About Me

I have done a lot of things in my life and have also worked in many different jobs to make a living and to experience life. This blog is just some of my musings, sometimes funny, sometimes inspirational, sometimes sad, sometimes angry, sometimes simple but all the time, it's just me.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

What matters most

In the end what matters most is
How well did you love;
How well did you live; and
How well did you learn to let go.

That is the wisdom of Zen Buddhism or I guess wisdom in general.

Interesting and a really good quote.

Yet sometimes what I find troubling about sayings from Gautama Sidhharta Buddha or even other prophets is they sometimes do not seem to practice what they preach.

While I am no prophet myself nor will I ever be one in my current lifetime, I do hope to be a better person in this life.

Let's assume that the quote above which is attributed to Buddha was actually spoken by him some 2500 or 3000 years ago.

Let's also assume all those esteemed scholars who write about Buddha's life have got some facts right.

So, Buddha was born as a prince, live in palaces, had a great rich life.

He got married at age 16 to his cousin Yashodhara and had a son Rahul.

He remained married for 13 years until age 29, his son Rahul was likely around 10-12 at that time.

At the age of 29, Siddhartha left his palace in order to meet his subjects.

Despite his father's effort to remove the sick, aged and suffering from the public view, Siddhartha was said to have seen an old man.

Disturbed by this, when told that all people would eventually grow old by his charioteer Channa, the prince went on further trips where he encountered, variously, a diseased man, a decaying corpse, and an ascetic.

Deeply depressed by these sights, he sought to overcome old age, illness, and death by living the life of an ascetic.

Siddhartha escaped his palace, accompanied by Channa aboard his horse Kanthaka, leaving behind this royal life to become a mendicant.

So, he ran away from his young wife and young son and he preaches about love, living and letting go .....

Hmm, he was good at letting go for sure but I have some doubts about how he loved and how he lived.

But then again, it is quite likely that he is not the one who said the quote above.

Who am I to judge right? Well, after all, aren't we all created in God's image.

Take care and be well.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Give some Elpiji and a side of Poles body

Everywhere I travelled around Bali, I keep noticing these signs - Elpiji or Poles Body.

It took me a while to really understand.

Elpiji = LPG (Liquefied petroleum gas)

Poles body = Body polish (for cars)

I wish the car was moving slow enough for me to grap a picture but the picture in my personal database will remain.

Take care and be well.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

How does it feel to be 75?

My dad is 75 today.

I wonder how it feels?

Well, whatever or however he feels, this is the 1st time in 75 years that I believe someone has really celebrated his birthday.

You see, I took him to Bali for his birthday.

It was a matter of throwing a big bash and inviting a bunch of no-gooders or a bunch of "stragers" or taking him for a nice quiet holiday.

So, we went to Bali, just the 2 of us.

And he turned 75 on 24 November 2009.

Take care and be well.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Lost in Transition

As I may have mentioned in my previous blog, we all had to reapply in IT for our positions again.

It was high stress and high anxiety situation during the MOR (Managed Open Resourcing) which a the online system used for us to apply for the jobs.

I agree for the need of the change and transition but have not seen a clear indication and reason for why it is done this way in IT where everyone has to reapply for their jobs or other jobs.

There is going to be a lot of changes.

The news of the top has already been made official, so, we already know 4 levels of the organisation.

The 5th level news is trickling in but nothing official.

I fall in the 6th or 7th level and some people in this level have also already been informed of their positions although nothing official has come out beyond the 4th level.

This raises a little bit of anxiety and stress again on people including myself and definitely quite a number of people I am engaging with.

While the official announcement are only expected next week, there have been many leaks and many people who have come outright to state what their jobs would be.

Currently, I have no news of my job as many others as well.

This has lead to a lot of coffee talk, corridor talk, rumours mixed with facts, speculation and educated judgement.

What is clear is that there is a big change at the top in the IT organisation here. Pretty much, not one manager currently will be doing his or her existing job.

100% change in IT management locally. Soem people have been notified about their new positon although it may not be cast in stone. But the fact remains that it is a 100% change in the management.

Now what is yet to be seen is how much changes in the levels below. The chances and rumours are that since a major change in management, like a minor change in the working area, so likely 80 to 90% remains the same.

This has created more anxiety mainly because the MOR gave people some hope or possibility of change.

But the possibility of change could easily be quashed for reasons of business continuity. Too many changes on top and too many changes at the worker levels would mean a huge learning curve and lower productivity.

So, to top managements have been granted their wishes, I still am holding out hope that I am granted my wish.

For me, I am hoping, praying and wishing to go back home to Kuala Lumpur and hope that God and the management would grant me that wish.

So here I am musing, a day before flying off to some tropical island to celebrate my dad's 75th birthday and feeling anxious of my future.

But whatever will be will be .... want to give, give lah.

Take care and be well.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

And why shouldn't a cow bite a man?

For 3 days a row, the headlines have screamed about a cow in Terrengganu that bit a man.

I have never heard ever in history where a cow bit a human, even Google results seemed futile for any history of this ever happening before.

As per the stories, we have history in the making.

But is it any surprise? Why shouldn't a cow bite a man?

After all, we humans have been biting on cows for ages ... burgers, steaks etc etc.

I am all for this cow that bit the man ... time for some revenge.

But than again this is Malaysia, so, it looks like there is going to be another cow head demonstration.

Poor cow.

The story first appeared on Monday's Star as below.

Monday November 16, 2009
Village astir after cow bites man

KUALA TERENGGANU: It was a “holy cow, how could this have happened?” kind of incident.

Folks in Kampung Chalok Rahmat, Setiu, had initially found it difficult to believe when news spread about how a cow had viciously attacked a villager and almost bit off his left hand.

A shocked Jaafar Basok, 56, had also assumed he was attacked by a carnivorous predator when he felt sharp teeth sinking into his flesh in the come-from-behind ambush.

“I started screaming ‘Harimau! Harimau! (Tiger! Tiger!)’ to attract the attention of other villagers as I really believed I was being mauled by a ferocious animal,” Jaafar said when met at the Hospital Sultanah Nur Zahirah ward yesterday.

The father of four is recuperating from his injuries and shock from the 10am attack on Saturday.

Shocking experience: Jaafar showing his injured hand while relating the frightening moment at the hospital where he is recuperating in Setiu yesterday.

Jaafar said he was clearing an oil-palm plantation that day when he saw a herd of about six cattle grazing at the site. He said he was attacked just 10 minutes after he started clearing some bushes using a machete.

Relating the horrifying moment, the odd-job worker said he only realised the “ferocious animal” was a cow when he turned to fend off the attack using the machete.

Villagers who heard his frantic cries rushed to his aid and the cow, upon seeing the group of people, ran into a secondary jungle.

“I am confused as to why a herbivorous and domesticated animal behaved in such manner,” he said.

Jaafar was rushed to a nearby government clinic but transferred to the hospital intensive care unit when his condition worsened.

He was transferred out from the unit yesterday morning.

Villagers in Kampung Chalok started combing the area to locate the cow, but the animal had yet to return to its shed.

Jaafar said the herd belonged to one of the villagers and the owner was dumb-founded when told that one of his cows had attacked a man.

Then when I thought that would be the end of the story, on Tuesday's Star low and behold, the story below appeared.

Tuesday November 17, 2009
Vet officers puzzled by biting cow

KUALA TERENGGANU: The incident of a cow biting an odd-job labourer has baffled the Terengganu Veterinary Depart¬ment officers who described it as a rare phenomenon.

So bewildered are they that they are eager to examine the cause of such behaviour in a domesticated animal.

Department director Dr Azizol Mohd Sharun said such ferocious behaviour does not happen even if the cow was inflicted with the mad cow or anaplamosis diseases.

“We are talking about a herbivorous species here; its totally unlikely for an infuriating cow or bull to go to the extent of biting. Usually it would only gore its target.

“From our (veterinarian) point of view, this could probably be the first case in the world.

“We are interested to explore what caused the animal to behave in such manner,” he said here yesterday.

Dr Azizol said he will send a team of veterinarians to Kampung Chalok Rahmat in Setiu by today to sedate the cow and conduct a laboratory test to examine what provoked the animal to bite a person.

“We want to see whether there is new type of animal disease that has developed. This is something we are keen in researching,” he added.

On Saturday, odd-job labourer Jaafar Basok, 56, was attacked by a cow when he was clearing an oil-palm plantation in Kampung Chalok Rahmat in Setiu.

Wow, so they want to reasearch this cow now. But today, it appears again.

Wednesday November 18, 2009
It is the ‘udder’ cow and it is pregnant, says victim

KUALA TERENGGANU: The hunt for the cow that attacked Jaafar Basok is still on with some villagers claiming that they have found the animal responsible.

However, the 56-year-old odd-job labourer is insistent that it is not the same animal.

“I do not remember seeing any horns on the cow. The one which the villagers found at the open space has horns,” he said yesterday when told of the discovery.

“I am not sure if it is the same animal, but I know that the one which attacked me was fierce.”

Villagers at Kampung Chalok Rahmat claim that a cow found at the open space near a secondary jungle nearby could be the culprit.

Jaafar, who is still recovering from the attack at the Sultanah Nur Zahirah Hospital, also expressed his disappointment that the cow’s owner had not visited him or apologised.

He added that he had been receiving a steady stream of visitors ever since his story was reported.

“Some came from as far as Johor and Malacca to visit me,” he said.

Jaafar said some doubted whether a domesticated animal could inflict such bites but he was adamant that it was a brownish-coloured cow.

“I even saw the belly of the animal. It was pregnant,” he said.
A veterinarian, who declined to be named, said cows could be aggressive if they were pregnant or had calves to protect.

State Health, Unity and Consumerism Committee deputy chairman Datuk Din Adam said he would discuss with the state communication and information department to document the “cow attack” episode.

“This is a rare occurrence and could be considered part of our history,” he added.

Take care and be well.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Humorous career ladder

Someone send me this. I think it is funny.

But what do you think?

Any truth to this?

Take care and be well.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Jobs gone past - Job 4: Career Counselor

Ok, technically this was not a job as it was purely voluntary and part of a course assignment.

But nevertheless, for one year or so, I was a career counsellor ... sort of.

Basically, we had a computer based system that students would take. The computer program would then extrapolate possible career opportunities based on the students interests and academic abilities.

Based on the results, I would then go through with the students the results and see if this is within their interest or was there something missing.

We would advise them what courses and what areas of studies they should go into if they were interested in a particular area of work.

After all this discussion, we would ask them if they wanted to see an academic advisor or even a counsellor.

I did this for about 1 year, about 10-15 hours a week. Truly enjoyed it and made some really good friends.

In all honesty, I have not ended up in a career that the computer program predicted those many years ago.

Partially and mainly because those many years ago, my interests lied in becoming a practicing psychologists with a PhD but life sometimes leads you to different paths. Paths that I have not regretted although some which were not expected or even not really great.

But ces't la vie ... life is as such.

Take care and be well.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

So common

This is so common in Malaysia especially in factory environment.

I am sure it is also very common in many Asian countries and now seems to be something common in US as well.

When working in a semiconductor factory those years ago, I would get people being absent from work for these very reasons.

Take care and be well.

Friday, November 13, 2009

I could be the one

Lyrics from Donna Lewis song I could be the one below. Very nice song but ....

I could be your sea of sand
I could be your warmth of desire
I could be your prayer of hope
I could be your gift to everyday
I could be your tide of heaven
I could be a hint of what's to come
I could be ordinary
I could be the one

I could be your blue eyed angel
I could be the storm before the calm
I could be your secret pleasure
I could be your well wishing well
I could be your breath of life
I could be your Asian dream
I could be ordinary
I could be the one

Now I would lie here in the darkness
Now I would lie here for all time
Now I would lie here watching over you
Comfort you
Sing to you

I could be your worry partner
I could be your socialite
I could be your green eyed monster
I could be your force of light
I could be your temple garden
I could be your tender hearted child
I could be ordinary
I could be the one

I would lie here in the darkness
I would lie here for all time
I would lie here watching over you
Comfort you
Sing to you

Will I ever change the journey
Will the hushed tones disappear
Oh little one Let me hold you
Oh little one Let me love you
I could be your leafy island
I could be your thunder in the clouds
I could be your dark enclosure
I could be your romantic soul
I could be your small beginning
I could be your suit in universe
I could be ordinary
I could be the one

I could be ordinary
I could be the one

I could be ordinary
I could be the one

Now that I am the one, it is lonely up here. Would you, could you be my two with me? Or instead of I could be the one, maybe we could be the two, or three ;)

Or I could just be ordinary but then again we all have unique DNA's, so I am the one.

I know that I am definitely not ordinary. And I know you are not either.

Take care and be well.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Headache lah

Everyday also headache.

Starts as a pain at the back of my left eye, usually starts this stabbing sharp pain at the back of the left eye, then throbbing pain on the left side of the head.

Goes on for hours, then stops.

Has been on for a week or so, paracetamol (Panadol) has absolutely no effect.

Migraine or heat or stress headache ... but it sure is a pain in the head.

Taking something stronger will only make me too dependant on meds.

So, try to relax, meditate, take my mind off from one thing and concentrate on another but sometimes to no avail.

I sure hope that these headaches stop soon.

Take care and be well.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Communicate exCommunicate

The biggest failure in managing people or even projects is usually communications, usually lack of communications or misunderstood communications or one thing or another that has got to do with communications.

A friend recently send me this as the 9 Ways to sharpen your communication skills and I found it quite interesting.

1.Stop Talking and Start Listening
Many a times, people like the sound of their own voice especially project managers. Allow other people to talk, be aware of other people's personality and communication styles. Some people just require some time before they talk.

2.Always Think Before You Speak
This is going to be quite difficult for an extrovert, especially one like me, but when it comes to projects or budgets or presentation, I like to be prepared, I like to think things out before I speak.

3.Ask Questions Regularly
Asking questions is good but some people just ask stupid questions. I know they always say that there are no stupid questions but I disagree. Prepare yourself and ask relevant questions. If there is some pre-read before a meeting, read it before asking questions rather than just shooting.

4.Anticipate Distractions
Life is full of distractions, it may not be easy to anticipate them but you can anticipate distractions in projects, or in project communications to some extent. It is basically managing attention. Regardless of what comes your way, take it calmly and gratefully, never personally.

5.Be Mindful of Your Volume and Tone
Some people are too loud and some people are too soft, it may come across as too arrogant or too meek. Be prepared and be confident, be clear and be precise.

6.Handle Disagreements in Professional and Diplomatic Ways
Going back to No.4 above, regardless of what comes your way, take it calmly and gratefully, never personally.Seek equilibrium in your life, teach yourself to respond instinctively whenever you are out of balance.

7.Be Open to New Ideas and New Line of Thinking
People always keep repeating, "Think outside the box." Well, if you can;t, maybe others can, so be open to what people have to say, new ideas, different way of doing things, different perspective.

8.Only Take Notes whenever Necessary
Some people take no notes, and then forget what were the actions and what was discussed. Some people take too much notes and get too busy taking notes that they pay too much attention to the notes and words and not paying attention to the communication, the verbal and non-verbal.

9.Always Watch Out for Your Body Language
Body language or non-verbal communication is many a times as important or more important that the words that come out of one's mouth. Paying attention to people will give you a feeling of the non-verbal signs they are sending out. Understanding both verbal and non-verbal communication is vital to success of completely and comprehensively understanding communication.

Take care and be well.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Jobs gone past - Job 3: Dishwasher

Yes, I washed dishes.

In my last semester in UWSP, I still needed a job and had moved out of the residence halls. So, like many of us did at that time, I joined the food services.

While racism was not outright, they would not give me a role as a waiter or cashier or any outwardly facing jobs.

So, I was hidden in the hot steamy dishwashing area.

There was a conveyor belt from outside where people would put their trays on. I had to remove the trays, throw the junk away, spray the plates and utensils with steaming hot water and put it back on a conveyor after the huge sinks.

This conveyor than took the dishes through a steamy hot dishwasher, 1st soap, then rinse, then hot air dry and then out of the machine.

I would have to run to the other end, and collect the dishes and put them in their respective trolleys.

It was hot, sweaty and steamy working in a area where the temperatures were like being in a sauna all the time.

It was work that did not require my brain power but work that required a lot of effort, a lot of speed and a lot of patience.

Despite the money I needed, working in this place for 4-6 hours a day was all that I could take and all that I did.

On Friday’s, usually a slow day, I got a shift where dishes did not need to be washed as the restaurant was closed. And the manager was nice enough to let me flip burgers or work in the convenient store.

Apart from money which covered my studio apartment that I had rented, I also got a free meal – I could take or make anything I wanted and take a drink, a snack and a dessert from the convenient store.

I studied hard, and worked harder, many a times, just eating that one free meal a day and making it last until I graduated.

I learned that no matter how small a job it was, I always received some rewards for it.

I got a free meal.

I got to understand the way of grilling things.

I got to learn the mechanics of the dishwasher and the conveyor belt.

I got to be a humble blue collar worker, doing hard work for the first time in my life.

I learned to respect the person on the other end, the end that I was in when I was washing dishes, the person beyond any conveyor belt in any cafeteria in the world.

And I became what I am … my life continues.

Take care and be well.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Jobs gone past - Job 2: Camp Counselor

In the summer of 1991, for 4 months, I went to this camp in New York state.

Camp Jened it was called and it was in the beautiful Catskill mountains in upper New York.

This camp was interesting and unlike the many summer camps we have seen on the television.

You see, this camp was for adults, special need adults, adult with a mental incapacity or with some mental and severe psychological problems.

Some of them lived in caged up housing center - pretty much like a prison - said for their own safety.

So, coming out in the mountains and forest for a nice camp was their only 2 weeks in the outside world.

Each group came in for 2 weeks, and then we would get a weekend off and another group will come in for 2 weeks.

Over the period, we had 10 groups but each counselor would work only with 9 groups and get some time off.

Dealing with special need adults was really challenging and also memorable at the same time.

Each one of us had 1 or 2 adults assigned to us and a list of activities that we would do with them. Activities included fishing, boating, swimming, arts and crafts, hiking, telematch games etc.

My first is the only person I can remember, his name was Robert Starling and he was 60 years old. He was a smooth talker and relatively easy to get along with. Overall a nice person.

I also met a very nice person whom became my "girlfriend" during the summer. Also met a lot of other counselors who become good friends but this was beyond the time of internet and we soon lost touch.

I do wish I was still in touch with some of them and can find them in cyberspace. I just got in touch with 2 old camp counselors through Facebook.

My summer did not end well but due to various reasons during that time, I had to make a decision that was difficult at that time.

Looking back now, I truly cannot fathom why the decision was so difficult. I made the right decisions then and should not have felt bad about it then.

Anyways, the camp was overall a wonderful experience. It was really an eye-opener to work with an interesting bunch of campers with different problems in their lives. But the Skankers (somehow that was what our team of counselors were called) survived, thrived and now I am here.

When the camp started, my initial plan was to take a train for the 1st time in my US life, but it ended up that I drove with another camp counselor that was going from Wisconsin. I have yet to get in touch with her but I sure hope I do. I took a plane back after camp.

I had a friend in New York City at that time and we did some trips to New York City, really enjoyed it.

That was also when I saw Paul Simon (from Simon and Garfunkel) perfrom live in Central Park.

I got my first tatoo in Woodstock, New York.

I ate lots of bagels with cream cheese.

I met the most number of Gejerati's I have ever seen in US.

I took the subway many times.

I went to the Bronx and Brooklyn.

I visited the lady Liberty.

I did white water rafting.

7 of us cramped ourselves in a small motel room.

I kissed an American girl for the 1st time.

I laughed, I cried, I jumped for joy, I slumped in sadness and now here I am.

Take care and be well.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Jobs gone past - Job 1: Resident Assistant

In 1989, I went to United States for my studies.

For the first semester, I stayed in a resident hall called Neale Hall, and soon became known as Nil from Neale Hall. I was so popular that I was offered a job in the hall next door as as a resident assistant.

So, I became a RA in Steiner Hall in University of Wisconsin - Steven's Point, a job that I held for 2 years.

You see, prior to going to US, my parents preferred that I do not work and rather concentrate on my studies which I was no that great at when I was 15-17 anyways.

The only work I would have done was free work helping a friends dad in his carpet stall during Pesta Pulau Pinang.

However, in US, everyone works, it is quite common. And being an RA was rather easy work.

For my efforts, I got free room and board and only required sponsorship for tuition fees.

The most memorable moments of my job as RA came in the 2nd year when I was put in charge of a more mature wing of the hall.

We had our own Mardi Gras and Bourbon Street during the famous New Orleans Mardi Gras.

Every Saturday at 9pm, the whole wing would get out to the hallway and sing Billy Joel's Piano Man at the top of our voices and we would be heard for 6 halls around. Of course we left our doors and windows open to ensure we were heard.

At the end of the year, when we were done with our exams and just before Christmas, we would go out in our underwear, freezing our butts off in below zero temperatures and sing Christmas carols for about half an hour.

The most difficult part of the job was to ensure that the residents did not get too unruly, especially when the came back drunk from some fraternity party. Also, many of them would throw up all over the place - another American thing and create a mess, which as an RA, I had to ensure that they clean up.

Apart from that, we also had to ensure the well being of the residents, be counselors to the new students. We also had various activities organized for the residents.

The RA's were always very close amongst each other, we had our own little room in the basement and we would do almost everything together.

I learned a lot from my job as an RA, unfortunately, this is amongst the jobs that no longer appears in my resume. I guess mainly because it was a part time job, and I was a full time student.

Nevertheless, I consider this as my 1st job, in the many jobs gone by.

Take care and be well.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

No layoffs, ever!

The entire article below has been taken from Yahoo News with sources from Investopedia. Number 2 and number 6 on the list are oil and gas companies, just in case anyone who unfortunately become part of the 5,000 plus that receive the boot from the current company.

With unemployment reaching and expected to surpass 10%, job security is one of the top desires of employees today. Along with good pay and benefits, people want to find a company that's not going to give them a pink slip any time soon.

Here's a group of companies that earn high marks in that regard. Nine companies on Fortune magazine's 100 Best Companies to Work For list for 2009 have never undergone layoffs - ever.

1. Nugget Market

This company has avoided layoffs because of careful job placement and shrewd labor management. Instead of laying off workers, the 81-year-old grocery store refrains from replacing employees who leave. Its stores are 15 miles from each other, making it easier to fill positions, and employees are trained to fit various roles. The Woodland, Calif.-based supermarket chain filled 173 jobs, for a 22% job growth in the year before the list was released in February.

Sandwiched between Goldman Sachs and Adobe Systems, the store ranked number 10 on the overall list. Store directors make an average of $116,440 in annual salary, and checkers, the most common hourly workers, earn $34,490. The store also offers 100% health care coverage.

2. Devon Energy

An oil and gas producer headquartered in Oklahoma City, this company takes a conservative approach to its finances, yet still treats its employees well. Ranked 13 on the overall list, it started a 401(k) retirement plan featuring company contributions of 11-22%.

Flexible and prudent management helps avoid layoffs. The company, which cut its operating budget before the recession, withholds raises in bad years but gives midyear pay increases in good times.

3. Aflac

Known for its quacking duck ads, this company sells supplement insurance. The company, based in Columbus, Ga., keeps its eyes on its budget and ears open to employees. Employee suggestions like telecommuting and flex schedules have saved it millions of dollars. Other company benefits include an onsite fitness center, subsidized gym membership and the largest onsite corporate child care center in Georgia.

4. QuickTrip

Because this 24-hour convenience store is privately held, it can send profits back to its stores and workers instead of shareholders. Smart financial management has helped it thrive in the downturn. It offered over new 1,400 jobs last year. Wages and benefits are so good that over 200 employees have stayed with the company more than 20 years.

5. The Container Store

The storage retailer, based in Coppell, Texas, froze salaries and watched spending to avoid layoffs. Still, it kept expanding last year, opening four stores and adding 70 employees. Extensive employee training makes the company stand out.

6. NuStar Energy

Considering layoffs harmful to company productivity, NuStar management avoids them like the plague. The San Antonio-based pipeline and refinery operator also offers bonuses that can exceed $10,000 and 100% 401(k) matches for up to 6% of pay.

7. Stew Leonard's

Known for flashy store displays, this privately-held grocery chain focuses on customer service and long-term sales rather than short-term earnings. CEO Stew Leonard Jr. says selling groceries is a stable business, which helps avoid layoffs. No matter how the economy is faring, people still have to eat.

8. Scottrade

This privately-held online discount brokerage has cut bonuses instead of cutting employees. A conservative growth strategy has also helped it avoid layoffs.

9. Publix Super Markets

A strong balance sheet with no debt helped this grocery chain acquire 49 stores and hire over 1,250 people last year. In its 79 years, it has never had layoffs. No wonder - it's entirely owned by employees.

Besides never laying off employees, at least as of early this year, companies on the list are also some of the best to work for. Treating employees well means good pay and benefits - two factors that are attracting all the right workers. (Preparation can help you land on your feet after getting the "old heave-ho."

Looks like there can be job security even in times when the economy is tough. I would be interested to know if there are any Malaysian companies on the list (and not including Malaysian government as an employer).

Take care and be well.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Jobs gone past ...

I have had many many many jobs over the 20 years plus that I have been working.

In the next few blogs over the next few months, I plan to write about these various jobs that I have done over the years.

I have done many many things over the years, so, I am only going to write about things that I have done which I have got some interesting satisfaction from or have been paid for in one way or another.

To give you a glimpse, many of you know I am in IT and an IT project manager. But I have been a coolie, a career counselor, a camp counselor, a lecturer, a journalist, a dish washer to name a few things I have done.

Recently, in the transition that my company is going through, all of us had to update our resumes and write our previous experiences. Obviously I did not put those that were done for a short period of time or deemed unimportant, I did but the main and major ones.

But it got me thinking of the interesting things I have done, the interesting bosses I have had, the interesting people I have met in my life and the interesting stories from those jobs.

I will start with my first job while I was a student, which was being a resident assistant in Steiner Hall in University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point in United States.

That will be for the next post, until then ...

Take care and be well.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Fat with burgers

I read an article earlier in the year of how Malaysians are getting to be obese. At first, I thought it must have been due to the nasi lemak breakfasts, roti canai's etc. Considering that some of my friends were getting rather round especially YAB, Kupps etc.

But then again, the article also mentioned that kids in Malaysia were getting obese, and I could see this. Some of the blue short kids nowadays could probably fit in all my blue shorts for 6 years (fyi, blue short kids = primary school kids).

And blue short kids do not like nasi lemak and roti canai's. The are the fast food generation.

McD's; KFC etc.

And MCD's does dumping just like Japanese do with their cars. For example, a Toyota in US costs cheaper than in Japan, mainly because they are trying to capture a market and be very competitive there even if they loose money there initially.

As of February this year, the cheapest McD burgers are in Malaysia.

The most expensive burgers were in Norway (US$5.79), Switzerland (US$5.60), Denmark (US$5.07), Sweden (US$4.58) and Eurozone (US$4.38).

According to the index, Malaysia (US$1.70) actually ranks No 1 among the five most affordable Big Macs, ahead of Hong Kong (US$1.71), China (US$1.83), Thailand (US$1.86) and Sri Lanka (US$1.95).

I am sure a similar index would show Malaysia, Hong Kong, China, Thailand in the lowest price for most of the other fast foods.

Is this fair? Well, of course it is ... McD wants to make money, and we allow them too.

Same reasons why cigarettes are prices at RM7 or so here but RM20-RM30 in many other countries. We even have low prices ciggies here.

But why does alcohol costs so much?

Well in Malaysia, the largest population are also the largest consumers of ciggies which is acceptable whereas these same poor buggers cannot drink as they would be caned if they did.

So, where does a non-smoking, alcohol drinking vegetarian like me go and have a nice juicy veggie burger?

Not many places to be honest.

Hard Rock Cafe serves the best veggie burger in the last 20 plus years but that is at least 10 times more expensive than a McD burger. And of course I would have to have a beer with my burger which will throw me back another dozen bucks or so.

Maybe it is time for me to become a non-veg, non-alcohol, no-pork and ciggie smoking majority.

Take care and be well.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Plan to be surprised and let love open the door

People always seem to question their life plans.

In interviews, we are asked where we see ourselves in 5 or 10 years time.

At work, we create work plans.

Many a times, we wish and we hope for a better and brighter future. And sometimes we achieve and sometimes we do not.

This boils down to believe. People sometimes do not believe enough in themselves and their abilities.

Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart.

Who looks outside, dreams.

Who looks inside, awakens.

But life is also full of surprises.

And every now and then, in life, we must be ready and plan to be surprised.

Stop expecting things; practice anticipating.

Don’t try to control people; find ways to set them free.

Trust more; plan to be surprised.

Let love open the door.

Take care and be well.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Art of War vs Science of Peace

There have been so many documentaries, books, information on Sun Tzu's Art of War.

There are so many followers of Sun Tzu's Art of War, including myself at one time.

Not really surprised or shocked by this considering humans fascination with war.

Before humans ruled the world, and when dinosaurs roamed, I was not around, but the many documentaries I saw on dinosaurs did not give me an impression that the dinosaurs had organized civil or world wars or nor did it give me the impression that dinosaurs had armies, weapons or nuclear bombs. Maybe they had them, but I do not know about it.

But we humans, we are just fascinated by wars. Apart from all the military wars, we also have war against drugs, war against racism, war against terror, war against AIDS etc - we like to fight.

a Chinese military treatise that was written by Sun Tzu in the 6th century BC, during the Spring and Autumn period. Composed of 13 chapters, each of which is devoted to one aspect of warfare, it is said to be the definitive work on military strategies and tactics of its time, and still one of the basic texts.

The Art of War is one of the oldest and most successful books on military strategy. It has had an influence on Eastern military thinking, business tactics, and beyond.

Sun Tzu suggested the importance of positioning in strategy and that position is affected both by objective conditions in the physical environment and the subjective opinions of competitive actors in that environment.

He thought that strategy was not planning in the sense of working through an established list, but rather that it requires quick and appropriate responses to changing conditions. Planning works in a controlled environment, but in a changing environment, competing plans collide, creating unexpected situations.

The book was translated into the French language in 1772 by French Jesuit Jean Joseph Marie Amiot, and into English by British officer Everard Ferguson Calthrop in 1905.

It likely influenced Napoleon,and leaders as diverse as Mao Zedong, General Vo Nguyen Giap, Baron Antoine-Henri Jomini, and General Douglas MacArthur have claimed to have drawn inspiration from the work. The Art of War has also been applied to business and managerial strategies.

But why is it an art and not science of war?

And why are not people not interested in the Science of Peace or the Art of Peace? Does it even exist?

Basically people are not interested in peace, it is boring and no fun. But then again I am generalising.

A search for the Art of Peace led me to a music album with contributions from number of musicians from throughout the world, including Sting, Garbage, Rush, Suzanne Vega, Jonatha Brooke and Alanis Morissette.

The album is an initiative to support Tibet, the promotion of peace, basic fundamental human rights, including freedom of speech and religion and the current Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso.

The Science of Peace on the other hand is an organization of mainly Canadian scientists working together to promote peace worldwide. It was co-founded by mathematical psychologist Anatol Rapoport, and physicist Eric Fawcett, both former professors at the University of Toronto. It is based in Toronto, Ontario.

It is an interesting albeit not a very popular organization.

Basically, a lot of human conflicts over the years have been due to organized religion.

Mahabharata of Hindu is mainly about Kurukshetra War. There have been many Egyptian, Mayan, Roman, Persian, Crusades, Ottoman wars. In modern times, Civil wars, World War I and II, Mujaheddin wars, Soviet wars against Afghan, Georgia and Chechnya, India-Pakistan wars, Iraq and Afghan wars against terror, Cuban wars, etc etc etc that it would take too many words to describe.

Peace as we know it may be impossible to come by.

Except maybe Inner Peace and Satyagraha.

Inner peace (or peace of mind) refers to a state of being mentally and spiritually at peace, with enough knowledge and understanding to keep oneself strong in the face of discord or stress.

Being "at peace" is considered by many to be healthy homeostasis and the opposite of being stressed or anxious. Peace of mind is generally associated with bliss and happiness.

Peace of mind, serenity, and calmness are descriptions of a disposition free from the effects of stress.

In some cultures, inner peace is considered a state of consciousness or enlightenment that may be cultivated by various forms of training, such as prayer, meditation, T'ai Chi Ch'uan or yoga, for example.

Many spiritual practices refer to this peace as an experience of knowing oneself. Finding inner peace is often associated with traditions such as Buddhism and Hinduism.

Satyagraha, on the other hand, is a philosophy and practice of nonviolent resistance developed by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi taken mainly from jain religion believe in non-violence.

Gandhi deployed satyagraha in campaigns for Indian independence and also during his earlier struggles in South Africa. Satyagraha theory also influenced Martin Luther King, Jr. during the campaigns he led during the civil rights movement in the United States.

So, for anyone hoping for peace in this wonderful world of ours which is fascinated with wars, we got to look within and search for inner peace and practice Satyahraha.

I am certainly looking for some inner peace and I practice non-violence as much as possible - which is amongst the main reasons of me being a vegetarian.

I hope you can find some peace in your life too.

Take care and be well.