Thursday, September 30, 2010


It is sad to see sisters in Christ speaking (or maybe the more appropriate word: boasting) of unforgiveness and putting a person down behind her back, in a somewhat public domain. I feel stuck in the middle because all the parties concerned are friends of mine.

However, ignorance is bliss. Whatever one doesn't know won't hurt one. So let this just pass as another case of virtual diarrhea. Praying that the cyber traffic turnover rate will be so high that the thread will be just like a grain of sand on the beach, where no one will make a double take on it.

I don't know what caused this hate and will probably never fathom how it must have felt like, but at this point in time, I am reminded of every time I have blown up in rage in the past and I forgive all those who have hurt me (wittingly and unwittingly), as I hope I have been forgiven for my volatile reactions. I take this as a lesson that, Christian or not, we are all still man - fallible and foolish.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Look Who's Ringing the NYSE Closing Bell!

Chris Botti (photo credit:
 Pink Panther! (photo credit:

Marley the dog from 'Marley & Me' (photo credit:

KISS (photo credit:

Darth Vader (photo credit:
Hello Kitty (photo credit:
and I just saw on CNN and on The Star and Bernama websites.... our PM Najib! (photo credit:

Monday, September 27, 2010

TGIF or TGIM (Monday)?

Yesterday's "celebration" message was about Moses - the three transformations he had undergone when he responded to God's call.
  • Skill transformation
  • Strategy transformation
  • Spiritual transformation
I'm not going to type out what I noted down, but at one point Ps Chris was saying that whatever our vocation is, when God calls you, your skills will be useful for His plan. So you do not need to be a pastor to be of good use to God. You can be an engineer or a sales man and still serve God well.

We can serve God in our workplace, just by being filled with joy. He also stressed that when we work, we must remember that we are working for God and not for our human bosses. So take joy in what we do!

I've had this verse on my desk for more than a year - to remind me when I'm having a bad day.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men (Col 3:23)
Ps Chris asked the congregation whether we dread or love going to work. Do we whoop with joy when it is Friday? Or dread going back to office on Monday morning? Upon asking myself that same question, I can safely say that I'm quite happy going to work every morning. My bad days come when there are thoughts of insecurity in my mind. Otherwise, I like the free time I have to read stuffs and blog and study... but I still think I should be busier at my age... So here's to what the future may hold for me! Cheers! 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Churches And Cathedrals Visited

During my month-long absence from this blog, I was half-a-world away from home doing this: visiting churches and cathedrals to see how God's glory has inspired builders in the past!

Well, the main purpose of the trip wasn't actually THAT! But it was a bonus (and a touristy thing to do) on top of everything!

(1) Liverpool Cathedral (Anglican)

According to what I heard, Liverpool is the only city in Europe which has 2 cathedrals - one for the Anglicans and the other for Catholics. On the day that we arrived, my aunt took us to the Anglican Liverpool Cathedral, which is just a 5-minute walk from CL's home.

Liverpool Cathedral 
The Liverpool Cathedral is the fifth largest cathedral in the world, and the largest in Britain. It was completed in 1978, after 74 long years of construction. However the first element of the cathedral - the Lady Chapel - was opened in 1910. The cathedral is situated on St James' Mount and is dedicated to Christ and the Blessed Virgin. It is mainly built of sandstone, with gothic elements.

Eastern end of the cathedral, high altar
We went into the Holy Spirit Chapel (no photos taken) for a short prayer while we were visiting the cathedral. We didn't go up the Vestey Tower to see the 13 bells and 'Great George', the bourdon bell. 'Great George' is  bigger than Big Ben.

View of Liverpool Cathedral at night from CL's house, around 11pm
Originally designed to have two towers, the plan was revised to only a single central exceptionally tall tower - which was finished in 1942. The completion of the cathedral was hindered by World War II and inflation

View of Liverpool Cathedral from the River Mersey (in front: Liverpool Big Wheel)

(2) Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King (Roman Catholic)

The Liverpool Cathedral and Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral are located at opposite ends of Hope Street, facing each other. We visited this cathedral after coming back from London and before leaving for the USA (but I'm putting this here because it's more organised!).

Main entrance to Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral with bell tower
On the Duckmarine tour we took, the guide told us that the four bells were named Matthew, Mark, Luke and John (in order of descending bell size/weight) after the four Gospels in the New Testament. At first, I thought the stone was some sort of concrete-cement mix, but turns out the façade is made of Portland stone (limestone). The design of the three crosses represents the cross Jesus was crucified on (centre) and the  other two belonging to the two thieves crucified beside Him. One of the flanking crosses is studded with tears to signify the repentant thief while the other is left plain.

Circular nave - the High Altar
The pews in the sanctuary are arranged circularly to face the table of the Lord. Radiating from the border of the main sanctuary are a number of chapels. The lantern tower is directly on top of the High Altar - the culmination of a cone-like ceiling structure.

Lantern tower
The lantern tower is made of stained-glass panels which make up the world's largest window. Its design depicts an abstract form of the Trinity. During the day, this window casts colourful hues inside the sanctuary (as what I witnessed), whilst at night, it illuminates the city's skyline.

Chapel of Unity
Above is the Pentecost mosaic by Georg-Mayer Marton in the Chapel of Unity which caught my fancy. For some reason, the lighting and my shaky hands made this photo look somewhat surreal. There was another chapel which was beautiful - the Lady Chapel - which had a sculpture of the Madonna and Child.

View of Hope Street and Liverpool Cathedral (in a distance) from top of the stairs in front of  main entrance to the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral
The cathedral is situated on Mount Pleasant on top of Lutyens Crypt, which was part of a greater plan that never materialised. Unlike the Liverpool Cathedral, this cathedral took less than 5 years to build (completed and consecrated in 1967) after a lot of planning, canceling of plans, scaling down etc. since 1853.

View of Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral from the River Mersey
The photo above was taken while we were on a ferry on the Mersey. The cathedral's lantern tower is visible with its 16 pinnacles and lattice-work crown.

(3) Frontline Church, Liverpool

The only time we managed to attend Sunday service for the whole month was when CL took us to his church - Frontline Church. It is a non-denominational Christian church. The service was contemporary and I found it very warm, spontaneous and personal, not so much fuss with protocol etc. Was blessed! =)

(4) Westminster Abbey, London

When we were in London, unfortunately Westminster Abbey was closed to visitors and it was a rainy day. So we only managed to walk around the parameters in the light drizzle. St Margaret's Church is also on the grounds of Westminster Abbey, but we didn't manage to go there because we were rushing for time.

North entrance of Westminster Abbey in a light drizzle
I have a better shot of the North entrance but there are people in it, so its a 'no go' for a blog post. I also tried stitching 2 photos together to get a complete picture of the North entrance, but it looked horrible.

Not being able to enter the church was a bit of a let down since Westminster Abbey is one of the most famous churches around. The present Gothic building was started by Henry III in 1245 but Benedictine monks began daily worship on the site since the middle of the tenth century. Therefore Westminster Abbey has more than a thousand years of history to its name.

The Abbey has been the coronation church and burial site of the monarchs since 1066. Princess Diana's funeral in 1997 was also held here. According to Wikipedia, the Abbey was the place where the first third of the King James Bible Old Testament and the last half of the New Testament were translated.

Sheltering from the rain
Reading up about Westminster Abbey, I discovered that there is a Poet's Corner where writers were buried or memorialised. Among these include Geoffrey Chaucer, William Blake, Robert Burns, Lord Byron, Tennyson, William Wordsworth, Jane Austen (my love), Rudyard Kipling, John Keats, George Eliot, the Brontë sisters, Charles Dickens and T.S. Eliot. Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin were also buried in the Abbey.

(5) St Paul's Cathedral, London

We didn't enter St Paul's Cathedral because of the hefty admissions fee. So this is what little information I've found to be interesting about this cathedral.

View of St Paul's in the City of London skyline across the River Thames from Tate Modern (note the Millennium Bridge)
The present building which we recognise as St Paul's Cathedral is actually the fourth cathedral to occupy the site since 604AD. This Anglican cathedral was designed by Sir Christopher Wren in the 17th century.

St Paul's Cathedral main entrance - Great West Door
The Great West Door is nine meters high and is now used only on ceremonial occasions. There is a clock tower on the west end of the cathedral.

St Paul's is a busy working church which holds hourly prayers and daily services. Important services have included the Service of Remembrance and Commemoration for the 11th September 2001, the 80th and 100th birthdays of Queen Elizabeth - the Queen Mother, the wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer and the funeral of fashion designer Alexander McQueen.

South end of St Paul's Cathedral (approaching from Millennium Bridge)
St Paul's iconic dome is one of the most recognisable features in the City of London's skyline. It is one of the largest cathedral domes in the world and was inspired by St Peter's Basilica in Rome. St Paul's Cathedral is built in the shape of a cross, with the dome crowning the intersection of the arms.

(6) Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris 

Notre Dame de Paris, which is French for Our Lady of Paris, is one of the first French Gothic architecture in France and Europe. It is located on the banks of the River Seine. The first stone of this Catholic cathedral was laid in 1163 after the newly elected Bishop Maurice de Sully demolished the previous Paris cathedral - St Stephen's. The rebuilding of this cathedral was dedicated to the Virgin Mary (Notre-Dame). The cathedral was effectively completed by around 1345.

Notre Dame de Paris, Western façade
The symbolism of the Western façade shows that the cathedral was built for God (four vertical buttresses reaching to the top of the towers, heavenwards) but is also a cathedral for men (two wide horizontal strips brings the building back to mortal earth). Another set of symbolism are the squares which stand for created, limited space and the circle which stands for the boundless, perfect figure without beginning or end, the image of God. 

The large rose window forms a halo above the heads of the statues of the Virgin and the Child Jesus, whom are positioned between two angels. Below the balustrade is the gallery of kings, a row of 28 statues representing the 28 generations of kings of Judah, descendants of Jesse and human ancestors of Mary and Jesus. Under the gallery of kings are three large portals - the Portal of the Virgin (left, North), the Portal of the Last Judgement (centre) and the Portal of Saint Anne (right, South).

Portal of Saint Anne, on the right of the West façade
Notre Dame has the typical characteristics of a Gothic cathedral. It has a majestic façade, with expansive stained-glass windows to provide lighting, ribbed vaults to emphasise its height and its floor plan with a long nave making up the body of the church.

Ribbed vaulting
One of the many stained-glass window
Chandelier in the nave
Part of the nave
Sculpture of Jesus with children

There are five bells at Notre Dame. The great bourdon bell is called Emmanuel. If you recall Quasimodo from the Hunchback of Notre Dame (Victor Hugo's book or Disney's cartoon adaptation), he was a bell-ringer in the  cathedral. I seem to have a mental image of the cartoon character swinging from a huge bell - which I presume is Emmanuel!

A choir wall was installed in the Middle Ages around the choir to minimise noise where priests could retreat for prayer and reflection. There is a series of sculptures on the choir wall which depicts scenes from the life of Jesus. 

 Series of sculptures of scenes from Jesus' life and resurrection on the choir wall

(7) Saint Bernard Parish (now St Bernard - St Mary Parish), Akron, Ohio, USA

We went for afternoon mass in Saint Bernard Parish for grandpa's memorial. The parish was renamed St Bernard-St Mary Parish on July 4th, 2010 (the day we arrived back home).

Main entrance
This Catholic church was established in 1861. It is was designed by parishioner William P. Ginther, whom had designed numerous churches around the country, to have a German-Romanesque architecture with a Baroque influence. The church has twin bell towers.

High altar
The altar is made of white Italian marble and the wall decorations are elaborate, featuring the disciples, apostles and seraphim.

Decorated high ceiling
My photos don't do justice to the embellishments of this church. The interior looked very new and well-kept. The stained-glass windows were of a different style than that of the cathedrals in Europe (which we visited).

Stained-glass windows depicting scenes from the life of Jesus

(8) St Giles' Cathedral, The High Kirk of Edinburgh, Scotland

St Giles was a 7th century hermit (later, abbot) who lived in France and according to legend, protected a hind (female red deer) from a huntsman's arrow - which pierced his own body. St Giles is the patron saint of the town and subsequently the parish church of Edinburgh was named in honour of him.

In the 12th century, the Scottish royal family founded a small church on this very site in an effort to spread Catholic Christian worship throughout the Scottish lowlands. Fragments of the original church has been incorporated into the present cathedral. Later on a larger church was partially burned and over a century and a half, more chapels and altars were added.

St Giles' Cathedral - Gothic style, has Crown spire on the tower (behind)
An interesting bit of history: During the Reformation movement, St Giles was partitioned so that the building could be used for other purposes. Among these 'purposes' throughout the 300 odd years include a police station, a fire station, a school, a coal store, meeting place for the Parliament and Town Council, a store for the Scottish guillotine and the "Maiden" (torture equipment Iron Maiden) and a prison used for "harlots and whores".

West doors of cathedral (main entrance)
An important feature of St Giles is the Thistle Chapel which was designed by Robert Lorimer and finished in 1911. The Scottish Thistle is the Emblem of Scotland. I have a photo of this flower, which was used as the breakfast table decoration in a museum cafe in Glasgow, but that calls for a separate post on flowers (with much hope should materialise). The Thistle Chapel is the chapel for the Order of the Thistle - Scotland's great order of chivalry. It has stalls for knights, the Sovereign and royalty with lavish carvings of Scottish theme.

I didn't take any photos of the interior of St Giles because we had to get a permit to do so. However I remember seeing a Robert Louis Stevenson memorial cast in bronze on one of the walls. This reminded me of the RLS initials carved into a small stone column and surrounded by birch trees in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh. Well, now I know that R.L. Stevenson was a Scot! (I know, DUH!!)

(9) Saint Margaret's Chapel in Edinburgh Castle

Saint Margaret's Chapel is the oldest building in Edinburgh Castle. The chapel was built by King David I and dedicated to his mother, who was made a saint.

I did not snap a photo of the chapel's exterior, but below is a photo of Edinburgh Castle. If you want to see how small and simple the building looks, try Googling it!

Edinburgh Castle
The internal width of this chapel is 3 meters and we entered through a door at the back of the nave. According to Wikipedia, there were frequent services held in the chapel. I wonder how many people could actually fit into the chapel before everyone felt like suffocating? Perhaps the services were exclusively for the royal family, and other officials weren't invited. ;P hehe Interestingly, during the Protestant Reformation, the chapel fell into disuse and was used as a gunpowder store. 

William Wallace window
St Margaret window (I think)
The stained-glass windows were installed in 1922 and designed by Douglas Strachan. I did not manage to photograph them all, but they are depictions of St Andrew, St Columba, St Margaret, St Ninian and William Wallace.
St Margaret alter cloth
The colours and patterns of the the altar cloth all carry a significance. 

(10) Manchester Cathedral

Our drive to Manchester wasn't in our itinerary. It was a last minute plan on the last day of our trip. Our first stop in Manchester was Manchester Cathedral, just because CL had parked his car in the parking lot on the opposite side of the street.

Manchester Cathedral is located on Victoria Street and dates back to the medieval times. The cathedral is built in the Gothic style and according to Wikipedia, its construction spanned from 1421 till 1882. It looks newer than it really is due to extensive refurbishments conducted from time to time.

Tower of Manchester Cathedral (photo taken from car - thus the tinting effect, not a rainy day!)
In 1215, Robert Greslet, Lord of the Manor of Manchester decided to build the current church adjacent to his manor house.

Another shot of the tower. Look at the quaint topiary standing sentinel to the entrance arch!
I remember hurrying through the cathedral because they were closing. So this was a really brief look around. I did not get to see the famed Angel Stone, which is a fragment of a Saxon Church dating back to around 700 CE. The Saxon words "Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit" are engraved on the stone.

Regimental Chapel
Nave roof
Stained-glass window (all the Victorian stained-glass were destroyed in WWII)
I found a website where you can take a virtual tour of Manchester Cathedral, if it strikes your fancy. Click here. Somehow, when we were there, the cathedral looked more dusty and worn. Thus ended our cathedral crawl!

P.S: This post is a week's worth of sneaking in research time and many midnight photoshop-ing sessions! :P

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

In the news today: Murders, Murders, Murders

For the past few days, the headlines have been dominated by the then 'missing case' of Datuk Sosilawati - the millionaire owner of a local cosmetics company - which has now been classified as a murder case. According to newspaper reports, the successful career lady together with a lawyer, bank officer and her driver were beaten, stabbed multiple times and burnt in a farm in Banting.

Their bodies were burnt using a traditional method from India, where cow dung and fuel were used to speed up the cremation and burning efficiency. Their ashes were then scattered in a river. The main suspects in this murder case are two brothers, both lawyers and one of them holds a Datukship.

Today's NST headlines particularly made me shake my head in disbelief - "Datuk may be linked to at least 17 murders". As I read the related reports in the newspaper, it's a wonder with so many missing persons and violence-related cases reported against this Datuk, why does he still hold the Datuk title and hasn't been under investigation? To see who this 'person' is, click on to this Utusan Malaysia article (Note: at the time I'm writing this, all the other major English and Malay newspapers have censored off his face - the one in purple prison uniform).

One of the other reported cases involved a workshop owner who was related to this Datuk and had been slashed and shortly later his wife slashed to death in front of their home. Another involved a businessman from India who never returned home after dealing with this Datuk and his wife came over to Malaysia to search for him but the police weren't helpful (all this, read from newspaper reports).

To read more about this case, here is the NST article - 17 murders! And for some juicy news check the Malay Mail. It seems the Datuk's wife has swiped the 2 kids from their international school and skipped town.

And to suddenly see all the politicians giving their two cents worth of opinion and 'urging' the authorities and the rakyat to prioritise investigation and not misinterpret it as a racial killing, makes me sick. Call me skeptical, but I really think that they're just riding on the publicity - get their names mentioned as much on media headlines to remind us all that they are there and that we should take their statements as proof of their concern and don't forget to vote for them come next election season! *whoopeee! (with ample sarcasm)*

Anyway, another murder case in the news is about a female religious teacher and her son murdered by their flat neighbour in Port Dickson. He tricked her into letting him into her flat, hit her and her son and tied them up, taped their mouths, covered their head with a sarong and left them to suffocate under the shower. And all this for... money... a mere RM3,500 (after selling her jewellery) to pay for his car loan and bills. What kind of human is this? Who would kill to pay for a car loan? Sell the car if you can't afford it, dude! Why take someone else's life? Someone who is unrelated to you and has not wronged you or cause you to be in this financial debacle!?! And such a cruel way of killing... and on top of that, a 10-year-old kid!?! Pure evil.

Note (20 Sept 2010):  It is now reported that the murder suspect lawyer bought his fake 'Datuk' title and that none of the royal families had awarded him a Datukship.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Failing Isn't As Bad As I Thought

This post is late by 3 weeks.

I finally got my results for the last 2 IQS ICSA papers I took in early June - the last, just a day before flying off to Manchester.Somehow at the back of my mind, I thought that I would be able to make it through. I was just hoping for a teeny weeny pass in Corporate Financial Management and in fact I was more doubtful about my Corporate Administration results.

In the end, I passed CA and failed CFM by a scale of 6-10 marks. When I saw the results on my laptop screen, I didn't feel anything - not happy, not sad, not anything. It was weird. I'd thought I would break down and cry in front of the whole office, but I didn't. Not even when I had to announce it to everyone in our weekly operations meeting an hour or so later. In fact I was able to MSN message, SMS, FB message and e-mail my other course mates, informing them of the online release of the results and adding a (;P) to the texts!

I tried analysing my feelings with anyone who would listen. And they all said that it was probably because exams weren't that important to me anymore. So failing wasn't a life-shattering event. And the funniest thing is... I've told almost everyone that I failed my CFM paper (when it is something that I "should" be ashamed of). In fact, my close friends were more worried for me than I was for myself!

Well anyway, I'm taking comfort (if any) in the rumour that CFM had only a 10% passing rate for this sitting. Which means every 9 out of 10 candidates failed the paper. I wonder if 'that certain someone' failed the paper too? Well, we shall see on 30th November...

Above all this non-reaction towards failing, I really thank God for enabling me to pass CA when I was so sure that I would fail it because I was writing whatever that came to my mind and made sense and they were basically the same points for practically every question. And I'm also thankful that He had prepared my heart to accept my results gracefully. I'm glad that despite me creating new financial theories and P&L analysis techniques in the short span of three hours of the answering time allocated, the examiner did not throw out my paper or give me negative marks (below zero)! Well, next time I'll try harder and if I have to think up of new financial theories again, I promise to make them more realistic and logical! ;P

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The Case of the Stolen Thank You Card

Receiving an e-mail from my uncle today reminded me of this case which got me and mum all riled up about a month or so ago. It was a simple act of thievery by a naïve kid but it made both of us so 'freakin' mad!

After coming home from our trip, I wanted to thank the whole family for being such great hosts to us. So it took me about 2 weeks to make 'thank you' cards for each family unit. Mum's job was to fill them up and post them as soon as possible.

As always, with her busy schedule, it took another 2 weeks (and lots of nagging on my part) for her to do her part. What she failed to tell me was that one day, while she was teaching English in another class, one of her students went through her bag and stole a few of the cards. When mum discovered the cards were missing, she hollered to the class asking who had taken her cards, and this little girl quickly hid them under her desk. Mum saw the movement and asked her whether she took the cards, but the girl denied it at first.

When the kid saw that mum was losing her patience, she finally gave in and surrendered the cards - altogether 4-5 cards out of the 7 that I'd made. The little thieve had written her name and messages on two of the cards.

When mum told me a few days later (after posting the undamaged cards), I was so MAD! If the kid was in my reach, honestly, I would have slapped some cow sense into her and given her a piece of my mind about stealing and lying at such a young age! What I can't comprehend is why did the kid think that going through someone else's bag and taking what's not hers was a perfectly normal thing to do!?! Out of the 22 odd kids in the class, only this brat stole the cards - what does that tell you about her upbringing? I wonder whether her parents ever taught her about morality?

Anyway, I don't feel like going to in depth with what was going on in my head all those days after I found out. The sting has lost its venom after a month (now). I just hope this kid doesn't grow up into a shoplifter.

For a week I refused to look at the extent of damage done to the cards, although mum kept asking me to repair the cards. I felt violated because I had sacrificed my sleeping hours and had put a lot of TLC into these cards - only to be defiled by the grimey hands of that brat. Mum said she had never been so angry at a kid before and was controlling herself not to slap the girl.

Below is one of the damaged cards. However, I'd already erased the words written on the cover when taking the photo (but the pencil nib traces couldn't be undone - so I had to 'transplant' everything onto a new base card). All the envelopes were beyond repair, so we threw them away and got brand new ones.

Ironic: Stealing a card to apologise to a friend for stealing something