Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My poor lappy is ill~

My cute, trusty and compact netbook of only 1 month, 2 days, has fallen victim to a malicious virus!

This happened because I was addicted to the newest TV drama in town, Fringe. Fringe is very similar to X-files, but much more exciting, in my humble opinion. Highly suspenseful, it is a new series created by the same creator of Lost, J. J. Abrams. I gave up on figuring out Lost many seasons ago, however, Fringe proves promising. The first episode was a 90 min ride of sci-fi mysteries, plot twists, plumped up characters and thrills to keep me hooked, line and sinker. And so, I was so eager to watch the next few episodes, I managed to obtain the 4th episode, which was a wmv file format.

Windows Media Player could not play it, indicating that it required an update. As a result of the update, all hell broke loose. My anti virus software, AVG detected trojans and viruses in the system. I deleted the trojans and viruses, but endless virus warnings and alerts have been plaguing my screen since then. Plus I cannot access my program files. Poor lappy is now awaiting the rescue of prince techie charming~~

Yes, I still blame Fringe for my lappy's infliction. :-(

(Edit) Prince Techie Charming did rescue poor lappy. Now little lappy is certified to have a clean bill of health! Toast to my dear friend, the ever reliable Prince Techie Charming, who had to guide me (the super non-geek) remotely step-by-step to reformat the lappy. Forever grateful. =)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Birthday greetings from Pooh & friends

It seems I know quite a few September babies. =)

Today's my friend Emi's birthday, just wanted to shout out my birthday greetings to you! Hope you've had a rocking good time today! You absolutely deserve it!

This is dedicated to Emi.


I found this drawing, amongst others, that I did some years back. I was going through a Winnie the Pooh phase - so there were a lot of sketches and drawings of the little bear and his Acre Wood friends.

Some friends don't know that I draw and paint, or do any art, for that matter. I don't blame them. I haven't drawn anything for years.

Perhaps the creative juices were more abundant when you're young. I sketched and painted a lot during my teen years, and had big sketchbooks of drawings I did, copied from comic books, existing pictures or nature (very rarely).

Since I'm on the subject of my Pooh phase, I've posted this other Pooh drawing. I thought the drawing looked okay photographed. In reality, it looked quite crappy up close. I know Pooh's and Eeyore's colours look weird - I didn't mix the paint colours well. Oh well. Just resist the desire to laugh at my amateurish works okay?

It's mandatory that birthday gals have lots of fun!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Another artistic gem

Stumbled upon the website of this fabulous artist, Philip Straub. A freelance computer illustrator, his works are mostly fantasy-tinged. Some illustrations look like they came straight out of a science fiction novel or a fantasy game. Yet, the artist also illustrates children's books and movies.

I like that the colours are usually rich and vibrant, the landscapes surreal, and has the ability to transport the viewer to a fantasy world of his/her own imagination. Just like it transported mine.

All images are from www.philipstraub.com.

They make really good wallpapers, don't they? Check out his website for more of his works.

I'm hoping to dream of landscapes like these tonight

You Have Gotta Watch This!

This is another great animation by Joaquin Baldwin. When I stumbled upon the artist's Papiroflexia animation (See previous post here), I saw this amazing clip as well. It's surprisingly poignant, about a courageous little voodoo doll who tries to save his friends from being pinned to death. After watching this, you'd never look at a voodoo doll the same way again (not that you'd want to see one). This short film won a number of awards, deservedly, I must say.

Waiting in bated breath, for his next film

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Secret - What Great Leaders Know and Do

Something to share, from a book I borrowed, "The Secret - What Great Leaders Know and Do" by Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller. I don't normally read self help books. But this one won't put you to sleep, is easily digestible and makes a lot of sense.

The following are quoted/extracted from the book.

The Secret of Great Leaders

Great leaders SERVE. What does SERVE entail?

See the future
- "It's a leader's job to make time today to ensure that there is a tomorrow"
- Communicate
vision and direction to the team.
- Help the team with the implementation and show them the advantages of getting to the destination
- Anticipate opportunities and obstacles

ngage and develop others
- Selecting the right people for the job
  • Helping people leverage their strengths
- With every pair of hands hired, you get a free brain
- Engage people in the cause and the work. When you get their brains, you get their heart as well.
- Conditions for an engaging environment:
  • Goals are clear
  • Staff are well trained
  • There is sufficient information
  • The boss has confidence in the staff
  • The boss is available whenever staff needs help
  • Staff are all learning and growing
  • Staff are told what the objective is, and had the freedom on how to get it done.
  • Staff are accountable for the outcome
  • Staff are valued and appreciated
- Developing others involve:
  • Creating expectation for learning and growing
  • Creating training and development opportunities
  • Providing educational resources
  • Mentoring
Reinvent continuously
Personal reinvention - continuously find ways to enhance your knowledge and skills
- "If you stop learning, you stop leading"
- Importance of personal reinvention:
  • Leaders need to model their behavior for people to emulate
  • Keep up with competitors and rate of change in the world
  • Old ways of working may not work today
- Seeking ways to improve systems and processes
- Structural reinvention - the organisation structure is fluid and flexible, and can be adapted to meet the changing demands of the business

Value results and relationships

- "Profits and financial strength are the applause we get for a job well done"
- Have high expectations for results
- AND have good relationships with the team
  • Listen
  • Invest time
  • Care deeply
  • Recognise their efforts
  • "People will not give you their hand until they can see your heart" - John Maxwell
Embody the Values
- Gain the trust of the team
  • Walk the talk - Live consistently with the values you profess
  • Set the tone and example for the team
Reviewing the concept - SERVE

- People who want to be great leaders must embrace the attitude of service to others
- The best teachers are always those who know they haven't got it all figured out
- The ability to develop great successors is a hallmark of great leaders
- "Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve" - Dr Martin Luther King, Junior

This basically sums up the book. Very useful for the potential leader in all of us. Hope you found it useful too.

Inspired by great leaders, demotivated by bad ones.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Choices We Make

Picture from Nasaexplore

Met a friend whom I haven't seen for some time... who gave me something to think about.

This friend is a computer engineering major, who was a steady straight As student, and whose aptitude and study smarts assured a bright future ahead of him. To my surprise, he spoke of his intentions to change industries, into Finance. He isn't the only one. Another engineering major friend chose to become a financial planner upon graduation. Yet another had plans to switch from his current engineering industry to the Finance industry in another year's time.

The irony is not lost on me. Here I am, an Accountancy major, who still, occasionally dreams of pursuing other creative pursuits, which could hopefully, pay the rent.

This isn't some sudden pandemic. Haven't we heard many times before? Of kids studying medicine/law/accountancy/engineering, to please their parents, only to take on a blatantly different career later in life.

We all know that our interests don't usually pay the rent. That's how the pragmatic world works.

Finance vs Engineering. Both are respectable industries and it is possible to pave high paying careers from both. For my friends, choosing one over the other isn't about whether or not to forgo a higher income. It is only a matter of what interests them. Which makes it so enviable. What are the chances that your passion happens to be your job?

Nevertheless, switching careers requires great courage. The learning curve would be very steep for newbies to a particular industry. I applaud all who made this brave move and are living gladly with their decisions.

Sadly, switching careers is out of my league at the moment. Money still talks. If I become an artist, I will most certainly lead a life of poverty until my death, after which my art may (but not necessarily) become famous.

Always a realist.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Totally Cute Fake Street Signs

These fake street signs are just way too cute. Created by artists from all around the world, the streets of Lyon, France, served as the canvas for their art. If you don't look too carefully, you'd have thought some of them were the real thing. I especially like that smiling coffin street sign. =)

Pictures are from Damn Cool Pics.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Many happy returns of the day!!!

Birthday greetings to my friend of many years, whom I only recently got in touch with, again.

Been a while since I hand made cards. This is for her. The inside... well... for her eyes only. =)

The last time I made such Japanese dolls were for a group of friends during Christmas some 8 years ago. A couple years later, I was disappointed to note that none of them remembered I made the doll for them. I guess this is the sort of things that people don't usually remember or particularly cherish unlike moi (yeah, you guessed it, I'm the sentimental sort).

At the same time, I'd like to convey my greetings to another friend (hmm, let's call her Ms Foogies) who shares the same birthday. I hope you'd have a wonderful day! Hint big time to the boss you need to knock off early to celebrate! *wink*

Relishing wielding the crafty scissors again

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Clearing up the mist

Ok, first things first. I may have unwittingly misled my dear friends with my previous posts of pictures in Rome. Let me set the record straight. I am NOT dating Mr Irish. We were travel companions for this trip due to good timing and good logistics (Ms Rehau and Mr Irish were already in Europe and were able to take leave at that time). We are all just FRIENDS.

Record now set straight, we can now move on. =)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Rome - modern city reminiscent of ancient times

Took a break from posting about Rome, and now I'm back at it again. For new readers to this blog, please look at category "Travel" for my travel posts relating to my 1st few days in Rome. Chronologically, the posts read from bottom up. =)

After St Peter's Basilica, other churches seemed to pale in comparison. The Basilica di St Maria Maggiore was the last stop for the day, and understandably, it seemed tiny and very simple, compared to St Peter's Basilica. Nevertheless, the church has its charms.

The interior may not be as im
pressive as St Peter's Basilica, but it's already bigger than most churches in S'pore.

Very pretty stained glass window

Last Day in Rome

The next morning, we set out to conquer Villa Borghese, having been highly recommended by our roomie, an affable American girl, who had already visited the villa and found it very lovely.

Nearest metro station was Stazione Flaminio, which was quite a distance away, i.e., 20 mins walk. We passed by these.

My guess is that this place used to be a cattle ranch.

Learnt some things about Mr Irish from the walk to Villa Borghese.

1. He hates being close to nature (reminds him of army duhhhh).
2. He is NOT a scenery person.

While Ms Rehau and I were enjoying a peaceful respite from the structural jungle, that was central Rome (for the past 3 days), Mr Irish was clearly not enjoying himself, while trudging grumpily through the parks and green patches that led to Villa Borghese.

The Museo e Galleria Borghese, within Villa Borghese, displays works by big names like Bernini, Raphael and Caravaggio. Pre-booked tours are recommended, since a limited no. of people were allowed each time.

Unfortunately we were a little too late. The museum tour which typically lasted 2 hours had already commenced. We didn't have the time to wait for the next tour to commence (already bought train tics to Florence) and so we left. Bummer! I was SOOOOOO looking forward to it! :-(

The only takeaways from the villa were these pictures. *Wails*

We had a little time to check out Piazza del Popolo. We passed by a charming little children's carousel in a park.

View from the Pincio Gardens was lovely.

View across Piazza del Popolo

We wanted to go to San Maria del Popolo cathedral, a Raphael designed church with Bernini sculptures. I was thinking, nevermind about Villa Borghese, at least there is an alternative place to view Bernini's works. To my dismay, we CANNOT find the church! To the best of our combined map reading skills, the church is simply not at the position indicated on the map. Which goes to show that this is not our day.

Cheered ourselves up by walking around Piazza del Popolo instead.

The characteristic obelisk prevalent in ma
ny piazzas in Rome

Seeing double - 2 iden
tical looking churches at the piazza. Can't remember their names though.

We adjourned for lunch to this Chinese restaurant nearby. I must say, the food is damn oily.

Anyway I was still not willing to give up on seeing Bernini's works, so I suggested we head to Santa Maria della Vittoria, where the famous Bernini's carving of the Ecstasy of St Theresa of Avila was placed. St Theresa, was depicted to be pierced by an angel, her expression, in spiritual ecstasy. Once again, I had to credit my knowledge of this particular sculpture to Dan Brown's Angels and Demons. Critics had interpreted St Theresa's ecstasy to be of the carnal sort. Well, I simply could not resist not seeing and interpreting it for myself.

To my absolute disgust, this was what greeted us.

The church is boarded up, undergoing restoration! Arggggghhhhh!!!

Anyway, like I said, this is not my day. Maybe this is what it's all about, isn't it? An elaborate "divine" plan to induce me back to this city, to fulfil my regrets from this trip (Yes, I'm recalling the coin I tossed into fontana di trevi. See previous post here.).

Thus concludes my last day in Rome. Rome may be a modern city, with modern city trappings like metros and smart cars, mega chainstores and multi-national hotels, but its ancient city roots is evidential, and everywhere -- the baroque fountains that provide cool relief during the hot summer months, enchanting cathedrals at every corner, Roman sculptures and paintings that grace Rome's many churches and museums. The appealing mish-mash of old and new will continue to enthrall many. For I am one of them.

Bidding a fond farewell to this delightfully modern-ancient city.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I'm lovin' this!

Check out the lovely art works of Suzanne Woolcott, a Scottish painter, who has her own Etsy shop.

I noticed she has a penchant for all things striped and child-like, from the skinny striped scarves and striped socks to the dreamy landscapes and cute animals. Some of the doll-like girls may not have mouths, just like the iconic Hello Kitty, but the eyes have delightful expressions of their own.

Notice the tiny skull hair pin on the girl's tresses and the basketful of skulls (?) The little cat with wings reaches out to her. Wonder if there is a deeper meaning to this picture.

This makes me feel like drifting off to dreamland, a unicorn should make for a pleasant dream (Think unicorns, rainbows, fairies and pixies)...

The girl in lovely white wellingtons and rain coat, gives me an impulse to buy wellingtons so I can splash about in the puddles. hah!

Sometimes it is stumbling upon talents like this that stokes a strong desire in me to pick up my long neglected pencil and sketch book and create something, anything.

Can drawing be self-taught? I once had art lessons when I was 11 or so, and stopped due to some reason I cannot remember. Sure, I can probably copy from an existing art piece relatively well, but drawing out of nothing, out of your imagination, can be a different ball game altogether. Now that I'm at this "ripe old" age, can I still draw well?

Will have to try out sometime.

Inspired to draw again

Monday, September 8, 2008

Visually Appealing

I was browsing this cool Origami blog and was alerted to the works of this supremely talented artist/animator from Los Angeles, Joaquin Baldwin. I first viewed his short film about an origami artist who transforms the world with the skillful use of his hands. The firm is entitled Papiroflexia, which means origami in Spanish. Very whimsical, and very cute. Check it out at the bottom of this post.

More of his other animations and drawings can be found here.

The artist's drawings are just as captivating, in a Salvador Dali-esque manner. Those familiar with Salvador Dali's works, will know of the surrealism style of Dali's paintings, i.e., the famous painting, "The Persistence of Memory". This is the impression invoked when I look at Joaquin Baldwin's works. Cool!

This is my favourite. My eyes are drawn to the ethereally rendered rays of light and the mysterious "wings tree" in the foreground. Strangely, it does not look out of place, as though it rightfully belonged there.

I'm keeping my eyes peeled for more of Joaquin's works.

~Newly converted fan


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