Tribute to a leader

(Wedding Photo 1950: Lee Kuan Yew and Kwa Geok Choo)

When a great leader passes on,  you will hear the nation cry and see the country mourn his passing.   I was lucky enough to witness the event even if it is from afar and through friends and family living in Malaysia and Singapore.

Growing up in Malaysia,  we never learnt why Singapore left Malaysia.  Hailing from Penang,  we do know that there is a sister state south of the Malaysian peninsular.  In Malaysia, there was always a certain awe and envy towards the prosperity of Singapore.

There are no leaders without critics,  he or she will never please everyone because that would be an impossible task and a foolhardy goal.

In east asian culture,  you know when you are loved and respected truly the day you passed.   Mourners in thousands and millions will weep for a leader,  citizens lined up voluntarily for hours to pay their last respects,  private companies shutters their doors so their employees can mourn for the leader in their own way.

Note:  These pictures were sent to me by sister who lives in Singapore.  The almond colored building is where the casket lays for citizens of Singapore to pay their last respect.

Call him what you may,  but the world has just witness the passing of a Great Leader.


Self-Imposed Sabbatical

I have resigned from my previous position as Engineering Manager as of Dec 29th, 2014.   It was a self imposed sabbatical.   I came to this decision when I realized that where I was not content with the state of things, both at work and at home.

A working mom’s life is like a conveyer belt in a factory.  It goes on and on.   I believe that goes for every working mom and it does not matter whether you work at a fast food restaurant or an engineering firm.  My day used to start at 5:30am,  I get up (hopefully before the kids), take a shower and try and have some breakfast.  Ben will be up around 6 am.  I will then rouse Laura and we all brush our teeth.   Give Ben his breakfast,  change Laura and give her the bottle. After that I prepare Ben’s and Laura’s lunch for daycare.  When Ben is done with breakfast, change him and get him ready for day care.   After Jim has woken up and showered,   I get ready to leave for work.   My commute was 40 minutes so I try to leave the house by 7:15 am.

Now as I sit here looking for my next prospect,  I know that the above summary of the start of my day will probably be 95% the same.   To say that I don’t mind it, is probably not true because it feels very hectic.   However,  I do not dislike it at all.   I do realized that I am one that can’t sit still very long.

A sabbatical is good for self reflection,   I do need to put in more exercise time during workdays because I feel my body is wearing down.  Jim and I need more time to spend just chatting after we put the babies to sleep.   We’ve found a new babysitter so that will definitely help for date nights.   I’d like to get our backyard to be more kids friendly, that will take work (and time that I may or may not have ;-)).   I would say,  overall goal is just try to enjoy the moment; however short it may be.

As for new prospects, it is highly unlikely with my criterion that I would be working in Salem.  So  I know commuting will be part of the picture.  If and when the new prospect comes to fruition,  and I am confident of the company;   we may move to be closer to Portland.   I then can offer Jim the sabbatical (if he wants to) that he is giving to me right now.  I am aware of how important it is,  and how lucky I am to be able to afford time to reflect.   This time off is very different than our two weeks vacation, where we know we need to do all this stuff because work is coming back full throttle after two weeks.

I am savouring this time off,  it is quite unnerving looking for new prospects but it for the best.  Now off to Portland,  Laura’s birthday is coming up,  Grandma and Erin is visiting.  Chinese New Year (The Year of The Goat) is the day after Laura’s birthday.

Asian Grocery Stores

It is a luxury to have more than one asian grocery store that are less than 20 mins from home and a plethora of larger asian  grocery stores in Portland.   After living in Peoria, IL for 12 years and only having a single asian store within 30 minutes and rest are 3 hours away in Chicago,  I am so thankful that we are in Salem.


Store Name: Wing Wa

3280 Harold Dr. NE, Salem, OR 97305
Phone: (503) 364-7477


Store Name: Oriental Food Value

Address:8303 Southeast Insley Street, Portland, OR 97266
Phone:(503) 775-8683

Store Name: Fubonn Grocery

Address: 2850 Southeast 82nd Avenue #1, Portland, OR 97266
Phone:(503) 517-8877

Store Name: An Dong Food Mart

Address: 5441 Southeast Powell Boulevard, Portland, OR 97206
Phone:(503) 777-2463

Store Name: Hong Phat Food Center

101 Southeast 82nd Avenue
Portland, OR 97216

Meet Laura

I am about 2 weeks away from returning to work.   Laura WenMei Kalafut was born on Feb 18th.  She weighed 7lbs 6 ozs.   She is 2 and half months old.  In order to to alleviate the burden of not having family around and hence little to no help available.  Jim and I decided that I would go home to Malaysia when she was 6 weeks old.  That we did do.  I am so glad that we traveled and were able to meet most of my family.  Yes, it was difficult travelling with a little one but after actually doing so, it wasn’t so bad. Laura was an angel on the plane.  Every step of the way we met people who helped us along.  We’ve also had an extra seat on each leg of the trip.

My mum was so happy to meet Laura.  She has trouble holding her for too long but loved to do so.  I managed to get a couple of Thai massages in during the trip and that was heavenly.   I also met up with some of my high school friends,  some which I have not seen since Form 3.  It was so nice to be able to catch up.

1 month old
1 month old


Before Baby Girl Arrives

Well, it is Sunday afternoon around 3:04pm.   Ben is still trying to wake up from his nap.  He is snoozing the Sunday afternoon away.   Jim and Ben had a little swimming outing this morning at Courthouse Gym.  I did not join them since I am way to pregnant to fit into anything now.  And when I say way to pregnant, I mean like two days away :-)

Ben napping after morning swim
Ben napping after a morning swim

Instead I painted the front guest room for baby girl.  She is due to arrive by C-Section on Feb 18th.  This pregnancy seem long and tiring.   I am so ready to meet her now.   With Ben, I don’t think my hormones were that crazy and out of control.  Quick tempered and completely flying off the handle at times.  I stopped work earlier than plan due to a very heavy snow storm in Salem, Oregon.  After it came down more than a foot,  I figured going in another 2 days before maternity starts was not worth it.

We have been trying to tell Ben,  and I think he is getting the idea now that he is going to have a baby sister.  He likes to kid with Jim and call the baby sister, “Baby sisty” instead.   He has been such a good boy,  I hope he and baby sister will get along when they grow up.

Jim has ordered postpartum meals for all of us just to ease the transition home from the hospital to home.  My mum is not here this time to help.  She was so good with Ben when he was born.  Mum made all the confinement meals and also “Mor Guit” for Ben.  But her legs (knees) are getting worst and walking has been difficult.  I told her not to travel this time. 20140216_153622

2 days and counting,  her bedroom is almost ready.  Jim got her bassinet all installed.  Our neighbor is going to come by on Tuesday morning to babysit Ben, and Shannon and Mike will come over to pick up and drop Ben off at daycare.

Plan is set :-).  Let’s see how it goes.  Can’t wait.




Baking for Chinese New Year

Each year, my mom will send me a care package from home for Chinese New Year. In the care package would be all sorts of goodies that one can only find during that time of the year.   This year the care package consist of peanut cookies, pong-pia, kuih kapit, kuih bangkit,  ribbon biscuit, arrow crackers, a set of clothes for Ben, an Ang pow for Ben and some pillow covers for Ben.

Care Package from Mum
Care Package from Mum

The postal cost of the package was USD97.  Suffice to say it was very, very expensive to send anything from Malaysia.  I can’t remember a year since I’ve been in the US when I have not received a care package for Chinese New Year.  So this year, I decided to make my own Peanut cookies so that I could do a side by side test with the ones from Penang.  Here is the recipe that I used:  (

I like the result of the recipe,   apparently so did Ben because I caught him going back and forth from my cookie rack.  Everything is similar to the ones back home except I may have to make it  a little smaller.

Chinese New Year Peanut Cookies.
Chinese New Year Peanut Cookies.

I made about two tins of the cookies,  saved one for CNY on Jan 31st.  The other can was summarily consumed within the week. :-)

On to next recipe: Baking Chinese New Year Pineapple Tart


Well, 2013 flew by so quickly that our trip to Paris, my sister and brother in-laws visit to Oregon, Ben’s second birthday party, and etc all seems to blur together.  We are quickly moving into 2014 with great anticipation of our second child,  and Ben adapting to a baby sister.  This will of course be accompanied by the whole process of maternity leave, a trip to Malaysia with the little one,  Jim’s paternity leave in the first and second quarter of 2014.  We are also thinking of home renovation towards end of Q3.

As far as New Year’s resolution,  I had two.  The first was to create a Little Free Library for our neighborhood and second was to leave work on time especially now in my last trimester.

We are still in South Salem,  and happy here.    Ben is growing up before our eyes, he loves to sing wheel of the bus.  I managed to get him to learn “Two Tigers” in Chinese (Liang Ze Lao Hu).  He sings the song now and then but sometimes blends the song with “Are you sleeping, are you sleeping, brother John” because the two songs have the same tune.

Yesterday   during snack time, he started singing some songs as loud as he can.  Neither Jim nor I knew what song it was.  So we decided to join in with “We are the world” (note: the only song that popped into my head).  After a couple of verses,  Ben said to us…. “You are hurting my ears”…and he used both hands to plugged his ears.  Can you believe that little rascal???  Jim and I vouched to sing that song for his graduation, or his wedding, etc…

Malaysian Curry Puffs (Karipap)

When you live far, far away from your hometown, any food craving comes with the decision of making the food yourself of to just dream of it ;-).   Yesterday, I had a craving for karipap.   It does not matter whether it is one that is made at the pasar malam or the ones that you can get at Eden bakery.  Any karipap will suffice, however being in Salem, Oregon that means to make it or not to make it myself.

So I decided to make the karipap.  Ben was taking a nap and so I took advantage of the two precious hours.  I am so thankful to find excellent recipes complete with instructions on how to make the wrap as well as the filling.  Go here or here if you are interested.

Curry Puffs (Karipap)
Curry Puffs (Karipap)

The recipe resulted to about 16 puffs.  I had 7 in one sitting. (Yes and I am darn proud of my eating ability as well ;-).)  Jim had six and Ben had 1.  I was glad to introduce Ben to Malaysian cuisine.  He seems to like the curry potato filling very much.   All and all, I’d say it was a success.  The curry puffs lasted less than two days.  Yummy!

The Wire


I just finished The Wire, and it was as good as everyone said. It can be pretty violent and downright depressing at times, but it’s an amazing window into gang life (and the somewhat less interesting portrayal of corrupt police and politicians).  Watch a few episodes if you’ve not seen it.  You’ll either hate or love it.

There’s slow, and then there’s QSL slow

Once upon a time I used to be pretty active in ham radio. One of the fun parts was exchanging QSL cards to make the contacts official. The cards were often interesting to look at, especially those from overseas stations. Exchanging QSL cards could get to be a pretty expensive part of the hobby if there were a lot of foreign contacts, so QSL bureaus were set up to defray the cost. The concept was simple: send and receive your cards with a local (i.e. within a few states) bureau, and they would bulk mail large quantities of cards between countries. The bureaus work pretty well save for one thing: they’re slow.

I’ve not been on the air in any substantial capacity for quite a few years, so I was very surprised to see an envelope from the Ninth District QSL Bureau sitting in my mailbox this evening. On numerous occasions received a few final mailing of stuff that was in the QSL queue, but not for a long time. Inside tonight’s packet were two QSLs:


The one from the Republic of Congo confirms a contact made on 11-Dec-2007.  The one from Argentina: 29-NOV-2003.  That’s old! To be fair, I’m pretty sure this was just a couple of guys finally making good on cards they’d promised (I sent mine in 2003…).

In my always-instant-on world where a 5 minute Google outage triggers panic, getting mail about stuff from ten years ago is a pleasant alternative.