Archive for January, 2009


A Sad Week for CAT Employees

catbwAnyone who has watched the news this week probably noticed that CAT made some negative news by announcing massive layoffs (20,000 jobs) on Monday.  I’d say a lot of us expected some sort of cuts as part of the earnings announcement, but this was nonetheless a large number.  Much more surprising were the additional 2,200 layoffs announced on Friday.  This batch was targeted right at Illinois plants, including East Peoria and Decatur.  I find it very disturbing that CAT had to put out a second announcement so soon.  Surely they would have been better off announcing 22,000 cuts on Monday, so this Friday’s news indicates that situations are changing very rapidly, and/or CAT’s management of them is not well controlled.  Not good.

Angela and I both still have our jobs.  Based on what has been told to us, we’re hopefully that we’ll escape being laid off.  But there are still a lot of actual cuts to occur to meet the 20,000 number, and they could definitely hit either of us.  So all we can do is hope for the best on that front.

As part of the 20,000, CAT offered a buyout program that roughly 2,600 people signed up for.  Their last day was Friday.  It was very sad to see people we know heading out the door en masse.  Yes they were doing it on their own accord and with some financial benefit, but it was still a somber day.  First, a lot of good people left.  Very experienced people retired, and very ambitious people used it as an opportunity to try something new in life.  I wish them all well.  But it also was a visible reminder of the weakened state of CAT (and Peoria, the economy, etc.)

Another big news story this week concerned Wall St. bonuses.  I find the large bonuses paid to bankers of failed banks very annoying like everyone else, but this story struck a really negative chord with me this week, being juxtaposed with CAT layoffs.  Let’s do the math:

$18.4 Billion (reported sum of bankers’ bonuses)
÷ 22,000 (CAT jobs lost this week)

So, with the dodgy bonus kitty, we could have paid all of the departing CAT employees over $41k / year for the next 20 years.  What the hell is wrong with this picture?  I normally don’t get too wound up over executive pay, but this situation is offensive, and made much worse given that these companies are on the Federal dole.  I think I actually agree with the core of Claire McCaskill’s idea, but I doubt it will happen.

There is nothing like sharing dinner among friends on the night before CNY.   Jim and I had Karl, Kai Mei, Kipp and Beth,  Anh and Jim, Robbie and Kim over for a hot pot dinner.   What’s a hot pot you say???  Well, some might call it a firepot (that’s probably direct translation from Chinese, i’m not real sure).  The traditional hot pot is basically a pot with two levels.  The top level is where the broth goes and the bottom level has an opening where you would put red hot coals.    Well as you will see from my picture below, ours is made of a hotplate and a Cuisinart aluminium pot :-) .

What we do with the hot pot is basically put fresh food into the boiling broth.  Once it’s cooked, everyone dishes out their food with a little net to their bowl.  Traditional broth consist of pork broth with winter melon but ours is Thai Tom Yum soup with lemon grass.   Among the ingredients that we had were beef, mushrooms (oyster, straw, button), nappa cabbage, shrimp,  fishballs, squidballs, etc.   Those of you with gutter mind…..  fishballs are basically made out of fish fillets, tapioca flour, salt and spices.  The ingredients for the fishballs are mixed together, rolled into balls and steamed.

Anh brought over her delicious spring rolls and they were yummy appetizers.  The kids ate a whole lot of spring rolls and pot stickers while chugging down milk and orange juice.   Wished we had taken a picture of that but we missed it.

IMG_0969 by you.

We did prepare a few cheese and crackers for the faint hearted who are not familiar with scary looking food ;-) .


Happy Chinese New Year 2009

Dearest Friends ,

We wish you a very Happy Chinese New Year.   May the year of  Ox bring you and your family  joy  and happiness.


Angela & Jim

Original holiday card. (The music playing on every page load has gotten old!)


Meet My Nephew

Hello all,

I just wanted to share a picture of my nephew with you.   He is about 4 1/2 months old.  His name is Ivan Liong Wen Chiat.  (Liong is the last name).  I don’t think he cares to have the SLR camera pointed at him yet ;-) .   Ivan here loves to be held and carried around.  He is the first grandchild for both my mom and Chian Min’s parents,  so he gets a whole lot of  tender loving care (TLC).


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