Monday, April 30, 2007

Breakfast with the CEO and other Storage Mishaps

Today I had breakfast with the CEO. Actually, me and 12 other people sat around the boardroom table and mostly listened to his views.

It was a kind of "meet your leader" event and well, not that exciting really. The best thing is that the UK Operations Director picked me to represent our company. Hey, little ole me :)

As for the CEO, he had a horrible habit of referring to himself as "one" i.e. One went to Europe to search for more acquisitions / when One feels that the time is right for expansion...not appealing. You get the impression that he's used to people just sitting around in awe of him. Still, you have to give the man credit.

I managed to eat an almond croissant and a granola berry yoghurt, which is the most important thing. I never let nerves keep me from my food, hahaha.

On another note, more bad news for self-storage fans. Some terrorist wannabees have been convicted today and they were using self-storage containers to store their loot i.e. 600kg of fertiliser for making bombs.

600kg of fertiliser - enough for a few football pitches - bought by a urbanista with rap music blaring out from his car stereo......hmm why do you think the supplier was suspicious?

And they hired a big self-storage container to store it - much bigger than they required. That in itself is bizarre, as everyone knows, you have to rent the smallest container you can get away with and fill to the brim with junk-filled cardboard boxes.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Running (Katie-Ella style)

I can't run.

I can do stuff like Advanced Step, Circuit Class, Aerobics, Legs-Bums-Abs etc etc; no problem. Although I haven't actually been to a gym class for about 6 months, I enjoy the classes and can even do two in row without collapsing.

But after 30 seconds on the treadmill, I start to huff and puff, my chest really hurts and I have to stop. Crap, huh? I'm not even that fat either....(I think)

I have always wanted to be one of those women who could run 5km just like that. You can see them sprinting around on Sunday mornings, chatting easily to their running partners, all fit and trim and healthy. Those bitches.

Last year, some of my colleagues signed up for the Canary Wharf Hearts First fun run and I thought it would be a good thing to join them. The idea of humiliating myself in front of my colleagues would surely force me to train and get fit.

Also, the Hearts First run is relatively easy. It's about 10km in total, but it is made up of around 7 laps so you have the option of running shorter distances if you want. The whole ethos is to do as many laps as you can (up to 10k), have fun and raise miney for the British Heart Foundation.

So I signed up; I bought a running book (I'm one of those people who believe that you can learn everything from books) and got Mr K-E to act as my personal trainer. The training regime is something like this:

Week 1: run 1.0 minutes, walk 3 minutes. Repeat 3 times (16 minutes)
Week 2: run 1.5 minutes, walk 2.5 minutes. Repeat 4 times (20 minute)

etc. You get the picture. Until you are doing more running than walking, and the goal is to be able to run non-stop for 20 minutes.

Well, I never got to the 20-minutes-continuous stage; at my best I did 5 km in about 45 minutes using a run-walk-run technique. Mr K-E would run along with me timing me with his Casio and encouraging me. I used to make him give me a countdown - i.e. 15 seconds, 10 seconds, 5. 4. 3. 2. 1 OK, walk!

At the actual fun run, I did about 5 km, so I didn't humiliate myself too much. Of course, I had all these grand plans of continuing after the event but...but....I didn't.

And now, it's rolled around again and people are being rounded up to do the fun run this year. Well, I can't back out can I?? It would be like moving backwards!

So this evening, Mr K-E is taking me out for a "run".

Hey, if like me, you can't run - do you want to run with me? Tonight I'll probably be doing 20 minutes based on 1 minute run 3 minute walk. Start out easy hahaha. And I've booked myself a massage tomorrow as a "reward" for starting my training again.

PS When I say walk, I don't mean stroll. Think - power shopping!
PPS If you want to get a beginner's guide to running, this is the one I got.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Storage and Estate Agents.

Today Mr K-E and I had the day off and we went off to look for some storage space in our area.

Self-storage is one of the fastest growing businesses in the UK; in summary - a company provides containers or lockers in a secure environment. It started off as a short-term thing for people who were moving house or travelling. But some people treat it as long-term storage or an extra room - i.e. when your house gets full of stuff, you put half your stuff in there so that you can go out and buy more stuff.

Hey. Don't say - how about not buying more stuff. That's dangerous talk - do you want to start a recession?? ;)

Our excuse is that we are putting our flat on the market soon and we need to clear lots of space.

So here's our extra room - woo hoo! Soon to be filled with all our crap - books, CDs, DVDs, kitchen gadgets, shoes etc. Mr K-E says my handbags should go in there. That's cruelty to handbags!

It's half a container. Somehow it looks really big in the photo.

Did you read about the guy who killed a woman and kept her dead body in a self-storage locker? He used to visit the container (and the dead body) once a week until it got too "ripe". Eeeuuwww.

The containers are in some railway arches. It's OK, seems quite clean, dry and secure.

Another thing we did today was view a house. It is rented at the moment, so it was in a bad state and the tenants had made minimal effort to tidy up.

We had to put up with the usual estate agent rubbish - how house prices in the area are going up like crazy. We should make a move as soon as possible, etc etc. Yeah, right.

The house we looked at was on the market for £485K. It's not a lot by London standards, but this place was very small, dark, damp and ugly. The location was excellent though.

I'm convinced that house prices are fueled by estate agents over-valueing properties. Bastards.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Five things that I like to eat

Woah! A few of the brunei blogs that I normally read now need password before access. Paranoia? Or self-protection?

5 things that I really like to eat at the moment:

(in random order)
  1. spaghetti and meatballs in tomato sauce
  2. little plates of yumminess from Yo! Sushi
  3. Seaweed and Miso flavoured crisps from Pret a Manger
  4. strawberries
  5. Ben and Jerry's Fossil Fuel
Hey, it's not all bad. Strawberries are healthy!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Mr K-E's Sunday

Mr K-E has been doing more colour experiments in our living room.

He has stuck little post-it notes on the wall so he doesn't forget which colour is which. Isn't he cute? :)

Some friends came to visit and they gave us some chocolates from Japan. Mr K-E is fascinated by Japanese packaging.

The box opened like a small presentation case. There was a little foil package inside, printed with a mole motif.

This is Mr K-E's favourite bit. Inside the box, there is the little mole in his burrow talking to an earthworm, who is wearing a hat. Bizarre, but you have to admire the attention to detail.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Sex for the Single Brunei Girl

These two guys - Jack and LSM - have inspired me to blog about sex.

In particular, I'm talking to the young women out there who are still finding their way, (hopefully) enjoying their youth and trying to make sense of modern relationships.

I presume that you are going to have sex anyway. Of course the only foolproof way to avoid pregnancy is no sex. If you are having sex, there is always a risk but you can make it a much much smaller risk by using contraception.

I'm not going to even address the issues of morality or religion, because you probably get that all day long. And does it really help?

So, girlfriend, if you are going to fool around:
  • First and foremost, love yourself. By that I mean - think of yourself first. Just because he wants to shag you, doesn't mean he loves you. Do you want to have sex? Or do you want to make him happy?
  • Don't have sex without a condom. Don't. Really don't. The consequences far far outweigh the pleasure and you can catch all sorts of nasty diseases.
  • Remember that the guy is labelled a "rascal" while the girl is labelled the bitch-slut-whore-going-to-hell. It's just not worth it. Imagine how you will face your family and horrible relatives. Think of all the things that you want to do with your you really want to have a baby now? Think about money. How will you cope? Do you really want to end up marrying someone under these circumstances?
  • To be absolutely frank - do not let him put his penis into your vagina or even near your vagina without a condom. Don't believe him if he says he will pull out. What, stop when the pleasure is at its peak? Yeah right. Even if he says he can do it, the penis produces lubrication before ejaculation that can contain sperm. So you can get pregnant even if he doesn't come in you.
  • Condoms work. Do not believe anyone who tells you that condoms don't work. Men say that because they don't want to wear them. Religious youth leaders say that because they think that they can scare you out of sex by lying to you. OK, stats show that there is a 3% risk and sometimes they split - but if you are going to have sex (and you are not on the Pill), condoms are your best friend.
  • If things get really desperate, tell him to take care of himself i.e. have a wank. Hey, guys do it all the time. And don't forget that you can take care of yourself too.
  • There's lots of stuff on the internet, but this is a good place to start.
I'm an old married woman now, but I remember being a teenager very well. I specifically remember what manipulative bastards (some) men can be even at that age. So here are a few additional comments
  • You are not cheap if you have had sex with your boyfriend and you subsequently break-up. You had sex with him for whatever reason - it doesn't matter now, and it does not determine how you conduct yourself in future relationships.
  • On that theme, just because you have had sex with someone - it doesn't mean that you have to stick with him if he turns into an asshole. It's not easy to walk away when you have invested so much into a relationship, but be strong. Believe in yourself.
  • If your new boyfriend says - You had sex with him, but you won't have sex with me, that means you don't love me, don't let this influence you. At best - he feels insecure, in which case reassure him. At worst, he is using you. If someone puts a lot of pressure on you, tell him to get lost.

Speedy ! (16 miles per hour)

Today Mr K-E went to the "big" B&Q about 8 miles away. B&Q is a kind of DIY superstore and I hate the place. This must be how men feel about women's shoe shops. They just want to enjoy the end result and not have to go through the squealing/trying/decision-making process.

We have a few B&Q's which are closer but they are smaller and there is less choice available. So, Mr K-E braved the traffic in South London to drive to the giant B&Q.

8 miles in 30 minutes = an average speed of 16 miles an hour. (Mr K-E had good run, with no hold-ups.)

This illustrates why Londoners don't drive. It's just not worth the hassle.

The average traffic speed in London is 10 miles an hour, but to tell the truth I can't believe it is even as fast as that. They are probably including the stats from the middle of night and taking a 24-hour average.

On another note, Mr K-E went a bit crazy in the paint section, without my restraining influence. He bought 11 testers - why? why? why?

That makes a total of 17 testers (so far) that he has bought for our flat which we are selling anyway!

Oh, and we got our shopping delivered today too.

How to be Insensitive 1.0

A few weeks ago I blogged about a friend and colleague J, who had taken sick leave due to stress.

J is now back at work after two weeks leave and is settling back into the work routine. It's not common knowledge in the office, but I heard from another close friend that J is suffering from a form of Obssesive-Compulsive Disorder, or OCD for short.

I have always associated OCD with irrational repetitive behavior, eg people who have to wash their hands 150 times a day or stir their tea exactly 25 times before drinking it.

Other symptoms of OCD include: a need to feel that both sides of the body is "balanced" and an obsession with numbers (odd or even) - to the extent that the person may "hate" certain numbers and feel extreme anxiety when they encounter these numbers in daily life.

I think a lot of people exhibit this behavior in a minor form but as long as it doesn't interfere with their normal life, they can deal with it and it's all OK.

For example, Mr K-E has this "thing" where he prefers the volume on the DVD player to be an even number or a multiple of 5. This is is only a "preference" - he doesn't get feelings of anxiety or anything like that. But if you think about this, it's completely irrational.

Also when he's falling asleep at night, if for some reason he opens one eye, then he has to close it and open and close the other eye for the same amount of time. It's a kind of "balance" thing, he says. Other people have also said the same thing about being "in-balance", so I suppose it's quite common.

J's OCD, on the other hand, is quite serious and he has been struggling with it for the last ten years. Instead of a physical form of OCD, he suffers from a mental form where he obssesses over every decision he makes - going over every decision again and again in his mind. In our line of work, where we have to take on a lot of responsibility, I can only imagine how hard it is for him to cope.

Anyway, on Friday we had our quarterly presentation, where each team gives a presentation and talks about their achievements in the last quarter. When J's team leader gave his presentation, he talked about J's particular project and how difficult it was.

Then our American director added - yes, this is the job that is driving J crazy!

Everybody laughed, but those of us who knew about J's illness couldn't believe anyone could make such an insensitive remark. The director apologised later, but still.....not good.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Mukiwa by Peter Godwin

Good. I found it really interesting and it gave me a bit of background to the the mess that is Zimbabwe today. Definitely recommended.

Peter Godwin grew up in rural Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and in this book he describes his childhood growing up in a rural farming area. He takes us through his conscription into the Rhodesian police force during his civil war and his experiences as a journalist during the early days of Mugabe's rule.

Godwin writes in a very straightforward manner - he just describes what he experienced at the time, without trying to apologise for or justify the attitudes and accepted rules of the day. I liked the fact that he didn't try to make it amusing, i.e. by making "characters" of the people or by making the book a series of contrived funny stories. Or worse, try to analyse the situation (with the benefit of hindsight) and bang on about the complexities of race, history, politics and human behavior.

He simply tells the story, and leaves us to make up our own minds.

Of course, we all know what Zimbabwe is like today and so reading it, I felt sad for the people described in the book and their problems still to come.

I was sorry when I finished Mukiwa; I could have spent much more time in that fascinating place. That's a sign that I've really enjoyed a book.

Read more reviews here.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Paid to Post

Another blogger that I visit every day is Jewelle aka Life in Lumut. Actually, she has started another blog about food - although I suspect this is part of her plan to expand her PayPerPost empire.

PayPerPost is a way for companies to advertise through bloggers, albeit in a slightly sneaky way.The blogger refers to a product or a service in his/her blog, adds a link and gets paid for it. I think the going rate is US$5 per post and the post has to be approved by PPP beforehand.

Anyway, earlier on in the year Jewelle said that her target was to earn US$5,000 (am I right, Jewelle?) this year through PPP and she seems to be keeping up with the blogging. It's not easy being a mother of two and it's great that she still has that entrepreneurial spirit. Go Jewelle!

I must admit I am kind of sceptical about the whole payperpost thing, as it takes away from the "honesty" of blog reviews and comments. However, if there is money to be made - why not? Jewelle always labels these posts clearly so the reader knows that the post is sponsored, although I sometimes grin at the seemingly random topics. I can just imagine her racking her brains thinking of ways to introduce Colorado Mining Opportunities or Latest Kitchen Gadget into her blog.

In one of her posts, Jewelle wonders why more Bruneian bloggers have not taken this up. Well, I don't do it because blogging would then become work, and I can't bear the thought of more work outside of my real work. I'm sure there are lots of people who feel the same way.

Or maybe Bruneians need to be a bit more aggressive when it comes to earning money? As someone once told me, there's money to be made everywhere - you just have to be willing to earn it.

(Uh, have I just given payperpost free advertising? Doh! *smack myself on the head*)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Was it something I said?

What's going on? :(

Lately one of favourite bloggers EmmaGoodEgg has not been updating her blog. I know she's got other things going on in her life at the moment so I can understand that entertaining us is not her top priority but *whine* I hope she doesn't give up blogging for good *whine*.

Then two days ago, Mr BR posted his last entry...

And tonight, I was dismayed to read this. I posted a comment on their blog last night. Was it something I said?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Crabby Monday

Oh, oh, oh, another day another blog.

Today is the day that
  • I ate lots of these little crabs from Aji Ichiban. Now I feel sick. Damn it, will I ever learn to stop before the nausea begins?

My brother-in-law travels a lot and every time he is in HongKong he gets me and my sister lots of snacks. Mr K-E says they look horrible (like the facehuggers from the Alien movies) and smell even worse than they look.

There is the slightest resemblance I suppose.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Neutrals are good.

We are trying to neutralise our flat before we put in on the market. That's what all the TV shows say you should do; remove all trace of your personality so that potential buyers can see themselves in the space. All makes sense, I guess.

So bye bye sky-blue "playroom", sunny yellow hallway and the dark red (dragon's blood red!) column in the living room. Hello neutral walls everywhere.

To be fair, the bright colours look a bit dated now. Rich praline 4 is the new magnolia, don't ya know.

Here's Mr K-E messing around on the stairs. *sigh* I'll miss that sunny yellow hallway.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Eggs and Eyebrows

So, Kate Middleton and Prince William have broken up. I've always thought she was very average; middle-of the-road, nothing to write home about. England needs an extreme queen, don't you think?

Creatures of habit, Mr K-E and I went out for our Saturday brunch as usual. We went to one of our local gastropubs for Eggs Benedict and fat chips. I have it with both spinach and bacon, greedy me.

In the afternoon, Mr K-E noticed that a Mercedes convertible with the radio on had pulled up outside our flat. Firstly, this guy was listening to the news on full blast OK, and then Mr K-E realised why he he had pulled up.

Merc driver was plucking his eyebrows! For about ten minutes!

When he had finished plucking, he drove off - but not before we had taken a photograph.

My opinion : Must be a gay guy.
Mr K-E's opinion: He's got a hot (lunchtime) date with a lady and he wants to tidy up his eyebrows first. Hahahaha.

Just goes to show, you can buy a Mercedes convertible but you can't be cool if you've got bushy eyebrows.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Friday night takeaway

We had a chinese takeaway tonight from our local Chinese restaurant:

Squid with salt and chili
Sweet and sour prawns
Chicken fried noodles
Egg fried rice
Prawn crackers

It was OK, but nothing special by Brunei standards. In fact, I feel a bit sick now - too much oil and MSG.

(I'm really scraping the bottom of the blogging barrel now; blogging about my Friday night takeaway hahaha. Mr K-E says - this time you've really gone too far!)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Me at the Mall

Is it just me, or are blogs written by teenagers really sweet? Awww, they're so cute....just give them another ten years and they'll be as bitter and twisted as the rest of us.

this is me and my best friend, oh, and here's a picture of me and my other best friend, and this is me with my best friend from primary school........and here is a photo of me and the "gurls" in the Mall.....

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Where is the driest place on Earth?


(The answer is at the end)

I loved it. It's suitable for all ages - a great present for a bookish 12 year old or a 30-something fact-aholic like me. Entertaining and informative, hooray!

I love the TV show QI and this book doesn't disappoint. QI stands for Quite Interesting, and the premise of the book is that everything you know is wrong.

The book is set out as a series of questions, for example, How many legs does a centipede have? The answer and a quirky discussion follows: and that's it really. I can't really do this book justice, but trust me - it's packed with lots of great stories and juicy details.

The answer to the question "Where is the driest place on Earth?" is Antarctica. Parts of Antarctica have not seen rain for two million years. 2% of Antarctica, known as the Dry Valleys, is free of ice and snow and it never rains there at all.

So now you know!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Dulux Dilemmas

I think it must be my down-to-earth Bruneian upbringing, but I just can't get excited about different coloured wall emulsions. Just paint it all apple-white for goodness sake! Or magnolia, if you want to be a bit different.

Unfortunately, Mr K-E has other ideas and has been doing colour experiments in our living room.

From left to right,
  • Rum Caramel 5
  • Cocoa Blush 5
  • Natural Taupe 2
  • Rich Praline 4
  • Velvet Truffle 5

(The name is actual colour and the number is the "shade", if that's the right word, i.e. lighter or darker.)

What gets me are the silly names - obviously Dulux must have done consumer reasearch and found that their target customers respond well to food references. Our guest bedroom is done in Maraschino Mocha - doesn't that sound like an upmarket ice cream flavour?

Monday, April 09, 2007

Mr K-E loves chocolate

A bit of history

Mr K-E looked through my last blog post and complained that I hadn't included this photo.

It is a panel from the Berlin Wall, and stands outside the Imperial War Museum in London.

(Are you happy now honey?)

Where do you think that Berlin is? I have always assumed that Berlin is on the border between the old East and West Germany, because I know that the Berlin Wall was the separation between the capitalist West and the communist East.

Mr K-E told me recently that Berlin is actually right in the middle of what used to be East Germany. Amazing, huh?

Look at the map below, it shows occupied Germany in 1945 with different colours showing each allied country's zone of influence. See that multi-coloured bit in the middle of the red "sea", that's Berlin. I felt really ignorant, but it's not obvious is it? Damn those inadequate history lessons!

There's a good book called Teach Yourself the Cold War (recommended by Mr K-E). I haven't got round to reading it yet but it sounds fascinating. I need educating, that's for sure.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter

I had some friends visiting this weekend so I didn't go to Easter Vigil mass as planned. We went out for dinner and drinks on Saturday night, staggering in after two in the morning.

When the alarm clock rang on Sunday morning, Mr K-E nudged me and muttered - Get up, you have to go to Mass. Unfortunately, the spirit was willing but the flesh rolled over.

Oh, well, Happy Easter everybody!

I had Simnel Cake today, which is fruit cake with marzipan on top. The 11 marzipan balls on top represent the apostles; there are 11 balls as Judas is not invited.

There is another layer of marzipan in the cake, which makes it extra yummy.

When we finally got out of bed, we went to the Imperial War Museum because there was an exhibition about Camouflage on.

I can't recommend it though, I thought it was a rip-off. I expected more about modern methods of military camouflage and "future" camouflage techniques, but it was mainly focused on WWI and WWII stuff. For £7, I want more!

I don't think this taxi is well camouflaged at all, do you?

We then wandered into the West End and had lunch at Yo Sushi. I was surprised that Virgin Megastores and HMVs were shut. I don't think I've ever seen them shut during the day!

Anyway, it's been such a busy weekend that Mr K-E has not even started eating his Easter eggs. The chocolate frenzy starts tomorrow.

Is anyone out there?

Since I put the counter on this blog, I've noticed that I am getting about 25-30 visits a day. A few of those is just me updating the entries and checking for comments. That leaves maybe 20 (?) people reading the blog everyday, unless it's just Mr K-E visiting 20 times a day to make me feel better.

A few people have left comments, so I know who they are but to anyone else who might be reading: a big fat friendly


When I first started blogging I didn't do it to have masses of readers (dream on!) or to make serious statements about the world or anything like that. I just wanted to share my thoughts on some of the stuff that was happening in my life, and I thought that maybe someone out there would enjoy reading about it.

The thought of lots of people reading my blog is kind of scary to me, which is why I have asked Simpur to take me off their bloglist. But 20 people is OK, I can deal with 20 people. It still feels small and intimate, if you know what I mean.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday : Celebration of Our Lord's Passion

Just this morning I was thinking about how the Catholic Church is not one of those "fluffy, cuddly" type churches. You know, the type where everyone is all happy-clappy, hugging, holding hands and singing about love.

The Catholic Church has more of a "suffer now or suffer later" philosophy. All the suffering in the world is your fault. See those nails in Jesus' hands on the cross? You put them there. Our Lord suffered and died for your sins. You are a terrible, terrible person. You should suffer. If you are not suffering, well you must be doing something wrong, and you are definitely going to Hell.

OK if you are really sorry, say 500 Hail Marys while slapping yourself in the face, and then maybe you might get to Purgatory instead.

(Purgatory is about 10,000,000 years of torture and suffering instead of eternal suffering aka Hell. Gulp.)

And guess what, in church today the sermon was about : (yes you guessed it) suffering. And how it's good for you. *Sigh* :(

On a different note, when I got back from church I was absolutely starving. I skipped lunch because I was trying to fast (See! I'm trying to be a good Catholic, honestly!) but when I got back I stuffed my face with hot cross buns.

Split the buns, toast lightly, spread butter and jam. Not meat, so I'm not completely doomed. Not yet anyway.

Soul of my Saviour, sanctify my breast,
Body of Christ, be thou my saving guest,
Blood of my Saviour, bathe me in thy tide,
wash me with waters gushing from thy side.

(One of my favourite hymns, if a little gruesome)

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Maundy Thursday: The Mass of the Last Supper

I went to Mass tonight.

Maundy Thursday is a remembrance of the Last Supper (before it all went wrong as Mr K-E says) when Jesus ate and drank with his disciples.

The word "Maundy" comes from the Latin word "Mandatum", which means command. On that night, Jesus gave a new commandment to his disciples - Love one another, as I have loved you.

The other big thing about Maundy Thursday mass is the "feet washing". During the Last Supper, Jesus shocked his disciples by washing their feet, which was a task normally done by servants. He wanted to teach them a lesson about humility and service to others.

At Maundy Thursday mass, we remember this act when the priest washes the feet of 12 "volunteers" (normally ordinary members of the congregation). It's a reminder to all of us to be humble.

I'm glad I went to Mass, it really reminded me that I should be more humble and remember that all blessings come from the Lord. We should try to serve others, not expect others to serve us.

Reading yesterday's post, it makes me *cringe* Arrogance is not very attractive, is it? *giving myself a mental slap* The world doesn't revolve around me, after all.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

I hate my Boss.

I have had a really bad day at work. The worst thing is that it's not my work that's getting me down, but the attitude of people around me.

At the end of last year, there was a team re-shuffle as my team-leader was promoted and his position was filled by someone else. I don't really like my new Boss, but at the time I thought, well I'll give it a chance.

It's been 3 months, and things are not getting better.

The problem is not that he's a slave driver or that he pushes me too hard - in fact it is the opposite. I just think he's fucking lazy, promoted beyond his ability and got to his position by blind luck. It was a case of "the devil you know" and the senior management thought it would be easier to promote someone they knew, rather than hire someone new. OK, no one likes it when someone from the "outside" joins in a senior position - but does it really mean that crap people get promoted?

And his "it's not my job" philosophy is starting to permeate the entire team. OMG it literally drove me to tears today.

I can change teams - but it's quite disruptive and there's all the fallout i.e. why you want to change, is it a personality clash, are you unhappy with your work etc etc.

I just don't have any respect for him at all and frankly, I can run rings around him technically. Most of the time I deal directly with the senior management (over his head) - but I don't do that to exclude him. I'm not being arrogant, but he's just not up to supervising my work anyway. I know it, he knows it and our Directors know it. That's a big part of the problem, I think.

The only good thing is that he's not holding me back, so hopefully I'll leave him behind as I race ahead *sarcastic laugh*

Yeah, eat my dust..........

(On a more constructive note, I've given myself a deadline - 1st July. If the team dynamic doesn't sort itself out, I'm changing teams. Or changing jobs. Whatever.)

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Rome: November 2006

I have posted some photos from our trip to Rome before, but I was looking through them again tonight and thought they would make a good post.

The Colosseum viewed from the Forum.

Mr K-E thought the tall trees were cool. Look at that sky, it's like a painting.

The roof of the Pantheon with the oculus. If you've read the Dan Brown book Angels and Demons, you'll know all about this place!

This building is 2000 years old, and the roof is amazing from an engineering point of view. If you are a geek, note that this is the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world. Very impressive, if you are a concrete afficionado.

The lovely Trevi fountain.

We stayed just around the corner from this beautiful fountain.

Sunset view at Il Vittoriano.

We saw these guys in the Vatican.

They look silly in their multi-coloured uniforms, but I'm sure they could do the "business" if required.

Again, read all about them in Angels and Demons!

Mr K-E took lots of photos in the Vatican City, but I'm posting this one because I've seen this shot before on so many postcards/pictures/TV shows etc. Also if you are Catholic, this feels like our spiritual "home", if you know what I mean.

We had to climb up to the top of the Dome to take this photo, but it was worth it.

Even if you are all "churched-out", try to visit Chiesa il Gesu.

The artwork is breath-taking, even after a whole day at the Sistine Chapel.

The way it has been painted looks like it is in 3-D, but it's all down to the artist's use of perspective and shadow.

Monday, April 02, 2007

My ex-Book Club

The only clubbing I seem to do these days is book clubbing, so I was quite disheartened to hear that my book club has been dissolved. We only met once every two months, so it wasn't regular enough to become a pain and the other members were all really nice. They didn't take themselves (or books) too seriously - always a danger when you meet these literary types.

The first meeting I went to, C (Mr K-E's sister) and I didn't really know what to expect. We were a bit worried that it would be a collection of very serious readers, with yellow post-it notes stuck onto their books, ready to discuss the deeper post-modernist meaning of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.

We turned up with two big bags of crisps, but when someone walked in with a freshly baked chocolate and walnut cake, I thought, this is my kind of book club.

So in the last three years, we have discussed not only books but almost everything under the sun. We have met in each other's homes, in museums, in fancy restaurants, in art galleries - anywhere we could sit, have good food and a lively discussion.

It has been hard work for the organiser though and I understand why she wants to take a break from it. I notice that no-one else has volunteered to run it, hahaha.

I am toying with the idea of joining another book club that meets in our local library every month. But what if they are all a bunch of weirdos? Mr K-E says, if they are all freaks, just tell them your name is Rachel and run away. Just make sure they don't find out where we live. Eeek.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Palm Sunday

I feel really guilty because I didn't go to Mass today, and it is Palm Sunday.

Palm Sunday marks the start of Holy Week and commemorates Jesus's arrival in Jerusalem, when the crowds were cheering him and waving palms as a sign of their support. Later on in the week, the same crowds would be shouting for him to be executed and crucified. Talk about a fickle crowd, eh? You know what they say, a week is a long time in politics! (Did they have mass media in those days?)

Anyway, all joking aside, Holy Week is the most important week in the Christian calendar. This Thursday is Maundy Thursday, then Good Friday when we remember Jesus's death on the cross. There is an Easter Vigil mass on Saturday night, which leads onto Easter Sunday, the most important day of the year for us Christians.

My favourite mass of the year is Easter Vigil, when the church is dark and we wait for the light of Christ. Even for a rubbish Catholic like me, there's something special about the Easter Vigil mass.

Tastes like home.

I was really craving some home-food the other day, so I decided to make some cha-siu (chinese barbequed pork) this weekend.

I used Lee Kum Kee's Cha Siu sauce and marinated a whole pork fillet overnight.

I roasted it in the oven for an hour. One thing I have learnt is to use tin foil to line the roasting dish because the sugar tends to burn, and it is an absolute bitch to clean.

Cha siu fan - the taste of home.....

Quadruple Chocolate Loaf

One of my favourite cookbooks is Nigella Lawson's Feast. I got the hardback as a Christmas present two years ago and I love it. Nigella Lawson started out as a food writer, and I enjoy reading her writing as much as I enjoy slobbering over the food pictures.

Anyway, today I tried out one of the chocolate cake recipes in her "Chocolate Cake Hall of Fame" - the Quadruple Chocolate Loaf Cake.

Mr K-E helped.

He provided all the elbow-grease as we don't have a food processor.

Chocolate part 1: the cocoa in the cake mix.

Chocolate part 2 : chunks of milk and dark chocolate added to the mix.

What it looks like when it comes out of the oven. Nigella says to use clingfilm to wrap the loaf tin, but I didn't feel happy about doing that. The clingfilm box states clearly - not for use in microwave or conventional ovens. So I just used greaseproof paper instead.

Chocolate part 3: While the cake is still in the tin, poke lots of holes in it and pour chocolate syrup all over it.

Chocolate part 4: When the cake has cooled and absorbed all the chocolate syrup, cover it in chocolate shavings.

I was so impressed that our loaf looked exactly like the picture in the book!

It's delicious by the way, but very very dense and rich. One slice was enough for me.