Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Big Move

It's almost a week ago when we moved here in the West Midlands. Despite all the physical hardships and stress, it was all worth it. Afterall it's a different feeling having a house of your own no matter how small it is.

In our move, we actually did it in 2 plus some more. I got hold of the new house by Friday 18th August and stayed there waiting for the movers to come the day after next (Sunday). Problem was that when the movers came to our Sutton home to load our things, the packing was not finished yet! So the hoard I received Sunday morning is only about 2/3 of all of our belongings. The husband and kids came that same night and we slept on mattresses and sleeping bags for 2 days. Good thing our nephew, Dennis, offered to take the kids for a week to their place in Bolton to free us up in the rest of the move.

We then hired a rickety, old-banger of a white Ford transit van for 2 days. It's about 12 years old and had seen better days. Dirty inside, rusty outside, it had no heating, no radio, no hazard indicator, and worse when it rained it rained inside as well ! Why did we hire it? Because it's cheap. The one advantage of it is, every car and pedestrians keeps clear when they see us coming down the road. And I noticed that there's this kinda 'kindred-spirit' thing that all van drivers share. Why, a lot of other vans (old and new alike) were giving way for us. That I tell you is rare for van drivers to do.

Okay, we had our van and drove back to Sutton to pack everything and clean up once and for all. Problem was, most of our time was consumed trying to get rid of our old bigger furnitures thru friends or via local rubbish dumps. In the end Tony had to drive to 3 different dumps but was turned away. The final one he went to in Croydon allowed him to tip the things in but had to pay £40 ! Oh well ...

Then we realised that despite our dumping loads of furnitures and knick-knacks, our things wouldn't all fit in the van! So we had to hire a storage space in our local Shurgard. Are you exhausted yet? In the midst of all these, a number of friends helped us dispose of things and clean up the house. Imagine that on Thursday 24th Aug 5PM, we were still frantically cleaning up the house and loading the final bits in the van - and we're supposed to hand in the keys to the estate agents right at that moment!

At around 6:30PM, after we said our goodbyes to friends and dropped off the house keys, we eventually drove up the motorway to our new home. Inspite of our exhaustion, we were extremely relieved that that part of the move is over and we're starting a new home life in the West Midlands.

The saga did not end there mind you. We arrived in our new house at around 11PM. So we decided to sleep our aching bodies off and just unload early tomorrow. Next day, we reluctantly got up around 6:30AM to begin our unloading because the van has to be returned at 8AM ! I think this did us in, from the drive to the front door is quite an upward haul of about 15 steps (about 10 feet higher in elevation). Imagine us frantically doing the haul up that flight of stairs in record time. We were so exhausted afterwards that at 10AM we were sleeping again and couldn't bring ourselves up until early afternoon.

But now it's done, finished, moved in completely. What lies ahead is the unpacking ... whether we can do it in 1 week or 1 month or 1 year - is the big question.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Dudley Chronicles - Week 4

I found out that a contractor colleague of mine is staying in the same B&B in Stourbridge as me! He and another colleague invited me to their mid-week hike in nearby nature parks or woodlands. I agreed immediately since I really like hiking. But as usual, I got more than I bargained for. It was towards the end of May so it's not too chilly nor too hot. Perfect weather for outdoor activities.

They took me to Kinver Edge which had lots of hilltop views. Ergo, when you have hilltop views that means you have to climb. Oh god, I thought I was gonna die! The paths we walked were quite steep that I was panting like a dog. I could manage only a few meters at a time (near the top I think it was only a few feet at a time). Besides that I am overweight and not at all fit, I haven't done hiking in the last few years.

After the torture of the steep climb we were rewarded with great views across the Black Country, Birmingham, and we could even see as far as the Malvern Hills. Really nice. After about a couple of miles we went deep in the woods and explored some caves and saw some houses build right on to rock cliffs. I had a great time walking and exploring around. Good thing it was summer so even if we started at 7:30PM and finished at 10:30PM there was still light. Next stop is a pub, stayed there for a couple of drinks and headed home straight into bed at 11:30PM. Sleep has never been so welcome. Ahhhh ...

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Dudley Chronicles - Week 3

I got a nice quiet B&B this week. It was backing on to a cemetery so definitely no noise in the evening! So nice as well to look over all that open space broken only by the peaks of the tombstones. :)

Well besides that, this is the first homely B&B that I've been in that's got all kinds of electrical entertainment in each room. Name it they have it - cable TV, DVD player, VCR, CD player with radio, and PC with internet access. Ahhhhh bliss! Not only that he's got an extensive library collection of DVDs and VHS tapes. There are also stacks of books everywhere. So there's really no excuse to be bored. I also like that he just let the guests get on with their breakfasts in the well-stocked breakfast roon. No fussing around no waiting for the cooking to finish.

It's not the cheapest one around so for the second half of the week I tried another B&B in Stourbridge with the lowest rate I can find. And I was not disappointed. It's clean, has basic amenities, comfortable, and only 15 minutes drive to work. Good enough for me!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Dudley Chronicles - Week 2

Sorry, I have to explain - I stay in my place of work in a Bed and Breakfast (B&B) then drive home on weekends to my family. Then I repeat the whole cycle come Monday. On the first week I drove Sunday evening, I did the same on the second but I reckon I could drive very early morning on a Monday to save a night's board and lodging.

Anyway, I moved to different B&B because the previous can't accommodate me. This one is in the Sedgeley area. Although the elderly lady and her partner were very nice, the location wasn't so ideal for me. It's right on a busy road which caused me to have difficultly in getting sleep. It would have been okay if I keep the windows closed but as some nights are quite warm I had no choice but to open them. Another is the difficulty in coming out of their narrow driveway which is made doubly dangerous because of the amount of traffic. I could see why it's popular, mainly due to its walking distance to a popular computer training school. So she gets lots of students from there. But it might be my last stay here unless everybody else is full.

This week I get to use the cheap Volvo car we bought specifically for my weekly commuting. I'm not pointing fingers but it's really what my husband want not my choice really. And it's turning out to be a nightmare. There are lots of smoking coming out of the tailpipe, engine is underpowered, no radio, key (which is computer chipped) is broken, side lights not working, etc. You may say, that's what you get out of a cheap car but really I'm not expecting this much problems with it. What's worse was when my husband took it to our local official Volvo repair centre who were either grossly incompetent or just ripped us off our hard earned cash. It should have been just a case of checking if everything's working fine and fixing whatever minor problems it has. But it left the place with more problems than when it came there! My husband has to ferry to and from different garages to patch up the glaring problems (including my thinning patience). One advantage of the Volvo saga is that cars stay well behind me to avoid the copious smoke it's belching.

Our family's car problems did not end there. The Toyota Lucida decided it had enough and developed engine problems. Upon inspection, they found out that a gasket is broken. Price for replacement and fix = £1000. We decided it would be more practical to replace the whole engine which costed $1100 only £100 more than just the gasket. There were a few minor hiccups but it was smooth sailing for the most part. Hopefully this would extend Lucida's working life for a few more years.

As for my homesickness, by Tuesday I have well and truly kicked it. I can think of my kids without almost breaking into tears. Things are looking up at work as well. They've finally given me something to do!

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Dudley Chronicles - Week 1

Several weeks had passed since I started here in my new job. At the risk of being redundant, I just want to record some extra info on my early days here in West Midlands. It was not all a bed of roses in my first week as far as I am concerned. Terrible homesickness set in right on the first day. Doubts about the job arose by the second day. And as expected I am left in zombie-like state while reading manuals and documents to kill time due to lack of computer and database access.

As a saving grace, everyone I meet here have been lovely and very friendly. Even people on the street and shops were amiable. I guess the adage that, the further away from the city you are the friendlier the people, hold true.

My travel, rather driving, this week has been excellent since I had to get a hire car. Though driving was a breeze, my pocket is not breezing so much what with this added expense mainly because the cheapo car (Volvo) that we bought is not up to scratch. Actually I got a shock when I got the hirecar expecting only about £150 to pay. But insurance and VAT inflated the price to £200! *groan* Just what I needed when I should be saving money.

I stayed in a B&B with a family in their relatively new 4-bedroom house in the Milking Bank area. Dennis, Dang and family even accompanied me there the first night I 'checked in'. Everything was very pleasant including my friendly landlady. Only minor irritation is the lack of a shower room in their lovely spacious bathroom. So everytime I had to sit in the bathtub while scrubbing and very carefully rinsing myself with a shower attached to a hose (I don't what they call that).

Friday, June 02, 2006

Job Interviews

My recent job hunt made me face job interviews for the first time in more than 10 years. The amount and variety of these interviews I went into is such a wealth of experience to me that I have to write it down for posterity.

The line of job I'm in is a bit technical so there are a lot of quiz-type of questions that usually have absolute answers. Interviews I went into are usually divided between technical and the more HR type. Usually you have to hurdle the technical one first before you are put on the second HR type which gauges more of your personality and suitability to the current team and company culture.

I can't tell you enough of my nervousness in the techie interviews because I know if I got 1 or 2 wrong - that's it I'm screwed. Especially for contract jobs since they expect you to plunge into the job right at the start so they want you to be extra sharp. So just imagine yourself in like a 'Mastermind' type of scenario where the person opposite is asking you questions and probing everything you say in a technical way. Worse still is if you're doing it over the phone. Well actually that has advantages such as you can hide your nervousness since they can't see you. Also you can rummage thru your notes (very quickly) as they fire away their questions. But it still boils down to whether you would appear and sound like you know what you're talking about. I think that's where my weakness lies because I'm a bad liar. I can't bluff very well. Whereas some of my colleagues were able to blag themselves to plum roles even though they don't have all the required work experiences.

Besides those points, going on interviews after more than 10 years in a job can be quite a shock. I'm not really good at it since I am by nature an insecure person and as everyone knows it is very important to appear confident and sure. There were also times when I have a 'mental block' where I forget even the simplest things that I do.

The solution to this is to prepare and to prepare well. Think of all the things they could ask you and if possible write down your best answer. Don't just try to remember everything in your head. You're bound to forget one or two things. As for technical questions, you definitely have to revise via textbooks in libraries (even in bookstores) or in the internet. Unless you have a photographic memory of everything you read and click on your computer you might be in for a shock when at crunch time you realise that you forgot the collective name of the suite of software you're using and some other everyday work stuff.

As for my actual interviews, there were times then that I feel like a multitasking operating system. I had interviews almost everyday for several weeks. Sometimes I have two at a time. Sometimes one phone interview in the morning then a face-to-face one in the afternoon.

First one, I was so unprepared I forgot to answer one fundamental thing about Packaged Procedures in Oracle Forms which I was using everyday in my work. Duh! Be prepared! I learned later that an ex-colleague was getting interviewed for the same position so I gave him all the questions they fired at me and all the tips I can muster. He did get the job, which I was genuinely delighted, but was troubled that he was only asked 2 quite easy technical questions. Waahh, not fair!

Second one, I went thru all the trouble of commuting to their offices and back for a series of exams. Spending almost £50 of my own money. Then after repeatedly calling them for 2 weeks to get an answer, they came back and said they're not recruiting afterall. Arrrggghh!!

Then followed a series of phone interviews:

One was for a job in Belgium, which was so intense they were asking about syntaxes of Oracle commands. They really need one with photographic memory.

Another was for a bank up north, which I really liked but it turned out I was beaten by an ex-colleague. Oh well ...

Then came this job for a software house in East Midlands whose interview was done by an agency person who didn't have a clue on what Oracle was. So I had to continually ask her to repeat the question and often ask her to spell it. As you can tell, it's one of those quiz type of interviews - one wrong answer and you're fried. Not surprisingly I didn't get a followup phonecall from them.

A software house up in Scotland liked my first interview so they sent plane tickets for my second interview. I didn't the job but I got to ride an airplane. :) They said they want someone with more customer facing experience. Maybe that means they want someone who's not fat. hehehe!

Next one is a university who had the temerity to ask for so many years of experience and technical skills then pay you peanuts. I thought it could do for the meantime but when I saw their offices - my God! It was really grim. They are in a tower block that didn't seem to have been maintained much since the 70s. Halls were dark, there were piles of boxes and paper everywhere. What's worse were the holes and cracks I saw on the window panes then patched up higgedly-piggedly with cello tapes or electrical tapes. Yikes! And everyone had a personal heater by their desks. It must be freezing up there in winter.

A financial investment firm in the City called me for an interview. Offices were a stark contrast from the above - very posh, quite new, sleek and trendy, all reeking money. I think I did well in the written technical exam but I did not gel well with my interviewers. Besides one of them was so glum I think he had made up his mind even before he'd seen me. Though I was not sorry to see that job go because even if they're paying top money, the work was all about maintaining their legacy system (read: old system). Not much development work so no real prospect for growth.

Then I had a couple of 'long-shots' - meaning I really didn't have all the core work experience they need but were interested because they were in the insurance industry as well. The one in the south coast is the one I really covet. All new system with lots of development needed and lots of new technologies being introduced. Sadly they said they like my personality but needed someone with experience on the new ERP technologies. I know they're still looking but with the salary they're offering I think they'll have a tough time.

Next one is an insurance company near where I live. I really think I am a good fit in that position but my hunch is that the boss who interviewed might have been intimidated by me. She's well experienced and all but still quite young.

This is a funny one, the guy emailed me for an informal interview in an address in the City. So I went to the designated place expecting an office building. I kept circling around the area but couldn't seem to find it. Just then I saw one of the shop awnings with the number of the address. It was a wine bar !! I have heard of jokes about interviews in pubs but I never thought it would happen to me. I couldn't believe it that I must have walked by about 4 times unsure of whether to come in or not. To be fair, they were a decent bunch of people and wanted to see mainly my personality since they are a very small consulting company. Still, I think they should have done better than having it in a wine bar. That one would really stick in memory. :)

Did you have a meeting where everything seems to go wrong? Well this one was in the Docklands and I don't know what happened but I ended up being late! Tsk tsk, one of the cardinal sins of interviews - never be late! I made sure to leave home in plenty enough time but I think there were train cancellations and I ended up almost running from Canary Wharf tube station across a mall, over a bridge, then sprinted the last 250 meters (my PE teacher would have been proud). As I opened the glass door I was sweaty, panting, and looking particularly haggard. The interview was all right but it's just as well that they didn't call me back because from what they described me the job is mainly doing technical sales. Not for me!

Another software house that developed a multi-media broadcasting ERP software called me for an interview. Location was in North London high tower block office in a not so nice part of town. Though the inside of the office is nice enough in stark contrast to their surroundings. The people there looks laid back and were smart-casually dressed. The senior techie guy I met gave me a written test after only a few minutes of questioning. It wasn't a problem. I was confident of my answers so I handed it in after about half an hour. I thought that was the end of it but no! He sat down and dissected each and every answer I made and questioned me on why this why that. It turned out more exhaustive than I thought. After 2 weeks still no answer but I was not too bothered.

The interview I got for my current job was quite an ordeal really. I have to travel a total of about 6 hours to get to and from the site. Then a project manager and a senior techie guy grilled me for 1 1/2 hours on probably anything they can think of in Oracle. Minutes after all that, they had me take 2 45-minute verbal and numeric assessment exams. I tell you, I felt like a pulp when I got home. Good thing they offered me the job otherwise it would have been all for nought.

So there they are, all my interview experiences this year. Aren't you exhausted yet? It may not be over yet. I might repeat the whole circus in a year or two, who knows?

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

First Week Blues

It's been three weeks since I started on a new job and I knew it is always difficult to come out of your comfort zone but was still surprised with the intensity of my gloom in being away from my family and familiar environment. My first week in the West Midlands was hell. I missed my family (my children especially) so much during that time which was unexpected since I was usually fine with my occassional out-of-town one-week trainings. My goodness, you don't know how many buckets of tears I shed (in secret of course) on my first weekend home. It was just too painful for a mother to be away. The experience certainly made me realise how much my family means to me - me, the objective me the logical me. I didn't realise much motherly emotion I have.

The first meeting I had with my colleagues added to my depression. It was troubling to say the least that I found out what was happening to our production runs (which was mostly bad) with all the attendant problems. The way they portrayed it is like there is no solution and we might as well blow up the whole thing and start over again. I kept saying to myself - what did I get myself into? The tricky part is they have to come up with a working efficient system by December - that's only 6 months away!

The bad weather didn't help at all. Rain was pouring everyday throughout the week. It was May but the temperature was more like late winter. Plus all the places I saw in the area were quite run down places where you wouldn't want to live. I ask - why am I here?

After more than 3 weeks, the fog is lifting. We've got definitely plans to move up here in the West Midlands. It seems there are nice places to live here after my extensive poking around. And there are workable solutions afterall to our work problems. Really, my first week was trying to say the least. I was firmly ready to chuck everything out and never comeback. I'm glad I hung on and just hope this will be the start of better things for me and my family.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A New Chapter Unfolding

A few months ago I mentioned my getting redundant from my work of more than 10 years. The times after that was fraught for me and my former colleagues with lots of anxiety, worries, frustrations, and disappointments. Thankfully now, relief and delight has replaced those emotions. While most of my ex-colleagues have remained in the London area, I'm off to pastures anew in the West Midlands. Yes sir, I'll be working with a company in the outskirts of Birmingham, the second premier city in Britain. For now, I will stay there during the week and come home every weekend. I'll see first how things work out before making the decision of whether to move the whole family. Certainly one of the plus side in living there is the affordable houses and flats. The general cost of living is cheaper as well. Let's hope this will be the start of a brand new adventure for our family. :)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Imperial War Museum

Imperial War Museum
The Saturday after our visit to Tower of London, me and my two kids (J1 & J3) trekked to the Imperial War Museum London in Lambeth. As expected, it's full of weapons, artifacts, and other war related exhibits. I am generally against war and violence but besides the obvious excitement and interest of my son, I took them there to learn about the destruction and futility of war. As the phrase in the leaflet says "It seeks to provide for, and to encourage, the study and understanding of the history of modern war and how it affects our lives." I certainly hope it does.

Above are the imposing big guns fronting the museum. Click on the pictures for a bigger view. I was pleasantly surprised to learn upon stepping inside that entrance is free.

These are the airplanes that will greet you inside. The museum houses war artifacts from all over the world. So you can see German Panzer tanks alongside British ones.

Some spic and span World War II tanks.

And the regulatory guns and knives to go with everything ...

Above is a surface to air missile and a German V2 rocket.

There are a number of excellent exhibitions like the WWI and WWII galleries, the Children's War where it poignantly depicts how war affected children especially in the evacuation of London children during WWII. There was even a Trench Experience gallery where they recreated trenches in WWI complete with sights, sounds and even the stench of urine, sweat, blood, among other things.

Herein is the butt of the big guns or rather the derrier. We're on our way out now after a day of viewing the excellent exhibits of the museum. For me, it's a good way of reflecting on the cruelty of man against his own. For my youngest J3, it's a nice day out running in and out of tanks and submarines. For my son J1, it's absolutely fantastic seeing and photographing all those guns, tanks, planes and seeing those big rockets. What is it with boys and big guns?

On the way home only a few meters away from the museum gates, I noticed this plaque on a house along Lambeth Road.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Tower of London

I've been remiss in updating this blog. Mainly because of all the mayhem happening in my life offline. I thought being out of job would give me more time to do more leisurely things and be in a more relaxed pace. How wrong I was!

Anyway, early this week me and the kids had a chance to see the Tower of London ... well where else but in London. It was built by William the Conqueror in 1066 originally as a fortress and castle to defend the city. Subsequent sovereigns expanded and modified it. Hence, its use extended to become a palace, prison, execution place, a mint and an arsenal among others.

I've been here with my older kids about 6-7 years ago but they couldn't remember much from the event. We were prompted on this visit by our youngest who wanted to see castles and palaces in London for her classroom assignment of "defending London". It's their 2-week term break and I was not doing much that day so off we went on a trek to the Tower.

Tower of London view from Tower Hill tube stationThis is the view of the castle as you emerge from the Tower Hill tube station (click on the pictures for a bigger view).

This beautiful building facing the Tower of London is, I think, of the National Maritime.

Entrance gate to the Tower. Fees are now a whopping £15 per adult and £9.50 per child (5-16 yo). Good thing we had that 2for1 ticket promotion of the National Rail where we get a free ticket for every full paying adult as long as you present a train ticket on that day. It saved me a lot!


Of course there were loads of things to see and explore within the thick stone walls of the castle. Above you can see the Traitor's Gate where Elizabeth I (she was not yet queen) famously entered the fortress when she was accused of treason.

You can see above the central building in a castle called the 'keep'. Here in the Tower of London, this particular building is named the White Tower. Currently it houses a gallery of armories, cannons, swords, body armours, etc. The entrance via a wooden staircase can be seen outside the building. Access between floors once inside is via a series of winding stone staircases.

The first room you encounter upon entering is this small chapel.

Most of the display room were dark and lit by tiny recessed lights. I got a nice shot of one of the rooms. Don't you think it patently looks ghostly?

The kids were particularly impressed with the knights' metal armours - even the rude one of Henry VIII. There were lots of medieval armaments like swords, cannons, jousting sticks, etc.


Narrow passage ways abound as well as winding stone staircases typical of medieval castles.

More of the relatively contemporary armouries dislayed. The last one being a gaily painted cannon outside the White Tower itself.

I saw this gorgeous gold Lion of St.Mark standing near the exit by a Tower gift shop - you know the kind of shop that is strategically poised to squeeze the most money out of you.


As soon as we got out of the White Tower, we proceeded to the Jewel Tower just opposite it (see pix on left). The Jewel Tower is precisely that, it houses the Crown Jewels of the Queen. We were led along this winding queue lines which thankfully were not too crowded. Then we entered a large room with formidable looking very thick steel vault doors. Some other lesser important crowns and a gold robe were at the foyer of the room. As you turn left you will see a long glass encased display of the Crown Jewels flanked on either side by moving conveyor belts where people step on and pass by and ogle (maybe even drool) at the seriously big glittering rocks on the Queen's crown and in the scepter. We were all in awe. I've never seen such huge gems in my life. The picture by the way on the right is the Fussilier's Museum. We didn't get a chance to see it. The kids were complaining that they're already tired and hungry.

As we wound our day to a close in the castle, I couldn't resist admiring the beautiful setting of this venerable place. It was a perfect spring day, sunny, not too cold, the grass green, the daffodils out - really nice.

Just outside the castle is another famous London icon spanning the Thames river - the Tower Bridge.

A more proper view of the bridge from the promenade outside the castle walls. Now I know most people outside of the UK know this bridge as London bridge probably because of the children's song. Just to confirm this is called Tower Bridge and *not* London bridge. There is indeed a bridge called London bridge which is just within sight of Tower Bridge but it's not half as beautiful as the latter.

We walked on the north bank promenade of the Thames river where I took this picture. We continued all the way on foot to London bridge, crossed it and took a train home from the London bridge train station. I was knackered after all the walking and going up and down staircases. It would have been nothing had I not been wearing a suit and leather boots. Reason being, I had an interview earlier in the morning. Despite that we made sure to enjoy ourselves in this day out.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Lion King Birthday

Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre
Last month I decided to treat Tony on his 45th birthday with a dinner and a theatre show. Since the lower end of the age spectrum in our family weighs heavily on our choice of entertainment, we decided on seeing the wholesome Lion King instead of a more 'interesting' shows like Chicago. I made reservations for tickets with a pre-theatre dinner included which was good value for money.

I chose PJ's Grill for our restaurant. Largely because all the other choices had bad reviews mainly and unforgiveably in its food. Sloppy service can be excusable on lots of pretext, but please not with food. Thankfully, PJ's didn't have any problem with either of it; with courteous (although somewhat harried) waiting staff and good tasty food to be had in its dining halls. It was also something different for us since most of the time we eat out we end up in a Chinese restaurant.

The highlight of the night of course, is the Lion King musical. It would have been better if the upper circle (where our seats were located) area were a little lower. The endless stairs we trudged on were about the equivalent of 5 stories high! By the time we reached the top we were panting like dogs. The ushers didn't bat an eyelid on our antics. It must have been a regular sight for them. Anyhow, our seats were excellent, it was right in front and at the edge right smack in the middle. No heads bobbing in front of us blocking our way. We had perfect line of sight of the stage. Bliss! Needless to say, we enjoyed our view of the outstanding show especially J3 who was singing along and very excited in seeing such a colourful and magical show.

Let's not forget that all of this is for the husband who celebrated his 45th birthday. Happy Birthday Tony !!

Lion King musical

Monday, January 30, 2006

Funky Maps and Images

Oh poor blog of mine, haven't been updated for more than a month! Well, it's got something to do with me trying to find a job. So people out there, please pray that I find a good job very soon.

On another note, I've found some nifty softwares and websites that aids in how we look at our world.

First is the Google Earth where you see the topview almost any part of the world maybe including your own street and your own house! It's not very detailed in every place but in cities like Hong Kong, the minute features in the images are simply astonishing. You'll have to download and install Google's software though but you don't have to worry since it's so easy to do.

Next is the World Sunlight Map where you could see an interpretation on how the earth would look out in space ... when stretched out flat.

Last one is this cool website Circular Life wherein you could see different places gradually go through the different phases during the day. Try it - it's real cool. :)