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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Enterprising Students

We had a jogathon this morning, and my students took the opportunity to raise funds by selling burgers.

They did everything by themselves. And I'm so proud of them for being so independent. They bought all the ingredients - buns, chicken patties, eggs, veges, sauces and wrappers. They borrowed a skillet, stoves and gas cylinders. They started cooking as soon as they got to school at 6.00 a.m. Many pitched in to help. By the time I checked on them at 6.40 a.m., they'd finished chopping the cabbage, and slicing the cucumbers. Some were deep-frying the beef patties, while others cut the buns, spreaded margarine on them, and proceeded to toast them on the skillet. Some other students helped by assembling the burgers and wrapping them them up while a few were in charge of selling.

Cooking ...

Burgers for sale ...

The burgers sold really well, and the kids made a net profit of RM258!! Well done, kids! I'm so very proud of you.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Off To Universities

I read in the newspaper the plight of a STPM high-achiever from Kuching who was not offered his choice university. Here is the link. Like Daniel, I do also wonder how university courses are allocated to the students. What is the process like?

Well, 21 out of 38 of my former Form 6 students are going to the University come this 06 September. There are 6 to UNIMAS, 5 to UMS, 4 to USM, 2 to UPSI, 1 to UNIMAP, 1 to UIAM, 1 to UiTM, and 1 to UM.

This year would mark our highest yield in the number of university-goers. As a teacher, I am very happy and excited for them. However, as I went through the list of courses offered to them, I was really baffled. There were courses like Industrial Relations, International Marketing, Engineering Entrepreneurship. Phew! What a mouthful. ;)

Like Daniel, I know of at least 2 students who were very disappointed with the courses they were offered. One aspired to be a teacher, but he has to now go into Marketing. The other aspired to be an architect but was offered Music. My advise to them? Appeal to change courses.

But at the same time, I know of a few students who were offered the courses of their choice. One is on the way to do Mass Communications, another is going to study Management, one going into Education, but most of all, I am ecstatic for the boy who would be going to University Malaya to read Law.

P** gave up Matriculations to do Form 6 at my school because he aspired to read Law. To read Law in University Malaya, one traditionally needed to score at least 4A's in STPM and a Band 5 in MUET. P** scored 3 A's and a B+, and his score for MUET was 8 marks away from a Band 5. Hence, I was extremely worried that he would not make it into the Law faculty in UM.

And so when he told me the success of his application last Friday, he really made my day. He fully deserve a place at UM, and I know he is going to do well. ;))

Congratulations to all, and I wish you all the best in your undertakings. Most of all, enjoy yourselves in the university!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Intruder @ School

It was midnight and rain was falling relentlessly. 3 men from the neighbouring houses saw a dark figure edging along the roof of the school.

"Is that a man or a ghost?" one of the men said to the others.

As they watched him, they made him out to be human. They decided to act.

They went to the school gate and alerted the security guard, and the four of them made their way to the block of building. Meanwhile, the security guard contacted two of our teachers. The police was also informed.

Realising that he was discovered, the intruder entered one of the rooms through the roof and hid himself there.

When the police and the teachers arrived, they opened up all the rooms on the top floor. The intruder was nowhere to be found. They lingered for a long time and had almost given up, when they heard a bang against the ceiling. It was then that they realised that the intruder was still there.

Immediately, they headed towards where the sound came from, and the intruder was arrested. My colleague showed me the video he took of the intruder when he was cuffed by the police. The look of despair on his face was so apparent that I felt sympathetic towards him.

Apparently, he intended to steal the lightning rod which was made of solid brass. According to my colleagues, that would fetch a few hundred Ringgit based on today's market price.

Anyway, last we heard, the intruder was sentenced for 3 months in prison for breaking and entering.

This morning, we invited the Miri District Police Chief, ACP Jamaluddin bin Haji Ibrahim to our school for an event, and at the same time we took the opportunity to present certificates to the residents (and the security guard) who have helped the school in that incident.

The ACP addressing the students, teachers, and members of the community

In this day and age where people are more prone to keep to themselves, it was certainly good to know that there were still members of the community who would pitch in to safeguard the neighbourhood. Kudos to those who have helped!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Buying Navel Oranges

At Krokop Wet Market ....

I saw some navel oranges on display. Small in size, but they looked fresh. The price seemed reasonable, at RM1.50 per piece.


Vendor : Come ... come ... *Handing me a plastic bag*

Me : *Select navel oranges*

Vendor : These are from Australia, very juicy ... Those *pointing to the bigger and pricier oranges on display* are from USA. Do you want to try those?

Me : *Shake my head and continue to select oranges*

Vendor : These are very fresh too ....

Me : *Finish selecting oranges*

Vendor : RM6.00

Me : *Pay, pick up plastic bag and get ready to go* Thank you.

Vendor : These are slightly sour.

Me : ?!?!?

Hmn. Why did he not bother to tell me in the first place? Shrewd.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

SPD Eyewear

I've not heard of Staffan Preutz before today. But apparently, he's a Swede eyewear designer. Today, while browsing at an optical shop, I was introduced to his range of eye glasses.

Source : http://www.polariseyewear.com/index_2.php?lang=1

The frame is made of plastic and it is really super light. Unlike the usual rims, this one is basically a thin shield! That gives it a uniquely futuristic feel. The temple arms are made of titanium and they are really flexible. I tried one pair on and found it to be very comfortable.

The downside is of course the cost. The frame itself is costly at about RM1.3K. Hmn ... the age old question : to buy or not to buy??

Monday, July 18, 2011

Teachers' Day Dinner @ Park City Everly Hotel Miri

On Saturday night, I attended the district level dinner at Park City Everly Hotel. The food? Hmn ... I knew from previous experiences that the food here was not really something I would look forward to.

This is the menu.

The menu

And this is the menu translated into pictures.

Double Hot & Cold Combinations
There was a meat roll, and a sweet & sour jelly fish salad.
The meat roll tasted alright, but it was slightly soggy.
The jelly fish tasted strongly of Chinese parsley.

Cream of Sweet Corn with Chicken and Crabmeat Stick
The soup was a bit too starchy.

Steamed Talapia in Special Chef Sauce
I think everyone liked the fish the most. The sauce was sweet, spicy and piquant. Not bad as it was served on a steamer, and that kept the fish hot.

Stuffed Whole Chicken With Assorted Mushrooms
I found the taste of herbs in this dish delightful, but I wish it could be served piping hot.
We had it lukewarm, and that sort of spoiled the whole dish.

Braised Homemade Beancurd with Dry Scallops
Scallops? Where?
This dish was forgettable.

Stir-fried Three Types of Vegetables with Sambal
We found the vegetables to be overcooked.

I did not take pictures of the the fruit platter but I assure you that it's just ordinary. Of course at RM30.00 per head, what do I expect?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Station One Cafe @ Bintang Plaza Mega Mall

Station One Cafe is new in town, located at Bintang Plaza Mega Mall. Today, I went there for the first time. It was about noon, but my friend and I did not feel like having anything heavy. So instead of rices and meats, we ordered some snacks to share between the two of us.

First up, we had the Hawaiian Pizza (RM18.50).

Hawaiian Pizza

Well, it looked good, enough to share among 4 persons. I could smell oregano as soon as the pizza was brought to us. And no wonder, cause I could see oregano flakes sprinkled over it.

My slice of Hawaiian Pizza

The topping consisted of a tomato base, chicken, pineapples and cheese. Taste wise, the topping was a bit on the sweet side. I did not like the bread, in which the texture was a bit crumbly.

For me, it felt like eating one of those mass produced frozen pizzas that I could easily buy from the supermarket. And to charge RM18.50 for it is ridiculous.

Next, we had a Tuna Croissant (RM8.50).

Tuna Croissant

The croissant was filled with a tuna mayonnaise, cucumber and tomato. It tasted alright, except that I did not really like the croissant, which I thought was over-toasted. As a result, it became dry and flaky. That buttery taste, so pertinent in a good croissant, also did not came through.


Certainly not as terrific and delectable as they claimed it to be.

Finally, we had Meatball & Mates (RM11.90)


At least I could taste chicken in the tiny meatballs coated in a sweet and sour sauce, served with some sort of bread. I'm really not sure whether it's supposed to be garlic bread or not, cause I could not taste any garlic nor butter on the bread. Instead, as I bit into it, I caught an annoying whiff of sweet-smelling aroma. Vanilla? Not sure. But it reminded me of low-quality margarine.

Thank goodness my friend liked her Hot Honey Lemon.

Hot Honey Lemon

While I decided to go for the signature Yestea.



Yestea

I'm not sure whether it's freshly brewed or not because it tasted suspiciously like one of those Green Tea products that came in a packet or a can. You know, like one of those ...

Pay RM5.50 to get the kick out of watching "the bubbles float to the top". Lol ... anyway ... I thought the food here is mediocre, and yet sold at unbelievably cutthroat prices. Not sure you will agree with me, but check it out yourself ;)) Cheers!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Homecooked Donburi

"Donburi" means bowl in Japanese. At the same time, it is used ubiquitiously to refer to cooked rice with toppings served in a bowl. It has garnered a lot of popularity now, and various types of don are served in cafes and restaurants.

Since 2 weeks ago, I've been diligently cooking my own dinner. They often consist of white rice, and a stir-fried dish to top the rice with. Hence, my own home-cooked donburi! They are simple meals, but they are yum because the flavours are delicate - no msg, no spices, and less oil! *Psst* I'm not a health freak, ok? It happens that all I have in the larder are soy sauce, sesame oil, salt and pepper. ;p Lol. So I tend to just use those when I cook.

For my donburi, I use a lot of chicken breast meat fillets. They're easy to clean and takes only a jiffy to cook. Previously, I really do not like to eat chicken breast meat fillets. But now, I really don't mind so much. Chicken is chicken, after all. ;p

So these are some of my donburis ...... not the Japanese version, for sure. ;p

Chicken in Light Soy & Egg

Chicken & French Beans Stir-fry

Chicken and Surimi Stir-fry & Baby Romaine lettuce

Baby Bok Choy & fishballs with a bit of minced pork on the side

French beans & tomato chicken
Mom would tell you I hate French beans. Well, I really did not like French beans before this. I'm not really sure why I have taken a liking to them now ;p.

Best of all, it takes me only 20 minutes to prepare a dish. Sometimes, where there's a lot, I store them in the fridge and heat them up for the next meal.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sanga Japanese Restaurant

The girls went to Sanga Japanese Restaurant for a meal last night. It was my first time at this restaurant, but my friends had eaten here on a few occasions and they loved the food.

Well, there were no rules to our dinner, so we ordered whatever we liked to share among us. We had ...

Edamame (RM5.00)
The edamame was sprinkled lightly with salt, to enhance its flavour ...

Chuka Wakame (RM 6.00)
Very, very small serving ....

Unagi Maki (RM6.50) & Salmon Maki (RM6.00)
I loved the presentation ... beautiful isn't it?
There weren't enough of wasabi and pickled ginger to go around ... so we had to ask for more. Though they kindly obliged, it was kinda a pain to ask ... I'd rather have jars of those stuff on the table where I can freely help myself to them

Unagi Fried Ricea (RM17.00)
The fried rice was fragrant and flavourful, with a small piece of unagi on top
I thought this dish was expensive

Salmon Head (RM10.00)
Salmon Head was on promo that night. Its usual price is RM12.00.
The salmon head was yum, except that there wasn't much to eat. Very skinny head. Lol.
They were also a bit stingy with the Teriyaki sauce, and we had to asked for extra servings of the sauce. The Teriyaki sauce was rather thick and gooey, and it reminded me very much of the sweet soy sauce that my maternal grandma used to concoct.

2 foreign items that we ordered - foreign because they were supposed to be Korean. Lol ...

Kimchi Fried Rice (RM15.00)
My friends loved this, but I could taste nothing beyond the saltiness that permeates. I couldn't really "get" the flavour of the Kimchi in the fried rice. So this dish wasn't so great for me.

Kimchi Soup (RM10.00)
It was the same thing with the Kimchi Soup. The soup was quite thick and it had chunks of chicken thigh fillet in there. But, again I did not get the flavour of the Kimchi.

Well, what I love most about Sanga is that they really go all out with the garnishing. Very pretty presentation, but I guess taste wise, there were some hits and misses for me. Do give it a try, you may like the food here.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Pho & Rolls @ Little Vietnam

I haven't much experience with Vietnamese cuisine. But of course, who wouldn't have heard of the infamous Pho and Spring Rolls?

Little Vietnam is a new eatery at Boulevard Commercial Centre. I'd asked around, and the first thing that my friends told me was that the menu here was limited. Somehow, they'd failed to give me reviews of the food, preferring to draw my attention to restricted items on the menu.

So, when my friend said that we were going for lunch at Little Vietnam, I prepared myself for the worst. ;p

Indeed, there weren't many items on the menu. But I knew even before I stepped into the restaurant that I was going to go for the Beef Pho.

Beef Pho

Thin strands of rice noodles were served in a clear beef broth, garnished with thin slices of beef, onion rings and spring onions. At RM15.00, the serving was huge! I reckon it would be enough to share between two person.

A set of Beef Pho

With the noodle bowl came 2 saucers of condiments. One contained blanched crispy bean sprouts, while the other had basil, coriander, sliced birds' eye chillies and 2 lemon wedges.

The accessories ;))

I dumped all the condiments into my noodles and mixed them well before tucking in. And guess what? I did like the Pho a lot!!

The rice noodles were smooth. The beef broth was a little on the sweet side, very umami indeed. I liked the fact that it was served boiling hot. The crunchy beansprouts added texture to the noodles, the herbs enhanced the flavour of the broth, and the chillies spiced up the whole dish.

So, I'd recommend the Beef Pho anytime!!

Besides the Pho, we tried the Gui Cuon or Spring Rolls. Each rice paper roll was compactly packed with blanched prawns, vermicelli, and fresh herbs - notably basil and chives.

Gui Cuon a.k.a. Spring Rolls

Dipping sauce

The Spring Rolls were served with a thick sweet soy, chilli and peanut dip. Honestly, I had never liked the Vietnamese Spring Rolls as I had always found the taste of fresh basil to be very heady - more or less like clove or star anise.

Another item we tried was the Minced Pork Roll, which in fact had not only minced pork but chopped prawns in the filling.

Minced Pork Roll

The dipping sauce for Minced Pork Rolls was a fish sauce, lemon juice, chopped garlic and chillies mixture. Anyway, the two types of rolls were not listed on the menu, so I hadn't any idea about the price. Plus, my friends had picked up the tab. So .... thanks a lot, guys.

Well, after the meal, we were given rice cakes for dessert. And it's FOC. The rice cakes were somewhat like our 白糖糕, a white sugar steamed sponge cake.

Truly, I had a satisfying lunch with my Beef Pho. The rest of the items were forgettable. Ciao!

Monday, July 4, 2011

I Am Dumbfounded

My email to my telco on 01 July :

My broadband no is **********


I requested for an upgrade today from Discover Plan to Explore 10G plan at RM88 for one year. My transaction Id : 2011063008301831****

When I checked my available quota today it was 12G. Isn't this Explore 12G package at RM98?? I tried to contact the helpline but I could not get through to a customer service officer.

I need a clarification from you regarding this.
Thank you.

The reply I got a few minutes ago via email :

Dear Ms ******

Thank you for your email.

We are pleased to confirm your plan has been changed to the requested package.

However, should there be any discrepancies in your next official bill, please do not hesitate to contact us for further investigation.

Please accept our sincerest apology for any confusion and inconvenience caused. We hope that you will continue to support us while we strive to provide better services in the near future.

Should you have any other concerns or questions regarding our products or services, you may contact us via email, our 24-hour Helpline or chat online in OCS.

Please include your account number and/or previous telephone number in your emails to us for recording purposes.

Warmest regards,
JD Jamal

Err, didn't they say that I was not eligible for the package that I wanted? Didn't they say that it was only for new sign ups?? GOSH!! I'm so confused!!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

I Am Cheated

As I write this, I still bear grudge against my telco for leading me on. There was some miscommunication involved, and it brought me a lot of angst. Yesterday, I investigated the whole issue at the Service Centre, and I'd come to the crux of the matter.

I could not entirely blame the telco as I had misread the information there. But then, come to think about it, I think I was pursposefully led on to misinterpret the information.

For the past few weeks, as soon as I logged into the Internet, this advert appeared. It said ...


It was not the prize that attracted me. I'd been thinking of upgrading my plan for a while. And this seemed as good a time as any for me to upgrade. I clicked for the available packages and this was shown on the screen.


Admittedly, it was my fault for not reading the small print as it should be read.

The prices for Explore 10GB and Explore 16GB are promotional prices for the first 12 months.Prices will revert to RM108 and RM158 respectively on the 13th month.

But then, I could also argue that it was very ambiguous. Different people interpret meanings differently, after all. To me, the word "first" meant that upon my upgrade, I would only be required to pay RM88 for 12 months for 10G of usage.

On hindsight, I did make sure that I had interpreted it correctly. On 17 June, I called up Customer Service to ask whether I was eligible for that particular package that I wanted, and the lady at the other end had said "Yes", and that I could request for the upgrade online. Perhaps she too did not know what I was referring to.

Anyway, a few days back, I decided it was time for the upgrade and I decided to go ahead to do it online. When the upgrade options were displayed, I clicked "10G Explore". I was sure that I clicked on the right package. Hence, imagine my surprise when I later checked that I had 12G available for usage.

Why 12G when I had requested for 10G? 12G meant I had to pay RM98. I was not given the right package. Angry, I tried to call Customer Service, but for some reason, it was very difficult to get through to an officer.

So yesterday, I marched into the Service Centre, demanding an answer. The officer was a rather nice chap who explained why my package was as such. According to him, the RM88 10G package was for new users. "First" meant new sign ups. So as an existing user, I was not eligible to upgrade to 10G at RM88.

YEAH!! THEN WHY NOT SPELL IT OUT CLEARLY IN THE ADVERT IN THE FIRST PLACE, YOU #@%&*!!!!

Telcos are crafty and have many tricks up their sleeves in order to attract unsuspecting customers out there. For me, I'd learned an important lesson from this episode. Unfortunately for me, I am still annoyed with the whole thing. There's nothing worse than to feel cheated.

I'm so disappointed.

Friday, July 1, 2011

I Hate It When I Misplace My Keys

There's nothing worse than reaching home only to find that the keys to the house is missing. And this has happened to me twice within the span of a few months!! Sigh.

I always keep my keys in a black pouch. A few months back, as I parked in front of the gate, I searched high and low for my key pouch. They were not there as they should be!! I tried to recall where I had left my pouch but my memory just failed me.

I drove all the way back to my workplace and searched everywhere but they were not anywhere to be found. I finally accepted that there were gone for good. What upset me the most was that my spare car keys were in the pouch too. Sigh. I would have to get my car locking system changed and that meant extra expenditure!

The next day, when I was about to leave my workplace, a colleague came to me and told me that she'd just received a call from a student to say that my pouch was with her. How miraculous! Immediately I drove to my students' house nearby to get back my pouch.

Apparently, I had left the pouch atop my car, and it dropped along the road. Someone picked it up and they knew it was mine because inside the pouch, there was a Kad Mesra with my name on it. Gosh, how careless of me to just leave my pouch atop my car and then drive off. Of course I had not done it intentionally.

Today, again, I reached the front gate and realised that I did not have my key pouch. This time, in the pouch were only the house and office keys. I'd decided not to keep my spare car keys in the pouch.

Sigh. I called my housemate but she did not pick up my call. So, I sat in the car and waited somewhat stupidly for someone to come home. Sitting in the car, I thought of where the keys might have been. I'd certainly gone to so many places today. I'd gone to the car service centre, the school, and even the army camp. I'd spent an entire afternoon in the field at the camp. My key pouch could have been misplaced at any of those places. And it was late already and I could not possibly search for my keys especially at the army camp.

I recalled the last time I had the pouch in my hands. It was when I was on my way to my office as I wanted to get some exercise books. And so, I called my colleague (who was coincidentally spending the night at school) and asked her to check whether my key pouch was on my table. And indeed it was!!! Thank God!!!

And so I drove all the way back to school to collect my key pouch. Sigh.

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