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One round presidential election in Indonesia

(It seems) that our incumbent president, Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will retain his position for the next 5 years as expected. The only thing I didn’t see coming was a one round election (Indonesia’s election goes up to 2 rounds if any candidate fails to gain 50% of the votes). I actually expected the other 2 candidates to put up more of a fight. I guess that shows just how much I know about politics :).

I just regret that when Indonesia’s stock market surges ahead tomorrow, I didn’t have the foresight to buy any yesterday.

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Magnificent Wimbledon 2009 final,well done Federer, tribute to Andy Roddick

At the beginning of Wimbledon 2009, nearly everybody (including me) was seemingly ready for Roger Federer to break Pete Sampras’ record of 15 Grand Slams (well, maybe except for the British people who were expecting Andy Murray to claim this one :) ). And for the first few rounds, it seemed that nobody would be able to withstand Fed-Ex’s determination to get to No.15.

Somehow as the tournament went along, Andy Roddick’s story started to grow on me. For so long, he has been one of the most consistent men on the ATP tour, and yet a lot of people seem to have written him off, partly due to his big serve making him seem like it’s the only thing in his game, and partly because of the rise of the other names like Nadal, Murray and Djokovic.

One thing that Roddick never did though, was quit. He just kept on persevering, re-inventing his game bit by bit, and just played the game. When he reached the semi’s, few would’ve thought he’d have a chance against Andy Murray, the British crown favorite and rising star. I thought to myself at that point, “Roddick probably cannot win this one, but if indeed his game has evolved and he’s playing better than ever, maybe there’s just a slight chance that it’ll be Federer vs Roddick on Sunday, coz the guy just keeps on fighting”.

Well then, Roddick did indeed beat Murray to earn the honours of facing Federer in the final, and what a magnificent one it was. 5 sets where neither man backed out, and ending with a 16-14 set. On that day, I really wished Wimbledon could award a “double champion” pedigree, because I really thought both men deserved it. But in the end, it seemed destined that Federer would win no.15, and he truly is a Greatest Of All Time candidate.

At the beginning of the tournament, imagining someone other than Federer winning Wimbledon 2009, with history so close for the making, would just sadden me. But seeing Andy Roddick and his never say die attitude, incredible work ethic, and amazing perseverance, fight toe to toe against Federer, I honestly wouldn’t have felt to bad had Andy won this match.

Hats off to you Andy, you truly have the heart of a champion.

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So quiet

It’s been so quiet here I thought I’d start blogging again now and then.

Thoughts for today:

- Go Federer!!! Fed-Ex has been playing as well as anybody in Wimbledon. I guess championship no. 15 is in his sights and nothing stopping him in trying to get it. We’ll see if Tommy Haas or Andy (Murray/Roddick) has anything to say about that. Judging from his focus and flawless play so far, it’ll be 15 and counting by Sunday.

- If you haven’t seen it, check out some of my wife’s jewelry creations at http://www.JulieRochili.com .

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RIP – ASUS A8Jm (useless Indonesian police)

I thought I’d finally vent my frustration here about this incident 2 months ago (March 17th to be exact).

My wife picked me up from work, and we decided to go have dinner. After dinner we went to Puri Indah Mal, and parked near where we usually
park. Since I usually drive myself, and that night was picked up by my wife instead, I didn’t remember to carry my laptop bag with me and left
it on the rear seat. We got there around 8.15PM and went to Ace Hardware to get some stuff. When we got back at around 8.50PM (around
40 minutes later), my wife found out that the rear window of her car has been smashed to pieces, and my laptop stolen.

Of course, for some reason, the security patrols who usually are there in abundance, weren’t there at the time of incident. I had to walk for 5 minutes to find the closest security guard, who proceeded to call more of his friends. To make a long story short, the parking lot was monitored by Secure Parking, who outsourced their guards to some group called Sigap, and neither of which could explain nor would be held responsible for what happened.

The loss of my laptop and broken car window wasn’t really my main source of frustration (I know I was reckless in leaving valuable stuff there). But how things proceeded were the mind boggling ones. Here’s what happened:
- I tried to get CCTV recordings from the security, who said that the guy who could access the files already went home, and it had to be done the next day since they had to get a manager in. (Hello, this happened in the last 30 minutes, if you can catch the person’s face, it’d be easier to catch them sooner).
- An entire squadron of security guards, Secure Parking people and others just stood around, with nobody knowing how to proceed and what’s the next step. My wife had to call her brother who had some connections with the police before anything got sorted out.
- After the police came, they started looking around, and nobody was allowed to touch the car because they thought fingerprints of the thief
might still be there.
- The parking attendant had the number of the car next to us, which was the main suspect according to the police.
- At nearly midnight, the car was at the police station, some police officer went to get the CCTV recordings, and up until then I sensed no
urgency from ANYBODY, not even the police. It’s as if, it’s just a regular occurrence and they needed the money they were sure to get from
us for helping us by showing up at the crime scene. And that part about not touching the car, well that didn’t help because nobody dusted for
fingerprints or did any kind of forensic stuff whatsoever on the car.
- The next day, we find out that the CCTV camera actually caught the burglar on tape (turned out to be the car parked next to us).
- They even tried to charge me for parking during my way out with my wife’s car and broken window (I had the ticket signed by the head attendant, reading “Parking Free”). I had to talk to this guy, and explain to him that “the damn window of my car is broken, my laptop is stolen, my ticket says free parking, and you still want to charge me for parking ??!#@?$?”.

Well, imagine this happening in Canada: – burglar’s face caught on camera and – plate number recorded by attendant so the
police know it, and no arrests made, no communications from the police, and nothing whatsoever from the Secure Parking nor mall people?
Pretty unthinkable even for the dumbest of authorities wouldn’t you think? But here in Indonesia, that’s apparently just the norm.

I’m pretty much over the laptop lost part, but the idiocy, inefficiency and mind-bogglingly useless police force, parking attendants (might as well change the name to “Insecure Parking”) and security guards still remains a pain in the butt for me. My guess, and what many people have told me, is that the police, guards and those people at the parking lot are pretty much involved with the thieves and robbers anyway, and won’t bother arresting one of their own kind if they get some sort of bribe. I’ve talked to some tenants at Puri Indah Mall, and I’ve been told also that stolen laptops are a quite common occurrence there, more so than any other mall. Just another day in corrupt country where police and thief are one and the same.

Jakarta’s Soekarno Hatta “supposedly” international airport

There were some details that I forgot to include in my previous post about that trip to Singapore. It has to do with Jakarta’s international airport, Soekarno Hatta. A series of unfortunate events you might say, or in this case, unanticipated by airport authorities, causing annoyances to prospective passengers.

Try and imagine another international airport who’d have service like this:

Most Indonesians probably know that you have to fill in a “Departure Card” after check-in before going to the immigration counter. Unfortunately, there is NO such information anywhere for those who don’t know this. Beginning from entering the passengers area, the check in counter, the fiscal check, and even up to the line-up to meet the immigration officer. No signs, no notices, and no cards to be seen anywhere (you’d think if this was mandatory they’d make it easier for people to see and fill in these items).

I haven’t departed from Jakarta for awhile, and didn’t remember this rule. So, I got through check in, fiscal check, and lined up for quite awhile before I found this out. Shouldn’t there be at least some cards available from the immigratoin officer to fill in on the spot? Noooo way, the officer said it’s the check in counter who’s supposed to have these cards, so we have to walk all the way back to the counters and re-line up after filling in the cards.

So I go to the nearest check in counter and ask for a Departure card from the guy behind the desk. He says that the cards are tailored to each individual airline and we’d have to get ours from where we checked in, which was near the end of the building. I’m a bit sceptical, but decide to follow his instructions. Mid-way through the walk, I see an international airline counter, and think, “hey, why would they tailor each card to each airline? it makes no sense, since the card itself asks for a flight number, and the card is marked ‘Republic of Indonesia’, not ‘Airline Republic A’”; so I ask the person behind this counter, and of course was told the cards are all the same. *sigh, just remembering this makes me pity the customer service knowledge and skills of those people behind the counter*.

Well, you’d think that’s all that went wrong in one night right? Wrong!!!. After lining up the second time and getting through immigration, we walk all the way to the gate printed on our boarding passes. It turns out the gate has been changed to the one right beside it. We can see some people who have already entered the passenger waiting areas after going through baggage and personal screening. Quite a huge lineup, so me and my friend just chat while the line moves forward slowly.

Suddenly, the line just stops moving and people are kept waiting. Then, the officer at the front of the line said that the gate was changed, and everybody, including those who’ve already been screened would have to go to another gate and line up again, because the plane would park at another gate (wth??? can’t they just organise themselves???). So off we go to the new gate, and voila !!! no security, no officers and nobody at the screening area at the new gate. Passengers are just left to stare around for up to 15 minutes before they finally came around and started the screening process.

I just can’t believe how disorganized Jakarta’s airport is, considering that 2008 is supposed to be Visit Indonesia Year (side commentary: check out this snafu by those smart people making that promotion, a case of “we don’t proofread our globally targeted campaigns” – it’s mind boggling that a country’s ministry wouldn’t have at least some competent people who’d be able to correct grammatical errors before it gets plastered on the national carrier planes all over. That would make quite an impression on foreigners, “look, a country whose English knowledge is so bad they actually allow grammatically challenged phrases to be pasted on their airplanes. We’ll definitely have to visit that country”.)

So there goes my rant about Jakarta’s Soekarno Hatta international airport. I just hope that the people in charge do something about making it a real “international” standard airport because it’s quite embarassing to see in the state it is right now.

 

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Singapore after more than 15 years

The last time I went to visit Singapore (not counting transits) was probably more than 15 years ago (I can’t remember exactly when), because either the MRT wasn’t built or it was just finished. In any case, it was a long long time ago :).

Last week, I had the chance to go there for a couple of days, and I must say it’s quite a nice place to visit. Clean air, little traffic, modern, good public transportation, and organized. I only had a little time to go around and sightsee, but managed to go to Suntec City, VivoCity, and along Orchard Road for a bit (I like malls :)).

I’ve heard quite a few of my friends, who’ve actually stayed in Singapore, say that after awhile you do get bored with life there, but for the few days I was there, I really felt if I had to live in Singapore, I wouldn’t mind it at all. Granted, Singaporeans do work like crazy (so I’ve heard), and property cost is off the roof, but should push come to shove and a really good opportunity presented itself, I think I wouldn’t mind trading Jakarta’s pollution and traffic for such a life.

Another tale of crappy customer service

This time, courtesy of the HobbyCraft store at Mal Puri Indah in Jakarta. Here’s the story:

A couple of days ago, my wife wanted to buy some knitting accessories. She doesn’t know much about knitting and just wanted to buy basic beginner’s stuff, so she went to the Hobby Craft store and based on information she had, purchased a pair of knitting needles and woolen threads.

When she got home, she found out that she had bought the wrong type of knitting needle, so she thought, “no big deal, I’ll just exchange it for another type”.

The next day, I accompanied her to the store and just couldn’t believe how crappy their customer service was.

1. The clerk said it couldn’t be exchanged for anything because it was my wife’s fault.

2. The clerk called the owner, and the owner said no exchange because the computer system can’t handle it and will create a mess in accounting.

3. The clerk who sold the item the previous night came in and had the gall to put up an attitude and raise her voice at my wife and kept saying “it’s your fault for not knowing the correct type to buy”

Now, where else can you find such an issue with returning a $3 item except in Indonesia? And this not in a side walk dubious store; it’s quite a well known crafts store in Jakarta.

My issue is that:

1. Yes, it’s my wife’s fault that she bought the wrong item. That was acknowledged when she told the clerk she needed to return the item in the first place. My wife kept saying, “I’m sorry, I bought the wrong item”. Good customer service dictates that you acknowledge a customer’s issue and in good faith respond to it. The principle of shifting blame over and over again seems so unprofessional.

2. What kind of owner risks the wrath of a customer for the equivalent of a $3 item? Just take the god damned item back and gain a new customer instead of risking embarassment should one of those be an influential person somewhere.

3. What kind of POS (double meaning intended here) system doesn’t handle refunds such that it creates a mess at the end of month calculations? And if you have such a crappy system, why not hire me to make a good one for you?

4. Raising your voice/showing displeasure at a customer really shows how bad your customer service skills are. This is even doubly embarassing considering my wife was not even trying to pick a fight with them. I probably could understand clerks getting upset if a customer was shouting obscenities and threats at them, but getting upset at a customer trying to exchange an item is just ridiculous.

5. My wife knew that she probably had to purchase another item in addition to returning the item, and she said upfront, “I’m gonna buy something else and add to the purchase”. By refusing to do this vehemently, aren’t they just refusing profit?

In the end, my wife convinced the first clerk to let her exhcange the item and buy something else in addition. But the experience has left a bitter taste in her mind, and she has told me she’s not going back there even if it means going to another store further away to buy her crafts goods.

So, if you’re ever trying to buy some hobbies/crafts items, I’d strongly recommend against going to the Hobby Craft store at Mal Puri Indah. Bad customer service, unfriendly and an extremely stupid owner.

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Which bank issued your MasterCard? Does it really matter?

Here’s a general mindset of Indonesians, in action. The individual rather than the group, the specific issuer rather than the brand.

Conversation I had in a retail store yesterday, trying to purchase a steering wheel lock for my wife:

Me: (hands over item)

Clerk: That’ll be Rp. 155.000,00

Me: (hands over MasterCard)

Clerk: (ponders over the card for awhile)

Clerk: Where is this from?

Me: What is where from?

Clerk: This card, which bank?

Me: Canadian bank

Clerk: Oh, foreign huh? (Note: Is there a territory named Canada in Indonesia I wonder???)

Me: Yeah

Clerk: Have any other card?

Me: No, what is the matter?

Clerk: I’m afraid this might not get processed

Me: (It’s a MasterCard for crying out loud, it should be accepted anywhere a MasterCard logo is displayed!!!)

Me: Of course it’ll go through, it’s a MasterCard, doesn’t matter who or what issued it!

Clerk: (Runs the transaction through and what do you know, it works) (duh!).

This is quite mind boggling for me. Somehow the clerk’s concept of a credit card is still wrapped around the fact that it’s issued by a specific bank instead of a bank using the MasterCard brand, as if a MasterCard issued by a foreign bank would be rejected just because the transaction is in Indonesia. Such a narrow mindset makes me wonder just how ready Indonesia is for globalization.

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Sweeth tooth

Man, for some reason I walked into a convenience store just after lunch and had this craving for all sweet things (weird, considering I like everything salty).

So what did I do? I ended up buying a pack of Kopiko’s (coffee candy for those of you Indonesian-culture challenged :)), a small Kit-Kat White and Chupa-Chups.

The Kit Kat was the first to go, and one of the Chupa-Chups is melting slowly in my mouth right now. Talk about sugar craving.

NBA Fantasy Season 07-08

I’m back in the annual NBA Fantasy League with a group of friends after finishing 3rd last year due to injuries to key players in the semi final round. Trying to hopefully gain a high pick after being ranked 12th and 11th in the previous Yahoo drafts, Yahoo indeed screws me up again by giving me the 10th pick this year!!! Well, maybe in 9 years I’ll end up with 1st pick somehow :).

Here’s this year’s picks for me:

  1. Chris Paul – I chose Paul over Kidd just because of his younger age.
  2. Rashard Lewis – Amare and Yao both gone back-to-back at that tail end of the first round, 3rd year in a row I have Rashard. Hope he’s as good as last year.
  3. Carlos Boozer – 20-10 guy in an out.
  4. Mike Bibby – Yeah, I know he was injured on the 26th of October. I last read the news before he was injured and didn’t bother checking during draft time on the 27th.
  5. Raymond Felton – Hoping for a big year from Felton.
  6. Tyson Chandler – Looking quite healthy and always a rebounding champ threat when on the court.
  7. Samuel Dalembert – Bibby and Dalembert played all 82 games last year. The moment I pick them, one is out 2 months and this guy has a stress fracture on his foot that has not healed properly.
  8. Boris Diaw – This is the only player I know of who ever got G,F,C eligibility on Yahoo 2 years back. Impressive stats if Amare even misses a few games.
  9. Larry Hughes – Trying to gamble that Hughes still has a resemblance of his old-Washington-Wizards skill left at 9th pick.
  10. Marvin Williams – Looked good in pre-season stats.
  11. Jamaal Magloire – Maybe a chance to shine in front-court challenged New Jersey?
  12. Desmond Mason – Back in starting role in Milwaukee.
  13. Steve Francis – Think that Stevie Franchise in the 13th round was possible 2 years ago?
  14. Shavlik Randolph – I thought he was ok last year when Webber went out for awhile.
  15. Louis Williams – Heard he was tearing up summer league.

Since that fateful draft day, I have traded Bibby and Dalembert for Okafor, dropped Randolph, Willams and Magloire to pick up Derek Fisher, Martell Webster and Rashad McCants.

I don’t think this lineup is as strong as mine last year considering last year I picked Rashard in the 4th, Butler in the 6th, Deron in 8th and Mo Williams at 9th (this year all those players were gone way before 5th round); I’m just hoping this team has some surprises in it to make a splash this year.

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