Sunday, December 30, 2007

Have you ever cooked for your parents?

I don't think I did.

Whenever I want to treat my parents, I bring them to restaurant. Easy and simple and no hassle.

However when I look at my husband, I really appreciate the time he could devote to please his parents. He would think of dishes that his parents have never tried, go to buy the fresh ingredients, spend the whole afternoon preparing, decorate the dishes, match with different kind of wine... of course at the end of the day everyone will say that the dishes are delicious, excellent...

Most importantly, his parents will be pleased and touched.

Sometimes he even share his cooking recipes, ideas, experiences with his mother. He would teach her how to cook a dish. They both then went to buy the ingredients together. When the food is prepared, they think of way to improve, why it didn't turn out as expected...

Chinese always say that they are filial piety to their parents. Can you say that my husband is not nice to his parents? How many of you have ever spent the efforts in preparing your parents a nice meal??? You should be ashamed! Quickly make this as your one of your new year's resolutions before it is too late. :-)

Friday, December 28, 2007

Miss France gets to keep her title

Miss France 2008 will keep her crown, despite racy photos that appeared recently in a gossip magazine, but will not compete in the Miss World or Miss Universe pageants.

Valerie Begue, 22, will not be stripped of the title she won Dec. 8, but will not be allowed to take part in upcoming international competitions, Miss France organizers said Friday.

Begue described the outcome as "a compromise which satisfies all parties."

The pageant's criteria stipulates that candidates must "never have posed or exhibited (themselves) in dubious outfits or poses, partially or totally nude."

Photos published in Entrevue magazine last week included one of a bikini-clad Begue lying on a cross in a swimming pool and another of her licking what appeared to be yogurt or evaporated milk.

Begue is a native of France's Indian Ocean island of Reunion. She is to be replaced in international pageants by the first runner-up, Vahinerii Requillart, Miss New Caledonia.

I don't know why she got to keep the title. If she can't represent France to compete in the international competition, she is not Miss France.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

French president's new girlfriend

The French president has a new girlfriend now. Her name is Carla Bruni, an x-model and now singer-composer. She is 39 years old.

I thought this president has too many thing in his agenda that after the divorce, he will stay single and focus on his career. I forgot he is still a man and need a pretty woman to be on his side.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The beautiful parents

In French we call the parents in laws the "beautiful parents" (les beaux parents). What strikes me is that even the unmarried couple call their partner's parents "my beautiful parents". For example, I was asking what everyone else would be doing during Christmas, those single classmates with girlfriend boyfriend replied that they would spend a day with their parents, another day with their "beautiful parents".

When they said that I always thought that they are married. The family structure here is so untraditional these days. You can have couple who are together forever with children but still not married. It still sound weird to me when I see kids call the couple "dad" and "mum", but when the "dad" introduces the "mum" he would say this is my "girlfriend". These days you can even hear the kid in the class asking the other kid:"What? You only have four grandparents? I have EIGHT!" Yes it is totally possible to have eight grandparents. I will let you figure out yourself.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Ah, what a waste, I got sicked during Christmas.

After the Christmas big meal, we went to sleep at around 1am. My stomach was hurting the whole night (I haven't taken much goose liver). Then I puked in the room at around 4am, dirtying the bed and the room. What a shame!!! Hubby cleaned up everything, so nice of him!!

Lunch on Christmas is always my favorite: roasted chicken with chestnut. I had to cook porridge for myself, didn't dare to eat much the chicken and chestnut.

I hope I won't vomit again tonight. :-(

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas decoration in the neighborhood

There is this house in the neighborhood who has nice decoration every year. It becomes so famous that a lot of people just come to have a look when Christmas approaching.

This year they even created a website:

The house owner put a lot of effort in decorating their house, and sometimes they are outside welcoming the visitors. This year they will have Santa Clause and candies for the kids. They do this for free.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Yeah the holiday started!

I was so glad when my exams finished. Now let's forget about them and start celebrating!

Yeah, I started the celebration and went with a bunch of classmates to a cafe. I have to say that I love them so much, I'm lucky to have met so many nice French. Even though I'm older than all of them, I didn't feel much gap when I'm with them.

We continued the celebration with a feast with my in-laws. Yeah, Christmas is in two days but we already started the eating tours. I had eaten oysters, crabs, seafood pumpkin soup and many others good French food so far. More to come!!!

I wish you all merry Christmas and super happy new year!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

My first presentation in French

I learnt a lot! It was just a 10 minutes presentation, but the whole process was just amazing.

I would really like to thank my professor who invited me to join this conference and assured me that this is more important than an exam (I was exempted from an exam for this).

At the beginning, I was not very confident for this presentation, and got even scarier when the main speaker, a Spanish woman told me that Asian governments emphasis more on money and economy than really create a knowledge society. So Singapore, the country I will present, shouldn't be qualified as a digital city. My title of the presentation was "Singapore, the digital city" and she was telling me that I was wrong. Wow.

During the conference, she repeated that she doesn't consider Singapore as a digital city since it is not a knowledge society. At this point Only Europe could be considered as knowledge society. According to her, a knowledge society is a society where people from the bottom take the initiative to access and create knowledge than being pushed by the government. However after my presentation, an audience commented that while the idea of initiative from people is ideal and nice, people should be taught of using different tools to access and create knowledge. He mentioned some example that I gave during my presentation. Wow this guy just saved me! At least someone benefited from my presentation.

After all it was not so scary to give a presentation in French. What I found scary was how to intelligently answer a spontaneous question. I think I didn't reply well to a question asked by the host.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Wish me shit shit shit!

One exam down and two more to go. Just finished the power point slide for tomorrow's presentation, and I really don't know how I will perform since it is going to be in French. In France when wishing someone all the best, they will say "merde, merde, merde." = Shit, shit, shit.

I thought that since they told me "shit shit shit" then the more shit the better. So one day I told hubby that "I wish you plenty of shit" in French. He laughed so hard because it meant that I wish him full of shit.

So please just wish me shit shit shit but not full of shit ok? :-)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Life is like a battle field

I felt like I just came back from a battle field.

This morning I fought with the HR:
I'm the best, just give me a job!

This afternoon I fought with my classmates:
The topic I'm presenting is interesting, so listen to me!

And constantly fight with myself: I'm good, I'm good, I'm good, even in French.

Finally, home sweet home. Relax. Watched Dexter with hubby. Hubby cooked nice pasta for dinner.

It is just the beginning of the week but I feel like I'm dead already.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

My weekly fruit supply: Apples!

I can live without many things but my mouth itches when I'm out of fruit. I will have a busy week in front of me so getting fruit supply is essential. My nice hubby went to buy all kind of apples freshed out from an apple farm!! Look at all these different kind of species. I tried several of them and they were crunchy and sweet and juicy!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

My planning next week

Mon: Morning - Internship interview, Afternoon - big presentation
Tue: Whole day listening to other groups' presentation
Wed: Exam
Thurs: 10 minutes presentation to a government body, in FRENCH!
Fri: 2 exams

At this point, I still haven't finished my Monday presentation power point slides. Not to mention about interview preparation, revision for the exams, think about what to present to the government body.

So don't ask me what I want for Christmas, it's the least important thing in my list!!

Friday, December 14, 2007 to stop their free delivery services

I love buying stuffs from, they offer free delivery for some products like books and CDs.

This week, was fine 100,000 euros by the Bookstore Union, as this online giant didn't respect the fixed price of the books they are selling. Apparently in France, every book has a fixed price, and the most one can do is to sell the book 5% below the fixed price. Since Amazon is selling below this 5% discount, it is hurting other independent businesses. Amazon is ordered to cancel their free delivery services too.

At one point I enjoy the free delivery and cheaper book price, I don't want to see the independent bookstores go bankrupt due to this unfair competition. Amazon is basically selling at lost and get profit from somewhere else. Independent bookstores won't be able to conduct a price war with Amazon.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I passed the logic test!

Yes, I did it. I'm so happy. I know there are still long way to go before I can really get a job or an internship, but at least this set me to an interview = open door to a job.

We had to do two tests.The first one was pretty common type of logical test. The second one was all domino test, at least they were not testing my French!

Now let see whether you can solve this:

Go to comment for answer. :-)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I'm going to have an internship interview tomorrow. The first hour will be the presentation of the company, the second hour will be the logical test. Only candidates who have positive test score will be called for interview. My goal is to at least pass the test. I tried to do some test online and I found it quite difficult. I like mathematic questions but those with French language I failed miserably. I hope they won't test too much about French expressions.

Anyway, it seems that for every interview, you need to prepare to talk about your strengths and weaknesses. My classmate said my strong point is the ability to adapt in different situations as I have moved from Malaysia to USA then to France. My husband said I work hard. In terms of weakness, I found on internet that nobody will reveal their real weaknesses and a good interviewer shouldn't have asked this question. But, I was asked this question before so I will need to talk about it. I'm going to say that I work too hard until I sacrifice my leisure time. What do you think?

Can anyone share the "nice" strengths and weaknesses to talk about? This is going to be a consultant position.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Eating, speaking with handsome guys, and party

It was our inter-alumni party night and it was an eye opening event. Around 50 seniors came from around the country and some from overseas to share their professional experiences with us. I was a little bit timid and stayed in my corner, nonetheless I managed to speak with some nice people, including those handsome guys. :-) The organizer prepared a slide show about us in the class and how we behave during discussion, presentation... The party ended...where do you think? It has to be a nightclub with alcohol and smoke and dance.

In the dancing floor, I look at those people, crazily drinking, smoking and dancing, and couldn't associate them with their professional life. I remember one of my managers in US was so drunk at one company function that he become the laughing target for several weeks. And here I was looking at the bright and energetic talents, and wondering why everyone in this country just need to end up in a place doing this kind of stuff. Is there no better thing to do in life than drinking and smoking? I'm not judging anyone, but I have tried to put myself in their shoes and just couldn't see why a party has to be associated with alcohol.

Another remark, if this party was held in Malaysia, most of the budget will be spent on food. In this party, cost covered hard liquor like whiskey and vodka. It won't surprise you if I tell you that I was hungry and went for a kebab at the end right?

Friday, December 07, 2007

I had a fabulous semester, and lunch

Despite the fact that I'm stressed over the internship and my French level, I have had a fabulous semester. What left now are some projects to be completed, some presentation to be taken care of and of course the scary final examinations.

Most of the professors are very competent, friendly and willing to share their experiences, especially those who work professionally in the high tech lines. I felt very sad at the end of some classes, as we wouldn't have classes again with them in the next semester. They have given me a lot of constructive suggestions on how I can progress in my career when I finish school.

On the other hand bond has been built between classmates. In our class there is an association who takes up the responsible to organize events to foster the friendship between classmates. We have went out several times to restaurants, and this coming Saturday the guys are having a football match and we will have an inter-alumni night soon. The inter-alumni night will provide opportunity for us to talk to the alumni.

Despite the fact that I don't like to air kiss people in the morning, my classmates have been extremely nice to me. All of the foreign students are francophone who speak good French, so people tolerate my French mistake and try help me out as much as they can. There is no sense of competition among class or "kiasu" spirit, I found this pretty amazing. One of the class was held in French and very technical, some of my classmates approached me and expressed concern whether I could understand and whether I need help. Brief, I have met a bunch of nice people here.

In terms of the cost, the cheapest ever paid in my life for this kind of quality education: 208 euros per year.

Hubby cooked this for lunch: Sesame tuna with rice and salad

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Minimum wage at 1500€

The socialist party in France is trying to push the minimum wage to 1500€ per month. Currently it stands at around 1200€. Their reason being that the current salary is not sufficient for a family to cover the inflated living expenses. Of course every minimum wage workers welcome this reform.

When I first arrived in France I was shocked on how little people in this country earn. Currently, students who have master degree have entry salary at around 1500€, depending on city and sector where they work. Then, I discovered that a cleaning lady is earning 300€ less than someone who is a degree holder. Salary climbs like a snail, and don't think about year end bonuses, they are basically non existence. Companies couldn't afford to give employees other benefits, as when they pay an employee 1500€, they are paying around the same amount to the government as taxes.

Minimum wage increases = cost of business increases = prices increase = less opportunity for salary increase = earn the same salary with higher inflation.

At one point, I asked myself whether I should just hide my education level and go look for a minimum wage job. This kind of job won't care if I speak or write perfect French. What's the point to study 5 more years then earn 300€ more?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

How to write like a French in 3 months?


If you know of any secrets in improving the writing skills for a language you pick up 2 1/2 years ago as an adult, let me know.

I feel ashame of my French level especially the writing part. This becomes critical as we are all looking for an internship, and I just couldn't produce a nice motivation letter or CV without asking hubby for help.

It has important consequences. I got kicked out for an internship opportunity while everyone in my class who applied for it got called for an interview. I know this could be from many reasons, the fact that I'm older than the rest of the class, that I'm married and no kids (company doesn't want to risk hire a woman who will get pregnant soon), that I'm Asian (the are bunch of French looking for job)... and that I don't write good French.

The reality is cruel, as long as I don't speak and write good French, I'm nobody in this country.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Suddenly the yellow skin is considered beautiful

I was shocked seeing a yellow skin woman won Miss World 2007. Can you imagine it has never happened before since 1954? The yellow skin beauty from Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and even Malaysia had all lost in the pass. When I was young, I would watch Miss World during the night, and those in the finalist were always the blonds or the South Americans or Indians. There was a saying that the Asian beauties were too short, their style didn't suit the western judgement, they didn't speak good English...As far as I know only Maggie Cheong managed to qualify as one of the 15 finalists in 1983.

And today, a Chinese won. Wow. I saw the crowing moment, and she is taller than all the finalist. But, I strongly suspect this has to do with the raising of Chinese political and economical power. She was telling the world how she wishes China can successfully organize the 2008 Olympic Games and the judges were "touched". Isn't it a nice moment to "give face" to the Chinese?

When Ann Lee won the Oscar in 2001 I was thinking what the hell was going on. I didn't believe my eyes watching the big screen in the Time Squares in NY. Now, I won be surprised if more Chinese win in any global or international events.

In 21 century, the world has to "kow-tow" to the Chinese, not the other way round.

Here shows which region won the Miss World in the past. India scored well, but see in Asia the yellow skin countries has only won once, and that is from China in 2007.

Europe (24 titles won)
United Kingdom (4)
Iceland and Sweden (3)
Austria, Netherlands (2)
Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Poland, Russia and Turkey (1)

Americas (13 titles won)
Venezuela (5)
Argentina, Peru and United States (2)
Bermuda and Brazil (1)

Asia-Pacific (9 titles won)
India (5)
Australia (2)
Guam and China (1)

Caribbean (7 titles won)
Jamaica (3)
Dominican Republic, Grenada, Puerto Rico and Trinidad and Tobago (1)

Africa (4 titles won)
South Africa (2)
Egypt and Nigeria (1)

Monday, December 03, 2007

French Expression: Give a rabbit

When a French gives you a rabbit, don't accept it! It means that he is standing you up! Give a rabbit in French means people who misses the appointment without informing the party waiting for him/her. In Chinese it means 放飞机.

Left photo:"I need to go for my appointment."
"Why? Didn't you want to give him a rabbit?"
Right photo:"Exactly."

Anyone has could come up with an explanation why give some a rabbit means stand someone up? My reasoning being that once you put the rabbit on the floor, it would just runaway, you won't see the rabbit again. Same thing, you won't see the guy you are having appointment with when he decided "to give you a rabbit".

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Should the French work on Sunday?

Me and hubby: Yes
Our couple friends: No
There goes the debate on why and why not. I don't want to go into the detail of what we had discussed, but what strikes me is about their thinking: If there is something they don't want to do, other people shouldn't do as well. Reason being if some people are allowed to do that, they will have to force to do it one day. A very selfish thinking, but that shapes the mentality of the French:
- If I don't want to work on Sunday, other people who want to shouldn't be allowed to do that
- If I don't want to go study, let's block the school/University so that others can't study too
- If I'm not happy with my pension fund, let's bother others to show them how important our job is

Based on this mentality, even there are people expressing their willingness to work on Sunday (work more to gain more), people who don't want to work on Sunday fight to prevent this from happening. Their reasoning could sound absurd, but sadly it could happen in France:
If my coworker willing to work on Sunday, that means he works harder than me. One day my boss will think I'm lazy if I refuse to work on Sunday. So we shouldn't let this happen, Sunday is for family gathering and nobody should work on that day, except those in the emergency and leisure industry.

And they are not wrong. In real life, if everyone in your department work until 9pm everyday, would your dare to leave work at 5pm? If your boss asks you to work on Sunday and everyone else said yes, would you dare to say no?

When I was studying in Malaysia, I worked part time in a department store. My supervisor who has married would arrange students to work on Sunday so that those who have family didn't have to work on Sunday. I was very happy to work on Sunday as it was the day where most sales occurred (more sales = more commission), plus I lived with my family so I see them everyday and eat with them for every dinner. But this might not work in France. If students work on Sunday, they might not have chance to go home to see their parents.

On the other hand, shops operate on Sunday can boost the purchasing and stimulate the economy. Directly and indirectly it will create more jobs. Let say you have an option: You can get a job that requires you to work on Sunday, or stay unemployed. Which one would you choose? Me definitely choose to work.

Friday, November 30, 2007

No doggie bag for you

We went to a restaurant and couldn't finished what we had ordered. We asked for a doggie bag but was told that the restaurant was not allowed to do that due to hygiene issue. Since we didn't want to waste the food, we were forced to wrap the leftover with tissue paper.

In Malaysia it is quite easy to ask to bring home the leftover (tapau). In the USA it was very common practice too. Some people just settle a meal by eating the leftover from the restaurant. It is called doggie bag because the original idea was to feed the dog at home with whatever is left.

I thought France was too much in implementing this law, but looking through internet, Australia and England are starting to ban restaurants from giving out doggie bag too.

"March 20-21 -- No more restaurant doggie bags. In Australia, the restaurant doggie bag is in decline because of fears that patrons will store food at improper temperatures, allowing the growth of food-poisoning bacteria. "The Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group, which has 142 hotel restaurants across the country, has banned patrons from taking home leftovers. Victoria has already brought in anti-doggie-bag legislation, with other states tipped to follow before the end of the year, Mr Deakin said. 'If we are the cooker of the food we are liable,' he said." ("Restaurants ban doggie bags", The Advertiser (Adelaide), Mar. 18). Meanwhile, in the U.K.: "Some restaurants in Britain are forcing customers who like their meat rare to sign a disclaimer form before eating due to fears of the risk of E. coli and salmonella poisoning, the Sunday Times newspaper reported." ("British Eaters Who Like Rare Meat Sign Disclaimers", Reuters/Yahoo, Mar. 18). "

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Presentation skills


In my class I have to do quite some presentation and I observed how very different the way each of us in expressing ourself.

From the Malaysian education system of teacher talking students listening, I was forced to speak up and participate during my studies in the USA. Not everyone is gifted in talking, you would be amazed how many professional went speechless in front of the audience. One of my classmate who was a working professional actually said "gosh, I can't believe this is happening..." in front of us because he was not able to continue what he was saying; another classmate was laughing non stop in the middle of the presentation. It was a very awkward moment for her.

The fact that I lived 5 years in the USA gives me advantage for English presentation. I have feedback from time to time from my French classmates about how they had never thought of presenting something this way or that way. For me, I don't like to listen to theoretical points without a concrete example. To catch the audience attention, a good way is to say something that they can relate. For example, I was presenting a paper about how employees across continent coordinate their work. I gave my personal experience on how I had to coordinate with the offices in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, France, Scotland and USA, and how the French guy was giving me headache as he was on vacation all the times. Suddenly everyone laughed. I caught their attention. From time to time I would make up an example and use my classmate's name. This obliged the classmate who's name got mentioned to listen to what I have to say. Even the professor raised his head (from reading the article instead of paying attention to us)and look enthusiastic and laughed with us.

A presentation without an example is bla blah blah blah for me. :-)

One thing I regret is that I'm a very petite woman so I can't point to the chart or the power point slide like everyone else. We don't have a laser pointer in class. It was a bit hard to explain a diagram or model. I basically have to give very clear indication about which part of the diagram I'm talking about.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Can you kiss your friend?

In France we air kiss people when we see them in the morning. Basically it's just cheek touching cheek and both site make the sound of kissing, at least this was how I was taught.

These days I noticed that some of my classmates actually peck my cheeks and I sense the "wet" lips. It kind of disgusted me, but I can't tell the French to change their way of greeting, can I? It just that I won't reciprocate. In fact I try to avoid air kisses as much as possible by simple say good morning and smile at everyone in the class when I arrive. But when the others arrive some of them will go kiss everyone in the class, and it would be weird to refuse this nice gesture.

Another phenomenon is that I saw a classmate (guy) pecking the cheek of another classmate (girl) during a conversation, when he was happy or just wanted to show friendship. He would sometimes massage the shoulders of some girl classmates. Us the foreigners were a bit disturbed and we told him to not do that, but he said this is the French tradition.

This map shows how many air kisses you need to do in each region, represent by the circle. Four circles mean four air kisses for one person. As for me, I let people do two kisses no matter where I'm and just apologize that I didn't know they do four kisses.

So for you guys, can you accept to be kissed on the cheeks? Would you kiss everyone in your class/workplace? How do you greet your friends?

Monday, November 26, 2007

An eye opener: school canteen on strike

I don't know what say. The school canteen is on strike. I had never heard of this in my life. In my whole life I had never thought of canteen can also go on strike.

Whenever we have class in the afternoon, me and a group of classmates would go to eat in one of the two University canteens. They serve good food with cheap price: 2.80 euros for an appetizer, main plate and dessert. Of course the canteen operation is heavily subsidized by the government. We always have good time there.

Today, I was so disappointed and shocked. I had to buy a sandwich for lunch. Unthinkable.


Went to dinner last Saturday night. It was a gathering with people I don't know, so the only motivation for me to participate was the food. :-)

This is the entrée. Delicious, brittle, the veggies under were very tasty.

The sauce was good but the fish was not cook. We were not sure whether it was on purpose or the chef just messed up.

Cheeses and salad. I ate only one kind of cheese and the salad,didn't really like the two other cheeses.

Dessert was very disappointing too. It is a dessert for big group. It's called Norwegian omelet in French, but it's actually cake with ice cream and rum.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Having class in secret!

Apparently our faculty was the only one "allowed" to have class last week. The others faculties were ordered to close down since their students voted to continue blocking the University.

We had our technical class this morning, which was held in one of the faculties that was ordered to close down. The professor was kind enough, he arranged the guard to come open the door for us and closed it after. We could not get out of the building during the course else we would not be able to come back in. We were like having class in secret, hoping the union won't spot us as they might give us trouble if seeing us having class.

Well, no one spotted us so everything went well. We managed to talk to the professor, who appearantly didn't support this strike, and still teach his students by distant courses. He said the program goes on as planned and those on strike should be responsible to catch up with the syllabus.

Pray hard we could finish this semester as planned!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Short cut to Georgia State MBA program

"Robinson's Flexible MBA Program was ranked #8 in the nation in the US News and World Report's 2008 survey published in March 2007." This is what I read in Georgia State MBA program website.

So, why am I telling you guys this here? In fact, the course I'm doing now has an exchange agreement with Georgia State Robinson College. Two of my classmates are actually going to study one semester there.

This is just a nice short cut to enter Georgia State MBA program. If you apply from the USA, you need to have super high GMAT score, and it cost USD64,000 to foreign student. But if you go from my University, you don't even have to take GMAT exam. A good TOEFL score is sufficient, plus you pay only the living expenses (USD5k), as the school fees were supposed to be covered by the students or professors who would come to study in my University.

Of course this is just for one semester, but it seems that if you managed to study one semester there, you will have very high chance to be accepted to complete the whole MBA program next time.

A nice short cut hah?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

How life just changed...

I was going to an internship fair so I asked Hubby about his experience in landing an offer. He reminisced how the whole internship had changed his life.

He was in Paris for an internship fair mainly for English speaking positions and most of the companies were from UK. While submitting his CV to a British company, he spotted the poor guy (his recruiter) in the next booth who had no visitors and who looked very bored. So he decided to talk to that guy and this instant decision had changed his whole life, and mine.

He didn't know this American company, he didn't even know that it was in USA. When he got a call for the interview, he thought Austin was in UK! But no, in fact he was going to USA!

If he had not spotted that guy and went to talk to him, he would had never gone to USA and met me and married me!!! Amazing how destiny played us.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Met the nice French civil servants

Due to one of my project assignments, we had an interview with the big IT guys in the City Hall. They were so helpful! I mean we are just students, they didn't have to devote so many time to us. They didn't go for the strike too.

I don't know whether this could happen in Malaysia. Contact and interview the civil servant in say the Transportation Department, I'm sure they will pass us like a ball or be entertained by the small guy.

What a relief, finally find something good to write about the French. :-) I'm praying no more blockage for our faculty. There were a group of students still gathered in front of the faculty just next to our building, it seemed that they are not happy that we started the classes again. :-(

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Change my domain name

If you have noticed, I have changed my domain name to, but blogger remains as my host. Actually blogger host it for free, so I won't change the layout and the visual design until I have time to really learn how to change these things.

When you type my blogspot address it will directly you to my new domain, but change the URL if you can.

Oh between, my Page Rank dropped from 3 to 0, so I figure it's time to start over to a new domain. :-)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Dont be jealous

See what hubby cooked for lunch yesterday? It was so delicious. Don't be jealous yah!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Vending Machine for book

Photo source:

My favorite Chinese author is releasing her new book, and they have one vending machine specifically selling her books!! Wow, I didn't know that beside selling beverages and junk foods, people can sell books like this. This machine is placed in a metro station in Hong Kong. I wish I could be the first one to buy it, she signed all the 200 books here in the machine.

I love this author so much, she has her own blog now, sharing with the readers some foods she cook, some dress she like... overall she is just an ordinary people, but through her blog we get to know her better.

Anyone knows of any online bookstore selling Chinese book in Europe? It's just too expensive to have someone send it from Malaysia.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Can you shut your heart?

My best friend in Nantes is leaving soon to the US. I was not very keen for the "say good bye" moment but we did it tonight. I'm sad to say that these days my feelings have been very numb. I don't feel anymore. People leave and come and I have to constantly dealing with it. I have learn to shut my heart.

When I arrived in France I wanted a fresh start. I tried to make friends in the French class. Very quickly I was pampered with the fact that it is very hard to get a good friend. You have to constantly invest in it. Here in France, either you go to restaurant, go to night club, or you have a party at home. Going to restaurant is expensive and not everyone can afford it. I tried to go to night club but I'm at a point that too much is too much. I tried to change myself to adapt to the western life, but I just can't. I felt bored in a night club while people just keep getting drunk and doing stupid things. I don't like cooking much, so having party at home is extremely painful, all the clean up, arrangement, people stay overnight, it's just too much work.

On the other hand, I have very very friendly classmates in my master class. They know I don't speak good French so they try to help me at their best. A classmate is simply my tutor, available to me whenever I have problem with the French language. Yet, I have shut my heart. With the internship, these people are just going to go away in a few months.

I used to be a very cheerful people, laughing at all times with so many friends around. Now I'm still laughing, but to myself. Friendship is too fragile, it is broken when it is separated by distance.

Friday, November 16, 2007

So angry! They closed the University!

The President of University of Nantes decided to close the campus from 16 November until 20 November. It means that I won't have class until next Wednesday. I'm so pissed!!! We just finished a team work and we are supposed to have our presentation on Monday. We are very motivated for that and I really don't want to wait for another week.

I know the President is right to be cautious. Yesterday night there were about 150 students blocked the Faculty of Science and Faculty of Literature, and this brought worry that these people will become violent and start destroying the precious school properties. The University has to use force, by calling the police, to chase away the students.

I was so disappointed. Our faculty (Economic and Management) usually is not effected by any students demonstration. But the whole campus in the area is ordered to close. This morning I went to the faculty, and had to go home bcos everything is closed, including the library.

I personally think that this law is good, that the University should have right to fund their own expenses. Won't it be good to do some researches that would be used by the enterprises and in return get some sponsorship instead of relaying on the government?

These students, if they don't want to have class, they can just get their asses out of the campus. Isn't it so selfish to try to achieve something by preventing other to conduct their day to day activities?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Class cancelled due to strike

Remember I told you that November is the month of strike in France? Well, this will be the first time the strike directly impact me. Our professor from the Faculty of Science Information just informed us that the class on Saturday will be canceled as 600 students out of 4000 decided to blog the school.

Why the students want to blog the faculty? Sincerely I don't know much, it's something against the new regulation, that the University will have more autonomy in terms of fund raising. The students are scared the private companies will control the University and less populars courses will be threaten to be eliminated.

Most of the students who participated are in the first or second year, they are not out in the working world, so they don't care about the classes. People in the final year like me and the others, just hope to graduate and find a job.

So after all it might not be a bad idea to forbid students from participating in the politic and just concentrate on their studies. This has been implemented for ages in Malaysia, at least all of us won't go on strike so that don't have to go to class.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Theoretical Vs Practical

These days I have been busied studying a topic about "organizational knowing" which I need to present with my group next week. There were so many theoretical words: embedded, enacted, tacit knowledge, epistemology. In quite some part of the courses we need to read articles like this. I found it painful and meaningless. The researches like to use big words and I was so confused after reading. It always request repeat reading just to understand a point. Why can't they just use very simple words to express what they want to say? Sometimes after reading an article I didn't feel like learning anything.

On the other hand, we have professors from the different companies who give classes about very practical information, such as ERP system, how to implement SAP in a company, how to conduct a project, how to apply Business Intelligence in a company. They share their experiences and tell us what's happening in the current IT industry. I found it a lot useful, and none of them actually talk about those theories we had to learn. These professors always challenge us in a very practical way. It was very interactive, and most of the time we manage to come out with some ideas, but at the end they would give us some perspective in real life business which we missed or would have never guessed. At the end of the class I always feel that I learn a lot.

Real life professor, who has first hand experience in the field we are studying, bring a lot of values to the course. At least this is what I think. How about you?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Conflict with the professor

We have an American professor who would like us to conduct a research paper. We work in group and these days he has been asking us to submit and present to him the research outline.

The first time, we passed three hours presenting and watching others present. He commented on each group and we were asked to correct our outline and resubmit to him.

Two weeks later, a day before the class he asked us to present again the outline. Some classmates disagreed as they think that it took too much time to have every group present and it was very boring while others are presenting. We took this issue to the professor who is responsible for the whole Master program. He asked us to write down the good and bad points of that professor, and he would talk to him so that we don't have to do the presentation openly in class.

However, when the professor came in the class, we were asked to do what he had asked, as like nothing has happened. We all felt very reluctant, and felt upset that he didn't respect our opinion, instead imposed us to do what he wanted. According to my classmates, his teaching method might work in the USA but not in France.

Personally I prefer to have open discussion with the professor in class so that he is clear about what we are thinking, instead of passing through another professor. But, it seems that he is quite stubborn that nobody will be able to change his mind.

Do you guys have the same experience of professor who would not change his way of teaching?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A quarter to five

"Bee, I'm coming to pick you up at quarter to five." said a friend.
"Ok, see you then." I replied.
"What time your friend is coming to pick us up?" Asked hubby.
"Ah, we have plenty of time then." He then continue to play his games and me watching TV.

At 4.45pm, someone knocked on the door, and of course it was my friend! Quarter to five is 4.45pm, and I thought she meant 5.15pm.

I don't know why people need to get complicated with the way they express about time. Why don't just say it directly at the exact time instead of having to think about 5pm minus a quarter = 4.45pm. I found it very confusing and each time I have to think about what it really means. This way of expressing time was uncommon around my network in Malaysia. When I was in Austin I didn't have much problem accept for one or two friends who would said the time in a different way.

In France, everyone is using the quarter system:
45 minutes = 3 quarter hour (3 quart d'heure)
2.15 = 2 hours quarter (deux heures et quart)
2.45 = 3 hours minus a quarter (trois heures moins quart)

Worst, they are using the 24 hours clock system. Sometimes when someone said 18 hours (dix huit heures) immediately I would thought about 8pm, but instead it's 6pm.

Living in a foreign country really need a lot of adjustment.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Good mood bad mood

Looking out the windows, these are the scenery we are seeing everyday. One of the advantages of living in an apartment is that you can see things from very high perspective, this time I think see the frees instead of only seeing the bough. Sometimes we see a squirrel resting somewhere, a bird standing and looking area, the leaves waving and dancing... it really make my day and upraise my mood.

But, these moments could be interrupted when you are seeing the amount of taxes you have to pay. Remember I was saying that we got tax exemption since we got married in the middle of the year? Well, actually hubby has to pay his income tax for the day before the wedding, and we just received the "tax d'habitation", something I have never seen in USA or Malaysia. Basically if you live in an apartment or house on 1 January on that particular year, you need to pay "tax of staying" there. And if you are the owner of the propriety, you need to pay the property tax on top of the staying tax. The French government just know to get tax from everywhere.

My mood was totally broken down when I see that we have to pay almost 1k euros for taxes. Sorry, in France you seldom get year end bonuses, so don't hope to use that for taxes. I really don't know how the French can survive in the land of taxes, they don't earn much and they need to pay variety of taxes. The pay slip has like 20 items there where they legally subtract from your salary.

Another thing, by having a TV, we have to pay 116 euros a year. You pay this so that when you watch the public TV channels you won't get any advertisement.

I'm feeling poor in France.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Study nightmare

Our visiting professor from the USA arrived this week, and we will have class with him tomorrow. The person in charge of our course just sent out an email, asking us to go download some articles and prepare for the class. The preparation involves reading materials of 50 pages.

This person in charge is also our professor for one of the classes, and he requested us to read 3 articles as well.

Conclusion: I have like 6 articles to read and I started only at 11pm. I was in the school whole day for other group assignments, then got invited to hubby's friend's place for dinner.

Life as a student could be very tiring. I missed the time where I went to work, came home 6pm, spent the whole night doing nothing, and at the end of the month money appeared in my account. Those sweet old times.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

We got a nutcracker, yeah!

My MIL came by and gave us a lot of stuffs, one of them is this nutcracker. Of course she bought us the nuts too. I found the nutcracker very useful and it cracks easily.

While looking at wikipedia why there is a Ballet show calls "The Nutcracker", I found this picture. According to wikipedia:
  • These nutcrackers portray a person with a large mouth which the operator opens by lifting a lever in the back of the figurine. Originally one could insert a nut in the big-toothed mouth, press down and thereby crack the nut.
  • The ballet The Nutcracker derives its name from this festive holiday decoration.
Can you imagine opening the mouth of these status and crack a nut? I don't know how it would work actually.

Monday, November 05, 2007

When your teammate didn't do her/his work...

What do you do in this situation?

The assignment was given two weeks ago. I sent out an email to my teammate last Wednesday and the due date was today. My teammate agreed to do the part. However yesterday, a day before the due date, I still didn't get the part, so I sent out an email. I got a reply, saying that there was no time for the job to be done. The latest available time for this person would be 1 hour before the due date.

Me, what did I do? I covered the part yesterday night. Submitted today, with that person's name. I didn't eat lunch as I was told those who wanted to present should prepare a Power Point Presentation.

We did a good presentation, I did most of the work.

What would you do if you were me?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

For your health, avoid snacking between the meals

The minister of health has been sending messages to the French to take care of their health. Usually you see these messages on TV, at the bottom of every advertisements.

- «Pour votre santé, mangez au moins cinq fruits et légumes par jour » ;
(For your health, eat at least give fruits and vegetables per day)
- « Pour votre santé, pratiquez une activité physique régulière » ;
(For your health, practice a physical sport regularly)
- « Pour votre santé, évitez de manger trop gras, trop sucré, trop salé » ;
(For your health, avoid eating too oily, too sweet, too salty)
- « Pour votre santé, évitez de grignoter entre les repas ».
(For your health, avoid snacking between the meals)

We all know very well the first three messages and me myself agree and try to do the same. But for the fourth, have you ever heard of that? Its just that I nibble junk food/dessert/cookies all the times in my life and I didn't know it was bad. In Malaysia, cakes, kuihs, cookies, biscuits, confectionery, fruit, chocolate are to be nibbled between meals, do you think this has bad influence on the health? Here's what I found on the internet to response to this question:

  • Although snacking has been thought to contribute to weight gain, this will only happen if one regularly consumes more energy than one needs.
  • Furthermore, as long as energy intake is maintained, snacking may even help some individuals improve their weight control because eating more frequently may promote satiety, favours eating earlier in the day, and may increase carbohydrate intake while decreasing fat consumption.
  • In addition, snacking seems to be associated with a lower risk of heart disease due to a lower level of both total and LDL cholesterol. It does not interfere with blood sugar control in patients with diabetes. As far as oral health is concerned, if teeth are cleaned regularly (at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste), eating up to 6 meals per day should not create problems.
  • There is evidence that eating three meals and two or three snacks per day(nibbling) might be better for you than eating fewer, larger meals (gorging) as long as the total caloric intake remains the same.
Reviewed by Dr. France Bellisle, Centre National de Recherche Humaine Île de France, France

From this report, it seems that nibbling between meals was not so bad afterall. It has been in my habit for years, my mouth itches between meals. As for hubby, he is very resistant to this habit. He does snake between meals, but very little compare to me. I remember when I first arrived in France, his family felt shocked that I would eat junk food between meals. Then I release those junk foods they bought were meant for appetizer. Sometimes for big celebrations like Christmas, family gathering and wedding, people eat so much which I think its not healthy at all. What's the point of respecting 3 meals a day but eat like a pig for big gathering!

The Malaysian eat chocolate between meals, the French eat chocolate after the meal (after dessert while taking their coffee), which one is healthier?

Friday, November 02, 2007

November: Month for strike in France

The October 18 strike for the SNCF (national railway worker) didn't bear any constructive result; 4 days strike cost Air France 60 million in the revenues (reimbursement for the air ticket and etc), pissing off a lot of French who were going on vacation...imaging some had to take bus from Paris to Frankfurt to be able to go to Bangkok...

And, all these are not enough to wake up the workers, mainly the civil servant...they are declaring that November will be the month of strike.

Comic: The cows spend most of their time watching the train passing by. Since the railway strike, they no longer see the train. These cows are complaining and demand to be reimbursed of losing their sole entertainment. :-)

November 13: Start the unlimited transport strike for state-owned rail operator SNCF
November 14: The energy firms EDF and GDF backed calls for a one-day strike
November 20: Civil servants work stoppage

Guy in red: My wife run away with a cop, my car got burned, I can't go to work with train anymore, so what do I do now?
SNCF worker: You can be in sick leave, or try to get yourself fired. You will get help from the unemployment funding.

The unions are trying to defense their "special" pensions schemes of half a million public employees, one of them to allow some workers to retire as early as 50.

Currently, some 1.1 million people draw pensions under the scheme, funded by contributions from 500,000 workers. Since the contributions from workers fall far short of payments, the state have to bail out the special pensions fund to the tune of some five billion euros (6.9 billion dollars) a year.

Strikes and mass protests forced a previous government to back down on the reform of the so-called "special regimes" in 1995.

My comment:
The French wanted some revolution to their system, that's why they elected the new president. But one part of French are afraid to change too. They don't want to lose their entitlement to the early retirement (50 years old? Comment, some people have to work until 66), lots of benefits (first class free train tickets, vacation facilities for free...). Basically, the French don't want to lose their benefits they have been enjoying, even though they know that these benefits are dragging them now in terms of economy.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I love kaki!

Autumn is my favorite season since a lot of fruits are available at this time. One of them is "kaki", the French name for persimmon. Isn't it amazing how a word can mean completely different stuff in different language? Kaki = foot in Malay and persimmon in French. It also mean one type of color, kind of dark green like shown in the photo, in French.

When I was living in Austin, across my apartment there was a shopping center. They actually planted some persimmon trees there. I found it so weird to plant fruit trees in a shopping district, but was aiming to steal some of the persimmons when they got ripen. Unfortunately I never had the chance since I moved to France before autumn.

Another case of same word different meaning. The word "patron" means boss in French. So when hubby first arrived in the USA, one day he wanted to park in front of a cinema, but he saw a signboard saying that "reserve to patron only". He thought oh the parking spots were reserved for the "boss" only. Eventually he parked somewhere else. Later only he realized that patron = customer who pay visit to the business, and since then he dared to park in the "boss" area. :-)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I found my hair salon!

Did I tell you guys how much I was disappointed the last two times I went to a hair salon in France? Well, they were for my wedding and they couldn't just do what I wanted.

Today, I pushed myself to visit a hair salon at the corner of the apartment complex. The result? Hubby said I look younger, and I myself like it a lot!

I was hesitating a lot between going for this one and pay 26or let my friend do it for 15€. my friend do it to earn some side income while studying. Eventually I decided to give it a try again, let the French handles my hair and pay like the French. Apparently it was a wise decision.

You might not believe it, but after 7 years living overseas, I went to hair salon twice in the USA , and 3 times in France, in which twice I was forced to go due to the wedding. When I was younger, it was my mother who would cut my hair. I loved the moment when she would touch and tidy my hair, I felt loved. I started going to hair salon only after I started working in Malaysia. My sister forced me to do the 离子烫 (direct translation Ion burn), which was very popular in Malaysia, and suddenly my messy hair became straight and smooth. So each time I would cut my hair in Malaysia instead of in the USA or France. Now, I want to try the hair style like the French girls here.

My first experience of going to a hair salon in the USA was an embarrassing one. I didn't know that it's in the tradition to pay tips to the hair dresser! So I went and I even got $5 discount. I just took the money and left, wondering at the same time why the hair dresser was looking at me. When I met my friend at the front door, she asked how much tips I gave. I said ZERO! Oh my god I was so embarrassed so I never went to the shop again.

And, and, have you guys even met male hair dresser who are manly??? I got a guy who cut my hair, and I just need to conclude that all the men who work in the hair salon are kind of like...girly. Why?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Is Osama bin Laden a living genius?

According to a new report, Osama bin Laden, Nelson Mandela, Steven Hawking and the man who created the Simpsons are all among the world's greatest living geniuses. The Al Qaeda chief came in at number 43 in the list compiled by an expert panel following a survey of 600 Brits.

The geniuses were nominated by 600 UK based individuals and ranked by an expert panel of six consultants in the fields of creativity and innovation.

They ranked candidates on five factors of genius - paradigm shifting, popular acclaim, intellectual power, achievement and cultural importance - before giving them an overrall score.

The list shows 19 of the 100 ranked geniuses are musicians, 15 are scientists, 10 are writers, nine are engineers or architects and eight are from fields engaged in the study of man. Only one sportsperson made the cut.

Further analysis shows 43 are from the United States of America, 23 are from Britain, 13 are from Europe and 11 are from Asia. Only one African is listed in the top 100.

Only 15 of the top 100 are women.

TOP 100:

Rank Name Nation Field Score

1= Albert Hoffman (Swiss) Chemist (27)
1= Tim Berners-Lee (British) Computer Scientist (27)
3 George Soros (American) Investor & Philanthropist (25)
4 Matt Groening (American) Satirist & Animator (24)
5= Nelson Mandela (South African) Politician & Diplomat (23)
5= Frederick Sanger (British) Chemist (23)
7= Dario Fo (Italian) Writer & Dramatist (22)
7= Steven Hawking (British) Physicist (22)
9= Oscar Niemeyer (Brazilian) Architect (21)
9= Philip Glass (American) Composer (21)
9= Grigory Perelman (Russian) Mathematician (21)
12= Andrew Wiles (British) Mathematician (20)
12= Li Hongzhi (Chinese) Spiritual Leader (20)
12= Ali Javan (Iranian) Engineer (20)
15= Brian Eno (British) Composer (19)
15= Damian Hirst (British) Artist (19)
15= Daniel Tammet (British) Savant & Linguist (19)
18 Nicholson Baker (American Writer (18)
19 Daniel Barenboim (N/A) Musician (17)
20= Robert Crumb (American) Artist (16)
20= Richard Dawkins (British) Biologist and philosopher (16)
20= Larry Page & Sergey Brin (American) Publishers (16)
20= Rupert Murdoch (American) Publisher (16)
20= Geoffrey Hill (British) Poet (16)
25 Garry Kasparov (Russian) Chess Player (15)
26= The Dalai Lama (Tibetan) Spiritual Leader (14)
26= Steven Spielberg (American) Film maker (14)
26= Hiroshi Ishiguro (Japanese) Roboticist (14)
26= Robert Edwards (British) Pioneer of IVF treatment (14)
26= Seamus Heaney (Irish) Poet (14)
31 Harold Pinter (British) Writer & Dramatist (13)
32= Flossie Wong-Staal (Chinese) Bio-technologist (12)
32= Bobby Fischer (American) Chess Player (12)
32= Prince (American) Musician (12)
32= Henrik Gorecki (Polish) Composer (12)
32= Avram Noam Chomski (American) Philosopher & linguist (12)
32= Sebastian Thrun (German) Probabilistic roboticist (12)
32= Nima Arkani Hamed (Canadian) Physicist (12)
32= Margaret Turnbull (American) Astrobiologist (12)
40= Elaine Pagels (American) Historian (11)
40= Enrique Ostrea (Philippino) Pediatrics & neonatology (11)
40= Gary Becker (American) Economist (11)
43= Mohammed Ali (American) Boxer (10)
43= Osama Bin Laden (Saudi) Islamicist (10)
43= Bill Gates (American) Businessman (10)
43= Philip Roth (American) Writer (10)
43= James West (American) Invented the foil electrical microphone (10)
43= Tuan Vo-Dinh (Vietnamese) Bio-Medical Scientist (10)
49= Brian Wilson (American) Musician (9)
49= Stevie Wonder (American) Singer songwriter (9)
49= Vint Cerf (American) Computer scientist (9)
49= Henry Kissinger (American) Diplomat and politician (9)
49= Richard Branson (British) Publicist (9)
49= Pardis Sabeti (Iranian) Biological anthropologist (9)
49= Jon de Mol (Dutch) Television producer (9)
49= Meryl Streep (American) Actress (9)
49= Margaret Attwood (Canadian) Writer (9)
58= Placido Domingo (Spanish) Singer (8)
58= John Lasseter (American) Digital Animator (8)
58= Shunpei Yamazaki (Japanese) Computer scientist & physicist (8)
58= Jane Goodall (British) Ethologist & Anthropologist (8)
58= Kirti Narayan Chaudhuri (Indian) Historian (8)
58= John Goto (British) Photographer (8)
58= Paul McCartney (British) Musician (8)
58= Stephen King (American) Writer (8)
58= Leonard Cohen (American) Poet & musician (8)
67= Aretha Franklin (American) Musician (7)
67= David Bowie (British) Musician (7)
67= Emily Oster (American) Economist (7)
67= Steve Wozniak (American) Engineer and co-founder of Apple Computers (7)
67= Martin Cooper (American) Inventor of the cell phone (7)
72= George Lucas (American) Film maker (6)
72= Niles Rogers (American) Musician (6)
72= Hans Zimmer (German) Composer (6)
72= John Williams (American) Composer (6)
72= Annette Baier (New Zealander) Philosopher (6)
72= Dorothy Rowe (British) Psychologist (6)
72= Ivan Marchuk (Ukrainian) Artist & sculptor (6)
72= Robin Escovado (American) Composer (6)
72= Mark Dean (American) Inventor & computer scientist (6)
72= Rick Rubin (American) Musician & producer (6)
72= Stan Lee (American) Publisher (6)
83= David Warren (Australian) Engineer (5)
83= Jon Fosse (Norwegian) Writer & dramatist
83= Gjertrud Schnackenberg (American) Poet (5)
83= Graham Linehan (Irish) Writer & dramatist (5)
83= JK Rowling (British) Writer (5)
83= Ken Russell (British) Film maker (5)
83= Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov (Russian) Small arms designer (5)
83= Erich Jarvis (American) Neurobiologist (5)
91=. Chad Varah (British) Founder of Samaritans (4)
91= Nicolas Hayek (Swiss) Businessman and founder of Swatch (4)
91= Alastair Hannay (British) Philosopher (4)
94= Patricia Bath (American) Ophthalmologist
94= Thomas A. Jackson (American) Aerospace engineer (3)
94= Dolly Parton (American) Singer (3)
94= Morissey (British) Singer (3)
94= Michael Eavis (British) Organiser of Glastonbury (3)
94= Ranulph Fiennes (British) Adventurer (3)
100=. Quentin Tarantino (American) Filmmaker (2)

News taken from here.

So that do you think? Is Osama a living genius for you, together with Bill Gates? In my opinion, I'm not sure we actually know this guy. All we read from the news might be fake or miss-interpreted. We didn't really know what was his role in the Islamic movement.

Another remark, none of the living geniuses here is French. Since this survey is done by the Brits, you can see how much they hate the French. :-)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

shift your clock

For those who live in France, don't forget that the summer daylight saving is over starting from this Sunday (28 Oct), now you have to shift your clock back by one hour. For example, 3pm would be 2pm now.

As for the US region, the shift will be effective from 4 November, Sunday next week.

An Indonesian gathering

We had so much fun yesterday! Most important, I ate so many good Indonesian foods! Since I didn't take any photos, I got some from the internet, just to show you guys some of the foods we had eaten.

Hubby was very excited in the morning as he loves to try out different kind of cuisine. When we arrived around 1pm we saw different kind of cookies and Indonesian appetizers plus some French one already on the table. I ate non stop while waiting for the others to arrive. Hubby had to keep reminding me to behave myself.

She invited like 8 couples, all men were French and all women were Indonesian except me and a Colombian friend. At this point I really wonder why so many French men married to foreign spouses. :-)

There were so many dishes. I started with the meatball soup with some dumpling. She made all the dishes by herself including the dumpling. They were all super delicious. Others dishes were all spicy and it went super well with the rice, with lots of favor and color. I was quite amazed that the dishes had a lot of Chinese influence, like the dumpling and the tofu she put in a dish.

Most of the French had their cheeses and salad. As for me, I went directly to the dessert, kuih lapis (layer cake). The Chinese has the "night layer cake", I was wondering whether this is from the Chinese influence or the Chinese Malaysian were influenced by the Malay-Indonesian cuisine.

It was such a nice afternoon, people chatting and enjoying the foods. They were many kids too, make me wonder how my kids would look like, seeing so many mixed couples and their creation.

One sad thing my friend told me was about her working experience. Basically she got laid off after one month of working, just because her female co-workers couldn't accept her. In this region, they voted for the far right, a racist political party. They are against the foreigner, mostly fear that they job would be grabbed by the others. She tried to defense herself by asking to be placed in the other department, but her superior just didn't accept it. Considering that her husband is working in the same company, they didn't want to make a big fuss into this issue. But, her moral was badly hurt.

And all these times I thought that racism is not that serious in France. How wrong was I.

Friday, October 26, 2007

On school holiday, la Toussant is here

Since I don't have class on Friday, there you go, my school holiday starts from today. Yeah!

Every year this time students from primary school to University have one week off end of October. Besides, right after Halloween is La Toussant, the day for the dead one, where some people will go visit the grave of their love one. Since this year La Toussant will be on Thursday, a lot of people will take Friday off to have 4 days continuous vacation. They call this action as "faire le pont", do the bridge.

I was having this conversation with a classmate and was sad with his reaction:
Me: So during La Toussant, what are you doing? Do you visit your grandparents' grave?
Him: I don't care about dead people, there is no need to go visit them when they are dead.
Me: But you can reminiscing the time you had with them, think about how much your grandma loved you.
Him: She is dead, nothing else is important.

In contrast with the Asian culture where you will see kids and family visit the grave during the Cheng Ming festival, here you see old people go alone visiting and cleaning their husband or their wife's grave. There is no such thing as "pay respect" by visiting the grave.

I just need to remind myself that if my husband is dead before me, nobody will visit my grave when I'm dead.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Blow nose season again

Its freezing these days! Time for flu shot for the old people in the US, from what I remembered.

These days in the class, I have constantly hearing the awful nose cleaning sound coming from all the corner. Our professor wanted us to sit facing each other. With the students sit in U shape, I can clearly see my classmates blow their nose over and over again, with the same handkerchief.

After two years in France, I still feel its so gross to do this in front of everyone, especially at the dining table. My appetite got spoiled when someone does this when I'm eating. I was always taught to blow my nose in the toilet, so I just cover my nose with a tissue paper and whenever its full, I go to toilet to blow it.

Once we were asked this question in the French class, and most of the Asians preferred to go to the toilet, and the professor and the rest feel its so stupid to have to go to the toilet, they were not bothered at all by the noise.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

He killed a man by jealousy: What is your verdict?

Yesterday I was watching a high court process about this case: a man killed a man out of jealousy. It made me discovered some differences in the trial process, comparing to Malaysia and USA, learnt through TV dramas and series. I would like to note that this is a real case and real process, approved by the French High Court to diffuse through the television.

France: You are guilty until proven innocent. (a scary concept to me)
USA and Malaysia: You are innocent until proven guilty
(Need further verification)

France: The judge is called "Mr President"
USA : Your honour
Malaysia: My lord (correction after indicated by Angie)

France: No death penalty and life long sentence
USA and Malaysia: Death penalty (in certain states in the USA) and life long sentence

It seemed weird to me that it has 3 lawyers: one from the government, one from the victim family and one for the defense. Isn't it we usually see one lawyer represent each side?

In terms of the attire, after watching so many soup operas from Hong Kong, I thought every lawyers and judges have to wear wigs and bands and robes. Fabien was laughing like hell when he saw all these wigs and bands. The French just like to do thing differently. The middle photo is the family lawyer from this case. They never wore wigs! I read that the lawyers in US and Malaysia don't wear these anymore unless they have to go to the High Court.

The case:
Between the night of 13 and 14 August 2004, a man was found dead in a burnt car in a small village in the North of France. The police found out that it was not an accident but the man was assassinated. They found Jean-Léon Cazier, a garage worker, 50 years old, to have the biggest suspect. He was jailed for 3 years before the High Court open the trial in June 2007.

The suspect admitted that he killed the guy. The trial was just to find out whether he planned the whole killing scene (first degree murder), or it was unintentional (second degree murder). It all started when the suspect found out that his wife, who worked with the victim's parents, was home late everyday, so he suspected that she has a lover. On the night of 13 Aug 2004, he went to the victim's parents' house, wait outside for 30 minutes before the victim said goodbye to his parents and went inside his car. The suspect went directly toward the victim, warmed him to leave his wife alone, beat him, then later hit him with a stone. The victim fainted and the suspect put him inside the car, drove away, still remember to honk the car, imitating what the victim would do every time he leaves his parents' house. All these time the suspect didn't forget to bring along a gasoline container full with gasoline.

He then drove the victim to a farm. The victim woke up and tried to run away, but was hit again by the suspect. At this point, the suspect decided to make it look like an accident, he spread the car with gasoline and burned the car. He then run away.

During the trial, the wife admitted that she and the victim have kissed and touched each other. She is living with the suspect's 81 years old mother and their children. The victim left behind a wife and 3 daughters, all grown up.

The verdict of the jury: It was a well planned killing case, the victim was to go to the jail for 20 years.

For the victim's family, the guy should be sentenced to the death penalty or whole life in the prison. 20 years is too little for a punishment. As for Jean-Léon Cazier, his wife and the 81 years old mother think that it was too much a punishment, that they would want to be able to have a normal life again with him. What would be your verdict?