More Thanh Words

"My name is Thanh and I'm a Blogger". Now that I have admitted to that, I can say that I'm a stereotypical "geeky" Engineer who enjoys sci-fi books and movies and into all things technological. I also love music and have a passion for FOOD. I'm a social person and like to talk to people. I hate people who are fake or overly aggressive. If you're also into some serious discussion, with a pinch of sarcasm and a dash of real emotion, then please read on.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Holiday Update Part 1

Here I am currently at Macau airport. I have about 10 minutes to write this post before my plane to Malaysia flies off. So here is a quick update so far of the holiday.

25th Dec

Arrive at Hong Kong at about 10pm. Takes about 40 minutes to get luggage since three flights all arrive at same time. Finally get to hotel to find they made a mistake and overbooked. End up with a crappy room where the whirring of the air conditioner and people walking around outside in the corridor means I can't sleep all night. The shared shower/toilet is atrocious so I skip a shower for that first night.

26th Dec

Hotel room is changed to a much better room and take a nice hot shower. Meet up with my travelling friend Paul's friend Charles. We go eat yum cha. Next we walk all around Wan Chai, Central, Admirality and Tsim Sa Chui and Charles shows us all these cool buildings since he's an architect. We go to the top of Victoria Peak and get a great view of Victoria Harbour. We also go into Madam Tussad's wax show and the wax figures of celebrities is so life like. I've seen some people who look more dead than those wax figurines. At night we eat at a great Japanese restaurant and then go to Victoria Harbour to watch the nightly light show. It is spectacular.

27th Dec

Paul and I head off to Ocean Park. It's got lots of rides as well as sea animals. I loved seeing the dolphins and seals, the shark and fishes in the acquarium. But most of all I loved the two pandas. They were actually awake. The rides were quite good too. For dinner we met up with Charles again for hot pot, which was delicious. I tried some smelly tofu afterwards and did that stink. For dessert we went to a specialised dessert place and I got mango and glutinous rice dessert.

28th Dec

Today Paul and I eat lunch and then start our trip to Macau. We catch the ferry and I hate boats, gives me headaches. Anyway we make it after a lot of waiting around to get tickets, go through customs, waiting for the bus etc. Now I am currently at the airport waiting for the plane to take me to Malaysia. It's nearly time to board so I will say bye and blog at the next available opportunity.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

Just a quick post to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and safe and Happy New Year. I'm about to head off to the airport now for my overseas holiday. I will probably post a few blogs if I find access to a computer. Otherwise, I will post about my trip in three weeks. See you all then.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Electricity Saga Continues...

This problem with my electricity is starting to turn into a three part trilogy. Inintially, I had a problem getting my electricity account transferred from my old house to my new house. You can read about that problem here. Just when I thought the problem was all solved, it has come back to bite me again.

I got another letter asking for payment of the last account at my old house. I had to ring them back and say that I had moved out of that house ages ago and that someone else had told me that my account would get back dated and I would pay the amount for when I was still living there only. Then I asked to check that my new account at this new address was all ok. The operator said it was. Minutes later, she rang back to say that my electricity connection had not been verified as safe yet. I thought all this was solved last time when someone else told me everything was ok. Do the people who work at these places communicate with each other. I should have done nothing and just keep using free electricity for the rest of my life. Geez. I try to do the right thing and all I get is problems.

Apparently, what I have to do now is to organise my own electrician, at my own cost of course, and verify that the house electricity is safe. I then have to get a certificate saying its safe and fax it through to the electricity company. Will this saga ever end. Stay tuned for the next installment "The Electricity Supplier Strikes Back" and the final part "Return of the Electricity".

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Ashes 2006-2007

Order has been restored once again with Australia reclaiming the Ashes from England after 15 months of hard work. Australia had lost the Ashes to England 15 months ago in English soil and did that hurt. I remember watching every test late at night and getting more and more worried at the state of affairs. The series started off in the usual fashion with Australia winning the first test easily. However, from there on, it all went wrong. Glenn McGrath rolled his ankle, Adam Gilchrist, Mathew Hayden and Michael Clarke all out of form. Why they left out Michael Hussey is a mystery. From the moment Australia lost the Ashes, they have upped the ante and worked even harder in order to regain the Ashes.

Their hard work started immediately. The Super Series games were taken very seriously where they destroyed a "World" Team in the one day and Test games. From there, Australia went on to record convincing wins in the Tests they played, even winning the ICC Champions Trophy, something they hadn't done previously. Nothing was taken lightly anymore, each match was played with ferocity and purpose.

England's fortune after their Ashes win last time has gone the other way. Injuries to key players (Michael Vaughn and Simon Jones), out of form players (Steve Harmison and Andrew Flintoff) and Marcus Trescothick's depression have stripped that team of much drive. They have not continued on with their hard work and that has resulted in many losses in both Tests and one dayers. They were easily beaten by Pakistan in the Test series that they played even.

Coming into this current Ashes series, there was a lot of talk from England that they still had it within them to win. However, none of that talk has translated into actions. England have played well in parts of matches, but just couldn't maintain the same intensity as Australia for long periods. England were abismal in the first test in Brisbane. Australia bowled England out in the first innings for a meagre score. I was surprised that Australia didn't get England to follow on. But the decision to post a big total and make England chase in the fourth innings worked and Australia won the match handsomely.

The second match at Adelaide was one of the most miraculous you will ever see. After each side had batted for over 500 runs in the first innings, there was only one day left and most people thought the match would end in a draw. The amazing Shane Warne showed he still has it, bowling unchanged for about 30 overs, he pulled wickets from sheer will. Australia managed to bowl England out within half a day. At the office, we were checking the scores all day and couldn't believe it when wicket after wicket kept falling. Steadied by Ricky Ponting and the emergent Michael Hussey, Australia chased the total and won with overs to spare.

So it looked like the natural order had been restored. Australia were 2-0 up in the series. However, as long as Australia wasn't holding the Ashes, the job was not done. In the third Perth test, Australia posted a meagre total in the first innings. Immediately there were comparisons to the previous Ashes by the media in that the Aussies were too old and may be crumbling again. When they bowled England out for an even lower first innings total, all was well again. Then some of the best batting you will ever see was produced by Australia. Mathew Hayden made a gutsy 92. This was followed by a well worked 100 by Michael Hussey. Michael Clarke then showed that he was truly back in form with a great stylish 100. However, you cannot go past Adam Gilchrist's innings and some of the sweetest batting you will ever see. Gilchrist produced the second fastest century in test history. He smacked balls all over the place with such ease and helped Australia to a huge 500 plus lead with still two days to go.

The odds were not looking good for England. No team has ever made more than 450 in the fourth innings to win a match. The impossible looked like it may happen when Alastair Cook and Ian Bell put on a good partnership. Glenn McGrath though made sure Australia could sniff victory. Two late wickets on the fourth days play put England behind the eight ball again. The fifth day, England showed some resistance again. But once Flintoff fell, the end with nigh. Shane Warne cleaned up the tail and the cycle was complete. The Ashes had been with Australia for 16 years before being lost for 15 months, and in that 15 months of hard work, Australia had regained the Ashes in 15 days. All is well again, for this one-eyed Australian cricket tragic, yours truly. :-) If you're an English supporter, you must be thinking "Here we go again".

Monday, December 18, 2006

Kylie Showgirl Homecoming Tour

Like Kae from Somewhere only we know, I also went to Kylie's (she only needs to go by her first name nowadays) Showgirl Homecoming Tour. I originally had tickets for her original tour in 2005 on the day that was supposed to be her birthday. We all know the story of how she got cancer and recovered from it. This is her rescheduled tour, which she promised would be different to the original tour and even better.

It was definitely an excellent concert and in my opinion even better than the original concert which I have watched on DVD. The set list was different, the costumes were different, the choreography was different and Kylie was different. Where her original concerts were extremely well rehearsed and ran flawlessly without deviation, Kylie was much more human in this one and talked naturally with the crowd many times. She was also very funny and there were many jokes between herself and the crowd. She was great when she got a little girl up on stage who was wearing a "I Love Kylie" t-shirt. She then encouraged the little girl and they sang an impromptu version of "Can't Get You Out Of My Head".

As far as the music goes, I must say that Kylie can definitely sing. I always thought that she could, but until you hear people live for yourself, you never truly know. Her voice has improved over the years to the stage where when she sang "Over The Rainbow", I got goosebumps on my arms.

I liked all the songs that she sang. My favourite parts were when she did the 80's pop songs that made her so famous. For a while, it was uncool to like Kylie, but people have gone full circle and have embraced Kylie for the pop icon that she is. Kylie herself has also embraced that side of her career as well.

My second favourite part was when she did her more critically acclaimed songs that not many people knew. I loved her new rendition of "Confide In Me" with the Bollywood dancing and Indian instruments thrown in. One of my favourite Kylie songs is "Cowboy Style", which was again performed differently to the original version. She rounded off that section of the set with "Dreams", a great song that I think she wrote herself.

There were many other highlights from the concert, such as when she performed "Kids" with Dannii Minogue. The crowd were screaming and singing with it the whole time. When Kylie did "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" with this reworked version, everyone was bopping around. That song ended with these giant butterfly type wings going up and green lasers going around everywhere, very spectacular indeed. The night also ended on a high with Kylie doing a duet with the crowd of "Especially For You".

It was a fantastic night and the crowd were cheering like crazy, right from the standing ovation at the start before "Better The Devil You Know" till after the very last song of "Love At First Sight" and Kylie leaving the stage. Even the guy standing in front of me with his arms folded for most of the night got into it and danced a bit when Kylie did her pop songs. The atmosphere in the crowd was electric and there was a constant buzz the whole time. I clapped and yelled so much that my hands hurted and my voice was getting very strained. The concert was well worth the long wait and I'm glad I held on to my ticket.

I didn't manage to get any photos since the ticket said no cameras but some people still brought them in. My phone ran out of battery so I couldn't even use my phone camera. Anyway, Kylie looked great and here's a pic of what she would have looked like from another one of her Aussie concerts.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Van and Kevin's Wedding

Last Saturday was my cousin Van's wedding to Kevin, congratulations to them. It was a very hot day and I can only imagine how Van was feeling in that very tight wedding dress.

The day started at Van's house with a traditional Chinese ceremony.

Here I am trying to look my best and wearing a suit for the second time within a month.

The official wedding was held at the beautiful botanical gardens. The father of the bride walked her down the "aisle".

The ceremony was conducted by a qualified wedding celebrant. A slightly funny part of the ceremony was when the celebrant started to faint a little due to the hot weather. Her words started to slur and she started to wobble. I shouldn't laugh but it was like a scene from a movie and she turned out ok in the end.

Van and Kevin presenting their new marriage certificate.

My sister Tu posing for a photo with Van.

The wedding reception was held in a hall which I can't remember the name of. The hall was decorated quite nicely and the food was good.

It was a hot but great day. I hope Van and Kevin will be very happy together.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Pre-Holiday Planning

I'm about to head off on a three week overseas holiday. It's great to go on holidays, but then when you think about all the money you will be spending, well that's the upsetting part. It takes so long to save money and then it will all be GONE in a matter of weeks. Ah well, you have to enjoy life.

Going on holidays during this time of year is so expensive. Everything goes up in price from about 50% increase to a few hundred percent increase. This is the time that the tourism industry can make the most money and they definitely overcharge you just because they can.

In this trip, I will be going to Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. Initially I thought there would be places to stay in all these places, but it has turned out that a lot of friend's places are just too small for anymore people. This means that I will have to stay in hotels, so I have chosen the cheaper hotels. This means that the quality of the places are questionable, especially for someone like me who is used to so much space here in Melbourne. But it should be ok since last time in Hong Kong I basically just went back to the hotel to sleep.

Having to stay in hotels though has increased my expected money output by quite a lot. The trip is starting to get a lot more expensive, and thats before I've even stepped onto the plane. Luckily, I got an extremely good surprise yesterday that should ease the pressure on my wallet. After my mid financial year performance review, where I asked if it was likely that I would get a pay rise next end of financial year, I got an envelope from my manager. The envelope had CONFIDENTIAL stamped on it, always clearly a sign that its important. I opened it and found a letter that said my salary had been reviwed and that I would be getting a pay rise, w00t w00t. The pay rise was also quite good and was going to be back dated to July this year. This means I would get paid half a years worth of money in my next pay slip, just in time for me to take and spend on my holiday. So its been a great end to the week after being slightly stressed about running low on money to go on holidays. So Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore here I come, with a bit of money to spend as well. :-)

Monday, December 11, 2006

I Know Nothing - Socrates

"I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing" by Socrates.

Socrates was a very wise man indeed, for he knew very early on that the only thing he knew was that he knew nothing. This is a contradiction of sorts because how can you know that you know nothing when you must know something to know that, right? :-) Seriously though, this world is so vast and full of so much information that what each of us does know is so insignificant. Yet, when combined together, that knowledge can be used to achieve so much.

What makes me angry though is when people who do know nothing about a topic pretend to know. When questioned, their evidence is just pulled out of thin air and given as truth. It's ignorant people like this who spread inaccurate information that sometimes may be harmful. I tend to argue with these people because I just can't stand people who think they know everything when clearly they don't. I don't give an opinion when its on a topic I don't know about, but when I clearly know that someone is wrong, I will challenge them.

I learnt very quickly that pretending to know things is a disservice to yourself, you never actually learn anything if you do this. When I first started working, two separate incidents helped me learn that admitting you don't know is the best thing you can do. If you pretend to know and go off and do things, you will inevitably get it wrong. You just end up digging a hole deeper and deeper for yourself and cover up lies with more lies. There's no shame in admitting that you don't know something. When you say you don't know, people tend to be very patient with you and will teach you the correct ways to do things. People who aren't patient are idiots since there will ineviatably be something that they don't know and will want tutoring on from someone else. People will impart a lot of knowledge to you and you have gained another skill or learnt another thing. I constantly ask people lots of question since I have a real thirst for knowledge. It's very fortunate that I'm surrounded at work by some very knowledgeable people who are very willing to impart their knowledge onto me. I have learnt so much about so many topics in the past two years of work, and all is takes is to admit that you don't know and not pretend to know.

The moral of the story is that we know so little and in order to learn more, you just have to admit that you don't know some things. Other people will be happy to impart knowledge to you such as you will be able to impart knowledge to others who want to know. Pretending to know is the dumbest thing you can do and will only help you to remain ignorant and uninformed.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Male Bonding

Males don't normally get together to have bonding sessions like women. I find that there are a few occasions when males do bond. Here are my experiences on when guys feel a unified bond.

The first and most obvious time when males bond is playing in a sport team. I have to say that it is cliche but the fact that you have to play as a team means that you do have to bond. Last season, our soccer team all really pulled together towards the end of the season and there was a real sense of unity as we strived towards our first ever premiership.

Outdoor trips such as camping also causes men to bond together. Toughing it in the wilderness and having to be self sustaning (or close to it) tends to bring people closer. Unlike the sport scenario where you are all working towards winning, camping ignites our survival instincts and the need to cooperate to survive. I remember one time when we were trying to put up a tent and everyone really pitched in to help.

At uni, the times where male bonding was greatest was when we were doing assignments and studying for exams. The late nights at the library where a whole massive group of us would be studying and helping each other out on assignments really meant everyone bonded. There was the fast food dinners and snacks everywhere, the telling of jokes and stories, and just aiming to finish something that required everyone's input.

At work, I have recently had to work weekends and late nights with my group. I have found that on those occasions, I have really gotten to know them a lot more as people. The atmosphere is much more relaxed after work hours and people are more themselves and that generally means they are a lot sillier. We are geeky engineers after all. There was a lot of joking going on and I saw personalities of people that I never see during work hours, especially from the more senior members. I guess there is an expectation during work hours to act a particualar way, but outside of work hours and in the company of people you can trust, true personalities come out. The bonding was again due to striving to achieve a common goal and finish the project. Everyone chips in where they can.

With all these activities where males bond, it doesn't mean there aren't arguments and disagreements. That also occurs since people have different ideas on how to do things. In the end though, those arguments are usually resolved so that the common goal can be achieved.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Video Blog Update Sep Oct Nov

Here's another video blog so you can all see my beautiful face and hear my melodic voice once more hahahaha. Enjoy, or Endure. Either way, Resistance Is Futile!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Push One Step, Take One Step

Lately, work has been extremely busy since our group is preparing for a presentation at the end of the coming week. With the imminent deadline approaching quickly, we are all trying to work as fast as possible to complete all tasks. This means everyone is very stressed and highly strung. It doesn't help when others outside of our group do not do their jobs so that we can do ours. Some situations during the week were so bad that there were a few explosions from people.

There are a few types of working people in this world. There are those who love their job and even think about work at home. This is a rareity. There are those who like their job, enjoy going to work most of the time but enjoy not working and doing other things even more. I fall into this category. There are those who don't necessarily like their job but will work and do everything necessary in their jobs. Then there are those who don't give a hoot about their jobs and will only do anything when pushed. You push one step, they take one step and no more.

I know of a few individuals like that and they piss me off so much. Sometimes I wished Australian working culture was different and the boss would just fire those people since they are just pulling everyone else down. If you are paid to do a job, even if you hate it, you should do it properly. Otherwise you can always quit and go work elsewhere.

I'm an extremely patient person but sometimes even I snap and can't take it anymore. When your own job is complicated ten folds by someone else not doing their job, its just not on. This week, others in my group experienced similar frustration when they had to work with some people that I have to work with normally.

If people's actions don't affect me, I couldn't be bothered worrying about it. But when it does affect me, it makes me so mad. When you bring it up to some people directly, they just can't handle it and take it as a personal attack. It definitely isn't personal to begin with, but over time may turn to being personal since your words are not heard and the situation never changes. A leopard doesn't change its spot. I've found that this is generally true. There may be changes in the short term, but in the long term, it always goes back to the same things. Nowadays, even the sight of some people make me so angry. I know that they are affecting my work so that I cannot do my job to the standard that I want without having to put in more hours and effort. This is taking away from my own free time and hence it makes me mad. I can't be bothered even talking to these people unless I have to. Even then I try to keep it to a minimum. They have lost my respect totally, and when I don't respect people, I do not want to interact with them.