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.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Lunar Eclipse

Having decided that I will look up to the Heavens more often after seeing McNaught's Comet, I wasn't going to miss the Lunar Eclipse tonight. As described in the newspapers, when I went outside at about 9pm, there was the moon all nice and red. A lunar eclipse is when the Earth gets in between the sun and the moon, obscuring the sunlight onto the moon, giving it a red glow. It doesn't happen too often but chances of seeing a lunar eclipse are much higher than seeing a solar eclipse I think. For a solar eclipse, you really have to be in the right place. Also you're not supposed to stare directly into a solar eclipse, whereas you can look as much as you want at a lunar eclipse.

I grabbed my camera and tried to take a few photos. The photos aren't great since I don't have a zoom lens. The first photos is when the moon is totally obscurred from the sun, while the second photo you can start to see some part of the moon glowing brightly.

Footy - Hawks vs Bulldogs

With the Hawks doing unexpectedly well this year, I was back on the Hawthorn bandwagon again. I go to games when they win and stay home when they are losing. Anyway, with our slightly altered student IDs, we went to the match at Telstra Dome. Hey, I get way overcharged for food already, why should I pay them any more than I can get away with.

Firstly, just a comment on Telstra Dome. When it was first built, people were saying how crap it was and how many problems there was with the surface and that it won't work. All I can say is that those people now have egg on their face. The Dome is a world class stadium that holds heaps of world class events. Having the retractable roof is just beautiful when the weather isn't so great. I know that although the G has all those years of history and character, I actually prefer going to the Dome. The view from all seats in the Dome is great. We got given generally reserved seats right behind the goals, so were right in the mix of things. The access to toilets, food outlets and general access around the ground at the Dome is so easy, much better than the G.

To the game at hand, it was close for a half, but then the Hawks just powered away. There were so many goals, and we saw quite a few of them from a close vantage point. I even caught the ball after one of the goals. Ok I dropped the chest mark, but I did jump up and go for it and it came straight to me.

It was a fun day out and the Hawks are now marching towards the finals looking good. If only Buddy can kick straight now. Fortunately, the side kick goal kickers in Roughead, Dixon and Hodge kicked accurately.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

People Can Change

It's not easy for humans to change totally from who they are, but we can all make small changes for the better. It doesn't just happen immediately, but it does happen (sounds like a Pantene shampoo ad eh?). Today I had made arrangements to eat lunch with my work friend. I walked past his desk at the arranged time and could see that he was still talking to his boss. I indicated with a head flick that it was time for lunch. He saw me but didn't acknowledge my head flick. Hence, I walked downstairs to talk to a few other people while I waited.

Had this been a year ago, or even 6 months ago, I would be standing there waiting quite a while. Or the other outcome might have been that he would have said that he couldn't come for lunch. Had it been a year ago, I would have totally furious by now and stormed off. Instead, I did not get upset at all and stood around talking to others while waiting. To my pleasant surprise, he came down about 3 minutes later and we went to lunch. How things have changed.

In the past year, I have learnt to be more tolerant of others and accept that they can't always just drop everything like I can and therefore I should not get upset about it. I will give them the benefit of the doubt and even if it turns out not going as I plan, I just get on with it and not upset myself over nothing. My friend has also learnt that he doesn't have to be so worried about what his boss thinks. He is entitled to go to lunch and not worry about working all day long. The fact that he was able to get out of that conversation was a massive improvement on the past. Previously, he might have stayed there talking for another half an hour even though he doesn't want to. I have witnessed that personally and have gotten mad about waiting there for him.

It just shows that we can all make changes for the better. When someone brings up something that they think is wrong with you, take the criticism constructively and think about whether it is true. If it is, you can occasionally consciously think about it and it will cause you to modify your behaviour for the better.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Le Fabuluex destin d'Amelie Poulain

I had heard a lot of hype about this movie around the time of its release back in 2001. I never bothered to watch it as I thought it would be some arty French film. The poster for it had Audrey Tautou looking like some porcelain doll and didn't really make me think this was going to be a good film. But after being recommended to watch it from a friend, when it was on recently, I sat down and watched it all.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that I loved the movie, right from the opening sequence. I've had a love of Paris after seeing some great panoramic photos of it by a French photographer. This film utilises Paris as a perfect backdrop to play out the adventures of Amelie. The cinematography is fantastic, with the colours kept ultra vivid to make it seem almost like a cartoon.

The acting from all involved is top notch, as far as I can tell anyway. I can't understand what they are saying but I could feel what they were saying through their tone, body language, facial expression. I totally love Audrey Tautou. She was wasted in The Da Vinci Code where she was merely used to help the story along while Tom Hanks was all the driving force. In this film, Audrey shows us all sides of the character Amelie and you can't help but fall in love with Audrey/Amelie.

The film basically revolves around Amelie and those in her life. Amelie was a reclusive child due to the overprotectiveness of her father. And when her mother died, her life became even more isolated. But one day, her life would turn around due to finding a box of old toys from a man that used to live in her apartment 50 years ago. Upon deciding to return the box and seeing how happy the man was, Amelie decides to get involved in the lives of those around her.

Amelie starts to help out her neighbours, such as the mentally challenged boy, the old lady missing her dead husband, her father, a hypochrondriac, a stalking guy, a writer and the old painting man with the brittle bone. The movie was actually very funny when it showed Amelie trying to help all these people through various scenarios. I found myself laughing quite a lot during the film. Some of the dream sequences are very funny as well.

The main story in my opinion though is Amelie helping herself while in the process of helping others. She learnt to trust others and become less isolated. She also learnt that one needs to take risks in life in order to find happiness. This comes to a head when she has to decide whether she wants to pursue this guy that she meets one day and likes.

The book of passport photos that she finds leads her to meet Nino who she likes. She sets up all these elaborate games to meet him. Eventually, she also helps him by revealing the mystery of a man who has taken his passport photo all over France. Amelie helps Nino to solve this mystery at last. That was quite a nice surprise in the film, the revealing of this mystery. It also made me laugh.

In the end, Amelie learns to throw caution to the wind and take a chance. She has leart to find happiness and the movie ends on that great high. I finished watching the film with a satisfied feeling. This is an uplifting movie and is worth repeated viewing to soak in more detail. I didn't even get to study the panoramas of that much as I was so absorbed in the story. I might even try watching the movie in French without the subtitles and seeing how well that works.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Tone It Down

The actual words you say can mean a lot, but the tone in which you use can be just as important. We are so used to a way to talking that we don't even notice the tone we use sometimes. I for one, know that sometimes I take on too sarcastic a tone, even when I mean things sincerely, it can be taken the wrong way by people. But on the whole, I'm not too bad. I'll take on the appropriate tone to help enhance the words I am using.

However, some people use the wrong tone all the time and this really can make others frustrated and eventually angry. Lately, I've been working on a project with another work mate where we are off site and isolate from everyone else. We are literally right next to each other for 95% of the day. He is a great worker and has plenty of ideas as well as a thorough knowledge of his field. However, his personal skills need a massive revamp.

I've told him many times that he needs to change the tone of his words becuase it makes people very angry at him. Today, I was so frustrated with so many things going wrong and his tone was really getting to me so I said to him that "I really want to hit you right now due to how you are talking to me." I know that is just his normal way but still it got to me. The problem is that he takes on a tone that sounds either angry or insulting. He tends to say everything in a very loud harsh voice like when you are mad at someone and tell them off, sort of like "You f**ken idiot" type tone. Now keep that tone in mind and apply that to everything you say. So even questions from me where I really don't know the answer get a reply of "Just plug that into that" but in a master telling a slave what to do tone. He doesn't mean it as he softens up immediately when we continue to talk, but its just his way of giving instructions. He knows no other tone, and many people have said that they get very angry with him. I've had to ask him many times, "can you not shout at me, even though I know you don't mean it."

I think that personal skills are just as important in being a successful worker. Unless you are the CEO and can afford to nasty and talk down to everyone, you will need to get along with others to work well. This means that you need to know when to take what tone with who. Some take well to a more authorative tone, while others you need to tone it down a bit more and talk to them in a softer less intimidating tone.

You can see the effects of tone quite easily. The next time you talk to someone, trying taking on an angry tone in everything you say, even if the words are something along the lines of "so how is your day, what are you doing here". If you keep it up, I guarantee you that they will ask you what is wrong and why you are so angry.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Results Are In

Well the results of the work performance reviews are in and as usual, my hopeful anticipation was crushed once again. What did I really expect to happen? Well I was hoping for an increase in pay that would be "reflective of industry levels". This was the promise when the new human resources director specialising in pay was recently appointed. And after months and months of industry research, what should be the results, the same as every other year. Most people got the inflation percentage increase, and some got 1% or 2% more.

I was one of the "fortunate" few who got 2% more than inflation, as a few people kept jokingly reminding me. Well I aint happy about it at all. I truly believed that I am being underpaid as opposed to industry standards. I think it's time to start assessing other options should my request for a pay rise not result in any actions.

It's a sad situation that companies think they should pay you just enough to keep you in a job rather than rewward you for staying in a job. This type of culture does not reward the loyal who do a great job each year, but instead encourages people to jump from job to job. People who are not loyal and skip jobs every year are actually rewarded with higher and higher salary. Why can't you do a better job each year in your current position. You may do the same job, but you can do it more competently and contribute a lot to the company. If say you do your job to a 9/10 level each year, does this mean that you don't deserve a pay rise?

Monday, August 06, 2007

From Frustration To Exhilaration

My fading memory is starting to desert me in my old age. A lot of time nowadays, I'm sure I've read something somewhere but can't remember where. I guess it could also be due to reading way too many things on the web and not properly categorising things that may be important for later use. Instead, I rely on my scattered memory and then go through heaps of frustration trying to find the information again afterwards.

Just now, I was looking for an article that I had read on a blog not so long ago. I even knew which few blogs it was from, but I still couldn't find it. Despite telling myself to forget it and that its not important, being the person that I am, I just couldn't let it go and kept searching. This caused me to get more and more frustrated at my own faulty memory. Just like the time where I couldn't remember about my drink bottle going missing, this time I just couldn't visualise where I had seen this article.

The mind is such an intriguing tool. It can often trick us by manipulating our memories. Like the drink bottle incident where the image of the drink bottle was completely erased from my memory until someone else pointed out that they had seen me carry it, in which case the memories all came flooding back. Luckily for this article, there is something known as Google. Quite a few Google searches later with various key words, and voila, I found the article I wanted. It's nothing important, just an article about an oyster recipe book that I wanted to link to for my food blog, but the activity had changed from finding information to a challenge that I had set myself.

Now having found the article, that achievement, a very minor one, has brought a sense of exhilaration to me. Just the perseverence and succeeding has been very enjoyable. I guess that's the reason why people tackle hard tasks in the first place, the payoff you get of joy when you succeed, no matter how small the task is.