Killing Me Softly with Soft Serve Ice Cream.

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When I think of soft serve, immediately McDonald’s comes to mind. Chocolate and plain vanilla.

Were they the first to serve this?

There are many independent start-ups and hipster cafes these days selling soft serve ice cream and touting them to be the best. But these delectable dairy treats cost a limb (at least RM10.00 per cone or cup) if you paid for one there!

But McDonald’s? In Malaysia, it’s RM1.00 (USD $0.25, GBP £0.19 and AUD $0.33, according to the XE Currency Converter). They’re having a Ramadhan special now at RM2.00 for cendol-flavoured soft serve ice cream. You do the math.

My husband and I were in Port Dickson last week, and had McDonald’s for lunch. I had seen the Ramadhan special cendol-flavoured soft serve ice cream online earlier and I wanted to try it. It was twice the price of the original vanilla or chocolate at McDonald’s but it was still cheaper than a hipster cafe.

One lick of that and I was hooked. For good.

After our much-needed grocery shopping yesterday, we stopped at a shop in the Atria Shopping Mall opposite the information counter. The shop sold durian- and sour sop-filled cream puffs, and had durian soft serve ice cream on the menu. I had been craving for soft serve since returning from Port Dickson and now was my chance to satisfy that craving. And I did. It was the best dessert ever!

But here I am wondering, what’s all the hype surrounding soft serve anyway? When I was a teen, I’ve never heard of soft serve. To me, all ice cream came in the form of frozen dairy treats (lollies or popsicles) or made with milk and cream (with other additional ingredients for flavours). At one point, I even thought soft serve ice cream was frozen yogurt! Froyo or frogurt, as some like to call it.

What is soft serve ice cream?

According to Wikipedia:

Soft serve is a type of ice cream with a fluffy texture and is less dense than regular ice cream, as a result of air being introduced during the freezing process. Regular ice cream is frozen immediately to avoid crystallisation. With soft serve, this is accomplished by using a special machine that holds pre-mixed product at a very low but non-frozen temperature, usually at the point of sale. Soft serve ice cream is a common choice of dessert at fun fairs, carnivals, amusement parts, restaurants (especially fast food like McDonald’s and buffet), as well as specialty shops (or hipster cafes, as I like to call them).

Knowing this somehow makes soft serve feel kind of special, don’t you think? Like they are a unique type of ice cream and therefore, hold a higher regard than the regular ice cream. Or maybe it’s just my stomach doing the talking.

And then I thought, okay so there’s that. But what is the difference, then, between soft serve and regular ice cream?

Soft Serve Ice Cream vs. Regular Ice Cream

According to Alto-Hartley, there are three stages that differentiate the manufacturing of soft serve and regular ice creams. They go by ingredients, production and delivery. I’ll give you a breakdown of the ingredients and the rest can be found on their website:

Standard ingredients for regular ice cream include at least 10% milkfat and 20% cream. Corn syrup or or sugar, air and non-fat milk solids like proteins are also added into the mixture. Regular ice cream is more likely to contain other flavourings as well, such as pieces of chocolate, fruit, nuts, and other sweets.

Soft serve ice cream, on the other hand, has less milkfat, often between 3% and 6%. The amount of air included is what sets soft serve apart from their regular counterpart, as the higher air content is the key to having a lighter and fluffier texture. The ideal amount of air content is said to be between 33% and 45%.

So far, the cendol-flavoured soft serve ice cream from McDonald’s feels better than the durian-flavoured one at the Atria Shopping Mall. The former probably has more air content as it feels lighter and fluffier, compared to the latter which feels denser, heavier and seemed to weigh down in my hand as I gleefully devoured it today.

After this, I won’t blame you for wanting a soft serve. I’m writing this post now and I’ve already had my share today, but the power of suggestion is tangling with my conscience again. Suddenly, I feel like having the cendol cone from McDonald’s. Should I go out for one at 1:30am in the morning now?

If you want some, you can get your share at one of these places in Damansara Uptown:

Or Honey Creme Soft Serve in Desa Sri Hartamas.

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Do Not Disturb. Reading in Progress.

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How often does this happen to you?

You decide to do some reading. So you pick up your book and turn to the chapter where you last stopped, only to have someone sidle up to you and start talking or asking questions?

Annoying, isn’t it?

I’ve had a few instances myself, a few times during my lunch break at work or even while I’m at home. I would turn to the page where I left my bookmark, settle in for a cosy reading session, my eyes acclimatising to the chapter in front of me… when someone decides to ask me a question.

At that very point as I’m about to read out the words aloud in my mind.

Oh, the agony! Really? All those times during office hours you could have asked me all that you wanted to, and you wait until I start reading. It’s a conspiracy! Of course I no longer face that problem since I’ve already left the company but still, when it happened, if looks could kill, the questioner wouldn’t live to see the sun rise the next morning.

This reminds of a scenario that occurred sometime in January or February this year. I packed some lunch from home and decided to have it at my desk in the office. I brought my book with me so after a delicious meal of overnight couscous with bacon, capsicum and mushrooms (reheated in the office microwave), I decided to catch up with my reading. I had only gone so far when my then manager came back from his lunch break. He proceeded to ask me a question, a little dense as to not noticing that I had my attention elsewhere, and waited for my response. He saw me holding the book in my hand, my eyes darting up at him and then down at my book…

And yet somehow he proceeds to ask the most ridiculous question in the world.

Sorry, were you reading?

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It’s similar to when you’re using your headphones while you’re listening to music or watching a movie, and someone comes up to you and starts talking to you.

Excuse me but do you not see that I’m in the middle of something here? Maybe we need a sign that says, “Warning! Reading in progress. Any interruptions will be dealt with severely. Further interruptions will result in serious injury. Or death.Something like this.

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Or this:

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Now excuse me while I build an anti-reader wall around me so I can read in peace.

A Disclaimer For Life.

I bet you’ve encountered a situation where you’ve done or said something, but you don’t want other people to find out about it. But you weren’t alone. You were there with a friend. The next thing you say is, “Shh, don’t tell anyone about it.

Your friend nods and says:

Don’t worry, you know me. Of course I won’t say a thing!

You nod back and go:

I know you won’t but I have to say it anyway. Just to be sure.

This recently happened to me. I had a conversation with some ex colleagues on WhatsApp about our company’s Employee Engagement Survey and how it affects the employees. We were informed that our responses are strictly private and confidential (this is debatable as the last time we took part in it, our honest-to-goodness answers ALMOST landed us in trouble (how our manager found out about our responses, we had no idea). This time, we were going to charge at it, hard and fast. No holds barred.

The difference is that I’m now on gardening leave, still attached to the company but not having to go in to office. So where does that leave me? My ex colleagues felt I should still participate anyway. After all, I haven’t really left the company. June 18 is my official last day with them and I still have a long way to go. So they encouraged me to do the survey anyway.

Naturally, I said to them:

Don’t tell anyone.

Not that it mattered, though. I doubt it would. Like I said, I am still an employee. The only difference is that I don’t go in to office anymore.

Of course their response was (yep, you guessed it):

Don’t worry, we won’t tell anyone.

But it felt like a disclaimer, you know, that it makes you feel better anyway when you tell someone not to tell anyone else. It makes you feel safe that your secret stays between you and your friends. It’s a disclaimer in life that you make to ensure they tell no one, even if you know you can trust them not to tell anyone. Sounds complicated, but it’s true.

Did you ever have to say it to your friends or you staunchly trusted your friends to keep things to themselves?

A Timely Escape to the Cove.

A Timely Escape to the Cove

My beach vacation was a timely getaway from the hustle and bustle, the unwanted stress and the corporate poison from having left my company. Any later and it wouldn’t have made much of a difference. Also, any later will mean that I’d have to tussle with the Hari Raya and school holiday crowd!

I booked this four-day, three-night trip for my husband and I (though, mostly for myself) a few weeks prior to my last day at the company. It was sort of a spur-of-the-moment trip as I was also considering a much different destination (Genting Highlands apparently) for my getaway. But either vacation would still be booked during the weekdays to avoid the busy weekend crowd.

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The reason why I chose Avillion Admiral Cove was for personal reasons, though, mainly it was because I’ve been there a few times before. From those times that I was there, I found that:

  • The customer service was excellent — the front desk personnel were friendly and helpful, the housekeeping staff were humble and patient, and the waiters and/or waitresses were kind and generous.
  • The food was great — the complimentary breakfast had a wide variety, the ala carte menu catered to all local and foreign tastebuds, and the dinner time buffet would usually cover a festive fanfare (i.e.: this month is Ramadhan, so naturally the buffet spread encompassed all things to do with Hari Raya).
  • The atmosphere was great — imagine waking up every morning to the bright blue skies, clear sunshine, as well as the sound, sight and smell of the sea straight from your balcony window! There ain’t nothing better than that, if you ask me.

You can book your vacation via Booking.com like I did. Or you can use other booking sites such as Agoda.com, Traveloka.com, Trivago.com, and even on TripAdvisor! Check out the official Avillion Admiral Cove website for more information and read up on what you can from other travel blogs.

As mentioned in their website:

The Avillion Admiral Cove is a prestigious waterfront hotel located in Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan. The refreshing Port Dickson marina resort sits on 100 acres of seaside tranquility, adequately placing it alongside the world-class Admiral Marina & Leisure Club.

The Avillion Admiral Cove is just a mere 10-minute drive away from its sister hotel, the Avillion Port Dickson. The dynamic oceanfront hotel features an architectural design that reflects Malaysia’s rich colonial heritage with a modern twist and an expansive view of the famed Straits of Malacca.

All rooms in the Avillion Admiral Cove come with a clean, contemporary feel that is inspired by its surrounding architecture and serene ambiance of the marina and the sea. This captivating seafront haven offers 316 spacious rooms to hotel guests, each providing the perfect getaway in tranquility.

So there you go. I didn’t need anyone to hard-sell the place to me. All I needed were the first-hand experience and the first impression of it. Everything else just fell right into place after that.

In terms of food, however, you may find the hotel prices a little steep, so you are more than welcome to head out for some grub. There are restaurants serving up fresh seafood and other scrumptious Malaysian delicacies, like Soon Huat Restaurant and Weng Yin Seafood Village. Both restaurants are a short drive away from the Lexis Hibiscus Port Dickson Beach Resort.

But if you prefer a quick bite before heading back to the hotel, there are many roadside stalls dotting each side of the main road. Although, if you want something a little more in line with your city tastebuds and don’t mind waiting a bit until you get your food, you can drive on a little further to the PD Waterfront where you can find all sorts of fast food fanfare. It is closer to the Port Dickson town, where other amenities such as banks, laundromats and car wash and workshops can be found. It all depends on what you are looking for.

I’ve been going back to Port Dickson a few times now, and despite the number of times I’ve stayed in that resort, I’m not tired of it. If you haven’t gone before, you should try it. Although I have to say, if you’re looking for the kind of bar-hopping, getting drunk sort of nightlife, then you’ll be disappointed. It’s nothing of the sort. All I did was stay in, sleep most of the time, enjoy the sea view from my balcony, eat and went for a swim. If that is the kind of lifestyle you want, then the Avillion Admiral Cove is where you should be!

Halt! Stop the Meeting Invitations!

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Has anyone ever asked to schedule a meeting for a meeting of the meeting for that meeting…

Sorry, I had to do that. But think about it. How many meetings have you attended lately? How many meetings have you attended lately within a day? How many of these meetings were concluded with a goal? How many hours have gone by without you completing a single task for that day?

Are meetings really all that necessary?

I’ve been working for five years now and I rarely attend meetings unless it’s necessary for me to do so. For one, I wasn’t senior enough to join one and two, the companies I worked with hardly required me to attend. What few meetings I did attend were only because they needed someone to take minutes or it was for an update of a campaign launched, a product rebranded or website update. But I do know people who were dragged into multiple meetings per day and they took forever. Almost all day, some would say.

Are meetings productive or a waste of time?

I think it depends wholly on what you are scheduling a meeting for. What do you want to discuss in your meeting? Is it about the complaints your customer service department has been receiving lately? Are you planning on launching a company-wide change that may impact both your internal and external customers? Or you just want to talk about the behaviours of your staff but have no idea how to go about it and you think it’d be a good idea to rope in all the senior managers in every department to ask for their input?

Personally, I think meetings are a waste of time. But maybe, it depends on what your meeting is about. Sometimes, the word meeting has been so carelessly used that people end up misinterpreting the actual definition of it. Imagine someone saying they want to have a meeting for lunch ideas. I mean, you could always call for a quick discussion, and get it done and over with.

If you had a meeting, what could you possibly get done?

Scheduling a meeting could potentially save you on the time spent making decisions. A product or campaign launch would include your team or department staff, along with a few executives or senior managers involved in the launch. From there, you could easily get a few suggestions and/or options on what should be done and how to do the launch.

But this is if you have at most a meeting or two per week. That’s a rough calculation on my part. A new launch of anything could drain your hours and limit your time spent on other equally important tasks if you have multiple meetings a day, possibly reaching up to five to seven meetings a week! Do you really need that many meetings on one launch?

If you didn’t have a meeting, what could you possibly get done?

At the same time, though, having too many meetings can take up too much time. Precious time that could be spent completing tasks that matter more. As mentioned above, equally important tasks could be left unfinished if you had to attend meetings all day.

A few of my colleagues in my office now are attending at least three meetings a day. Each meeting takes up roughly one to two hours. By the time they’re done, it’ll be time for them to pack up and leave for the day. Some bring work to finish at home while others stay back late in office to finish up. That’s not exactly what we had in mind for a work-life balance.

An article titled Stop the Meeting Madness by Harvard Business Review details the pros and cons of meetings. A paragraph in the article clearly states the reason why meetings are a waste of time, and frankly speaking, I have to agree with them.

For one thing, time is zero-sum. Every minute spent in a wasteful meeting eats into time for solo work that’s equally essential for creativity and efficiency. For another, schedules riddled with meetings interrupt “deep work”—a term that the Georgetown computer science professor Cal Newport uses to describe the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task.

What about you? Do you think meetings are a waste of time?