Thursday, December 11, 2008

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Rob and I are going to an all-inclusive resort at Punta Cana next week. I'm so excited. Hopefully, we will be able to find a new waterproof camera. We broke our previous one. =(

The resort includes the basics, such as food and drinks; it also includes certain activities, such as non-motorized watersports, dance lessons, and horseback riding.

Punta Cana, here we come!

Hopefully, we won't be spending too much money on excursions... Then again, I haven't done ziplining yet. I don't think I'll dare to.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Our New Pets

Rob has been studying for tests daily. Since the start of the school year, he has had a test every week. Being in a competitive ivy league school, his class average is in the 90s which leaves no room for procrastination.

He studies alone throughout the nights while I'm asleep. He wanted company, so he came up with the idea of getting pet fishes. I was completely against it, because I didn't want the responsibility of keeping a living creature alive. In my memory, fishes die very easily. In the end, we went to a pet store and shopped for fishes.

We must have spent an hour debating if we wanted goldfishes or tropical fishes. If it was up to us, we would have mixed it. Since we can't, we decided to buy 2 black moors because it stood out the most to us. We called it chubby wubby. Although it is a type of goldfish, they are very high maintenance. We left the store spending $70 without any fish.

We wanted to keep it simple and put it in a fish bowl. However, black moors need to live in warm water temperature, so we purchased a heater and a 10-gallon glass fish tank. Then, we had to buy small goldfishes (aka tester fish) to build a friendly environment for the black moors. However, before we could do that, we had to run our empty aquarium for 24 hours with spring water.

Okay, 24 hours later and an empty tank in the living room, we went back to buy a dozen tester fish. It has been only a week, and there are only 5 tester-fish and a murky aquarium. There were several possible problems - the ph level of the water and/or overfeeding -- not to mention, we murdered our first tester fish.

One day, one of our fish looked sick. It was swimming/floating on its side. We read online that they may have been overfed. So, we fasted them for a day. A day later and there was no change. We came across another article that suggested that the water may be too cold. It suggested that we separated the sick fish and put it in a warmer temperature to generate movements. We took sickie to a separate container with water that was warm to touch. Sickie revived and generated much movements! In a matter of seconds, however, it died. I think... we cooked it.

After our lesson, we plan to purchase water conditioners which can bypass a week of changing water and watching fish die. However, are we really ready for the black moors? Black moors might be a little difficult to flush down the toilet. (Note: the tester fish are only half the size of my pinky)

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Update (11/20/2008): Apparently, the feeder/tester fish were supposed to die. Anyhow, we're on round 2. This time, we decided to keep some tropical fish. We are most likely going to keep some type of shark. They are easier to keep.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Welcome to our new apartment. It's located in Center City, Philadelphia. We live on the 10th floor and in the heart of a shopping district. Directly downstairs, we have Burberry, Starbucks, Tiffany & Co., and many stores I don't plan to shop at in the near future. We spoiled ourselves with the location and new furnitures.

First off, we have our dining area. Our apartment has 5 oversized windows in the living room and dining area. The windows are at least 6 feet tall.
















Say "Hi"















Our mini sculptures.
















Our new lily plant. It's about to blossom. It's very lively. Throughout the day, you'll see it "happy" and "sad." The leaves change in heights.




















It's not milk. Lol. ... Not that healthy.
















Across our walls, you'll find these branches with falling leaves and flowers.
















Our new cactus.




















Our bedroom. It's funny, because our only bathroom is in our bedroom.















Some caricatures. The one on the left was from New Jersey; the one on the right was from Taipei.















Our living room and our new flat screen TV. Notice the beautiful wall decorations~















Our dining area/kitchen. We have yet to bring our stools to surround the kitchen area.


Thursday, July 03, 2008














































In the leadership roles, aside from the in-store Banking Center Managers (BCMs) and Assistant Managers (AMs), there are Consumer Market Managers (CMMs) and Consumer Market Executives (CMEs). In Manhattan, the hierarchy is as follow:

1 CME

4 CMMs

50ish BCMs

In the past, I have only met my CMMs and CMEs a handful of times. When they visit our banking center, I spontaneously miss every one of their visits. I was never able to make that first impression.

On my first AMA (Assistant Manager Associates) meeting, the CME was clearly unimpressed that I did not “throw myself” in front of him. The truth is I never realized that he visited. This was then.

In the beginning, I have focused on my sales goal. After my first AMA meeting, I knew I had to focus on leadership and operations. Slowly, I have taken up more responsibilities. However, there is only so much to do inside the center. I received little attention for the things I did. The most important person I can impress was my banking center manager, and I knew that was done.

After a few months, my manager suggested that I should take on the responsibility of managing the group banking activities (because no one else would do it). It was crap-work. I was to manage the process of attracting customers outside of the walk-in traffic. This includes creating relationships and finding opportunities in the neighborhood, making sure that our center is participating in market-sponsored events, etc.

In spring, the weather turned warm, and events started to line up. I was the go-to person for my bank. Soon, I was volunteered to take part in events at Yankees Stadium. It was hell. It was standing and screaming for hours.

More recently, I was volunteered to take part in our NFL Banking event. The event took place at a banking center where they hold many market conferences. On that day, all the CMMs and CMEs showed up to give the BCMs their performance evaluations. Meanwhile, I was receiving recognitions by the manager at the center. And, the words spread. A few days later, I found out that there was a mini-competition between the sellers, and I finished 2nd! It was a pleasant surprise – and a $100 gift card. My manager casually told me about it, and I never received any recognition when I returned.

Because of my performance, I was automatically signed up for another event – Big Apple BBQ. It was standing outside in 100 degree weather, trying to get customers. At that event, I was 1 of 2 winners. I received another $100 gift card. They took a picture of me that ended up in the inbox of the entire Manhattan Market.

For the week, my name was “flowing” around the market. I received recognitions after recognitions. Yet, it’s toned down because – no one at my center knows. Thereafter, I don’t react to it either.

This week, there was a huge event held at Crowne Plaza. It was the New Hire Breakfast for Bank of America associates. 300 Analysts flew in from Europe, Asia, and around the country. Many sellers wanted to attend this event, because it guaranteed high-volume accounts. I was uninterested, so I never volunteered. My only other 2 sellers both volunteered for the event. Unfortunately, they did not receive a spot. Next thing you know, they assigned it to me. A few days before the event, I was sitting side-by-side with 11 other associates from the entire market and my CMMs. This was the first time I interacted with my CMMs.

Today, at the final stage of my Leadership classes, my CME was the guest speaker. I have always wondered if he knows my name. The last time he said my name, he glanced at my name tag. Today, I didn’t have my name tag. And… he said it! It didn’t stop there. He knew me well from various events.

When his speech was over, a small crowd gathered around him as he was leaving to make an impression. He preached to these Managers and Assistant Managers about “taking risks.” The conversation went like this:

CME: As leaders, you need to know how to take risks. Taking risks like… promoting Stephanie.

Me: Oh, there’s no risk in that!

*Laughs*

As he said his final Goodbye, he told me to “get on his calendar.” I asked him to elaborate. He then told me to call his secretary to schedule an one-on-one meeting with him.

In our world, that means… let’s talk; let me see if I should promote you.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My Story -- At Work

The turnover rate in the banking center is high. I have only been in the bank for 9 months, and I have seen many people come and go – but for good reasons though. They have all left for either promotions or relocations. For the past few months, there haven’t been any movements. Consequently, dramas start to build up as we see each other more and more often.



August (Banking Center Manager) – A Long Island Italian guy who is new to Manhattan but isn’t new to the bank or to the position. He’s the “pleaser.” He’ll only tell you want you want to hear. At first, I thought he’s the most desirable manager that an associate would want. However, he would never take a position. In some aspect, he’s border line incompetent – and I’m being nice.

Kadene (Assistant Manager) – Her name gets butchered by customers. It’s pronounced Ke-deen. She is recent management program graduate – the same program that I am currently in. Because the program requires no knowledge of what the tellers do, graduates of the programs may sometimes have little respect from them. How do you manage the tellers if you don’t know what they do?

IK (Teller Operation Specialist) – In layman’s term, she’s a teller manager. We call her IK, because her real name is Ikponwosa. She’s like the teacher that you loved and hated. She’s effective and she lays her foot down. The tellers have the utmost respect for her.

Leo (Small Business Specialist) – He would be Brain in Pinky and the Brain. He has a strong sales track – the bread-winner of the bank. The entire teller line (aka Pinkies) to perform free labor for him. As a teller, your job description is to do teller-stuff and make your referral goals. He has got all of them to work overtime for free. They actually want to do the mundane clerical tasks for him all day long. He’s basically got a group of bitches.

To be Continued…

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Souvenirs from Taipei~

A few weeks ago, Rob came back from Taiwan with lots of small gifts. I love them all. Here are some pictures:

I really enjoyed the movie "CJ7" by Stephen Chow. I particularly liked the children that were in the movie. Meet CJ7.
The following is a Japanese product. Our pictures are embedded in these key chain dolls.
A close up of my Rob's.
This is a minature of us. You give them a picture, and it is made to order. This is our second one. Although it looks nothing like us, at least, they don't look ugly like our first minature. Now that I think about it, doesn't it look like HK actor and actress, Leon Lai and Maggie Chu?
This is a look back at our first minature. I got it for Rob for our 2nd yr Anniversary. I do see SOME resemblance, but it's hideous. I ordered it online and they shipped it from Mainland China.

They sent me pictures during the whole progress. I actually thought they did a really good job looking at the photos below. However, the colors really killed it.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Cruise to Bermuda

Last year, we went on the Norwegian's Spirit Cruise to the Bahamas. This year, on our 3rd year Anniversary, we celebrated by going to the Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas Cruise to Bermuda. The highlight of the ship includes rock climbing, ice skating, basketball court, and minature golf. Last year, we went to Pearl Island Snorkel, Parasailing, and a Disney water park. This year, for our excursions, we chose to go to Shipwreck Snorkel in the Bermuda Triangle and Scuba Diving!! Both ships were very different. We chose Royal Caribbean this year because it is highly reputable. We took so many pictures with our new camcorder and underwater digital camera. The following are a sample of pictures and videos:


video

This was the video that we took before we jumped into the water. There were 8 of us splitted into 2 groups. The instructor was French, and we couldn't understand him clearly. It was more complicated than we expected. Some of the things that we had to learn were:
1. What to do if there's water in our air tube;
2. What to do if there's water in our goggles;
3. How do we equalize as we go deeper into the water;
4. What to do if our air tank runs out of air;
5. How do we share air with our partner while under sea;
6. Simple sign language;
7. How to inflate and deflate our life jacket.

This was much more complicated than it sounds. We signed our lives away. There were so many things that could potentially harm us under the sea if we touch it. Also, all of us got a few scratches here and there.

video

This was a video that we took while we were under water. There weren't many fishes in this clip, but the instructor finds a lobster and shows us.

Due to high wind, rockclimbing was not always available. However, Rob had a chance to try it.


On our first day, we had a mandatory evacuation drill.
Like all other ships, we had a formal night. Each dinner was banquet style. We made some friends at our assigned table with 2 other young couples. 97% of the ship was occupied by cruisers age 40 and up.






Our ship at Bermuda. It's much bigger than it looks.
Every day, our stateroom attendant would make us a towel animal. Can anyone guess what this was? For 2 days, we thought it was a roasted duck. Can't help it if we're Chinese...













On the ship, entertainment included comedy shows, parades, midnight buffets, etc.

That's me with a heavy tank and weights on me.















This was at the famous Horseshoe Bay.

They surely are talented when it comes to making animals. We also got a puppy during our stay.

Awaiting for a after-dinner show with my Pina Colada~

A view of the top deck with the swimming pools and jacuzzis.


Some of the architecture in Bermuda.







Random photo.






We specifically purchased snorkelling gear for this trip. We didn't want to put our mouths where everyone else was.


Some fossils that we found at Horseshoe Bay.

A picture of one of the parades.


For dinner, we ate shrimp cocktails, lobsters, steaks, escargots, etc. We usually doubled up on desserts. Heh.


This was one of the many decorations on the ship.