with your heart i'll caress it like the morning dew
i'll be right beside you forever I won't let your world fall apart
from the very start i'll be careful with your heart

You are my first *and you are my last* romance
and i'm willing to take a chance *i've learned from the past*
that 'til life is through i'll still be loving you
I will be true to you *only to you*
just a promise from you will do
from the very start *from the very start*
from the very start *from the very start*
from the very start please be careful with *i'll be careful with* (*my your heart*)

After more than one and half years...

... I'm taking exam again. I've switched to Society of Actuaries after having failed the Instituted of Actuaries of Australia for, oh only gazilliion times. As what I've achieved previously is not completely converted, I have to take a step back and do this particular course: Fundamental Actuarial Principles. I'm doing its Interim Assessment. I have to pass this for the sake of my self-esteem and to arrest the continuous demoralisation for past years. Gambate!

Interim Assessment

Australia: Going down the university memory avenue Part 4

Bad bird

Magpie. The bad bird. During early part of spring, countless of people have been and, I bet, will be attacked by these birds, especially those wearing caps. In more serious cases, people lose their eyes. Toddlers are not spared either. And the dumbest thing is that since magpies are protected species, it's illegal to hurt them. Sheesh.

I theorise that they attack people wearing caps because they look like huge birds with beaks and the magpies are trying to protect their young chicks.

ANU ducks 1

This is just across from Bruce Hall, on the way to the university's Union Court. These ducks are quite common, and they are adorable with their ducklings. My friend thought I was going bonkers when I said that I've even spotted a duck on a tree. Really, I did.

ANU ducks 2

Ducks on the lawn, where students sometimes sit around and chat, especially in late spring, during summer and early autumn when the weather is warmer in general.

ANU avenue

The paths to and from the Union Court. Lined by trees. It's unfortunate that no cherry blossoms were in sight when I was there. Oh, and I forgot to take a photo of the willy trees.

ANU Union Court entrance

Entrance to ANU Union Court, where there are cafeterias, a bank, a credit union, a pharmacy, a bookstore, a newsagent, a bicyle shop (where I spotted the one and only cute student on that day) etc.

American Election at ANU

Couldn't escape from the US presidential election. If these are unlimited, sounds like a good deal!

ANU University Union

It was where the cutie cycled away before I could get a good look (and perhaps take a photo). Sigh. Oh well ;-)

Manning Clark Centre

This was where I attended lectures that catered to large number of students. Inside there are also boards for people to advertise. I think I did get a secondhand textbook via an advertisement here. Books were so expensive. They have strict copyright protections here too and so photocopying the entire book is out of the question.

Copland Building

Copland building. It was where most of my statistics and actuarial subjects were taught. There are also many computer labs here. In fact, there are computer labs all over the campus.

That concludes my trip down memory lane. Don't worry, there's no Part 5 :-)

Australia: Going down the university memory avenue Part 3

Bruce Hall 1

Just across the parking lot from Burton & Garran Hall ("B&G") is Bruce Hall, where I stayed during my first 2 years of university. It started of as a fully catered hall i.e. 3 meals per day everyday except for weekends where, if I recall correctly only breakfast and dinner were served on Saturday and none on Sunday. Later it switched to partially catered hall where only breakfast and dinner were served during weekdays but meals for other times were available on pay-as-you-want basis.

I did not choose Bruce Hall. In fact, I was already late arriving at ANU (missed first week of lectures I believed) because I was waiting for my A Level results in Singapore to assess my options. So when I decided to go to ANU, only Bruce Hall still has vacancy. It was my idea, supported by my parents and my grandfather, that the first year I stay at a fully-catered hall so as to minimise the impact of the challenges I'm about to face e.g. foreign country, university, actuarial studies etc. I'm grateful for their support especially since my scholarship only covers tuition fees. During my second year, I've applied and was awarded a working bursary where I've worked in the kitchen like twice a week (1 breakfast, 1 dinner I think) in exchange for some offset of my accommodation fees.

Bruce Hall 2

This is the South Wing, which was where I used to stay. Its room is spacious, with a bed, desk, sink, electric jug, medium sized wardrobe and enough space to have yet another bed in there. This is the wing nearest to B&G, separated by a parking lot as mentioned earlier. It used to be that there is no security door here. Seems like security has tightened since a decade ago. Same thing at B&G.

Bruce Hall 3

This is the East Wing. They are bigger rooms at least because they have balconies. They should cost more. Rooms are given depend on the ranking of your preference. You rank which room you want and whether you get it depends on factors such as demand, seniority and whether you're the current occupier. Throughout my 4 years, I've stucked with the first rooms allocated to me at Bruce Hall and B&G respectively.

Australia: Going down the university memory avenue Part 2

B&G Hall

This is where I stayed during my 3rd and 4th years at ANU (specifically, one of the blocks in the photo). It is a fully self-catered hall i.e. food is not provided. What's provided is kitchen and dining facility that unofficially doubles up as social meeting place i.e. it's where you meet and chat with friends and take shelter from the bitter winter cold lol. You see, although there is heater in each room, the heat is centrally made available (geez, I sure hope I'm not mixing up with my previous hall lol), which in turn is connected to the university itself. Apparently, it will only be turned on after the maximum (or is it average?) temperature of the day hit below a certain degree for 3 consecutive days. Meanwhile, we all get warmed up in the kitchen hehe.

Unlike in Singapore, you can save tonnes of money by cooking your own food rather than buying. The amount you need to spend, even if you shop around, on eating out or even getting take-away is easily at least twice the amount of money you would need if you cook.

B&G Hall kitchen 1

I believed this use to my kitchen station. Nothing much has changed to the stoves and ovens.

B&G Hall kitchen 2

There is now a separate bin for rubbish to be recycled. Also, I've found out from a current resident that instead of having microwave oven at each station, it is now either that or a toaster or a sandwich maker. That's a good idea, although admittedly the hall also gain by saving tonnes of money this way too.

B&G Hall kitchen 3

It used to be conventional fridge, which is shared by 3 or 4 people. Now it's like a supermarket fridge!

B&G Hall kitchen 4

One of these cabinets used to be mine hehe. Doesn't seem to be anything changed. Even colour scheme is still the same after nearly a decade.

B&G Hall kitchen 5

Typical table and chairs in the kitchen. During my time, there are cleaners who clean everyday except for weekends. So by Sunday lunch, the place is already quite messy but I still have a quick lunch to save money (remember Asian Financial Crisis??). However, I cannot take it when dinner comes. It's just too messy for me. Hence, I eat out for Sunday dinner.

Conventional bike parking lot

This is the conventional parking lots for bicycles. Cycling is a great way to travel around the campus and to Civic (which is Canberra's city centre). I bought a secondhand bicycle for AUD30 and then got a helmet (compulsory). Huge problem was that I didn't know how to cycle. My parents back in Malaysia didn't want to teach me and my sisters because they perceived it to be dangerous for kids to cycle in Malaysia (which I'm inclined to believe). A good friend then taught me the basics of cycling one night in what I thought was a place where few people passed by. After that, it was just me practising. Managed to cycled a few metres the next night before I have to stop because of bleeding from my legs :-) Gosh, those were the days...

B&G Hall bike shed

This is new. Bicycle shade. I wonder whether it's reserved for some people only or perhaps via balloting or maybe fee based.

Australia: Going down the university memory avenue Part 1

University Ave

Just when I thought there was nothing else I want to accomplish during this trip, suddenly I was inspired to take a walk on my university's campus. It was unfortunate that it was not a good day to take photos. Oh well.

ANU

The Australian National University. It was where I spent the last 4 non-working years of my life. It was quite an emotional journey and at least one of my major ailments arose during my tenure here. I had the most free time ever during my entire academic life e.g. during my third year, I had only about 10-11 hours of classes per week, including both lectures and tutorials. It was my first real taste of internet too...yum ;-)

Coombs Theatre

Coombs Theatre. It's where I went, often with friends and my sis, to watch movies screened by the ANU Film Group. With movie tickets in cinema obscenely high, the Film Group's membership fee was dirt cheap. At the start of each semester, they have already lined up what movies they were going to screen during the semester and hence one could decide whether it was worthwhile to join or not and more often than not, the answer is a resounding "yes". If at any screening, there wasn't enough seat, then that movie would be rescreened on Sunday afternoon.

They show all sort of movies from mainstream to artsy, international to local, past to very recent movies. Remember Titanic? At the start of the semester, the Group has already secured the rights to screen it later that semester even though the movie was not out yet in the cinema at the start of the semester.

Menzies library

Opposite the Coombs Theatre is the Menzies library. Asian Studies students would use this library regularly. It is where I've found English version of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, in 2 thick books. I've enjoyed reading it and am really happy that I finally get to read the fabled tales.

Unfortunately, in my haste (was rushing for an appointment), I forgot to take pictures of Hancock and Chiefly libraries - the other 2 libraries that I use from time to time.

ANU grasscourts

Somewhere behind the Menzies library are 4 grasscourts. Artificial grasscourts to be exact. Usually I play tennis on the hardcourts, which are nearer to the hall I stayed at but at times my friends and I craved for some grasscourt actions especially during Wimbledon Open :-)

ANU BBQ pit

Behind the grasscourts is a BBQ pit and some benches. I've never had BBQ here before but I've attended at least 1 BBQ each year since the Aussies love BBQ.

Path across drain

There is a path from the tennis courts via the BBQ pit that crosses this huge "river". Actually this river is part of a huge drain. It does smell a little but amazingly there are usually birds hanging around. I usually take this path as a shortcut to the tennis courts or to Coombs Theatre unless I'm cycling. It really depends on whether my friends have bicycles and willing to cycle or not.

The Giants of New York, New York

Flashback from the past haha. Many weeks ago, I had dinner with a group of friends at New York, New York in Singapore. Though I've been there a few times, I've never been to one where someone ordered the burger until then.

Giant platter

This is what normally people order. Compare the length of the fork to the plate. Humungous, isn't it? And no, it's not a tiny fork. It's the normal size.

Giant vs normal

The burger on the left is of normal size (and no, it's not tiny). The burger on the right is gigantic!

Still don't believe me? See the picture below:
Giant burger

That's my handphone, compared to the gigantic burger. Lol no way I'm going to order this. I surely cannot finish it by myself.

Australia: The Four Giants

Went to Belconnen Mall with my sis's hubby and the twins. Decided to take pictures of Australia's major banks and was pleasantly surprised that the mall has branches of the top 5 banks.

Australia has termed the following banks as the Big Four banks:

ANZ

ANZ

CBA

Commonwealth Bank

NAB

NAB

Westpac

Westpac

The interesting thing is that these 4 banks are not allowed to merge with one another, due to anti-competition regulation.

This bank is often called the "Fifth bank" in Australia but it's currently in the process of being sold to Westpac:

St George

St. George

Australia: Canberra second and third day

Bleh. Having slight headache now and not too sure whether there's blocked nose or not and if there is, whethere it's causing the headache. Or perhaps I should go out for a walk.

My second day in Canberra, which was the past Sunday, seems like a distant memory...especially to an old man like me ;-) I do remember us driving to the lake and get the twins to feed the ducks:

Before

Can you spot the 2 odd ones?

They were quite territorial around their source of food (which was the twins) and would occassionally drive off other ducks. However, things changed dramatically when a giant waded among them:

After

Hehe none of the ducks dared to shoo away the swan.

The next day, before dinner, I went out for a walk and took some pictures, which I thought are quite interesting:

Nice house

I like this house. Not sure why since it's design is not exactly eye-catching. Perhaps it's the colour combination.

Typical house

I would say that this is a typical house in Australia.

Garden on rooftop

Rooftop garden!

Bus stop

I was telling my sis that I'm so spoiled by Singapore's infrastruture. In Singapore, there's shelter for every bus stop (in Canberra, it's like 50/50). Moreover, most, if not all, bus stops have detail information on each bus e.g. its subsequent route, how much it costs, frequency etc.

For Sale

Either the bus stop is for sale or a hooker is for sale hehe.