Sunday, November 29, 2009

Amigurumi: Single Pea and Deadly Cute Ninja

I think I was bitten by the craft bugs. Here's my next creation: the single pea (because making 3 of them in solid green is just too much for my eyes) and the deadly but cute ninja. Chris called them Peany and Ninji.

Peany, Dora, Ninji, and Mushy posing together

It's hard to see from this photo, but Ninji actually has a sling (in a slightly different color) around his body, and a mini ninja star.

And talk about proportion... the vegetables are larger than the cat and the person. Makes you wonder, isn't it?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Amigurumi: Mario Bros Mushroom

I found out that I had a stash of acrylic yarns left (in the storage), and so I was looking around for patterns/stuff I can use them for. I ended up finding Amigurumi, and of course the pattern I wanted uses the colors of yarns I did not already have. I ended up buying another stash of acrylic yarns in different colors. Thankfully, Zellers had it on sale.

In any case, my first Amigurumi project was the Mario Bros Mushroom. I found out (too late), that I was doing the red part wrong. I crocheted from the back loop only, instead of from both loop. Hence, the "head" is taller than it's supposed to be. But since I didn't realize it until after the head was completed, I decided to leave it as it was.

Mushy

I gave this one to Chris, just because he wanted one. This became another addition to his "work buddies", as you can see below.

Chris's "Work Buddies"

But bad Chris! He made Mushy to be the bad guy (I think).

Chris called this scene "Revenge of the Fallen"

Hahaha... Although I think Mushy is too cute to be evil, I am happy Chris is having so much fun with his buddies.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

First Knitting Project: Knitted Gridded Towel

I admit it.. I am one of those short-attention-span people. I like doing lots of things and I enjoy variety.

Lately, I found out that my brain and my eyes work faster than my TV, and so I have several seconds every now and then to fill, while waiting for the actors to finish their sentences (not a very good habit, because after all, who knows what they are going to say). In any case, I (asked my dear husband to) dug out a box of crafts material from the storage, and started learning how to knit.

Several years back, I have bought knitting needles and the book on how to knit. I gave up learning when I couldn't even do a cast off. Learning from books was tricky. This time around, I was more prepared. I googled the video instead of buying books. Ha!

With the help of online videos and my dear friend, Vincy, I finally managed to finish my first knitting project, ever! It's a hand towel. Chris chose the colors, and I found the pattern online (yeay to open source projects!). My project is the mini version of the pattern, and instead of using 2 different colored yarns, I used multi-color yarns.

Not bad, if I say so myself. I finally understand what they mean by wrong side, right side, stitch, purl, slip, and binding off. And now, off to the next project...

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Book Review: Ted Dekker's "BoneMan's Daughter"

If you can save your family about by killing another innocent soul, what would you do? Whose life is more precious?

What if you can save your family by inflicting permanent damage to a bystandar? Will you do it? What price will you pay to protect your family?

BoneMan's Daughter follows the footsteps of a father whose daughter is held captive by a serial killer who is looking for the Perfect Daughter. When all the world believes him to be the kidnapper, whan can a father do to save his daughter from this serial killer? What price is he to pay to get her back?

A brilliant thriller/horror/adventure novel by Ted Dekker, this one is decidedly "darker" than his other writings. Following the minds of a tortured father and of a serial killer, this book takes your breath away with every turn of page, in pure Dekker's style. Until you can't help but think, "That's how much HE loves me!"

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Worst 'Bank' I've Ever Been In

This last weekend, I made a trip to open an account in a credit union close to my place. Technically, credit union is not a bank, I guess. But since I will only use their chequing/saving/money transfer services, the two places are very closely related in my mind. Btw, the money transfer service charged the least, hence the reason I wanted to do business here.

Anyway, the experience started well enough. The weather was sunny and I was wearing my sunglasses. Upon entering the premise, there was a sign to take off hats & sunglasses for safety precaution. Fair enough. I took off my sunglasses, and tried to put on my regular prescription glasses. While I was in the state of half-blind with my hands full, a woman came to me and asked me what I wanted to do there. I explained and she asked me for my documents right away.

I asked her for a moment to put on my glasses and store my car key etc in my bag first. "Of course," she said with a smile, and then kept shuffling her feet as if to hurry me. I was there about 1 hour before closing time.

She took my ID and asked me for my SIN. "Uhm... but I am only opening a chequing account, why do you need my SIN?" I asked. Even as international student with no SIN, I was able to open an account hassle-free before (obviously not in this 'bank'). It had something to do with their regulation, she answered. "So, if you don't have it, I am sorry but you cannot open an account here."

I was taken aback. Oh well.. I didn't have my card with me, but I had my number. I wondered if that would be enough. "Yes, if you know your number, we don't need to see the actual card," was her reply.

So I asked her to open an account for me. I had a cheque to deposit there. Next, she needed to see the cheque. Upon looking at it, she said that it would take 10 business days to clear. Since there are Canadian + USA Independence Day, it would take about 3 weeks, she said.

"Well, I need to transfer this money to another country," I told her. And quite calmly she said, "Oh, that would take another week to do. You are looking at a month here. If you don't like it, you might want to try other bank."

By this time, I was very very annoyed with this lady. I was starting to wonder if she was trying to get rid of me. I knew this was a ridiculous thought, especially in this economy, but it felt like that to me.

Note that I was still standing in front of the entrance by this time. 15 minutes had passed. I persisted in asking her what would happen in different scenarios, and since she didn't know the answers, she called the manager to handle me.

Ah, the manager, I thought. Surely he/she would be able to point me to the right direction in regards to what to do in my case.

A lady came and asked me again the same questions. And after a string of questions, "I am sorry but I think you should go to another bank," was her conclusion. I was trying to present different scenarios to make this work, since it could save me transfer fee. But by this time, I was starting to think that a higher fee might worth a friendlier service. It seemed like this 'bank' really didn't like me.

The manager was firm and adamant. "There is no way to make this work. Go to CIBC, or TD Bank," was her reply to all my proposed solutions. She stood up in the middle of the conversation and showed me the door. The moment I hit the entrance, she turned back and walked to her office. I was practically thrown out.

I have banked with a lot of banks, in different countries. Some don't have branches (online only), some don't have website (brick-and-mortar only), some have both. But every bank is glad to add another customer to their list. This was the first one that was happy to throw out a potential customer. I am still steaming mad thinking about it.

I usually did my insurance on this branch's insurance department. They are friendly. But I won't support a 'bank' that throws me out. I guess it's time to shop around again...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

An Overbooked Weekend

The weekend of Mother's Day 2009 was definitely one (fun and) overbooked weekend.

Planning for this weekend was started a couple months back, when we thought there were only the Youth Retreat to go to. We were part of the Youth Group for a long time, and even though we are past university age, we still would like to support their program. The place for the retreat was 3 hours away

No problem, it was only from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon. Plenty of time to sleep off the tiredness, and be fresh for Monday morning works. So we signed up without second thoughts.

Pemberton - our destination for Spring Fellowship 2009

Then my mom came and decided to stay until just after Mother's Day. Which meant that her flight was leaving on early hours of the Monday after. Which meant that we needed to get her to the airport around Sunday midnight.

Okay, going to the Retreat would mean leaving my mom without us for the whole weekend. But then my mom encouraged us to go. Yuli wasn't planning on going anyway, so she would be okay.

As for us, it would be a bit tiring to go to the airport after the long drive home from the Retreat. But it was not a bit problem for us. Our second plan for the weekend was booked.

GII mothers

When Vina emailed and said that she was having her wedding on Mother's Day, we knew our planning skill was put to a test. We would be 3 hours away from the city on Sunday morning. With her ceremony starting at 2 pm and her reception at 6.30 pm, we had just enough time to catch our breath before continuing on with the next part of the day. But we love Vina and would not miss her wedding for the world.

Vina and her sweetheart, Edward

After shuffling things around, we figured out that the only thing we could do to attend everything, was to leave the camp at 10 am, which would take us to the chapel in downtown in time for the ceremony, then rushing to church Sunday service at 4 in Burnaby (just in time to get those kids ready to sing for Mother's Day), and drive back to the reception area at 6.30 pm. Then we would drive to the airport straight from the reception. Yuli and mom would bring the luggage when they left the house Sunday morning.

Sunday School Choir sings "Cooperation" for Mother's Day

That was exactly what we did.

I am so glad that we attended everything we promised to, and all events were kinda fun (except the part where my mom had to leave us). It's been a while since I jam-packed so much activities in so little time.

It was an overbooked weekend, but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Those times were too precious to miss.

Btw, reports on each of the event won't be here. I will post it on Chris's blog once he uploads all the photos necessary.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Free Tim Hortons Iced Coffee Tomorrow!


For all coffee lovers (or Tim Hortons' Iced Coffee lovers), go and get your coffee shot of the day at Tim Hortons tomorrow!

On May 21, between 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm, get a FREE small Tim Hortons Iced Coffee!

Hmm... now I need to find out the nearest Tim Hortons around my office.

By the by, I am so glad this time the offer is for Canada, instead of the usual "USA Only" promotions.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Kindle DX Announced!

As the rumor suggested, the new Kindle DX was announced this morning.

I am drooling over the big screen (still in the middle of reading a manga). It's also a good thing that they finally support PDF files.

But the almost-USD-500 tag price is working against it. I knew I wouldn't buy it before, but now I know with deeper conviction.

On another note, the Spring Fellowship is coming. I am so looking forward to it. And of course, Vina's wedding is up next after that. Do.. mi.. so... I need to make sure I hit the right notes when it matters.

In the meantime, Sony, hurry up and release a bigger screen e-reader, please!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Rumored Amazon Kindle DX

Since yesterday morning, the internet has been buzzing with the rumored new Kindle DX that supposedly will have a 9.7 inch screen among other things. Engadget even has the leaked pictures (shown here).

I am not a big fan of Kindle, BUT a 9.7-inch-screen sounds wonderful. I wish Sony would release one that size as well.

Why would I want a 9.7-inch screen?

Well, for one, think about all those mangas I have downloaded (and printed on to PDF for reading on my Sony PRS-505). On 6-inch screen, it is a bit small to read especially when I am sleepy. I need to change the display to display only half a page at a time to read comfortably.

A regular manga has 4-12 volumes, at 130-190 pages per volume. That's a lot of page turns, especially at half-a-page a turn. The waiting time to turn sometimes exceed the reading time. A 9.7-inch screen will enable me to read my mangas comfortably again.

I have also started to collect technical books for my work and other managerial books. On a bigger screen, it will look just like it's meant to be.

In conclusion, I can't wait for Amazon to announce or release this device, if only so that Sony would hurry up and do it too.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Cleaning with Vinegar

This is my third speech on the ToastMaster club. More information about the topic can be found here.

Cleaning with Vinegar

Some things in life are unavoidable. Tax is one of them. Cleaning is another one. If we neglect to file our tax, the government will come knocking on our door. If we don’t do cleaning, our house will be messy and full of bacteria and viruses.

When it comes to cleaning, a lot of cleaning products are available out there. But believe it or not, the title “The Perfect Household Cleaners” is hold by vinegar. This is the same vinegar that we use for cooking. Households around the country have proven the effectiveness of vinegar.

Vinegar is surprisingly effective, when compared to other cleaners. It is an 'all-in-one cleaner,' so there is no need to buy specific cleaners for different purposes. Vinegar is good for cleaning kitchen surfaces, sink, bathtubs, toilet, ceramic tiles, appliances, painted walls, floors, messy microwave, top of the fridge, and other solid surfaces. It can also be used to shine mirrors, glass, stainless steel, and chrome, to remove unpleasant odors, and to remove stains from clothes.

Vinegar is non-toxic, so there is no fear of breathing harmful chemicals while cleaning. It is a natural organic bi-product of vegetables and grains. It is therefore edible and biodegradable. If in the course of normal household cleaning you 'pour it down the drain', its impact on municipal sewer and water treatment systems is just like any food product. It is very safe for the environment, for family members, especially those with asthma, and around young children.

Vinegar is economical, much less expensive than other cleaners. You can buy a big jug of vinegar and use it for a long time. The shelf life of vinegar is almost indefinite, according to The Vinegar Institute’s research studies. Because of vinegar's acid nature, it is self-preserving and does not need refrigeration. When an opened vinegar is let sit for a long time, sometimes you can see changes in color or development of sediment. This is, however, only an aesthetic change. The product can still be used with confidence.

Vinegar is also gentle on hands, so there is no need to wear rubber gloves.

Now, what about the smell of cleaning of vinegar? Vinegar does have a distinct odor that some find unpleasant. But it is a clean smell and it dissipates quickly. Some have suggested mixing peppermint oil to counter the smell.

In the course of cleaning, sometimes we you accidentally spray our eyes with the cleaning solution. Vinegar will sting your eyes if sprayed directly into them, so direct contact with eyes should be avoided. However, vinegar will not cause any short or long-term damage to your eyes.

To start cleaning using vinegar, put distilled white vinegar in a trigger-spray bottle. Spray it on the surface you want to clean. Let sit for several minutes, wipe with a paper towel, and that’s it. Vinegar cleans streak free, so there is no need to rinse after cleaning.

I hope I have convinced you to start cleaning using vinegar. I have prepared a short handout of how to clean using vinegar, and I wish you will try some of these methods. Your wallet will thank you. Your environment will thank you. And your family will thank you.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Audio Book Review: Dr. Blair's Japanese in No Time

Thanks to the AudioBook library on BC Online Libraries, I started borrowing audiobooks more often. I found it very handy, especially since my commute takes about 45 minutes one-way every day.

The audiobook I recently listened to was Dr. Blair's Japanese in No Time: The Revolutionary New Language Instruction Method That's Proven to Work!.

As the name implies, this book teaches Japanese for total beginners. The tape runs for 3 hours in 3 CD's. It begins with a story where the listener is a tourist in a Japan amusement park. As it turns out, the park is taken over by a group of Flower Ranger fans, that are angry because their favorite show is canceled. The listener's mission is to find out these fans' plan and prevent it from happening.

The story is quite amusing, and each "to be continued" section stirs the curiosity to know more about the story. The Japanese lessons themselves are arranged to suit English speakers best. With stories to accompany vocabularies, it makes it easier to remember Japanese words. For example, for body parts in Japanese session, the book tells the adventure of a girl called Ata. Remembering the story actually makes it easier to remember the Japanese words phonetically.

Of course, as with any audiobook, the downside of this is that you won't learn the writing of Japanese language. But the speaking and listening side is actually not bad. I found myself remembering more and more vocabulary only by listening to the whole tape once.

I would recommend this tape for any English speakers who would like the basic of daily life speaking in Japanese. You won't understand a school lecture any better, but at least you will be able to ask direction to the nearest washroom by the time you finish this book.

My rating: 3 stars out of 5

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Origin of the Temple of Prambanan

I joined the Toastmaster Club at my work, and here is my speech number 2. The purpose of the speech is to have a good speech organization, with an opening, a body, and a conclusion.

Since it took me a long time to organize this speech, I might as well post it on my blog. Note that this is a trimmed down version of the legend, with some parts edited out to avoid cultural confusion (and to fit the speech into a 5-7 minute window).

The Origin of the Temple of Prambanan
(also known as "The Legend of Bandung Bondowoso")

When you look on any of the wonderful architecture, have you ever wondered who built them, for what purpose they were built, and the stories behind the construction? Indonesia has a lot of lakes, temples, mountains, and beaches, and each of them has its own story. Each of these stories teaches its audiences a lesson in life.

Today, I am going to tell you the story about controlling your temper, and of a temple called Prambanan.

Once upon a time, there was a kingdom called Prambanan. The people of Prambanan lived happily and harmoniously. But this harmony did not last for very long. A neighbouring kingdom called Pengging attacked them. The Pengging ruler, Bandung Bondowoso, was very skillful in the art of war. He killed the king of Prambanan, and under his command, Pengging took over Prambanan.

Bandung Bondowoso was a cruel ruler. Anyone who dare to speak against him was executed immediately. The people were afraid of him and would not dare to refuse his requests.

One day, Bandung Bondowoso saw a very beautiful girl. He fell in love with the girl, only to find out that she was the princess of Prambanan. She was the daughter of the man he killed. But he wanted her. So he approached her and asked her to marry him.

The princess was surprised and annoyed. "This man has no manner," she thought. "He killed my father, and now out of the blue, he wanted to marry me?" She disliked him, but was afraid to refuse his proposal. So she thought out a plan to discourage Bandung's affection.

"I would be happy to marry you under one condition," the princess said. "You must build me 1,000 temples within a night. I love temples, and 1,000 temples would prove to the world and to me that you really do love me."

Bandung Bondowoso agreed to the condition, and he immediately gathered all the supplies and the equipments to build 1,000 temples. Now, Bandung knew mere human could not build 1,000 temples in a night. But he had a mystical power. He ruled over an army of djihnns.

When the dusk came, he summoned the djihnns and commanded them to build the 1,000 temples. The djihnns went to work immediately, and with unbelievable speed, more and more temples were built in just a few hours.

The princess was crestfallen when she saw this. She did not wish to marry Bandung. So she gathered all her servants and the ladies of the village. "Help me," she said. "Please beat the bamboo drums as loudly as you can, as you usually do." The ladies did as the princess wished.

The roosters heard the bamboo drums, and crowed loudly, since the ladies always beat the drums in the morning. Hearing the roosters' crow, the djihnns thought that dawn was coming. They were afraid of the sunlight, and fled to avoid the morning light.

Bandung counted the temples and found 999 temples ready. He was 1 temple away from being able to marry the princess. He was angry that the djihnns ran away before finishing their work. But when he saw the princess, still beating the bamboo drums, he was enraged at her trickery.

"You asked for 1,000 temples," Bandung said. "Here I have 999 temples, and may you be the thousandth one," he cursed and pointed at the princess. To his amazement and regret, the princess turned into stone. His moment of anger caused irreparable damage.

Today, if you visit the temple of Prambanan in Indonesia, please make sure to look for a lone statue of the princess -- cold, but still beautiful. And when you find it, remember that angers could cost you far more than you are willing to pay, and learn to control your emotion.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Adobe Digital Editions & OverDrive Media Console

I recently found the site for British Columbia Online Library, where members of BC library can borrow the electronic versions of books. These do not include CD or DVD, but includes a sizable selection of ebooks (in DRM'ed PDF format) and audiobooks (in DRM'ed mp3/wma). The DRM is there to ensure that the files "expire" after the checkout duration (21 days for ebooks; 14 days for audiobooks).

Because the e-books and audiobooks are DRM-ladden, special softwares are needed before enjoying them.

The e-books require Adobe Reader version 6 or 7 with Adobe Digital Editions. This is quite troublesome, since my computer has the latest version of Adobe Reader (version 9), and it wouldn't work with version 9. I cannot install previous version without removing version 9.

So I need to take these steps:
1. Uninstall Reader 9
2. Install Reader 7
3. Install Adobe Digital Editions
4. Authorizing my computer to read the DRM books (by registering and logging in with Adobe username/password)
5. To enable reading those books on my PRS-505, I authorized my device as well (via Digital Editions, while connected to the computer).

This process is quite straight-forward and error-free. Oh, and I need to add that afterwards, I re-install Reader 9, and it doesn't affect the functionalities of the Digital Editions. I am still able to download/transfer the ebook files.

The audiobooks require OverDrive Media Console. Installing it is quite easy. But then it gives me an error everytime I try to download the audiobooks. "A problem has occured in retrieving the digital rights management machine identification," the pop-up window says. How frustrating!!

After googling around, I find a solution to this problem:
1. Open “Control Panel”.
2. Open “Folder Options” and select the “View” tab.
3. Select “Show hidden files and folders”.
4. Un-check “Hide protected operating system files”.
5. In the warning message you receive, click “Yes”.
6. Click “OK”.
7. Close the Control Panel.
8. Rename the DRM folder to DRM.old
Depending on your OS, it can be found in different locations:
- Windows 2000 and XP: C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\ DRM
- Windows 98: C:\Windows\All Users\DRM
- Windows ME: C:\Windows\DRM
9. Close this window and open OverDrive Media Console.
10. Go to “Tools > Windows Media Player Security Upgrade”.
11. Attempt to download an OverDrive Audio Book.

Now I can download the audiobooks and transfer them to my MUVO MP3 player.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Book Review: Enid Blyton's Secret Series

Growing up reading Enid Blyton's books, I am really pleased to find this series again. I set down to read them and was transported back to my childhood times. I knew these books are geared toward young readers, and I was prepared to capture only a portion of the magic I remembered.

To my surprise, I still found them very entertaining. The story is set in England on early 20th century. However, the thrill of these adventures does not lessen, even if I am reading them in the 21st century.

The first book in the series is The Secret Island, which tells of the first adventure the children had. Mike, Nora, and Peggy are treated badly by their aunt and uncle after their parents went missing for 2 years. Their friend, Jack, is not better off, with his parents both passed away. Jack finds a secret island, and the children then plan their escape from the home life they cannot stand.

The second book, The Secret of Spiggy Holes tells of the children's vacation on a coast where smugglers used to roam and trade. Surely there won't be any smuggling going on now on these days now, will it?

In The Secret Mountain, the children are off to find their missing parents. They are in a strange land with the people whose language they don't understand. How will they survive this ordeal?

The Secret of Killimooin tells about the adventures the children are having in a foreign land called Baronia. A journey that starts with a simple vacation plan turns into a more heartbeat-raising pace when they encounter unexplainable phenomenons in this faraway country.

When their friend's parents decide to vacation in England, the search for an appropriate vacation home (a.k.a. castle) is on. Dozens of choices are discarded, and then they discover the Moon Castle. But why are the caretakers trying so hard to prevent them from renting it? What could The Secret of Moon Castle be?

All five books are delightful to read. I highly recommend them for beginner readers.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Worried

I know intellectually that worry solves nothing.

But I am worried. About the things that are out of my hands.

And I am sad, because it involves people, and I can't do anything about it.

I am starting to believe that helplessness is the root of all worries. Hhhh...

Friday, January 16, 2009

Sony Reader PRS-505 Shortcuts

I just found shortcuts for PRS-505:
Hold down the “size” button for five seconds to rotate the screen.
Duh! I should have known there will be shortcut for this one. This makes reading mangas a lot easier, with much less clicks.
Hold the “Page Forward” or “Back” button for five seconds and the page will jump 10 pages in the direction of the button.
This is something useful to browse through the book looking for that section that is stuck in my mind.

I am not sure if these shortcuts would work on PRS-500 or PRS-700, but I would assume so. If you have one of those models, give it a try and drop me a line.

Related links:
- E-book Reader: Sony PRS-505
- Another E-book Reader: Sony PRS-700

Friday, January 2, 2009

Pulpit Banner

For more than 20 years, my church has used our parent organization symbol as our logo. But finally, we have our own logo, by the design talent of cik Dhania.


The yellow part is the Bible, upon which God's will is revealed. The blue part is fire as well as the dove, a representation of the Holy Spirit, symbolizes our zeal in the work for Him, and the ever-presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Cik Ling-Ling, our seamstress made a pulpit banner based on this logo.


Doesn't it look cool?