Idling it out

[Emotions in Hands] – hocco on Flickr, 23 Nov ’07.

Here’s something I wrote for a friend the other night, titled Sadness.

Sadness, is like a winter that never seems to end.
The snowflakes fall, slowly but without pause.
And the heart is buried beneath the endless layers of grief.
You seem unaffected, but still the heart weeps every night.

The mask drops upon solitude, and the cloud returns.

The tired mind screams of release.
Of wanting to let go an existence so weary,
a road so meaningless,
a life so purposeless.

How then, does one overcome sorrow?

Face the starkness of reality as it is; stand firm.
Memories are but haunting images of the past, never to return.

Release the emotions; vent them.
Holding them in serves naught, but to overwhelm the mind.

If a friend is truly needed, you know what to do.

Time heals all wounds, but having someone around helps things somewhat : )

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It’s been only 14 (15 to be exact) days since I’m back, but all of it’s been good : ) Regained my tan from hitting the pool every few days, went from a miserable three chinups to eight, and today was a a torturous run around Bedok Reservoir with ZM. The gym weights are still feeling abnormally heavy right now though, heh heh. Slowly does it. I’m really not looking forward to RT.

(Yes, I suck at running.)

And of course, basketball! I was an absolute mess in the first session, couldn’t even catch a pass properly. But the second weekend session wasn’t too bad, and let’s hope that it’s getting better this Sunday : )

And of meeting friends over here : ) I’ve cleared a good half of the outstanding list so far, been fun talking to all the friends I haven’t seen in ages. And to those who’re mistaking my Facebook status: I’m not getting married (yet.) ;p

Caught a few movies lately too; Stardust is great, Beowulf stinks, and Enchanted isn’t too bad. Now that there’s Quickflix in Facebook, I’ve been posting my mini-reviews over there instead.

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MDA rap MV, hilarious.

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How to deal with embarrassmentBasic Instructions, by Scott Meyer. He’s got great ideas that translate to funny illustrations.

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Addendum:
Aaron Hobson‘s images (a style known as cinemascapes), truly render the eye a captive. Check out Dark, Darker and Winter.

20 timeless money rules, compiled by CNNMoney.

– The accompanying images on this article on Internet safety tips by Cracked.com are hilarious ;p “That is not a woman. Real women do not call themselves CumSlurper19, nor do they send naked pictures to people they met five minutes ago.”

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Article – Why do talented employees leave companies

[Letter of Resignation] – Kearnj on Flickr, 31 Aug ’07.

(This was a very old post, but still an interesting read.)

Largest study undertaken by the Gallup Organisation

Why do talented employees leave companies?

Early this year, Arun, an old friend who is a senior software designer got an offer from a prestigious international firm to work in its India operations developing specialised software. He was thrilled by the offer.

He had heard a lot about the CEO of this company, a charismatic man often quoted in the business press for his visionary attitude. The salary was great. The company had all the right systems in place, employee-friendly human resources (HR) policies, a spanking new office, the very best technology, even a canteen that served superb food. Twice Arun was sent abroad for training. “My learning curve is the sharpest it’s ever been,” he said soon after he joined. “It’s a real high working with such cutting edge technology.”

Last week, less than eight months after he joined, Arun walked out of the job. He has no offer in hand but he said he couldn’t take it anymore. Nor, apparently, could several other people in his department who have also quit recently. The CEO is distressed about the high employee turnover. He’s distressed about the money he’s spent in training them. He’s distressed because he can’t figure out what happened. Why did his talented employee leave despite a top salary?

Arun quit for the same reason that drives many good people away. The answer lies in one of the largest studies undertaken by the Gallup organisation. The study surveyed over a million employees and 80,000 managers, and was published in a book called First Break All The Rules.

It came up with this surprising finding: If you’re losing good people, look to their immediate supervisor. More than any other single reason, he is the reason people stay and thrive in an organisation, and he is the reason why they quit, taking their knowledge, experience, and contacts with them.

Often straight to the competition.

“People leave managers, not companies,” write the authors Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman. “So much money has been thrown at the challenge of keeping good people – in the form of better pay, better perks, and better training – when, in the end, turnover is mostly a manager issue.” If you have a turnover problem, look first at your managers. Are they driving people away?

Beyond a point, an employee’s primary need has less to do with money, and more to do with how he’s treated and how valued he feels.

Much of this depends directly on the immediate manager. And yet, bad bosses seem to happen to good people everywhere. A Fortune magazine survey some years ago found that nearly 75 per cent of employees have suffered at the hands of difficult superiors. You can leave one job to find – you guessed it, another wolf in a pin-stripe suit in the next one.

Of all the workplace stressors, a bad boss is possibly the worst, directly impacting the emotional health and productivity of employees. HR experts say that of all the abuses, employees find public humiliation the most intolerable. The first time, an employee may not leave, but a thought has been planted. The second time, that thought gets strengthened. The third time, he starts looking for another job. When people cannot retort openly in anger, they do so by passive aggression. By digging their heels in and slowing down. By doing what they are supposed to do and no more. By omitting to give the boss crucial information. Dev, an engineer, still shudders as he recalls the almost daily firings his boss subjected him to, “If you work for a jerk, you bascially want to get him into trouble. You don’t have your heart and soul in the job.”

Different managers can stress out employees in different ways – by being too controlling, too suspicious, too pushy, too critical, too nit-picky. But they forget that workers are not fixed assets, they are free agents.

When this goes on too long, an employee will quit – often over seemingly trivial issues. It isn’t the 100th blow that knocks a good man down. It’s the 99 that went before. And while it’s true that people leave jobs for all kinds of reasons – for better opportunities or for circumstantial reasons, many who leave would have stayed had it not been for one man.

While it seems like there are plenty of other fish especially in today’s waters, consider for a moment the cost of losing a talented employee. There’s the cost of finding a replacement. The cost of training the replacement. The cost of not having someone to do the job in the meantime.

The loss of clients and contacts the person had with the industry.

The loss of morals in co-workers.

The loss of trade secrets this person may now share with others.

Plus, of courser, the loss of the company’s reputation. Every person who leaves a corporation then becomes its ambassador, for better or for worse. We all know of large IT companies that people would love to join and large television companies few want to go near. In both cases, former employees have left to tell their tales. “Any company trying to compete must figure
out a way to engage the mind of every employee.”

Jack Welch of GE once said, much of a company’s value lies “between the ears of it employees”. If it’s bleeding talent, it’s bleeding value. Unfortunately, many senior executive busy travelling the world, signing new deals and developing a vision for the company, have little idea of what may be going on at home. That deep within an organisation that otherwise does all the right things, one man could be driving its best people away.

The weekly news magazine “Time” states Jules Masserman’s (a US psychoanalyst) criteria of a good leader:

Leaders must fulfil 3 functions:
1. Provide for the well-being of the people they lead.
2. Provide a social organization in which people feel relatively secure.
3. Provide them with one set of direction.

Perhaps there’s a reason why teachers keep quitting?

[Stupidity Ahead] – oybay on Flickr, 22 Apr ’06.

This is a random post on something a friend and I yakked about on a recent kopi session. So he’s a teacher full-time, and it’s pretty interesting to learn how (in)effectively multi-pronged a modern teacher’s role can be.

There’s the default role of knowledge imparter in the classroom, and of course the CCA (Co-Curricular Activities) facilitator which we all know from our school days. After school means having to work out lesson plans for the future, marking homework or even helping students in organising events (inexperienced organisers i.e. students can screw things up). Teaching is certainly not a job where the bell rings at 5 p.m. and you’re free to turn the brain off from work thereafter.

And here comes all the bits and pieces of random duties that come with it these days. How about writing an entire research paper from scratch to evaluate the feasibility of some inspiring idea that popped into the principal’s head? I was seriously open-jawed when I first heard that. WTF, why the hell is a teacher doing a thesis?

Or filling up forms to justify the usage of stationary (duh). How about filling up the “reason” field with something like “I need this because I ran out of them”? Rinse and repeat x100.

Or doing up Powerpoint presentations for the lesson materials even if they’re not required? I believe that IT should be applied to lessons whenever it could aid in learning, but I seriously doubt the effort of doing the presentations would outweigh the benefit of learning from the slides every single time. After all it’s supposed to be an aid, not a bludgeon to replace everything. It’s the same theory as the fact that having electronic copies of documents in the office is a great benefit, but hardcopies are still needed at times.

Teaching seems to be becoming a chore where teaching only takes up a portion of your time, and hides a great deal of shit that saps your drive to do anything else. And whose fault is it? I reckon a great deal of the problem stems from the fact that every new leader in the school tends to want to prove that he/she/it is making sweeping (and hopefully career enhancing) changes in his/her/its tenure. So the new initiatives, goals and blah blah start coming in, and the poor bonded teachers have to take it in silence. Objection is mostly ignored, since they don’t have the option of quitting. Talk about suffering in silence eh?

Hasn’t anyone heard of KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid!) before? If it’s not spoilt, don’t fix it. Period.

Stupid management and their harebrained ideas as usual; extreme tunnel vision at work.

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On another note, It’s officially day 6 of my return and I’ve met up with quite a few people so far. Tiring though, no shit about that. And I friggin’ hate the weather; it’s so bloody stuffy! Arrrrrrgh.

Still hanging around waiting for the job to start, and I wonder how long it takes for someone to nod his head and give the go-ahead. Contract’s still unsigned, pay not negotiated yet. Oh well, more time for me to hit the gym, swim and blah blah.

I’ve been slowly but steadily cleaning up my room. One year’s worth of unread snail mails, and lots of other random pieces of paper to throw away. The CCNA notes I wrote in SG have been torn out and relegated to the wastepaper basket, mwhahahah. And it’s fun to look through old photo albums and go “hmmmm, I really looked like a dork back then” and then conclude I’m nothing but an older dork now heh.

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Joke of the day:

Comedy Break

“One time a guy handed me a picture of himself and said ‘here’s a picture of me when I was younger.’

“Every picture of you is when you were younger.

“It’s like, ‘Here’s a picture of me when I’m older.’

” ‘You son of a bitch! How’d you pull that off? Let me see that camera. What’s it look like…?’ ”

—Mitch Hedberg (1968–2005), from Strategic Grill Locations

Linked from The Online Photographer.

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Addendum:
Hilarious epitaphs on tombstones. “I told you I was sick.”

– A Malaysian woman has s*x with a man on her bed, and belatedly realises the bugger’s not her husband, damn! And I thought you would actually realise it if the fellow’s different, hrmmm.

First day back in sweatyland

[Missing You] – A Schwerin Moses on Flickr, 2 Nov ’06.

Well folks, I’m back. And happily suffocating in the stuffy weather, how blissful. Not.

It was a pretty lousy flight yesterday; I managed to watch Who’s Your Caddie, Stardust and Hot Rod on the plane so that’s three movie tickets saved at least. Not all of ’em are worth the ticket prices anyway, lemme tell you that. And thanks to CT/Momo/ZM/ahlong (and my family) for picking me up at the airport : ) And of course, thanks to QL for coming down as well although I didn’t see him at the airport at all. (He forgot that he could actually call my mobile to find out where I was, instead of just using eye power to spot me.)

And it’s been a long day today; meetups with the bball group, the ex-colleagues and a chalet with my secondary school people. The BBQ feels like a crash course on How to Reorient Your Tastebuds to SG Food; satay, ketupat, chicken wings, Taiwan sausages yum.

Hell, I reached home at about 1 a.m., and there were emails from work (from Aussie) waiting to be cleared.

Busy day, and it still feels odd not to have V around. Oh well, that’s what happens when you have someone in your life everyday for the past eleven months I guess. And it really sucks to have a three hour time difference.

Really looking forward to Dec 13 now.

And incase she reads this: I miss you babe.

Counting down to the return

[VTME Series (Going Home)] – GoodNightSweetArt… on Flickr, 22 Nov ’06.

9 more days till I’m back in our wet dreary homeland. I can already feel the sweat pores warming up in anticipation -.- Even Melbourne seems to be giving me a good preview; the weather’s been gradually warming up to the extent that I could actually feel myself sweating WTH.

Haven’t done my packing yet, but a list of stuff to bring home is already on the table. I’m still not too certain how things are going to be in the next few months, too many question marks. And I haven’t even got a job yet argh, still in processing.

Oh well, at least there’s a chalet to look forward to when I get back. Good timing, right on the same night that I return. Let’s hope that the flight’s not too tiring and I can still cycle (yes cycle, I’ve been missing my bike alot lately).

And to you guys at home, I’m looking forward to catching up!

Good news yet again, I’ve passed my CCNA 640-801 at long last! What a relief. Driving and this had always been the twin persistent curses in my life for the past two years, and coming here seems to have solved ’em all : ) Speaking of which, I’m really glad that I made it here; the years are gonna fly by but I’m always gonna look back and think of this as my turning point in life. Some things in life are meant to happen, no avoiding it. But others you have to fight to get there, all a matter of timing.

I’m gonna start on BSCI 642-901 (which sounds like a meaningless bunch of numbers to 99% of you guys, but is actually the first step towards my CCNP or Cisco Certified Network Professional) while I’ve still got the energy to do it, so chiong ahh!