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Saturday, November 22, 2008

10 Things about the Sarawak Methodist Calendar

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Each year while growing up in a Foochow family one of the most important things my mother would do was to collect a free Sarawak Methodist Church Calendar from Masland Church. It would be posted on a very special place on one of the more prominent walls of our home.

Years later as I worship in Miri I will still delight in getting one. This one in the photo is posted on my office door for the whole of 2008 and I have another at home.

What have been the purposes of this calendar which was (hopefully I am right) designed by Rev. Hoover in the 1910's? But I do have ten points about this special calendar.

1. It is a recognisable feature of a Christian Methodist home when visitors see this calendar in a home.

2. the calendar has the Apostle's Creed and The Lord's Prayer on the top right and left hand corners respectively. When I was young I thought that these two would be the "charms" or a "dispeller" which would protect my family from the Devil. My children continue to believe that this calendar is a "protector" of our home. Today I still read the Apostle's Creed and the Lord's Prayer in Foochow with a Foochow City Accent to my great satisfaction.

3. the calendar is a one stop information centre. We can find the names of our Methodist pastors and many significant telephone numbers. We know where they are in Sarawak for the year. This calendar also has websites and email addresses apart from telephone numbers.

4. we are reminded of important dates and activities of the Methodist Church in Sarawak.

5. I value this calendar because like the strong Church system and God's love the calendar is always there for us as a gift. It has stood the test of time. It has great historical value to me. The word LOVE or Ai is on the red cross.

6.although I may have said a lot about "free gifts being not good and good things being not free",this is one free gift that is indeed invaluable. Missing it will upset me for the whole year. I once had it sent from Bintulu by my cousin who is a Pastor in March when I did not get one at the beginning of the year.

7. having this church calendar in the office or at home ,visitors will know at once that we are church goers and that we are Methodists. Peace will reign in all negotiations and confrontation will also dissipate.

8. Not having this calendar is like losing a limb or a leg throughout the year. I had that feeling many years ago when i missed getting it. A relative who is so used to the calendar once came to the house and asked why I did not have one (that year). She went on to ask, "Lost your faith?"

9. It is like a family heirloom. We love it so mch that there is a place for it on our wall. The marked blank is so obvious after years of hanging the calendar in the same space that we are reminded that we have not been doing the right thing. For as long as I remember my grandfather had one in his Sungei Merah house when he was alive. My maternal grandmother in Sg. Maaw also never missed posting hers up at the beginning of each year. I liked it when the Pastor (Rev Lau Ngo Kii) would always remember to keep one for her especially at the beginning of the year. That was how much Rev. lau cared for my elderly grandmother.

10. Having this calendar is like having a good conversation piece at home when strangers especially Methodist Foochows come to visit.

I must get one this year again. Will you get one yourself?

Christmas wallpaper

Friday, November 21, 2008

Ctrl BG: A Shortcut to Financial News 11/21

It's been another exciting week! Almost comparable to that week in September/October, except no major banks collapse (yet) and there were no big mergers. The DOW finally broke the 8000 point after hovering around it for a month, on Wednesday, tumbling 5.1% in a day to yet another more than 5 year new low. The downward momentum continued into Thursday, until it finally went back up to 8000 levels towards the end of Friday.

The week started off with Pandit's speech at Citi, announcing their plan to cut 52,000 jobs (yike!) and cut expenses by 20%. Citi's share began falling as investors worry that these measures will not be able to revive Citi from its current situation- they lost $20.3 bn in the last year and some don't expect it to be profitable in 2009 as they worry about Citi's exposure to credit card/mortgage losses and toxic debt. On Thursday, Prince Alwaleed of Saudi Arabia announced that he was boosting his shares in Citi from 4% to 5%. That didn't give other investors much confidence (not everyone's Buffet), as Citi shares broke the $5 point that day (a 13 year low). This is a very dangerous level to be at, because many institutional investors are not allowed to own shares below $5 and this could trigger a wave of selling before year end. On Friday Pandit assured employees that he would like to keep the company together and does not wish to spin off its Smith and Barney brokerage unit (their crown jewel I guess?). Still, there are rumors of them finding a merger partner or raising capital in the future. Citi is also pressing members of Congress to put back the ban on short selling, as they claim that it is hurting their stock price. Citi's stock price ended $3.77 on Friday, down from $20 a month ago and $30 a year ago!

Following the lead of Golman and UBS, other Wall Street banks are being pressured to foregoe execute bonus this year. JP Morgan also announced that they will be cutting 10% of their workforce.

The other big driver this week was the auto industry. Discussions started looking bleak on Wednesday (and thus the huge drop on concerns of an even deeper recession if the auto industry collapses), as Congress members continue to bicker with the Big 3. I'm not too sure about the details (cars just don't interest me that much), but it sounds like they're concerned about whether taxpayer's money is going to waste since the auto industry was already not competitive before the this financial crisis and they want to see a sound plan to change them into healthier companies before they come to their aid. I believe the catch phrase of the week is, "You show us the plan, and we'll show you the money." Makes sense to me. They will be meeting again in December for the Big 3 to prove to American that they are worth saving. Oh and they seemed to have came up with a good source of where the $25 bn will come from too. Instead of from TARP, it will come from the money already approved in July to help make more environmentally friendly cars. They will give them this money in advance and the Big 3 will slowly pay back this amount into this pool of funds. Makes complete sense to me. That way, we're not creating extra debt.

Speaking of politics, Bernanke has not been very popular recently. His abrupt change of the use of TARP surprised many, leaving them to wonder what exactly they voted for. His annoucement that he doesn't plan to use the rest of the $350 bn of TARP until Obama's administration comes on board, making one question whether he's given up already. Claiming twice in the last week that the government's efforts have succeeded in stabilizing the financial system does not make it true- especially given the crazy market movement this week.

Another major factor contributing to the drop this week is the Fed slashing its outlook for the economy through 2009. They lowered the 2008 GDP forecast from 1-1.6% to 0-1.3% and forecasts that the economy could shrink by 0.2% in 2009. They also raised their unemployment projections sharply higher to 6.3% to 6.5% for 2008 and 7.1%-7.6% for 2009. In addition, the consumer price index also fell by 1% in October, the biggest drop since 1947, suggesting deflation. Many expect this recession would last longer than the middle of 2009. This is gloomy enough news to send anyone running.

Even Berkshire Hathaway was not immune to this market turbulence. On Wednesday, Berkshire plunged over 12%, its worst day since 1987's market crash. They've been getting a lot of bad press lately, with declining earnings in their insurance operations and stocks. They had 9 straight days of decline after they published their third quarter earnings report. Goldman Sachs and General Electric, Buffet's most recent purchases, also went below the price he got them for. Some suggested that he needed a new crystal ball. But on Friday, it Berkshire bounced by 16%, to $90,000. This week, Berkshire also got over $1 bn for its shares in Anheuser-Busch, a brewer, as the acquisition of it by InBev was formally completed. Buffet says he's not worried. Incidentally, Berkshire also significantly boosted its shares in ConocoPhillips this quarter, indicating that he's bull on oil.

On Friday Obama finally decided on the next Treasury Secretary- Timothy Geithner, the current president of the NY Fed Reserves. This appointment was welcoming news to Wall Street as it rallied back up into the 8000 levels. I'm not going to go into his history but he's had a LOT of experience and is widely seen as a good candidate for the job.

Overseas, Iceland finally got a $10.2 bn loan on Thursday, from the IMF, Dutch, British and the Nordic countries. And did you know that we still had pirates in this day and age? Earlier this week, it captured the Sirius Star, which has an oil cargo of about $100 mn worth. Apparently piracy is still very prevalent these days, there has been a record of 199 since the beginning of the year- most prominently in the Gulf of Aden near Somalia.
On Thursday, an Indian navy warship sank a Somali pirate vessel. It's like the Pirates of the Caribbean in modern times!

Happy Thoughts: Thick Sauces and Homemade Bubble Tea

Have you ever thought about the humble tapioca flour as almost an indispensable part of your life? Tapioca flour used to be 10 sen a kati? And it must be in a jar near the foochow stove? But if you are a stranger to tapioca, never mind. Just enjoy this article.

First of all I am happy to say that tapioca flour is a commercial product made in Sibu and many other tropical places. Unknown to many there is indeed a factory in Sibu producing this indispensable product for several decades.

Secondly tapioca flour is a very important ingredient in Foochow cuisine. It makes sauces thick and rich like sweet and sour sauce. Add a teaspoon of the powder to three tablespoons of water and you get a thickening sensation!

Thirdly tapioca flour is a helpful dusting powder for babies and even adults to make skin dry. It is a great alternative to store bought talcum powder. So if you suffer from chaffing of the skin between the legs and under the arms use some tapioca flour. This is a useful tip given to me many years ago by my cousin who is a very wise Foochow doctor. I have saved a lot of money by not buying commercial talc when I took care of my babies. And in fact some talcum powder indicate that they have tapioca as part of their contents.

And now tapioca flour is part of the world famous Taiwan Bubble Milk Tea . The pearls are in fact tapioca balls.This new age tea is a craze in South East Asia for the last 15 years or so. It has indeed changed the social attitude towards the traditional tea shop or coffee shop. Most of the bubble tea shops have nice names like Hong Char Dao or Tea Boat or just Taiwan Bubble Tea. The price of course is three or four times that of a normal cup of coffee shop tea. The innovation involved is the huge variety of flavours to try, depending on the tea house or stand you visit. The drink is usually a mix of tea, milk, sugar, and giant black tapioca balls. The "bubble" refers to the foam created by shaking the freshly brewed tea with ice (the drink must always be shaken and not stirred). And you really need a specially made straw to get those big marble like pearls into your mouth!!

After the first initial drink you may develop a liking for it especially on a hot tropical day and after a few long hours of shopping. I read somewhere that the whole idea came from a school canteen in Taiwan which served this tea to small kids after school many years ago.

Ever since I saw Anthony Bourdain drinking Taiwan Bubble milk tea with a gigantic straw I have been making my own milk tea at home.


All you need is a small packet of tapioca flour (make small balls with hands and add pink or green colouring)
One tine of Ideal Evaporated Milk
Some sugar
Some honey
Jasmine tea
hot boiling water to make your jasmine tea.
Lots of ice.

And large tall glasses
And of course gigantic straws of different colours which you can get in supermarkets. If you know some one in a Bubble tea outlet get some off him for a small fee. Don't let on you are making your own.

You can save hundreds of ringgits per year. Better still your children will be so happy to bring their own bubble tea to school. And furthermore if you make those tapioca balls with your children they would be so proud of themselves.

And for many of my friends who are gluten intolerant tapioca flour is a blessing. It is a great alternative. Smiles are all around when they can have their cakes too.

Come to think of it...tapioca flour in so many occasions has helped us through thick and thin!!

Make your own bubble tea?

Friday Video Fun

Wow, I really can't party like I used to! I'm settling in to chill hardcore for the rest of the weekend--which made me think about this throw back viddy:

A few questions/observations:
1. Who knew Tiny was so hood?
2. Why in the world was the whole West Coast gangster look ever fashionable for women?
3. Why in the world did I rock the West Coast gangster look? Yep, I used to sag my jeans and button up the flannel shirt! Lol. Glad that was a passing phase...
Have great weekends!

Mail Bombs: Tracee Ellis Ross, Malinda Williams' Hot Heels, and Rihanna's Ruffled Look!

Wow, last night was so much fun!
Even though I'm a bit hungover, Mail Bombs must go on!
Dawn says, "I'm looking for a pair of boots like the ones Tracee Ellis Ross has on..."
"... I have to have them what ever the cost! Can you find them for me?"
Those are indeed some cute booties! Though it's likely Tracee is rocking Prada, it seems you can get a similar look with either pair of these affordable Jeffrey Campbell joints:
1. Jeffrey Campbell Lace Up Bootie in Black, $124. 2. Jeffrey Campbell Di High Heel Cuff Bootie, $185.
Reader Edonna loved Tracee's seventies inspired specs:
Adriana found she's wearing these $345 Balenciaga Round Lens Degrade Sunglasses:
Don't have $345? Try these:
1. Spitfire Candybar Sunglasses, $35. 2. A.J. Morgan Metradon Sunglasses, $28. 3. Palm Springs Sunglasses, $13.
Next, Keirsten says, "Where did my girl get these shoes?!?!?!"
Adriana found Malinda is wearing these Dolce Vita Viola Stilettos:
Get the hotness for $264 at! I might invest!
Next Nesi wanted to find a skirt similar to Rihanna's layered look:
I found these options for a flirty essence:
1. French Connection Women's Vicky Viscose Mini Skirt, $39. 2. Kimchi Blue Outskirts Mini, $20.
And lastly, Nhezi wanted to know where the princess got her cute leggings:
We did our research and found she's wearing these $62 Factory Girl Tights:
Good luck!
That does it for today, unfortunately...more when I wake back up:)

Gossip Girl, Last Season?

It's a bit of a late rant, but I've had it on my mind for a looong time now and I simply must just get it out of my system. Remeber the episode this season when they went to visit Yale?
Serena had on this pink and white striped blazer that is just absolutely gorgeous. The design is classic and preppy, while the color and stripes is pretty and flirty. And I REALLY wanted it. Like seriously. I immediately went online and looked up Gossip Girl websites trying to figure out where I can get myself one of those (which frankly, is not one of my fortes). Finally, I found it labelled as a Ralph Lauren blazer. Doh! I should've known. It is so obvious now, I wonder why I spent so much time searching for it to begin with.
Of course, I then hurried onto the Ralph Lauren website, crossing my fingers that it'll be from the RL label that is within my price range- and I couldn't find it! Not deterred, I told myself I'll stop by the RL store next time and ask if the sales person has it. Before I got myself there though, I showed it to my cousin who is positvely a RL expert and he told me that it was a blazer from last season. You have no idea how disapopinted I was (AM!). WHY would they style the characters of such a hot TV series in last seasons clothes? It doesn't make sense. Isn't the whole point of such publicity for labels is to convince viewers to buy these clothes? How did they think we can buy it when it's not even available?
Speaking of which, it reminds me of the second episode of this season (which aired in September) when Blair was coming back from the Hamptons with "the lord." She was in THE orange Marc by Marc Jacobs dress of SS08, which is so completely recognizable I was surprised they chose this dress at all. I'm sure a LOT of thought was put into their outfits by a hoard of stylist, so I don't know what they were thinking.
Because it has been publicized as such a stylish and trendy hot TV series (which I LOVE), I expect to see the latest fashions and style. I was sorely disappointed in these two instances. I am sure there are lots of other instances I haven't caught yet. Maybe the sponsors are getting cheap. Or am I expecting too much?

Image Source:
In Style and Gossip Girl online

Hoot Tamale


Jill Snyder’s Heartbreaking Cri de Cœur: I’m Unskilled Because I’m American!

Oh dear, Lon Guyland patriot Danny Gagnon is sure to be gaggin’ on this.

Sure, from the mid-calf down, the lanky lass is all red, white, and blue. But this daughter of the Liberty Bell state and resident of the city that gave birth to “The Star-Spangled Banner” tells a different story when she opens her pillowy lips. As she related to our pals at Grub Street:

You know, if I lived in Italy my whole life, I’d probably have a lot of skill, too.

Aw snap, Betsy Ross.

But don’t worry, possum, we believe you. You lost the New American cuisine challenge because you didn’t grow up in Italy. What could be more logical?

Is it any wonder that she is contemplating becoming an actress? (We do give her points for joking that she’s going to buy an ostrich farm.)

Amuse-Biatch Photoessay: Kill All the Dragons You Want, But Who Gets the Preen-cess?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Claire's Life: Kanye West & The Roots

So last night's concert was *crazy*!
I captured some Real Style--here's a taste:
And I was also able to catch up with my performers!
Black Thought of the Roots was cool enough to say 'wassup'...
As was ?uest love:
I'm loving that t-shirt!
And the man of the hour, Kanye West showed some love:
Yeah, it's good to know your homies stateside are still down for you abroad!
I took lots of video, stay tuned to the Fashion Bomb Facebook Page to give you a bit of backstage access!
*Shout to my homie Miles!
*Gold Jacket by Alexander McQueen!
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