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.::z. 8/8.

elegantly wasted.

beware the ides of march

Monday, March 31, 2008

today is the last day of march. april fool's day beckons.

let's see....

1) i got free tix to the theatre idol's semi finals and watched the plays with tommy the first night and with leon the second night. and then tix to the finals were wasted cos i couldnt find anyone to go with.

2) dan treated me to a nice vietnamese dinner and 10K BC, he got the tix courtesy of safra :)

3) the folks back at NUS invited me to their dinner n dance, and i was also asked to co-host the event. when the party was over, i journeyed to the north and didnt go back to the east till the next day.


4) kc turned 35 on the 8th! botak and brewski joined me, drey and the birthday boy for celebrations at tp.

5) i became a simulated patient again for the osce. this time, i wasnt suffering from anything, instead, i was an angry son. frankly, its easier to just act sick than act angry.

6) good friday long weekend was spent spinning, running, swimming and watching 3 movies; horton, evangelion and semipro. kc also brought drey and me to this excellent thai stall at the foodcourt opp somerset bencoolen. authentic and cheap! highly recommended.

7) sofian and i went to the officialy-closed-many-times-but-still-used-over-&-over-again national stadium to catch the singapore vs australia friendly soccer match. kewell was there, the aussies were decked out in their greenest best and the lions supporters tried their darndest to cheer the team, however no goals were scored and the higlight of the evening was eating the karipap and fishballs soaked in chilli while sitting on the wooden benches and then leaving the litter behind. So 80s!

8) business has been good! now, to make it even better in april...
posted by zul, 2:04 PM | link | 2 comments |

mug shot

Monday, March 10, 2008

i keep a mug at the office pantry. i bought it at the Internal Security Department's gift shop when i visited its heritage centre about 2 yrs ago. its unique. i dont think many ppl have it. i use it almost everyday when i make my hot beverages during coffee breaks. i'll then wash it and put it back on the rack to dry.

last week, i was sitting in my cubicle doing my work, when someone walked past me holding a mug. it looked familiar. geez, its the same ISD mug that i have! coincidence, i thought, and went back to my work. and then it hit me. could it be?

i hurried towards the pantry. my mug is missing. wtf.

so i stayed on for a while and then abt 10mins later the lady who was carrying my mug sauntered into the pantry, the mug still in her hands. she emptied the contents, washed it, and put it back on the rack. and then she walked past me nonchantly.

i am left pondering.

1) is it normal to use any mugs u can find at the common office pantry?
2) was what i did normal? to leave my own personal mug at the pantry, or should i have kept it in my office cabinet?
3) should i have just kept quiet about it, or should i inform her nicely that the mug is mine and not a common one?
4) does she know it belongs to me specifically? or did she assume its a common mug? or did she pick one at random?

i dont think its a big deal, i'm just wondering if it has become the norm? we spend more time in the office than at home, we should have some sort of acceptable 'living' rules, just to avoid misunderstandings. but in the meantime, if she wants to use my ISD mug, go ahead ;)
posted by zul, 4:13 PM | link | 3 comments |

if youth knew, if age could

Thursday, March 06, 2008

another story to share. it happened yesterday.

there i was queuing up at the axs station right outside the ntuc fairprice at bt merah at about 230pm. beside the terminal, an old man on wheelchair sells singapore sweep tickets every day. he talks in a low coarse grumpy voice, never smiling. yesterday was no different. as i stood waiting for my turn, i could see that the old man was trying to get the attention of passerbys, sometimes they would stop, shake their head, and move on. some would smile apologetically and walk away hurriedly. my turn came, i stepped up to the terminal and started to key in the numbers. the old man's voice suddenly caught my attention.

"mister.. can you help me? i want to go toilet"

fuck. ok. i should help. but..

i asked him to wait till i'm done with my transaction. i was hoping that he would be able to get somebody else's help in the meantime. he did not. i paid my bills, turned to him, and asked "uncle, where's the toilet?"


fuck. thats far. you have to walk to the main road, go up a bridge, cross it, and go down, and walk a bit more.

"the toilets here i cannot use. door small. its ok if you dont have time"

my mind kept thinking about the play i watched the night before. 4 aged women living in a nursing home and lamenting about how their children abandoned them. i should help. i asked uncle how long it would take.

"about 20mins. but u must push me back here. if u dont have time, never mind"

i have the time. i looked at his legs. its dark, as if blood no longer flows. his hands are crippled. its a cold day. if i dont help...

"ok uncle, lets go"

i closed the wooden board that was placed on top of his wheelchair, the board is for displaying the sweep tickets. i started to push him towards the main road. a few people were hogging the way. uncle shouted at them. "hurry la, so slow!" wah. uncle is fierce. but then again he might have controlled his bladder for a very long time already. i had a bit of difficulty pushing him through the lift door. first of all, the door kept closing before i could get him inside. "this door lousy la! havent go in want to close already!", the old man complained. and with the many ntuc plastic bags that were tied around his wheelchair (god knows what's inside), getting him all the way in was tough.

i pushed him across the bridge, got him into the lift at the other side, and went down. we finally reached the handicapped toilet at the interchange. i rolled him inside and stood outside the door proudly. i thought my job was done.

"come in la, help me"

uh-oh. fuck. i've never done this before. fuck. suddenly he reminded me of my grandfather who died almost 20years ago. feisty. brave. i should be brave too. i walked in and closed the door.

the old man instructed me very well. firstly, remove the wooden board from the wheelchair. then, take the pail and wash it. he lowered his shorts and signalled me to place the pail under his willy. i did as i was told. it took him almost 2 mins to start pee-ing. i think for a while, using his fingers, he was trying to coax his lil buddy to please start spraying already. the pail started to fill up to the point of spilling over. fuck, stop stop stop...

he stopped just in time. i remove the pail and emptied the contents inside the basin. wash it, he ordered me. take the toilet paper, give it to me. and wash your hands too, he said firmly. yes sir...

he pulled up his shorts and looked at me. i asked him if everything's alright and if he's ready to be pushed back. he nodded. as i opened the door, he said, "thank you mister.. thank you very much." i smiled.

the journey back to the axs station was much easier, as i already knew what to look out for, and how to maneuver my way around. he started to make small talk, like how cold the weather is, and whether i've eaten. as i stationed him at the exact same spot beside the axs terminal, he thanked me again. no problem, uncle. i hurried back to office and started to ponder.

it made me think of how i'm gonna be like when i'm his age and i wanna go pee. i could only think of 2 ways to avoid this; either i die or kill myself before i grow that old and disabled, or i get as rich as possible and pay other ppl to help me pee.

how enlightening.
posted by zul, 3:10 PM | link | 8 comments |

IM what IM

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

lets talk about IM (instant messaging) and general surfing at the workplace.

when i first entered the workforce back in 1999, i was with a government statutory board. not surprisingly, their policy on IM and internet surfing were strict. initially, none of us could get on the internet from our desktop. gradually, a proxy server was used to control the sites that we could visit. we had to apply and list down the sites to be included in the proxy allow list, and if it is approved, we could then surf to those sites. simply put, u can only go to websites that have been reviewed and approved by management. by default, everything else is banned. this allow list grew bigger as more staff apply for more websites to be included. a few privileged ones had unrestricted internet access from their desktop, and i was one of them. i was part of the ISO14001 boardwide committee and the person in charge of doing 'research', so my application was approved by CIO, much to the chagrin of my fellow colleagues. for those who really absolutely needed to surf to those sites outside of the proxy allow list, they had to use a few common pc stations that were setup around the office. these stations do not have any surfing restrictions, however they also do not have any form of external drives (usb port, floppy, cd drive), so you cant copy anything out. IM was imposed with a total blanket ban.

after 4.5 yrs there, i next joined a private company (ok maybe a quasi-govt body). their policy was different, there were no restrictions at all, you could surf to anywhere and use IM freely. in fact i remembered using IM as a tool to transfer files back and forth between fellow colleagues, and with my clients at remote locations. i guess the bottomline is that we are considered vendors who had to meet customers' deadlines, and there is no time for red tape long drawn approval processes. everything had to be done in an instant, and if your customer is online, and u can use *instant* messaging to transfer files instantly, why not? there is no need to write an email with formalities, u drag and drop a document into their chat window, they get it, everyone's happy.

following that i went back to another govt statutory board, this time as a business analyst. similar to the stat board before, they had to conform to the ministry's strict guidelines on internet surfing. however my role was also to recommend new technologies to improve their business processes. the msn port was blocked, but we could still use web-based messengers to get online. my role was expanded to be the lotus notes administrator as well, and when i upgraded the notes server, i used the opportunity to also set up a notes sametime server, a unified communications and collaboration tool that includes enterprise IM - the need to work in realtime was picking up speed in organisations everywhere. i posted an article in the bulletin board that was positive about using IM at the workplace, management was swayed and the implementation was a success. almost everybody started to use it, they could see who is online from their email dashboard and easily discuss in realtime, some were even making webconferencing calls to our partners overseas. last i heard, sametime would be able connect with AOL, yahoo and google instant messaging. but i left before that happened.

my next job is at a local university. the policies here were based on the sheer volume of staff and students. with 7000+ staff and 30000+ students, managing their internet access with the policies above would be unproductive. so it was free-for-all, IMs were heavily used (can you imagine the protests from students if it was banned?) and internet surfing could be done campus-wide without any restrictions. we do however keep track on illegal downloads, especially where copyright is concerned. it was excellent, an environment most conducive for research (and other pleasurable things). we've reached progress where communications is concerned.

and now i'm here with another organisation, one that has links to the govt (it receives funding from a ministry). and i've felt that we've somewhat taken a step back. the dreadful proxy server is back in action, and it blocks profile sites (friendster, facebook), "gambling" sites (singaporepools) etc. it also blocks IM. since i am still in this organisation, my only comment on the policy is that there must be reasons why this is so, and strictly speaking, work is work and play is play. however, the tools of technology should be leveraged to its fullest, and people work in realtime now. everything is done in an instant, and instant messaging is simply, a tool. a blanket ban is practical, and it could easily be used (abused) negatively. but maybe its time to allow staff to manage their own time effectively, a full 8.5 hrs in front of the computer is productive, but as long as they get their job done, give them the trust to use tools that are available to them and let them use it effectively. maybe a little chat once in a while to discuss ideas, to transfer files, to have a little breather and have that outside 'contact' with someone they know and 'real' can be helpful in the long run. micromanaging every second is ridiculous.

i feel stifled.

an afternote
iva commented that her workplace did a study on their internet usage profile, and the 'social sites' made up a big percentage. they dont have a proxy server, but they restrict the bandwidth for social sites to 30%. mostly cos, if more than that, it would slow down their email speeds etc.
which i think, is pretty reasonable and a much better policy than a total blanket ban. something to ponder about.
posted by zul, 9:53 AM | link | 0 comments |

fab feb

Monday, March 03, 2008

first of all, february has (had) 29 days. my mistake in the previous entry. in those 29 days,

1) i rock climbed
2) i didnt dragon boat for the whole month (long pre and post CNY hols, captain was busy)
3) i was on MC for 2 days cos of the eyes again
4) the oscars were handed out
5) business was good, the seeds i planted a year ago began to bear fruit
6) q turned 32, and then got swept off his feet
7) kr was a hoot
8) visited poh and family, the hula hoops were amazing, the certs were handed out, and we had a great time drinkin at changi
9) hung out more with leon, my bmt bud of 15yrs ago. listening to the entire wilson phillips CD in his room made me feel, contented
10) wnp, gekpoh, wnp, gekpoh. i dig those rides
11) the offer letter was handed out, US60k was the figure, NJ was the place, i signed, then i decided, naaaah. i am hopeful for a better deal
12) cny, valentine's, airshow, chingay - past events i've spent with u; potential minefields all - came and went and i thought of you. but daaas it!

much to do in march. the heavens are smiling and so am i.
posted by zul, 7:18 PM | link | 3 comments |