Friday, February 29, 2008

Newspaper of 29 February

Today is 29 Feb.

It is also the day the French newspaper, La Bougie du Sapeur, distributes it's 7th edition today. This newspaper only comes out on 29 Feb, which means a new edition every 4 years. It was created in 1980. It is sold at 4 euros each. In the bottom of the page, readers are asked to subscribe for the entire 21th century for 100 euros.

The French is just to funny to even create a newspaper like that!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Malaysian French meal

Everyone is talking about recession and inflation. The French are seeing their purchasing power deteriorates. Here is just a simple mixed meal we had and the cost associated so that you can have a macro idea on how much things cost here.

Hubby always starts his meal with some bread. This piece of bread is spread with some "rillette" (minced pork): 50 cent

St Pierre Fish: 10 euros

Steam fish tofu with curry sauce: add 1 euro

A slide of goat cheese: 50 cent

Dessert: I have to admit that I'm very lazy person in terms of dessert. I seldom bake, so our dessert is usually fruit. 2 apples: 80 cent

Total cost:12.80 euros for 2 people.

The fish was expensive so this is considered a quite well off meal for us.

So do you think it is expensive?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The French is importing Chinese car, will they consider Proton as well?

This company is importing Chinese cars to sell in the French market, with prices range from 20 to 30% less expensive than the locally produced cars.

Will the French one day import Malaysian made cars? I don't think Chinese cars are better than the Malaysian brands Proton or Perdua, so I think there are still room for them to sell to the European markets.

Wake up Proton and Perdua! The French is ready to accept low cost cars, the salient element now is the marketing skill!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Do you know of "Grandmother's day"?

Well, it exists in France! I heard about it today.

French Grandmother's day is held first Sunday in March every year. It was created by Kraft Jacobs Suchard, a coffee brand. The origin is commercial but I won't mind celebrating with my two grandmothers, as I feel the love coming from them everytime I see them. Eventhough I'm just their grandson's wife, they treat me like their own grand daughter. Yeah, certainly can start celebrating the grandmother's day this coming 2 March.

Monday, February 25, 2008

They can criticize their president, openly

Yes, the French have this right. They can say anything about their president.

These days there are a series of debate on TV about the French president Mr Sarkozy. One of his ministers defend him and the other politicians criticize him. Some times are devoted to the audiences to publicly talk about their opinions about their president. In the previous episode some home audience called in to participate too.

Among the issues they debated about:
- Mr Sarkozy went for holiday with his rich friend's private jet right after he won the presidency
- He increased his salary by 200%
- He used the informal term to address to the fisherman who was on strike
- The economy is not performed as well as he promised
- He still hasn't solved the housing crisis
...and many more
A bit surprisingly was that they didn't touch the topic about he got married for the third time and with a model again. I guess this is acceptable in France.

What I like about this kind of forum/debate is that they managed to gather some important politicians and ministers (big fishes instead of small one), and have them talked about various issues. It is a tough job, these ministers have to justify their policies and actions. If they are not good, they can be kicked out from the cabinet in the next election.

I think in US they have the same kind of forum or debate. Once I was in a party, and some students blew up a George Bush balloon and then continuously hitting his head. While I admire the freedom of doing it, I do not approve of this kind of action. I certainly could not imagine myself hitting the balloon of my prime minister.

So, when are we going to see this kind of program in Malaysia? Who would you like to see on the forum and get questioned by the citizens? Personally I would love to see Samy Vallu debates about his "contributions" to the work ministry; the PAS leaders talking about how guys and girls should have different queue in the checkout station ...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Have you been called "my duck"?

One day, my brother in laws got home and was greeted by his mother who calls him "my duck", in French. I don't know why it made me laugh. I just couldn't associate him, a grown up man with this endearment term, although it is just an affectionate name from a mother to a son, just like "sweet heart" in English.

I realized that the Asians have been imitating a lot of endearment terms from English, but it is mostly used between couples, like "darling, sweet heart...". I have not yet heard an Asian mother calls her kid like that, at least not those in my social circle.

I don't know whether I will one day call my kid some French endearment terms like "ma puce (my flea)", "mon chou (my cabbage)", "mon lapin (my rabbit)"..., but surely I won't call him/her mon canard (my duck) or mon poulet (my chick). The reason? Well, if you know the Chinese culture well, duck and hen have double meaning...

Duck = male prostitute
chicken = prostitute

How could I call my own child "prostitute"?

Winter flowers

The weather has been nice and that's probably why I'm seeing flowers flourish everywhere. When seeing this white flower tree, I wonder whether it is the "plum flower" like in Chinese. Anyone knows what is this called?

My mood becomes cherish seeing these flowers everywhere.

While other flowers are still sleeping underground, this flower tree just decided to charm the surrounding.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Patience is the key: Online job application dilemma

These days I have been visiting and applying to many company websites. Sometimes I feel so frustrated during the application. Some dilemmas and technical problems I experienced were not only time consuming but severely damaged the image of the related companies. Examples:

1. While applying for a position, some websites required you to register with them. After the registration you got to have an username and password. After that you need to fill in many information such as your education background, your working experiences, your contact information... What happened was after I login, I was filling the educational information. Once I finished, I clicked "next". And nothing happened. I got totally stuck on that stage. Sometimes it was due to browser problem but sometimes it just won't work on neither Mozilla or Explorer.

2. You are not recognized by the system. I clicked "next" and the application proceeded. But after a while it locked me out of the system. I reentered my username and password, but it said the username and password didn't exist in their system! I was so frustrated! I have to close the browser and go back to the website, and re-login, and then continue the information filling. It took lots of time and patience.

3. CV not able to upload. Sometimes I managed to proceed until the last step without problem. But then when they need me to upload my CV and cover letter, the system hung there. I couldn't finish the last step. Or, it would say that the system only accept doc or pdf file, but they just won't accept any doc or pdf file that I tried to upload. urggggg!

4. Online survey. Not any online survey, but a 30 minutes 70 questions survey, and it was MANDATORY! Eventually I spent like 90 minutes to play with the system and the online questions.

5. The information you want to fill do not exist in their system. For example, if you go to Ernst and Young website to apply for a job, you can see that the "nationality" section only include countries from A to T. That means any countries after T, such as Vietnam, is no where available. There is no "Other" option either. So what do you do in this case? You can't skip this question as it is mandatory. So do you simply put a nationality if your country doesn't exist in the system?

The whole application process requires a lot of patience, and most of the time you don't even get a reply. Somehow I wonder whether all these dilemmas are made on purpose, so that candidates who have no patience will simply give up. Big companies receive too many application per day. I read that Microsoft receives 5000 resumes per day just for an internship position. How many HR personal do they need to hire to process all these CVs?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

She is gone

Saw the news from Siuhan's blog.
I feel so sad, she was such a nice artist. She creates happiness and laugh wherever she is.

These days a lot of my childhood Hong Kong artists are gone, including Leslie Chung and Anita Mui. Somehow I feel that the newer generation of artists could not provide the charisma and quality of performance as excellent as their precedent.

Monday, February 18, 2008

French roti canai (crêpe)

While in Malaysia, the French loved our roti canai. Some of them felt that it tasted like their crêpe, a famous regional dish from the west of France.

First step: Make the skin

Second step: Put the ingredients you like on the skin

You can have variety of ingredients

My dessert, chocolate and banana crêpe. Doesn't it somehow look like Roti Canai?

Since crêpe is done within minutes, usually we have one person preparing and the others eating.

Friday, February 15, 2008

I won't be able to vote from France!

With the Prime Minister of Malaysia announcing the general election to be held on 8 March, I quickly went to check whether I'm eligible to vote from France. I have never voted in my life.

The first general election after I turned 21 was in 1999. Even though I was registered as a vote, I was not allowed to vote as the young people who registered at the same time as me were considered "too new" to the election list. In 2004, I was in the US and I certainly couldn't afford to fly to Washington to vote, so I didn't even bother to ask whether I was eligible.

This time, I thought I was eligible since I'm a registered voter since 1999 (they can't say I'm too new to the list now), and it is doable to go to Paris. Unfortunately, I learnt that I'm once again disqualified as a voter.

From the announcement of Embassy of Paris to Malaysians in France, only Malaysia civil servant and full time students and their spouses are eligible to vote in the embassy. I sent an email to the Embassy of Malaysia to see whether I'm considered as full time student since I'm not on student visa, just to learn that it is "too late" to register as a voter in a new location. Here is some highlight from the reply:

"For your information, civil servants and students who are interested to vote overseas need to re-register with the Suruhanjaya Pilihanraya (SPR) of their new location of work or study."

"However, the SPR would need a maximum of five (5) months to verify the status of the new voters who have re-registered. In this context, since the election date has been announced, you may not be able to vote as it is already too late."

"The only way possible for you to vote now is to return to Malaysia and exercise your right as a registered voter."

The announcement from the Embassy in Paris was made in 8 Feb 2008. Since it might that a maximum of 5 months to re-register as voter, most of the Malaysians in France Who have not re-register would certainly be excluded from voting. Is it the intention from the government, to discourage Malaysians oversea to vote?

Since I do not intend to take up the French citizenship, the only way I could vote for the rest of my life (if I continue to live in France) would be to return to Malaysia to execute my right. GREAT!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Tales about why we celebrate Valentine's Day

There are actually three Valentine who were martyred on February 14. It remained a Church holiday until 1969, when Pope Paul VI took it from the calender.

Tale 1:
During the Roman Empire, the Caesar decided to ban single men from getting married, in the need to hire more soldier in the battle field. He thinks that a man with family will most likely reluctant to enroll in the army. A priest name Valentine disagreed with this rule, so he secretly marrying single men and their lovers. His action was discovered and he was executed. He act of unifying the couples had made Valentine's day as the day to celebrate love.

Tale 2:
A man named Valentine was in prison after helping the escape of some Christians during the Roman Empire. While in jail, a girl, probably the daughter of the guardian, began to visit him. He fell in love with the girl. Before the execution, he wrote her a letter signed "From your Valentine", a signature that is widely used for couple until today.

Tale 3:
On February 14, the ancient Romans celebrated the Feast of Lupercalia in honor of Juno, the queen of the Roman gods and goddesses. Juno was also the goddess of women and marriage so honoring her was thought to be a fertility rite. At the feast held the next day, the women would write love letters and stick them in a large urn. The men would pick a letter from the urn and for the next year, pursue the woman who wrote the chosen letter. This custom lasted until the 1700s when people decided their beloveds should be chosen by sight, not luck.

The goddess Juno

The American movie Juno

So what do you do for Valentine's day? You can bring your love one to the movie "Juno", it was a good laugh for us. As for myself, I prepared a card to my Lao Gong (hubby). You won't want to know what is inside. :-)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Some Malaysian Touch

I'm so happy that the local Asian store imported some frozen roti canai from Malaysia. All these times we were eating those from Singapore, and I was wondering why a Singaporean company beats us on our national dish. After trying, hubby said he likes the Malaysian one better. Me, of course I support Malaysian product!

I was in Paris last week and managed to visit the Chinatown. My friend brought me to this shop who sells all kind of exotic fruits including durian, mangosteen, jambu, persimmon, rambutan.... at a very reasonable price. It was a jubilant moment to see durian again. Those in the Asian shop are usually frozen and the smell was not strong anymore. Yes for durian, I ask for the smelly one. :-)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Our Chinese New Year gathering

Hubby and friends organized a party to celebrate Chinese New Year with me. These friends were in Malaysia last year celebrating Chinese New Year plus attending our wedding. It is just amazing how times fly and it has been one year that we did all the memorable trips and parties in Malaysia!

They decided to prepare some Asian dishes: sushi, nasi goreng (fried rice) and Thai soup. I think they did an excellent job especially in preparing the sushi.

I got an ang pao!

Just when I thought that I have no chance to get any angpao anymore in my life, my Vietnamese classmate gave me this. I was so touched, and I felt being loved from a family member. So, never say never.

I also learnt that the Vietnamese zodiac place cat in the fourth place instead of rabbit. What a change! All this while I thought cat was in the 13th place after being pushed out by the evil rat during the race to see the Jade Emperor. It would be interesting to find out the story from the Vietnamese.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Gong Xi Fa Chai: Rat Year

Happy Chinese New Year Everyone!

While people in Malaysia and other part of the world are busy celebrating (most importantly being with the family and eat lots of good stuffs), I still have to go to the class. No luck it is not a holiday here. Worst, no ang pow for me from this year on. :-)

I read somewhere that rat year is good to start a career, get a job, get married, start your own business. So people, let's hope money all going in like crazy to your pocket and all the love ones stay healthy and happy.

Gong Xi Gong Xi!

Monday, February 04, 2008

The display models are telling their story...

From 1-10 February downtown where I live is having a "display models telling story" event. A total of 17 shops participated in the program, where their display windows tell stories which change everyday. We have been followed for two days of these stories and I found them well done and the concept was interesting too.

This is my favorite. Look how cute they made the dog! The dog changes costume everyday.

Can you tell what they are doing? The woman is measuring the temperature of the butt and the man is watering the butt! Each day the butt grow bigger and expose more for us to see.

This display model has no luck as she got shot and died.

The event manages to attract lots of people.

If you are interested to follow the stories, this blog has a day to day photos update.

Friday, February 01, 2008

The French invention

Recently I discovered some English words that were taken from French.

The entrepreneur spirit was encouraged during the Napoleon time, where he wanted his citizens to be creative and be not afraid to take risk.

Ménage in French means household, or housework, how a family runs and manage it's activity. This concept was later applied in the corporate world in the Anglo-Saxon culture and be imported back to France.

Online Internet purchase

As early as 1982, the French already using Minitel, a network similar to internet but have less security and compatibility issues, to do online purchases and transactions. They were able to consult their bank account online, reserve air and train tickets, and also chat online.

Indeed France is a creative society. It has a lot of invention and innovative concepts. However, what it lacks was the execution and promotion of these ideas locally and internationally. For example, the minitel concept was a huge success in France, but it was not promoted into international market. I was talking to my marketing professor, asking him why some French companies are not famous in overseas, but in fact in France they are doing extremely well. He told me that this is due to the culture. French like to work intelligently and they are creative, but there was no follow up after. They do not emphasis on the image or the global market like the Americans.