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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Four Interviews and (Hopefully) a Funeral...

In October, following the completion of my MBA, I embarked on a radical change of career direction*. In other words, I no longer practice as a pharmacist, although I am maintaining my registration. These days, I am a Research Associate with an investment bank in the City of London. People tend to assume that my research speciality is the pharmaceutical sector - logical, but wrong. No, believe it or not, my speciality is mining equities!

Landing this job was not the most straightforward of processes - it started with my submitting a speculative job application, followed by four rounds of interviews and then having my background checked out by a detective agenc... sorry, I meant "risk consulting company".

Travelling to interviews in London all the way from Bradford is typically a testing three-and-a-half hours each way - and this is assuming no hitches on the way. Good thing then that two of the four interviews were by telephone. The very first interview was a morning one, and YC very kindly put me up for the night.

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L-R: A, YC, me.

Thankfully, the other interview that was held in London was in the afternoon.

Anyway, I obviously got the job, so all my efforts and sacrifices during and before my MBA were not in vain. But the position is not permanent yet: I've to successfully complete a six-month probation. So wish me luck that all goes well, that I can say RIP to my career as a retail pharmacist.


*Well, actually, I enjoyed a short holiday in Malaysia in between, but that will be covered in other posts.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

There's a Fox in my Back Garden!

Most people have dogs and/or cats in their gardens. I have a fox. And this is despite that I am currently living in London- not a place you'd normally associate with sightings of wildlife.

Actually, I sighted said canine for the first time only this morning, when I chanced to gaze through the windows of my conservatory. The creature paused and we exchanged a brief stare before it took fright and went over the fence.

And then this afternoon, while entertaining a friend of his, my housemate Patrick spotted it properly too. I say "properly" because he hadn't been wearing his spectacles in the morning and only saw a blur as it made its escape. As for me, this second time round, I was only able to catch a fleeting glimpse of its rapidly-departing rear.

And now a complete change of topic: I need to apologise to my regular readers (if there are any left!) for having been so tardy with my updating these last few months. In mitigation, lots has been going on in my life which has meant that free time has been an extremely scarce commodity.

For example, I am currently supposed to be studying for a work-related exam tomorrow. Speaking of exams, guess what? I received official confirmation yesterday that I've graduated my MBA with Distinction. Unofficially, it's looking likely that I will be top of my class by grade average. Too bad there's no prize for that though*.



* There IS an "MBA Student of the Year" prize, but it's going to one of the class-reps owing to her "contributions" (ie attending student-staff meetings).

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Happy Merdeka Day 2006!

Twelve years. This month, August, marks my completion of twelve years living in the UK. Naturally, having spent so long in Ol' Blighty, I have gained UK PR status. I have a British driving license, British library cards, a British National Insurance Number.

But my Passport remains Malaysian. And as far as I am concerned, it will remain so for the foreseeable future. This is despite that people suggest to me all the time that I would be better off with a British Passport. This is despite that I can see with my own eyes the fact that Malaysia's political climate seems to have become more, rather than less, oppressive under Pak Lah's rule. This is despite that the cost of living relative to pay has been ever-increasing in Malaysia.

So why I am clinging so resolutely to my Malaysian passport? Well, Malaysia is an integral part of my identity. I have always regarded myself as Malaysian, always been proud to call myself Malaysian. My accent remains Malaysian. Teh tarik and teh peng are my favourite drinks, nasi lemak, roti canai and nasi lemak are my favourite foods, and durians and rambutans are my favourite fruits.

Yes, the country certainly has its shortcomings. But I am confident that these can and will be overcome. I am certain that the country has hope, that it has a bright future ahead of it, that all will come good in the long run. Thus, though circumstances have required that I seek my fortune abroad, I very much look forward to the day when I am able to return to KL for good.

Malaysia Boleh!

Brush with an Ambulance

So there I was, driving sedately home from grocery shopping. I'm approaching a busy cross-roads when I hear a siren wailing. The siren seems to be coming from behind me, so I'm busy looking in my rear view mirror, searching for the emergency vehicle.

And then suddenly, I realise I've forgotten all about the rapidly-approaching crossroads. The light's on green - but an ambulance comes into view, approaching the crossroads, heading from (my) left to right! Seems my ears had been playing tricks on me. Anyway, I've seen the ambulance too late: I've only just started braking, looks like I might crash into it!

Luckily, the ambulance driver sees me and starts to brake too. This allows me to swerve around the front of the ambulance, but forces me rightwards into the oncoming lane. Thankfully, this lane is empty, and I am able to quickly get back in-lane. Phew! That was a close call!

Trouble is, there are traffic cameras at that junction (there to catch people deliberately going through red lights). Will I get a ticket for this, for having strayed into the "wrong" lane? Oh no! I sure hope not - dang it, I didn't MEAN to do it! My light was green, I thought the emergency vehicle was behind me and I HAD been looking out for it, after all. I'll be viewing the postman's visits with trepidation for the next few weeks...

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Wedding of Ken and Barb... err... Candy

Ken and Candy are old friends of mine; both were a year behind me in the pharmacy course at Nottingham University. Today, eleven years after they first met, they tied the knot. Isn't that just romantic?

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L-R: AN, SH, Candy, Ken, me.

Guests at their wedding dinner each received this cute yet classy little souveneir.

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The food served up was great. Ate till I was stuffed. In particular, I loved the yummy yam-duck dish. Unfortunately, it completely slipped my mind to photograph the dishes - I was simply too busy tucking in. ;) Sorry!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Three Weddings and No Funerals (Touch Wood)

Two old friends of mine from university got married last year, and they very recently moved near (well, about 30 minutes by motorway) where I'm currently living. Today, they threw a barbeque party, inviting me and some other old pals. Of the ten people in the picture, three are married, two are about to get married in a fortnight and three are in long-term relationships. Anyone care to venture a guess as to who's doing what? Answers will be revealed eventually.


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BackRow (L-R): NM, HL, PF, SC, CM, SH, AN
Front Row (L-R): KL, CL, me

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Class Photo...

This is my MBA class!

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Can you spot me? No cheating! ;)

Yummy Roast Beef...

There have been so many articles I wanted to write for this blog but never got around to. One was to have been about a meal I really enjoyed (well, several meals, really - there was more than enough!) , featuring some tender roast beef, medium-rare. But mmmm... I think I can let the pictures speak for themselves... ;)

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Fresh from the oven. See the steam rising from the meat?

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See the juicy, pink insides? Neither overly-raw (I don't like my meat too raw/bloody!) nor over-cooked (which can make beef really tough!). Perfection, if I do say so myself. Oh my... I've just made myself all hungry again, just looking at those pictures...

Sorry I've been tardy...

Dear All,

<day-dreamer>: no updates for TWO months? omg.... u're fine i hope?
<Mama BoK>: Hey... YL .. missing you and your blog
<Gab>: MIA? seems to me ure really bz..hope things are good for you. Start blogging soon!
<FeR>: it's june 11th! very busy yea?
<Yuen Li>: Hi all. Nice to see people miss me.
<Yuen Li>: I hope to update end of this month or July.
<day-dreamer>: better be quick... more than 2 months already...
<Jules>: This blog is officially dead. I mourn for its loss. *moment of forced silence*
<Yuen Li>: Woah... don't write me of yet...
<Yuen Li>: Better late than never, right?
<FeR>: it's july!!! ding dong!

Waaaahhh... I'm so touched that you guys miss my updates. *sniff sniff* Thank you, thank you. So sorry about the lack of news on my part. It's not that I've not wanted to write; rather, things have been piling up, things which I've sadly had to prioritise over blogging.

Anyway, my MBA is going well so far. I was apparently top student by weighted grade average in Semester 1. And the best bit is that with most of the Semester 2a results out already, it looks like I've managed to maintain that position!

Aside from studying and working on my assignments, I've also been job-hunting. The University of Nottingham offered me a pharmacy lectureship at their campus in Malaysia a month or two back. It was exactly what I'd been hoping to eventually return to Malaysia to: a job that pays quite well by Malaysian standards with hours that aren't too onerous. Unfortunately, after discussions with my mother, I came to the realisation that good though it was, the pay simply wasn't good enough. Mum needed a minimum monthly sum that would have meant my having to live quite frugally. And if my sister missed any of her own contributions - and she's been far from reliable to date - I'd have to dig into my savings to make up for the shortfall.

So, after significant soul-searching, after a lot of debating with myself, I declined Nottingham's offer. Hence, it's been back to the drawing board on the job front. Anyone want to hire me for a job that pays a lot with little or no work? I'd be ever so grateful. :)

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Beware the Scamsters...

Story to come...

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I Look Like A Girl?!!

There's this nifty free site, MyHeritage.com, which uses face recognition technology to match your photos to that of celebrities (amongst others). Thought I'd have a go, chose a photo that happened to be to hand and this is what happened:

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Ok, this was silly. I mean, come on, I know my name sounds feminine and all, but surely I don't LOOK feminine too? Or at least, not THAT feminine? How come there's only one guy out of five matches? And who the heck is BoA (she's nice looking, aint she?)??? So I tried again:

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Another ridiculous result. The software is obviously very flawed indeed, and in desperate need of fixing. Not even a single male amongst the lot this time. So I thought, ok, one last chance (and this time, I'd use a picture of me wearing a tie, in case that helped the silly thing with gender identification):

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And finally(!), a much more satisfactory result. The two closest matches were blokes: Tony Leung and Stephen Chow. But the next four were still women! *rolls eyes* And why does BoA keep putting in an appearance? Could she be stalking me?


Thursday, March 23, 2006

Ten Top Trivia Tips about Yuen Li

Ten Top Trivia Tips about Yuen Li!

  1. California is the biggest exporter of Yuen Li in the world!
  2. Half a cup of Yuen Li contains only seventeen calories.
  3. There are six towns named Yuen Li in the United States.
  4. If you keep a goldfish in a dark room, it will eventually turn into Yuen Li!
  5. The fingerprints of Yuen Li are virtually indistinguishable from those of humans, so much so that they could be confused at a crime scene.
  6. Yuen Li-olatry is the mindless worship of Yuen Li.
  7. The horns of Yuen Li are made entirely from hair.
  8. Japan provides over thirty percent of the world's Yuen Li supply.
  9. US gold coins used to say 'In Yuen Li we trust'.
  10. Yuen Li is the smallest of Jupiter's many moons.
I am interested in - do tell me about

Thursday, March 02, 2006

"I am not a finance person."

At the School of Management in Bradford, during Semester 2, MBA students have to select five Elective subjects out of a range of a couple of dozen or so. We are also allowed to "sit in" on up to two additional Electives if we wish, ie we are allowed to attend but are not officially recorded as having attended. And one of my "sit in" Electives happens to be International Business Strategy, a module actually taught by a Professor of International Business (plus one other lecturer) from Manchester Business School.

Anyway, Week 2's lecture was supposed to include the topic of the Global Monetary System, but that wasn't covered in the event, much to my disappointment. In the second half of today's lecture, two groups of students had to give a presentation on the subject of "the Euro versus the Dollar". Currency exchange rates, countries' Balances of Payments (BoPs) and business are all intimately connected, and in the post-presentation discussion, the Professor stated that China was in effect financing the United State's BoP by buying up their Treasury bonds. So I put my hand up and asked him what I thought was a perfectly legitimate question: if the surplus economies of the Far East were to go into deficit in the future, what did [he] think would be the consequences on the US economy and BoP?

And his reply? "I don't know, I am not a finance person." Honest, but anticlimatic. And actually, on second thought, I feel he's a bit of a fraud. The dire state of the US' BoP (and in particular, the trade deficit) is of potentially crucial importance to the world economy (and therefore businesses and their strategies), and so whilst I hadn't expected him to be able to provide a definitive answer, he should at least have been able to provide an informed opinion/guess*.

Moral of the story: if you really really want to specialise in International Business Strategy, Manchester and Bradford Business Schools are probably not really the places you wanna go. But that's just my two Euros.


* I would also like to point out that BoP is regarded by most people as a Macroeconomics topic rather than a Finance one.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Woohoo!

The last couple of weeks have been somewhat harrowing: I'd been worrying about my exam marks.

It all started with the release of the marks for my Accounting assignment (which accounts for 1/4 of the Accounting & Finance double-module). The low mark I'd been awarded was bad enough, but even more shocking was the feedback. Said feedback was to the effect that I should have included a SWOT analysis, which was entirely contrary to the directions we'd originally been given. Turned out I wasn't the only victim of what appeared to be very dodgy marking - most of the students who had the same accounting tutor as myself suffered a similar fate. So a significant number of us wrote e-mails of complaint.

About a week afterwards, we received our marks for the Marketing assignment (which accounts for 1/2 of the Marketing & Operations Management double module). The marks were actually released last Friday evening, but I didn't learn about that until the night-time, when it was too late to collect my feedback sheet. But I was hearing of reports of weird marking, which made me anxious. And when I finally picked up my results on Monday, my worst fears were realised. Yet again, I seemed to be the victim of dodgy marking. Unfortunately, the Board of Examiners was due to convene in a couple of days, so I didn't think writing to complain would achieve anything, as there wouldn't be time for a re-mark (assuming the lecturers could be persuaded to do such a thing in the first place). But I wrote a complaint anyway.

Today, the full, definitive marks for Semester 1 modules were released. And guess what? My Accounting assignment mark was increased by 7%! This meant that it moved from the Merit range into the Distinction range - hooray! The bad news is that my Marketing assignment mark, as expected, wasn't altered - it remained a Merit. Even worse, it dragged down the overall Marketing & Operations Management module mark to a Merit. If the module had been split into two separate ones, which should have been the case in my opinion (and had previously been the case, but the School decided this year to try to "integrate" the teaching of these subjects; in practise, they were integrated in name only), I'd have one Distinction and one Merit instead of one Merit. *rolls eyes*

Ah well. Anyway, I've decided to ignore that fly in my ointment and celebrate the rest of my results: in the end, ALL my individual Semester 1 assignments and exams were Distinctions bar the Marketing assignment. Two of the three "mega-modules" (Economics and Accounting, People in Organisations) into which those assignments and exams were grouped were overall Distinctions, the exception being Marketing & Operations Management (Merit). And most important of all, my overall average is comfortably in the Distinction range! So drinks on the House all round! Wooohooohooohooohahahahahahahahaha! Happy happy happy! :D

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes...

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
(or A Very Cold and Chilly Night)

Hehehe, it's nice to know that there are people out there who check out my blog often enough that the tardiness of my updates creates a degree of suspense that is "killing" for them... ;) Not that I'd want to kill (or in anyway inflict any sort of harm on) them, of course. :)

Anyway, this article is really CNY Party Part III. I'd driven to the party, and afterwards, offerred to give some of my classmates a lift home. Two of the three had had quite a bit to drink, although only one was truly drunk. He (who was drunk) lived on campus, which was our first stop. When we got there, I asked the other two to escort him to his room and put him to bed while I watched my car.

The two Escorts really took their time, so I eventually got out of the car to stretch my legs. The engine was still running, and it was then that I noticed the condensation in the exhaust (yeah, ok, it wasn't REALLY smoke - my tappets weren't busted, it wasn't an overly-rich fuel mix or any other such problem, luckily *touches wood*). It was THAT cold.

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After waiting for 15 minutes, I started to wonder whether anything untoward had happened. I switched off the engine and took out my mobile phone - only to discover that the battery was just about depleted. So I decided to send an SMS to a friend, asking said friend to ring the Escorts to find out what was going on. Receiving no response after five minutes, I sent a second SMS to another friend. After another five minutes went by without any responses, I decided to lock up the car and go look for the trio. Unfortunately, I then discovered that all the doors to the residential block had locks, and was forced to return to the car.

I was just about to send out a third SMS to yet another friend when the Wayward Duo came running up. *rolls eyes* Turns out they had just taken their time getting the third guy safely tucked in and all. So all ended well, I am glad to be able to report.

An International CNY Party

Hokay, firstly, I've to apologise for my tardiness to at least three people (that I know of) who have (apparently) been eagerly awaiting this "story". Sorry, guys!

So where was I? I forget. Time dims the memories... although I suppose my increasing age might play a part in that. As I'm fond of telling people, I'm getting older with every passing second.

*Sounds of crickets chirping and wind blowing whilst tumbleweed rolls past, as audience remains stolidly unmoved by corny joke*

(Never you mind about how or why there would possibly be tumbleweed in Bradford, or how crickets could possibly survive the freezing temperatures of late...)

Haiyoh. Tough crowd, ah, tonight? Take pity-lah, give chan-lah, laugh a bit-lah. Come on-lah, show some charity, for Pete's sake (yeah, that's right, let's blame it all on Pete, hehe).

Anyway, the pictures below are of me and my coursemates who added the CNY party. Yes, I know, that's stating the obvious. Bear with me please, and I'll make some introductions. Joan, esteemed Organiser-in-Chief is the beauty sitting next to me in the picture on the left. Next to her's Frank, and then Frank's girlfriend (actually a lecturer in Taiwan, paying him a brief visit) and Park (from Korea). The picture on the right has most of the German contingent: Matthias, me (no, I'm not German), one of the German blokes' girlfriends who happened to be visiting, Thomas, Marko, Sandra and another of the German blokes' girlfriends (lucky sods).

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Crossing his legs below is Jun from Japan. The guy with his back to the camera is Martin (Germany). In the next pic, we have Park (again), Nobu (Japan) and Zaynab (Nigeria).

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Right, I don't think I'm even going to ATTEMPT trying to name every one in the next two pictures. Yes, I know I'm a lazy so-and-so. Thank you.

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Second from left is Shirley (Taiwan). See if you can guess who the other three are.

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Notice the remarkable colour coordination below. Warning: don't try this at home - we're all trained professionals (that is, I'm a pharmacist, she's a lecturer and he's a marketer)! She's got a red top, him black and me black and red. Three shades of beige trousers. And you can't tell from the pic, but we've also three sets of footwear of varying shades of grey/black...

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Food Galore...

The weekend just past, I attended a party thrown by some of my MBA coursemates to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Joan, our efficient and ever-conscientious Organiser-in-Chief, offered me two options: cook something and pay just a little (£3), or pay more and never mind about the cooking (£6). No prizes for guessing which choice lazy ol' me opted for!

So, on the evening of Saturday the 28th of January, 2006, I duly turned up on Joan's doorstep at the appointed time (7pm) empty-handed* and feeling somewhat guilty about the fact. But the guilt didn't last long - it dissipated once I saw the amount of food the others turned up with! There was more than enough for the 30 or so of us who turned up, so a contribution from myself would have just been overkill. Or at least that's what I tell myself... ;)

It quickly became apparent that one of our fellow classmates is something of a closet chef. Nobu brought so many dishes that a whole table (below) was dedicated to his yummy creations. Believe it or not, he claimed to have made all those dishes in under three hours! Talk about putting the rest of us to shame.

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The students at the party came from all round the world - there were people from Germany, Thailand, Japan and Korea, to name a few of their home countries. The (rest of the) cuisine was an eclectic mix dominated by Chinese oriental (Chinese and Japanese) dishes, but with a significant German contribution plus a couple of "others".

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Unfortunately, I'm really bad with names (heck, my memory's bad in general) so I can't tell you what the dishes were. But if you squint hard enough, you MIGHT just be able to make out the names of the dishes and contributors on the placecards**...

*unless you count my camera, that is.
** but I accept no responsibility for your ruining your eyesight if you should choose to do so.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Pork Chops and Apple Sauce

There can be few dishes in this world anywhere as delicious and saliva-inducing as pork chops, at least in my experience. And today, I developed a hankering for some. Luckily, I happened to have a few in my freezer, so I was able to prepare them for today's dinner.

The key to tasty chops, in my opinion, is simply to be sure to use enough salt and pepper. Any and all other spices are entirely optional. In this case, I added some basil.

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The greeny goo towards the left edge of the plate is apple sauce. Truth be told, I'm not actually all that keen on having apple sauce with pork chops (or even pork roast). Apple sauce on its own is delicious, as are pork chops by themselves. The combination, however, is just weird as far as I'm concerned. But it's traditional in the UK and I had some sauce left over from Christmas, so I took the opportunity to finish it off. Next time, it's tomato ketchup!

Driving Through the Snow

National Health Service (NHS) dentistry in the UK is a shamble these days. Trying to get on the list of an NHS dentist is now next to impossible in some parts of the UK, with many dentists even opting to go entirely private. This means that you've got to be careful to stay on your current NHS dentist's list if you're currently fortunate enough to be on one. The alternative is to go private - and private charges tend to be sky-high! More importantly, you don't have access to emergency NHS dental services if you're not registered with an NHS dentist

When I moved to Bradford, I discovered that there were no open NHS dental lists in the area AT ALL. So it was a good thing then that I hadn't removed myself from the list of my dentist in Nottingham, because at the end of November, one of my fillings fell out. I rang the surgery and was told that there was no possibility of being seen until the 30th of December - that was how booked up they were.

So on the 30th of December, I set off for Nottingham to see my dentist. The surgery couldn't have scheduled my appointment for a worse time - the weather was the worst it'd been this winter, with substantial snowfall in many parts of the country. The roads were icy, and there had already been five accidents on the stretch of the M1 motorway just outside Bradford in the early hours of that morning alone.

Well, it was an exciting drive all right. Some of the roads I drove through to get out of Bradford must have had at least a couple of inches of snow on 'em - you could FEEL the loss of control and wheelspin as the car struggled to find traction. Driving on the motorway was even more adrenaline-inducing, especially when the car passed over stretches of black ice. Who needs roller coasters, haha.

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Sunday, January 01, 2006

I Don't Want To Miss A Thing

My self-discipline seems to be going to pot these days. Instead of studying for my upcoming exams, I spent tonight watching Armageddon (1998), starring Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, et al. Apparently, some of the "sad" scenes in the film's climax drew derisive laughter from the audience during a partial-preview at one Cannes film festival. Assuming the preview hadn't distorted the movie in anyway, then I think those (mainly) French snobs must have been a bunch of heartless sadists, coz I personally find those scenes moving. Inspiring, even. And the theme song, Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" is simply just marvellous, don't you agree?

PS Anyone know if Liv Tyler's single and available? ;)

I Don't Want To Miss A Thing

Aerosmith

I could stay awake just to hear you breathing
Watch you smile while you are sleeping
While you're far away dreaming
I could spend my life in this sweet surrender
I could stay lost in this moment forever
Every moment spent with you is a moment I treasure

Don't wanna close my eyes
Don't wanna fall asleep
'Cause I'd miss you baby
And I don't wanna miss a thing
'Cause even when I dream of you
The sweetest dream would never do
I'd still miss you baby
And I don't want to miss a thing

Laying close to you feeling your heart beating
And I'm wondering what you're dreaming
Wondering if it's me you're seeing
Then I kiss your eyes
And thank God we're together
I just wanna stay with you in this moment forever
Forever and ever

Don't wanna close my eyes
I don't wanna fall asleep
'Cause I'd miss you baby
And I don't wanna miss a thing
'Cause even when I dream of you
The sweetest dream will never do
I'd still miss you baby
And I don't want to miss a thing

I don't wanna miss one smile
I don't wanna miss one kiss
I just wanna be with you
Right here with you, and just like this
I just want to hold you close
Feel your heart so close to mine
And just stay here in this moment
For all the rest of time

Don't wanna close my eyes
I don't wanna fall asleep
'Cause I'd miss you baby
And I don't wanna miss a thing
'Cause even when I dream of you
The sweetest dream will never do
I'd still miss you baby
And I don't want to miss a thing

Don't want to close my eyes
I don't want to fall asleep
I don't want to miss a thing

Monday, December 26, 2005

Boxing Day...

...isn't anything to do with Mohammed Ali, Mike Tyson, Prince Naseem, Frank Bruno et al. Rather, it's what the Brits call the 26th of December.

When I first arrived in the UK over a decade ago now, traditionally, hardly any businesses opened and there were few services available on Boxing Day. But times are a-changing: nowadays, a lot of stores start their so-called "January" Sales on Boxing Day. Apparently, there was a already a long queue for Ms Selfridges in London at 5am this morning!

I didn't get any shopping done myself. Instead, I travelled to Barnsley, where old friends Ken and Candy were hosting a gathering of university chums. Ken and Candy are a lovely couple who are doing really well for themselves - they've got a really impressive, beautifully-appointed house and a big, handsome Japanese Akita (Keto) - and are getting married in a few months (many congratulations to them).

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There are four doctors, five pharmacists, two engineers and a student in the above picture. Would anyone care to venture a guess as to the explanation?

A Painful Christmas

My sister had originally been scheduled to visit over Christmas, but she decided at the eleventh hour that she was too busy to come by after all. Perhaps it was for the best - I had terrible headaches that day and would have been in no condition to entertain her.

In fact, I first woke to a pounding headache at 4am. It was so painful I felt like hammering on the bed (but didn't). I considered taking some ibuprofen, a relatively-strong over-the-counter painkiller. However, this is not something that's wise to take that on an empty stomach. As it happens, I WAS hungry (my last meal having been Christmas Eve dinner at approximately 6pm) - yet paradoxically, I didn't feel in the least like eating because the headache was making me feel nauseous. The feeling of nausea also caused me to rule out taking anything codeine-based (for fear of exacerbating the sensation and becoming physically-sick).

So instead, I settled for paracetamol, that weakest of painkillers, accompanied by a plain biscuit to try to neutralise the burning acid in my stomach. Then I curled up miserably under my duvet. Sleep didn't come (easily). It's times like that when having a sympathetic partner in whose arms one can be cuddled and comforted would be particularly nice. But alas, I am not so blessed.

Somehow, I managed to drift off, waking again at around 10.30am. The headache seemed to have gone, to my relief. Unfortunately, the respite was short-lasting - the cursed cerebral pounding reannounced itself around lunch-time. Fortunately, I was able to get some food - and ibuprofen down. This seemed to do the trick: the pain gradually abated to nothingness within a few hours and didn't return.

I hope everyone else had a better, more enjoyable Christmas Day, 2005.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Eve Lunch

Christmas Eve Lunch Menu

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Main Course

Roast Pork
(flavoured with sage and onion)


served on a bed of
luscious leaves
(apollo, lollo rosso, red batavia and rocket)

with sides of

mixed pepper salad
creamy potatoes


Dessert
Raspberry Trifle
Mango slices



Merry Christmas to All!

Dear All,

I know I've been neglecting you of late. My apologies - it's just that I've been swamped with assignments and studying, what with exams being round the corner in January. Do forgive me. I hope to be blogging more actively again soon, as soon as I'm done with all that.

Anyway, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I hope 2006 turns out to be a vintage year for everyone. :)

Best wishes,

Yuen Li :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Sweet & Sour...

Do you like sweet-tasting tidbits? Or sour morsels? Or perhaps some combination of both? Me, I like sweet stuff. I'm not too keen on anything that leaves a foul taste in the mouth. Just pure sweetness and smiles for me, tah very much. No sourness, no bitterness, no adulteration. No winces, no grimaces. No regrets.

Of course, I never ever seem to get what I want in life. Or more accurately, I never ever get served quite what I ordered. What I do receive inevitably seems to be tinged by some of what I don't want. I always get sour with my sweet, odd twinges of regrets with my triumphs, a few off-notes when my heart sings with joy.

Today, the School of Management released the marks for the second assignment we'd submitted thus far. This one was on microeconomics. Glancing at my feedback sheet, the first thing I noted was that the mark had been altered by the Second Marker/Moderator. As this mark was "78%", I was initially elated (>70% = distinction; 60-69% = merit; 50-59% = pass). Sweet! But examining the sheet more closely, I realised that the original mark (that given by the First Marker) had been 80%. Damn! There it was: the slight dampener to go with my joy. The lemon with my Coke (or vodka, for you alcoholics out there). The speedhump on my autobahn.

A couple of weeks back, I was excited about having discovered a girl who was theoretically "perfect". A number of you kind and supportive souls out there have since encouraged me to go after Her. But guess what? There are complications. That would be the case, naturally. This is me we're talking about, after all. Do I have a chance? I dunno.. Slim at best, if you asked me to venture a guess. So don't get your hopes up. In case you think that's me being unduly pessimistic, I should explain that She's got her heart set on another guy. One whom she happens to live with too. Do you still think I'm being overly-pessimistic about my chances now? No, I thought not. ;)


PS In anticipation of the concerned comments I know from experience will almost inevitably be coming (and which I do really appreciate): I realise it probably doesn't come across that way, but this piece really was just meant to be a bit of light-hearted complaint. Don't worry - I am not feeling depressed or down. Yet. ;)

Saturday, December 03, 2005

A Concert to Forget

Usually, I find taking part in orchestral or symphonic band concerts a rewarding experience. Unfortunately, I can say the same of the one I've just taken part in - but more about that later.

Today's concert took place at 7.30pm in St John's Church, near Bradford University's main campus. It had a Russian theme, featuring classical and religious works written by eminent Russian composers.

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Most of the pieces featured the University Symphony Orchestra and the University Singers. In addition, there were "guest" appearances by the Recorder Players (a quintet playing a variety of sizes of recorders, from sopranino to bass) and the church's own choir. If you're the sort who likes pieces that combine orchestra and choir and are not familiar with the works below, I highly recommend Borodin's Polovtsian Dances. This is actually a collection of five pieces; the one misleadingly known No. 17 has a ravishingly beautiful melody.

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My name usually gets mis-spelled in programme notes. But this is the first time it's been spelled "Euan"! It more usually appears as "Yeun".

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The orchestra had a rehearsal scheduled for 2.30pm. Mark, the conductor, asked us not to be late. But at the appointed time, he was still working with the choir...

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...which meant that us orchestra people had to hang about, until about 3pm. We then rehearsed with the choir until just after 5pm. Believe it or not, this was the first time the choir and orchestra had rehearsed together.

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The church was quite spacious and the acoustic wasn't bad at all.

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This is me and Martin, who was Principal Horn.

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The first half of the concert went well, at least for me. Then, towards the end, Mark surprised us by announcing to the audience that he was amending the programme so that we would play Prokofiev's Troika first. And then he sprang another surprise, which was to prove disasterous for me: you know that instrument with little bells on that people shake in Christmas-y music? Well, he took a little kid from the audience, saying something about how he'd heard that the kid wanted to be a conductor, and gave the kid the bells.

Unfortunately, I don't think the kid is cut out to be a conductor. He had no sense of rhythm, and was throwing the orchestra off! About midway through, trying to reconcile the conductor's strokes with the rhythm the kid was setting, I got confused, missed my cue and came in a beat late. And it was very obvious too, because I had the melody! I was really embarrassed about it. And I'm probably psychologically scarred for like too. Argh! *Beats head against wall*

Moral of the story: never give a percussion instrument to a kid unless you KNOW he's definitely a child genius.