Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Not yet good bye

"Not yet good bye" this is the title of the email that my friend sent out today to inform everyone that he is leaving the company after close to 14 years.

It has been a sad day for me. He is a very close friend of mine and a mentor. We know each other for about 12 years now. He was my supervisor on two separate periods. He was one of the two reasons that I came back to work in my first and current company. He was the one who talked me into joining my first road race. He was the one who indirectly influenced me to join my first gym. He was the one who introduced me to Yoga and spinning class. He is my lunch mate, coffee break mate etc. Professionally, he is the one that I respect and look up to. He is also very capable and reputable in the company. For me, it is hard to see him leave.

Although I know that we will be still friends. But the fact that our direct contact will be reduced from daily to once a week or once a month, strike me the most. It is through these daily contacts and interactions that we share each other experiences as co-workers, our role as father, and many more that made our relationship as it is today. Yes, we can still call each other, email or interact via Facebook, but it is just not the same. Many of us depend so much on technology to keep us together with our friends that we have ignored the importance of simple human interaction that really build relationships.

Relationships, to me, is the most important thing in life. We have family, friends, colleagues and others. It is through these relationship that we learn, share, grow, and perhaps find purpose of our lives. Having good friends around me is something I cherish the most outside of my family. And good friend does not come easily.

I know he made his decision based on what he thought is best for him. It has been a very difficult decision for him. William, I know you will excel in whatever that you do, I wish you all the best, and friendship forever. It is indeed, "not yet good bye."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ashley's birthday

Ashley chose this Oreo Cheese Cake. It looks simple from the outside, but tastes great from the inside.

It's Ashley's birthday today. Happy birthday, Ashley. It's a great feeling to think back all those good moments since your birth. I love you.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

theSun hunt 2008 - Brilliant Q25

The answer (or should I say question?) for Q25 was staring at me.

Q25 (bolded). Bays?

A25. Vocal Station @ Golden Sun

I thought this was a brilliant question.

It was a Double Jeopardy question. The question itself was the answer. And hunters were required to find the signboard that could be a question for Q25.

There are not many signboards that the CoC can use for Double Jeopardy. Basically you need some key words in the signboard for this type of question. Naturally, I think, CoC would be tempted to use Double Jeopardy whenever they have the chance.

I've never liked short clue, Q25 has just one single-syllable word. It didn't tell you much. Figuring out the CoC's intention was like finding a needle in the ocean.

We scanned this long sector on foot but didn't manage to get it. I was looking for a word that could mean "cry", "howl", "space" etc. I didn't find any.

Why I say this was a brilliant question? Because the presence of the question mark, "?" It disguised itself as a direct question, rather than a Double Jeopardy question. So many hunters (including me) were led thinking elsewhere.

In the end this was what Dom was meaning to say:

"Station" can mean "base." "Vocal" can be sounds-like indicator. "Bays" is a homonym of "base". Therefore the intended answer, "Vocal Station."

In the IOI run this morning, I was near this sector. I went back to this sector and took photo of the board (see photo above). I've seen the board earlier during the hunt but the light bulb remained off that time. Argh...

But I still think this was a solvable clue. And it was solved by a few teams only according to Dom. We were running out of time (during the hunt) and the sector was badly congested. We decided to move on and try to get the rest. I didn't want to give up on Q25 but I remember we made the decision as a team to move on. Come to think of it now, it was another wise decision that we'd made.

IOI Community Run 2008

With my running buddy and friend, BP at the finish line.

This morning I went to my first IOI community run in Bandar Puteri, Puchong.

The route was within Bandar Puteri and it was hilly, but not as hilly as the route of Mizuno Wave Run. This was only my second road race. I finished the 7.3km race in 45 minutes, better than my target. I set a modest target of 50 minutes due to insufficient training.

The event was more like a community event (than a pro race) to the people in Puchong. Therefore I was surprised to see some African runners in it! Other activities held at the same time were Street Ball and Futsal challenge.

This time there was no timing chip used and the medals were awarded only to the top 20 of each category. I didn't finish in the top 20, so I could only manage a certificate of completion.

I felt that the event was badly organised. The run itself was delayed for 15 minutes and the crowd and traffic control was not good. Good thing about the run was, we didn't need to line up to cross the finish line.

This time I didn't suffer (as bad) like in my first run. I managed to improve my pace, but it was challenging. I was running over my anaerobic threshold over the last 2 km, meaning I was pushing hard until I was almost out of breath.

My running buddies, BP, Janice and James done well too. They came in about 48-52 mintues. Janice got 22th placing in the Women Open Category and just missed out on medal by just 2 placings. Good run!

UM EE 96 mini gathering

It started as finding ex-classmates on Facebook, then came the idea of meeting up face-to-face after 12 years since we graduated.

We have our gathering of the class of UM EE 96 on 8 Nov 2008 in 100 degrees Steamboat Teppanyaki and BBQ restaurant. The restaurant is located in NZX commercial area in Ara Damansara.

Most of the guys I haven't seen for a long time. Some of them since we graduated. There are a few of the guys came from Singapore just for this.

I was the one who organised the event. Firstly I need to get the contact number and email address of our ex-classmates, which was a challenge. Of course the date and time was something that not easy to get consensus too.

In the end, only 12 people attended. Not too bad, considering we have guys came from outside of KL. The others that couldn't attend were based in Penang, Ipoh, US and UK now.

When we looked at the gang after these years, most of us were showing signs of aging. Apart from that, we looked and dressed like the same bunch of undergraduates going for lectures.

We have a good meal and chatted over drinks after that. Everyone talked about their working and family lives. Some talked about investment and joked a lot about other stuffs.

It was a real good feeling to catch up with my ex-classmates after 12 years. Everyone has been busy with their own lives that we didn't even make efforts to meet for a reunion. I hope the next time we meet will not be another 12 years.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Ancora imparo

I am still learning.

This beautiful sport of treasure hunt.

(Flash back to immediately after theSun Hunt 2008 Leg 2 submission)

I was asking myself, "Did we do enough this time?" "Did I do enough this time?"

Every time we joined a treasure hunt, I always remind the team, that the one competitor that we were up against was the CoC. It was the CoC that we were supposed to beat.

I knew we didn't manage to best the CoC this time. We didn't solve all questions. We left money on the table.

I did everything that I could to motivate the guys since the day I enrolled the team for the hunt. The aim, this time, as I put to them, was to win it, and the message was, "We can win it."

I was in pensive mood. I didn't talk much. It was the guys who came to me and said, "Just chill." "We have done our best... given the limited time that we need to manage in the end."

(Flash back to the year 2006)

In 2006, we got an opportunity to form a team to represent our company in the inaugural Corporate Hunt. This was the first time Sath, Raj, Doug and I worked as a team. It was the strongest team combination I could thought of at that time. I remember that was one of the toughest hunts we have ever been to. We started the hunt with high hope but received a baptism of fire in open hunt and was placed 18th.

Although we were well-defeated in the Corporate Hunt, but I felt that the team could perform better. In that same year, I got to know theSun Motor Hunt. I convinced the guys to join this hunt. Contrary to Corporate Hunt, the team morale was pretty low before the start of the hunt. I wanted to motivate them and promised to bear the entry fee of RM360 if our team finished in the top 10.

-The prize for 10th place in 2006 was a DVD player each.

The team did well to finish 10th among more than 200 teams in the Open category. I could see the happy faces and confidence grew.

(The year, 2007)

That year we joined quite many open hunts. We were selective on which hunts to join mainly due to team members availability issues. Competing in the field of masters, we managed some top 10 finishes in open hunts. The team confidence was high and we aimed to better the 10th place finish in theSun hunt the year before. We were looking at a possible top 5 finish. This time there was no need for me to promise any incentive like the year before.

We finished 9th and left pondering what could have been in 2007.

We finished the hunt in 9th place. In terms of points scored, we didn't improve. We made mistakes that we shouldn't have. We could have been in the top 5 or even top 3. And we were left pondering what could have been.

(Fast-forward to the prize giving ceremony, theSun hunt 2008)

"The runner-up in the Open Category is... Micro Focus" announced Dom.

It was a special moment for me and the team.

I was holding back tears of joy, and Sath was quick to notice and say, "Hold it..."

It was a special moment for me and the team. I did promised the team, after the heartbreak in theSun hunt 2007, that as long as they believe in me, I will captain them to an open hunt champion one day. That day has come.

"...and the champions in the Open Category, Lanun Inc."

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

theSun hunt 2008 - Sneaky Q8

Q7 (not bolded): I can make them a restroom, But they can make you drapes.

A7: Letto curtain

Q8 (bolded): From a starlet today and then blind, such may fall if the answer you don't find.

A8: Letto curtain

(The adventure posted below happened during the first leg of theSun hunt 2008, and it is extracted from my hunt log book.)

We went back to Sector 3 and dropped Raj there to look for Q10, "The Lady with the Lamp!!” Sath, Doug and I then went back to Sector 2 for Q6, Q7 and Q8. Here we got Q7 quickly but faced problem with Q6 and Q8 (both bolded). Here was the problem, Q7 was found at middle of the sector. So Q6 and Q8 can be either side of the signboard found for Q7. We spent some time here walking and were still stuck. In Q8, there’s a word “blind” in the clue, I was pretty sure I was looking for a “screen”, but there was nothing there to suggest that, except the word "curtain" in the answer for Q7, “Letto curtain”. Then I examined the question again and found the letters “let to” in between some words in the clues. Then it became clear to me, this was a sneaky question. Treasure hunters were so trained to find one signboard for one question and the CoC never mention the same signboard can be the answer for two different questions. And it can.

I called Sath quickly and met up with Doug. Doug also cracked this independently and he also thought the logical answer for Q8 was the same answer as in Q7. Here was another issue we faced: with answers of Q7 and Q8 being the same signboard at the middle of the sector, Q6 (bolded) could be either way, and that was a long sector. I have to say this again: this Q8 was a sneaky question, it didn't make the bolded Q6 any easier (if you got A7 and A8 first) because it didn't reduce the scope of search. By that time, I had to write down quickly some possible answers for Q6, to be discussed with the team later, and we moved out from that sector. This proved to be a wise decision later.

Monday, November 03, 2008

It's special

Team Lanun Inc. - theSun Motor Hunt 2008 Champions for Open Category.

It's special.

Our team's first ever open win.

On my birthday.

We have been working hard for a win.

We have a win, finally.

I'm very proud of my team mates, Raj, Sath and Doug. You guys really believed we could do it and gave 100% efforts with no regrets. You guys were great.

We can improve further from here. If better is possible, good is not enough. And we are still learning this beautiful sport of treasure hunt.

First open hunt win

This win has not fully sunk in yet.

I will write more about the hunt later.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

theSun Hunt 2008 Dinner & Results

Dinner just starting. We'll be presented with answers & results soon. Also, there will be lucky draws, hehe....

theSun Hunt 2008 final briefing

Some 275 teams listening to the briefing before flag-off this morning.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Birthday gifts

I celebrated my birthday (on my birthday eve) with my family. We just went to small Italian restaurant a named Pizzeria Bella Italia in Subang Jaya. Ashley made me a special birthday card, and my wife got me a nice little gift. Thank you, I love you all.

Early birthday present

I received this mountain bike just now. Thanks to my good friends, WW, BP, CT & Mohana. I'm touched and like the present very much.

Early birthday wish

I got a pleasant surprise Friday afternoon when my colleagues in my department brought me a small cake to celebrate my birthday. It was an early birthday wish for me. Thank you all.