Saturday, April 26, 2008

Be careful of what you say

At work, we have several required courses that everyone needs to be re-certified every two or three years. One of them is Careful Communication.

It's kind of reminding us on the right use of emails and verbal communication that may result in legal charges. For example, comments or jokes that may be interpreted as racial or sexual harassment.

We should apply it at home as well.

A few weeks ago, I carelessly made a comment about myself: "I think my tummy is getting rounder."

One event led to another. Now I am (was - as of this moment) on 'forced' phase I South Beach diet - at least when I'm home. ;) No carbohydrate is allowed... ouch!

So guys, be careful of what you say.

(on a different note, this probably is the right time to do so - with the price and supply of rice go bananas...)

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

The twenty-first-century campus: where are the men?

I want to hire five management trainees. Through our HR partner, we received 180 resumes, out of which 35 were shortlisted as potential interviewees.

When I went through these resumes, one "unbalance" was apparent: the proportion of female candidates is higher than male candidates.

I may be old-fashioned, though, for having this kind of thought - especially when we focused on getting engineering-background management trainees. My biased reference is the three females we had out of 130+ students in my Mechanical Engineering class (but that was in the twentieth century, quite some time ago!) :)

This is, however, pretty much similar to an article I read in a Sociology textbook by John J. Macionis about the decreasing number of male students in the U.S. universities (or the rise of the number of female students?) In 2000, men accounted for 44% of college students in the U.S.

Some of his interesting discussions:

Out of class, many women soon complained that having so few men on campus hurt their social life; not surprisingly, most of the men felt otherwise about their own social life. (yeah, right... you go boys!)

Some suggest that young men are drawn away from college by the lure of jobs, especially in high technology, a pattern sometimes termed "Bill Gates syndrome".

Anti-intellectual male culture. While young women are drawn to learning and seek to do well in school, young men are more likely to see studying negatively and to dismiss schoolwork as "something for girls".

Or yet a more simple, possible explanation: the male students aren't smart, or impressive, enough to make the shortlist.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Fitna from our perspective

To go with the flow, I think it doesn't hurt to write some shallow observations about Fitna - the movie. I am not interested in watching this BS, nor do I have empathy for any side. People do BS everyday.

I do, however, observe that the Indonesian government is not that much smarter than the Malaysian government on internet. Or perhaps that the Malaysian government is not as dumb as some bloggers thought, especially after this Indonesian Minister of Information's blunder.

Fitna does have a direct impact to our life - at least that's how Tari and I would like to think so.

Ben's best friend, Sam, has been missing several play-dates. His mother has been, umm, kind of avoiding us.

Based on this limited experience, we concluded that we have been impacted by Fitna. Sam's mom feels unease with us because of that movie, she rather puts a distance. She probably is afraid that we will revenge, somehow, through his boy.

We failed, though, to think what we had done that may cause them avoid us (well, if they do at all - good question to answer). Perhaps it's us, not them.

But hey, there's this guy Wilders to blame on. Everyone else does, so why don't we?

We're just another human being, after all.

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

On being indecisive

"Is it better like this?"
"Or like that?"
"A or B?"
"Left or right?"
"How about the last row?"

I did my eye exam this morning.

I think I drove myself and my doctor crazy.

There's not a moment in my life that I was so indecisive as was this morning.
"Can you show A again?"
"Maybe this one... err... I don't know..."
"I'm sorry, but left looks as sharp as right."

Maybe I was trying too hard.

Like one stand-up comedian said - you don't want to get a 'D' on eye exam, and end up with big, thick, coke-bottle of glasses, with a sign 'I didn't take it seriously'.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008


Which intersection is this?

Nah. It's not Mampang Prapatan :)

We had a trip to Thailand last week - our first time. We went to Bangkok and visited Dudi and Lisa Hermanto in Pattaya. (Don't worry, we don't randomly visit any bloggers - they're our friends back in the U.S.)

Like I've heard from many people, Bangkok is similar to Jakarta in many ways. That is, Jakarta today, not in the past. The most obvious one is traffic. And the number of motorcycles like the ones in the picture above.

The ability (or the lack of) to speak in English is also somewhat similar. People are mostly extremely polite.

The (what seems to be) sex workers are more visible. I guess, well, they generally look prettier and have longer legs. Though I suspect some are transsexual. (I spent three years schooling in Brawijaya area where Baskom - bakso kumis - and transsexuals popped out after dusk)

Yes, traffic. The home-feeling-factor.

We also stopped by at some warungs.

And tried some fried bugs.

Or not... ;)

And enjoyed the sight of the Reclining Buddha

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Monday, April 07, 2008

On landing and take off

I don't fly often, but I can clearly spot a difference between the practice of the airlines (cabin crews) in the U.S. and Malaysia (and other Asian airlines?) towards turning on mobile phones on (after) landing.

In the U.S., as I observed until 3 years ago, pretty much everyone turns on her cell phones once the airplane touches the ground. And the crew seems to be OK with it. Always.

Here (mostly with Malaysia Airlines and Air Asia), they make it clear that passengers cannot turn their phones on until the engine is turned off. I've seen a cute flight attendant rudely reminded a passenger in one of my Air Asia flights. (She could've done it nicer, but it's an attitude problem, I guess.)

We know that mobile phones can cause electromagnetic interference to airplane devices. I copied a quite comprehensive explanations below from Jamie. She also provides the explanation why we are required to raise the shade and put the seat on vertical position - which is a real pain with Air Asia. (I wonder whether some flight attendants can clearly explain the reasons behind these requirements.)

But the question remains: if we use our phones after the airplane touches the ground, what would be the risk? Will the pilot gets lost and not be able to find the terminal?

Well, on a more serious note, we should comply to the regulation. It's always too late to say "I wish I did that" after an accident happens.

Why do you have to turn of all electronics during take off and landing?

People must not be preoccupied during take-off and landing so that in the event of an emergency, they can clearly hear instructions given by the Flight Attendants.

You are asked not to use any electronic devices, although some may be used after cruising altitude has been reached. Cell phones, wireless computer mouses, etc are banned for the duration of the flight. This is because they pose a risk called electromagnetic interference.

Electromagnetic interference is experienced by all of us on a regular basis. An example of this is if you put a cell phone near the computer, you can hear loud static in the computers speakers every time the phone rings, and the screen may start to shake. This technically should never happen, but the wire to each speaker is acting like an antenna, and it picks up side bands in the audible range. This is not a dire problem -- just a nuisance. But notice how common it is. In an airplane, the same phenomena can cause big trouble.

An airplane contains a number of radios for a variety of tasks. There is a radio that the pilots use to talk to ground control and air traffic control (ATC), a radio that the plane uses to disclose its position to ATC computers, there are radar units used for guidance and weather detection, and so on. All of these radios are transmitting and receiving information at specific frequencies. If someone were to turn on a cell phone, the cell phone would transmit with a great deal of power (up to 3 watts for a single phone). If it happens to create interference that overlaps with radio frequencies the plane is using, then messages between people or computers may be garbled. If one of the wires in the plane has damaged shielding, there is some possibility of the wire picking up the phone's signals just like a computers speakers do. That could create faulty messages between pieces of equipment within the plane. Now imagine what would happen if everyone on the plane were to use electronic devices, and you should be able to fully understand the ban on such devices.

Why on planes take offs and landings you must: open the windows and put the seat on vertical position?

You are asked to raise your shade so that in the event of an accident you can see through the window to help you remain oriented (which way is up, etc.). Because of this, it lets you see what hazards there are outside the plane (fires, debris and such), which would be important during an evacuation. It also serves as a way to let light into the cabin and make it easier for rescuers to see inside.

Upon descent (and also if you are taking off at night) they dim the lights to help your eyes adjust to the darkness, so if anything happens and it goes dark, you're not suddenly blinded while dashing for the exits. It makes the emergency path/exit lights more visible, as these might be the only lights you see in an emergency. As with the shades, it allows you to see outside for orientation, because with the cabin lights burning brightly, the glare would make it impossible.

The seats have to be in upright position for safety reasons. In case of an accident:
*it makes it easier for passengers to exit their seats
*passengers must have easy access to emergency exits (something they wouldn't have if seats are reclined)
*it allows passengers to assume the "crash" position if need be
*reclined seat backs could kill or seriously injure the passenger behind if it should come unbolted, or if the passenger behind it is thrown forward.

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Saturday, April 05, 2008


And in this crazy life
And through these crazy times
It's you, it's you
You make me sing
You're every line
You're every word
You're everything

(Michael Bublé)

It's Tari's birthday today - happy birthday, hon!

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