Sunday, November 30, 2008

Singapore, Everything Spanking New....

Photobucket
Noticed that the cars on the road in Singapore are all really clean, nice and expensive looking....well to me anyway since these are more in the luxury category over here in Malaysia. Everywhere you go, everything looks new. The cars only have a 10 year life span over there. After that, it'll be too expensive to keep.
Photobucket
The HDB flats are well kept. They are painted every 5 years. Nice playgrounds are found in the dwelling areas.... well, everything is orderly. Puts to shame the flats in Malaysia.

Did a lot of walking...that's how it is like there. Walked till my knees felt numb! But walking is a nice way to see things in perspective, I feel. I get more time to actually savour in everything. I only saw one old car during the whole time I was there; and that was a vintage car. Must cost a bomb to maintain, I guess. From COE to ERP, a car basically bleeds its owner dry. Then there're the red line, white line dunno what colour some more....for parking. So complicated. Everything generates money for the Singapore gahmen.

In Singapore too, I get the impression that everything that is old and unprofitable is discarded. You know we read about Sam Walton and his old jalopy which he used for 2 decades; kinda nostalgic. In places like Malaysia too, at least we see some old junks on the road and are reminded of the yesteryears. Here, there is no such reminders. Everything is new! Feels kinda artificial sometimes....as though it lacks a soul.

I mean, Singapore is efficient, has first class facilities and is probably an exciting place for the young....so many things can be going on. But for the old...I am not so sure even though facilities do cater for them. Walk into the MRT and I got the impression that it is not old-people friendly. Cross the road...you have to walk super fast cos by the time you are at half way point, the light starts to blink to rush you along. The malls are not meant for the old....I like to be fast but I feel things are just too fast over there for the old....

I was walking in one of the malls at Bugis St and the place was jammed packed. So were the MRT stations....at almost 9 p.m. on a weekday. Seemed to me people don't go back home after work... they prefer to hang out at the malls as they are 'bored' at home. I guess space probably has something to do with that. Either that or home is not where the heart is.

But it's been a nice holiday. It's nice to be able to 'lepak' with my family whom I rarely see these days.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Picnic by the Pool

Daughter started swimming a couple of weeks ago. This is one of the mornings at the pool. Things were as usual. The kids were quite happy. As in every holiday, the crowd was more than usual...which meant that the pool was a little more crowded.
Photobucket
Earlier on we noticed this group of kids ... I wouldn't have paid attention if not for the way they were dressed. Kids had no swimming costumes nor caps.
Photobucket
The pool has the usual rules but seems like they're not being followed or enforced. Worse still they were eating in the pool and the crumbs were everywhere! I got so irritated that I went to pick up that particular crumb right in front of them! But that didn't do much good, I think. Some people just don't seem to get it. From the kids, it's already bad enough...from the parents....aiyo! If it's a picnic they're looking for, then they should go to the beach!
Photobucket
And as though the crackers were bad enough, soon the kuih-muih and what-have-you-nots made their appearance. They started to dole out food to the kids who were in the water... forgetting that this is a public pool and not some beside-the-river picnic spot.
Photobucket
And then this...not too far away. Two kids were eating nasi lemak. And they jumped back right into the pool without washing their hands after eating. The nasi lemak containers were classy enough...Tupperwares...but their attitude towards such things as civic consciousness leaves much to ponder about. So, we've introduced Pendidikan Sivik into our already many subjects... add that to our Pendidikan Moral and Pendidikan Islam....you would think that our people should have good public consciousness... Nah! Wishful thinking!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Tattoes...

I guess when one is in the teens...one goes through an emotional roller coaster ride. Sometimes the train finds its way rather quickly to flat grounds...so the ride becomes smoother. For some, the mountainous and hilly regions of their lives take a while longer to even out....hence a longer yo-yoing around. I guess each one of us who are older can recall those rebellious years. And the rebelliousness, the need to exert one's own identity, to be heard and acknowledged, the awareness of new feelings.... all these show themselves in various ways.
Photobucket
This is one way...emo of love and hate...in two languages here. The first feelings of 'perceived love' (I use the word perceive cos they're very sure the relationships they're in is definitely for them). This boy fell in love... so now he's grappling with all these intense feelings..... Leaves me wondering how can there be so much hate and love at one go? The markings display his mixed-up emotions.

Maybe I'm getting old cos at any signs of conflict, I'd move my butt out of the conflict zone these days... too draining for me with limited amount of energy to spend each day... 8)

Anyway, back to this boy..he wears his markings insolently, in a way subtly challenging the teachers to say something so that he can 'unleash' his pent-up frustrations, anger....
Photobucket
This is from another boy....and what's 'tattooed' on his fingers...the same stuff as the first boy's. Boys in love...control is not in their vocabulary. And it seems to be a very in-thing...this painting on their bodies.

These days, the general perception is that we've to make this undeviating climb towards an accepted set of rules, we tend to romanticized the past and try out what is 'forbidden'. Sociologists term this pursuit modern primitivism, where body modifications, piercings and body distortions have become practices sought by many, especially the young. Kinda like the rebel in James Dean thingy.

So to be tattooed means you are different....or trying to be different...or making a stand. But in ancient days, tattoos were meant as a mark that you have been set aside...for war, to be sacrificed in rituals, as a mark of ownership....yup! These kids are marked!!! Marked and owned by their emotions.

Everything is permissible but not everything is good. Some people mutilate themselves to look cool......but a tattoo is also generally associated with punk lifestyle, gangster groups. The choice is ours!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Holidays...

In the last couple of years this is one place which I've been coming rather regularly.... Singapore. At this point of my life, I'm not much into travelling. I'm basically quite happy 'travelling' from my computer console. 8) But the kids enjoy such trips...you know-lah....'kampung kids masuk bandar'.

Woke up this morning to news of terror attacks in Mumbai and another airport closed in Thailand. Glum news in an already gloomy world right now. Protesting ..... where do we draw the lines? There're always the costs to bear and pay. Terror attacks??? Destruction and mayhem... that I think is a definite no-no..

Landed in Singapore yesterday. Was kept busy the whole day. First thing I did was to go shopping... for the stuff that I wanted. One of the plus points of having family here is we have our very own local guides. 8) Bro was kind enough to drop us off before going back to work while sis-in-law accompanied us and took us makan-makan. Managed to get quite a lot of stuff that I wanted. Some of the stuff were not available but I'm not really complaining.
Photobucket
At night, another bro took us for Night Safari.... the kids enjoyed themselves. Personally, I found it not bad. The guides were really good; articulate and good PR. We could learn a thing or two from them. Singapore got this right...these are their ambassadors to the foreigners and they are good. So, in one day, we moved from east to west and south to north... gone round the whole island already!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Malaysian Rubberized Time...

I'm one of those people who get quite highly strung when people are late....don't ask me why. And I also prefer to wait for people than have people wait for me. I'm quite a stickler to schedules and appointments. I also tend to get agitated if I am late, even for an unimportant appointment.

But here in Malaysia, punctuality is not exactly our forte. Making people wait or stretching our time is a norm. No one really thinks much about it. Some even make room for it by allocating extra time in a programme to accommodate being late. It happens in informal and formal situations.

To those who take things easy, they'd wonder what the big deal it is... So is it a big deal, this punctuality thing? I tend to think it is...

Anyway...I'm off for my hols.... 8)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Of Pengkid, Yoga ban and what have you not...

I've not been reading much of the local papers these last few days but yesterday, while online, came across this interview on NST Online. Then the Yoga thingy which has been on for a while now...and finally the fatwa is out. As expected, it was banned....the manner it was done, quite tasteless, which is not totally unexpected in this Bolehland. And today the Rulers Conference says the fatwa is now on hold....a tug of war between the liberals and conservatives.

So, now if you are a Hindu, how would you feel?? When we ban something, it implies that the something we are banning has a detrimental effect on us; that the something is bad, not good. One would expect Jakim or which ever body that is responsible for the Muslims' well-being to be a little bit more sensitive when it comes to matters such as these. But, this is Malaysia, where being fair and considerate is almost but a theory thingy now. Educate your believers in their faith...if practising yoga does not go well with your faith....educate and let them decide. After all, even God doesn't hold us at our throats and force us to do as He says.. He gives us choices......each choice has its own consequences.

Then the Pengkid issue...reading the interview with Director General of Jakim....he sounded so condescending. So the women need saving.....and he says it all starts with clothes and behaviour .... who is he kidding? Aiya...girls go through their growing stages also-lah. So some appear a bit more 'tomboy'... but generally mostly grow up normal. What is his idea of a girl then? Everything that has to do with a helpless dame kinda representation?? The one who waits for her knight in shining armour to come?

Men and women...they are different. Behaviour wise, they relate to each other differently. Women are more likely to show affection to each other..... no big deal since we are made with the softer side. So, if a woman hugs another woman friend or gives her a peck on the cheek in a public place......is that behaviour an indicator of her tendency of turning into a pengkid? Crazy! It's a case of using a man's yardstick to measure something which is not meant to be. Guys have their guy-thing. Gals have their gal-thing too!

According to this fler, "A woman would be more damai (at peace) if she had a man as a companion." Just one read.....and oh....I have no words to describe what I think of him. Sometimes, I tend to think that women turn to women more and more these days partly maybe because the men they are involved in don't understand them... so they turn to other women, more for comfort and a listening ear...it's friendship they seek. You know...that sort of gal thing. Not that I agree to anything that is unnatural. But things like friendships, I think they are quite natural.

Aberrant ones, unnatural existence will always be there...history is full of such reminders. It is after all associated with man's fallen nature. But many keep to the straight path too. If only the Jakim fler understands that!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Swift Inns Come A Calling in Alor Star

Yup... a new industry is taking shape in Alor Star. Swift Inns for swiftlets.... Bird's Nest industry has taken roots here!
Photobucket
You can't miss it when you have shoplots being bricked up like this. This is the second floor of a shop lot. See the little pipes jutting out at the top? Those holes are for the birds to go into their homes. Windows are just a facade. How did the renovation get past the authorities?
Photobucket
Some of the higher rise building owners go to the trouble of erecting a structure at the top to attract the birds. Notice the barbed wire on the rooftop...this is a 3 storey building. Obviously the 'merchandise' they are generating is worth a lot. Otherwise why go through all the trouble?
Photobucket
And this is how you know the birds have come a-calling to Alor Star. It's easy to tell cos you can see them hovering above their nests...another structure above another tall building with lotsa birds hovering above. A heavy metal door with big locks on the ground floor stands in the way of those who may want to help themselves with the 'merchandise'.

It may bring new $$$ to the city...but is it really good for us all in the long run?? My hometown started this industry years ago...and recently it went through this. Lately many of her town people have been inflicted with dengue. Authorities say there is no connection but hospitals were full of patients down with dengue, many of whom were also referred to Ipoh General Hospital, so it seems. And this strain of dengue seemed a little deviant...it afflicts the young more than the old.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

New Cinema in Alor Star

Bigcinemas.com.my is in Alor Star. Located in Alor Star Mall, 4 cineplexes make up this latest entertainment addition to this somewhat 'entertainment starved' city.
Photobucket
Had our first movie there yesterday....Madagascar 2, Escape to Africa. Brought daughter and nephew there. Tickets are priced at RM8 nett for adults and RM5 nett for children. It's a bit pricey by Alor Star standard but the place is nice and clean enough. Maybe cos it's still new. Actually the ticket is RM6.40 for adults. Comes to RM8 cos there is a RM1.60 entertainment tax. Kids tickets actually cost RM4. It becomes RM5 because of the RM1 for entertainment tax.

There were about 50 people in this particular cineplex. And there were actually more people at AS Mall today. The place has been rather empty of late, especially now that people prefer to do their shopping at Tesco. So, maybe BigCinemas will do this place some good, bring in the crowd.

The movie was entertaining. Creative and witty...lots of moral values subtly lining the storyline....non 'preachy' but educational enough. 8) Our local movies usually don't come close enough.

Anyway, it's good to have an extra place to go. Hopefully the authorities won't start coming out with ruling like cannot have movies at certain hours, etc., etc.

Extra-Extra: (Update 24/11/8)
Seats are okay....though not as wide as GSC's but okaylah. At the back of the cinema they have the usual 'couple seats'... Sound system, not bad; as what you would expect from a regular cineplex. It's louder than GSC's in Gurney but definitely softer than the one in Komtar which is deafening....but most teenagers are 'deaf' anyway, so that won't make much of a difference. 8) Aircon is really cold...so if you don't have natural extra layers to protect you from it, then better bring a jacket. Overall, if they can maintain the place well, it will definitely be better than the other offerings in Alor Star. BTW, you can book and choose your seats online.

Rafidah to Shahrizat...transition plan off

Quote from NST..... We can claim that democracy is alive and kicking in Malaysia but this may indicate otherwise.
"I am disappointed that the plan is being questioned and rejected more than three months after I announced it. Shahrizat had repeatedly said that she would not contest the top post even if nominated as she adhered to the transition plan. It was she who said that 'my word is my honour' and that she obeyed the advice from the party leaders."

Replying to a text message sent to her, Rafidah said: "The transition plan became null and void the moment Shahrizat announced her intention to contest the top post."
In a feudal setting, the succession takes place when the leader either voluntarily relinquishes his leadership or dies. An example, King Edward VII abdicated paving the way for QE2's father to become King of England. In between you have a transition stage.

In the above case, Rafidah certainly didn't come across as sincere in her offer to step down. The AP fiasco certainly has tarnished her image... her conduct after being unceremoniously dumped by our PM (who is now also in the same boat as she is) all point towards her time being up.

Anyway, why all these transition plans? It's as though we are back in the feudal age. In a democracy, if the people do not want a particular leader, they should be free to vote a new one in....instead of all these transition plans. One gets the impression that these leaders think they are indispensable.

One of the hallmarks of democracy is a free electoral system. If the people want change, an election is held to choose the leader they want. So why is Rafidah so pissed off? Does she think we are still in a feudal setting? Our democracy is only in name but not practice? Our leaders seem to think that it is up to them to decide when they want to go even after they are not wanted.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Annual income....USD150 million

That's how much the Somali pirates get in a year, more than the GDP of some of the smaller and poorer countries in the world. So, who says crime does not pay? The more their demands for ransom are met, the more brazen they become. Seems to me like we're reading about hijackings more often these days. The world pays and watches on...the pirates become emboldened.

So helpless....against the aberrant few from one tiny, impoverished, war-torn country.... the world's rich with all her firepower, technology and wealth. Goes to show how a small group of people who have gone all wrong can terrorize the majority.

There are lessons for us here too...

Am sitting in the car now, waiting for sis and bro-in-law....love this mobile broadband thing. Gives me something to do.... 8) Going online on the go..... LOL!!

First Class Acts....Malaysia

These surely count as first class acts of our own....
  1. "No, no...he didn't do it. How do you know? I just know." This coming from a man who spent 22 months in jail but got acquitted....who else if not ARB. So, he didn't do it...the other BIG fler also didn't do it. Now only left the 2 small fry(s) who did. And if that two small flers are found not guilty, the poor lady must've attached the C4 to herself and blew herself to smithereens.
  2. Shah Rukh Khan't come...this land of ours is so hard up for his royal Shahness to come and set foot here. So much so that, second time around, his royal Shahness has the cheek to ask the CM to go to him instead. The latest report indicates that he most likely will not come at all. It was bad decision the first time around....second time proves us to be even bigger fools. What is the datukship to a megastar like the Shah? We seem to forget that we are just a small nation with nothing much to offer the rest of the world and we keep thinking that we are great.... Sigh! Could this be a ketuanan mentality also????
  3. In Kedah, the MB is now embroiled in the Golf-gate thingy. Seems these supposedly non-worldly people are into this very worldly pleasure pursuit. Potholes are appearing everywhere on Alor Star roads now...repairs are slow in coming. Like the roads, their politics are also 'holey' but they don't seem to bother. Hearsay reports also indicate that the MB is very protocol conscious...highly unbecoming of a Godly man, don't you think so? Perhaps humility is not his regular cup of tea.
  4. Then the PEMPENA thing. Ze Executive Chairman is a MCA fler... so money went missing, out of 24 companies under its wing, only 4 made profits.... no accountability, blah, blah. BN flers' own backyard also messy but they go round on their high and mighty attitude and points out the problems in Penang... which their buddies in BN are partly responsible. Opposition not doing right .... Gahmen any better?
  5. Petrol price seems to be heading south still...don't know what constitutes rock bottom yet. It was below USD50 the last I checked. Bad times looming.... Tenaga used the petrol price increase to increase their tariffs... now that the petrol price is way lower than before, they say, oh...power production relies very little on oil. So why increase the tariffs in the first place? The IPPs are sucking them dry....but that's another story. Meanwhile, the man on the street pays.....
So, we bicker and embroil ourselves in petty issues while the world passes us by and we miss out on doing the right and good. We continue to segregate by race, divide and rule (Version 2). We continue to insist on the wrong old ways just because it suits us. We insist that all men are not born equal. Ponder then.... each and everyone of us is just a-passing through this earthly world... and if we believe in standing before the Almighty with our 'accounts' opened for accountability check at the Pearly Gates when the time of reckoning comes... then all these petty/big and selfish acts...surely they will guarantee a one way ticket to the deep abyss of the underworld.....

Most of us familiar with this.... faith or none, cos it's a proven scientific fact; we are dust and to dust we will return.

Update 24/11/08
It seems Shah Rukh 'Khan' come after all. In what is probably a face-saving effort, they managed to get him to come on the 6th Dec for his investiture in Malacca!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Swimming...the years gone by

Monday nights used to be ladies' night at the pool. So, last Monday, we went...no planning, spontaneous...all 5 us ladies...2 moms, 2 sweet young things (Ling and Siah) and Lil One. But when we got there...Ladies' Night has been scrapped....not many ladies go swimming it seemed. So, every night is 'open night' now.

It's been quite some time since we last did this...going swimming like this. When the boys and girls were younger, about 5-6 years back, swimming was something we did almost everyday during the end of the year break. That was the time when both the boys (mine and Huan) learned to swim from Din. I, too decided to pick up swimming as sitting and waiting for them to finish was quite boring. Eventually....the 2 girls were convinced to join..then their ma. Other Half would join whenever his work schedule permitted it.

So, every morning, at an unearthly hour of 7.15 a.m., the kids would trooped into the car and off we would go to the pool. We'd spend half the morning there. Those excursions were followed by breakfast. That went on almost the whole holiday. By the end of the hols, all could swim relatively well, including yours truly.

When school reopened, we still wanted to swim...so since girls outnumbered boys...we started swimming on Monday nights...Ladies' Night. The 2 boys followed for a good part of the year as they were still below 12. LOL! It's nice to have such fond memories.

As I watched my Lil Girl, I count my blessings cos she is very fortunate that she has 2 big 'playmates' who are often times double up as her big sisters. She had lotsa fun... we had fun too. It's nice to be able to do things such as these. 8)

Anyway, last Mon, after swimming and feeling famished, we went to Fresh for tomyam...which Siah fondly calls 'ayam..yam yam'... something like that. Lil One had fish and chips while we tucked in the tom-yam which packs a real punch....guarantee to give you a full lips like Angelina Jolie's. Those chillies they use must contain lots of capsaicin....cos even the first mouthful will burned.... Crazy, huh? To subject ourselves to such torture... LOL!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tea, Craft and Sembang-Sembang

First week of the school hols...so Sugar & Spice and Everything Nice organised a get-together at her place. This was Sunday... The purpose??? Patch work, quilt ...... and whatever else ladies do when they get together..... LOL!
Photobucket
This is one the finished pieces...piano cover. That's how these ladies spur each other on...show off their finished pieces to each other; and like wildfire the excitement will spread.
Photobucket
This is another one...conveniently turned into a chair cover. And really beautiful too. Apparently some of them had gone shopping for cloth in the morning. So, they brought their new hoard of cloths. Can set up a stall, I think. So with kaki(s) like that how not be siao. Patchwork can be rather contagious. And when you do it in a group..some more a boisterous one like ours...the effect can be quite, quite infectious!

So what was I doing there? Mainly to kaypoh, 'pacat' on the food and fun. I've set myself the target of sitting down and doing a piece in 10 years time, though 'Sugar N Spice and Everything Beautiful' is trying to speed it up. I figure by that time, I'd have more time as I'd have to cut down on my games....the joints might be a little worn out. LOL!

But as always when a bunch of ladies get together...conversations soon got sesat to how Judas Iscariot died.....from the 'holy' to 'unholy' stuff....big and small things... oh, just about any grandpa and grandma stories that came to mind.
Photobucket
And while the stories morphed and changed...this sweet young thing had to subject her poor ears through our jabberings and guffawing; while trying to pore through her Add Maths. She must be thinking these aunties must be really nutty.
Photobucket
But there were also serious moments, as in this, when they tried to figure out the problems. Patchwork can be quite a challenge...colour matching, type of cloths, putting in the the pieces together.... actually as in everything else, the gathering of minds also bring about an exchange of ideas, which usually results in a better and clearer understanding of going about a problem.
Photobucket
And the tools for cutting cloth. If you use scissors only, the cloth might come out jagged and uneven. So, most of these ladies have moved on to more sophisticated tools...unlike our grandma's days when the trusty scissors was all they had.
Photobucket
An unfinished piece but already quite beautiful... Patchwork has come quite a long way. From using leftovers to actually shopping for cloth for it...but the essence remains, it's still woven from the hearts and like many of us who inherited such pieces from our grandmothers, they'll serve as reminders of those before us to whom we share a bond.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Maple Syrup and Pancakes

Have always read about maple syrup from story books.... So, always wanted to try. Got the two gals to get it for us from Penang. And they did.
Photobucket
Pretty bottle, don't you think? This is only 50ml and it costs almost RM25. And yup...we rationed it. Cannot pour as much as you like onto the pancakes.... Like eating gold, only! LOL!
Photobucket
Anyway, this was breakfast for one of the mornings...to go with the maple syrup. Pancakes are a hit with Son. Whenever I do this, he will sit down to have his breakfast before going to school and can 'whack' quite a lot of pieces!
Photobucket
I packed for Lil One to take to school, complete with pancake syrup and strawberries... forgot to take a pic of this western bento.. 8)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

When Dogs go to their Doc

Dogs got to their docs too. Followed the girls to the vet last Fri morn. Pets have it good these days too... You know...it costs quite a lot $$$ to get their jabs. And this family is definitely an animal loving family. Dogs...kids...can't really tell 'em apart. LOL!
Photobucket
Poppy (the black one) is the more regal one. She is easy to bring around. Doesn't kick up a fuss or wriggle a lot. Chiko on the other hand is full of energy....kinda slippery like an eel sometimes. 8) The journey was quite short though.
Photobucket
Like the regular clinics which treat two legged upright homosapiens....the vet's office also has a waiting room, fully air-con. And bags of food for his patients....mostly four-legged ones! 8) I noticed that the vet had his hands quite full.
Photobucket
Getting ready for the jabs....patients being calmed before their doc has a go with them. 8) Very much like children, huh? This animal doc enjoys the company of the owners of these dogs....sweet young things they are, with sweet words for him. Hati mana yang tak cair??? (Which heart will not melt?) LOL!!!

By the time the vet was done with Poppy, she was almost falling asleep. Chiko??? He was wriggly as ever. In fact he even barked at another dog which was in the waiting room. Anyway, no bathing for one week for both of them! They are going to smell for sure, being the pups they are....still 3 more days to go! (Squeeze nose)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Christmas Comes A-Knockin...

Was in the car when we heard the advert about Robinson's Christmas sale...that's in Kuala Lumpur. It's the time of the year. No winter wonderland here but that still doesn't deter the Christmassy mood. Christmas is in the air...even at our home. The tree came up two days ago. For the last 2-3 years, putting up the tree has been at Son and Daughter's initiatives.
Photobucket
Heard them discussing about putting up the tree a few days ago, and finally the box of deco saw daylight again after a year in the store.
Photobucket
We watched on while they put up the deco. Had to replace one set of lights as Son got a small shock from it.
Photobucket
This is supposed to be an Easter Egg...but we hang it up every year. It's a gift from a friend who is now back in the US. It's sort of a reminder of our friendship the years they were here in our midst.

So, yup..Christmas is in the air. Very soon, Lil One will be sitting in the dark in the living room during the nights and be mesmerised by the blinking Christmas lights. Its always nice to see her enjoy such things....simple things such as the beauty of small little multi-coloured lights. 8)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Chinese, Indians ... and the Civil Service

I always read in the papers that the non Bumis are not interested to work in the civil service; so much so that apparently the Public Services Commision is going to carry out a scientific study to find out the reasons.

Aiya! No need to waste money on the study. Anyone can tell you that, the non-Bumis don't seem to apply because
  1. They know they don't stand a chance of making it through the interview.
  2. Career advancement is hard to come by. So unless they are willing to forgo that...and remain in the same position for upteen years...there's no point
  3. The role of Little Napoleans in ensuring that non-Bumis don't move up...skewed everything.
  4. We're stuck in a system where race is everything, ketuanan Melayu is ingrained by UMNO and endorsed by MCA, MIC, Gerakan who also want to make sure that they remain in power.....divide and rule. So they shackle the minds of the people cos they know that liberation of the mind will also open eyes. All these parties need to go through a refresher course in nilai-nilai moral. Walk into any gahmen agencies...they are all almost single race now. Malaysia may have about 40% non Malays but the civil service certainly looks 90% Malay.
  5. We're in a system where mediocrity or sub-standard performance is tolerated, even lauded...as long as you are of the right race... such is the sad state that we've allowed ourselves to evolved into.
  6. And the last, just an insidious thought...the applications put in...they might not have gotten a second look.
I got this data from Malaysiakini
But then he (PSC secretary) mentioned that Chinese applicants had rose from 12,875 last year to 15,415 from January this year to September. During the same period this year, the number of applicants from Indians stand at 24,491, as compared to 18,533 last year.

Lamien also noted an increase in the applications from Sabahans from 49,079 last year to 57,177 so far this year. As a whole, Lamien said that the PSC has received a total of 917,111 applications this year compared to 760,840 for the whole of last year.
Actually there is no increase in the Chinese applicants. Chinese applicants rose by 20% which was in tandem with the overall increase which also stood at around 20%. The Indians saw a slightly higher increase of 32%...probably due to the awareness after all the Hindraf thingy. Apparently, hearsay reports stated that there was also an increase in the intake of Indians into the civil service. So Hindraf did some good here. But we do not need things like Hindraf to raise such awareness....it should come from within ourselves to do what is right and good. Sometimes I feel ashamed that we have Pendidikan Islam and Pendidikan Moral as subjects in school. At the end of the day, we ourselves don't seem to be doing to the right things. As for the Sabahans...the percentage of increase was 16%, which means that their rise was not in tandem to the overall rise.

So there is an increase in applicants...... population increase, graduates who cannot find jobs elsewhere.....but when we work out the percentage, there is actually not much change. Perception of the Chinese remains. The Indians are more hopeful that the gahmen will look into their grouses and have started applying. The Sabahans... they are losing faith???

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Feet Dragging and PPSMI

A couple of months ago, we were all told that the decision whether Maths and Science to continue to be taught in English will be made after the UPSR results came out. Well, the UPSR results are out. If anything is to go by, the data indicates that more students are answering in English. But what did our policy makers say??? They need to study some more....still feet dragging. Best to get this uncertainty over and done with. If they really feel that the stakeholders (parents and students) want to revert to BM, then by all means revert.

But by and large a very big group of parents are for PPSMI (teaching of Math and Science in English). Our ability to conduct ourselves in the lingua franca of today's world is very lacking. It's also the language of science and technology. And to cap this already debilitating disability, DBP can't even translate the stuffs that come into the mainstream fast enough... let alone find enough good translators to do a good job. So, why all these yo-yoing....

Then why the shuffling of feet? Maybe the decision has already been made and now that the results are out...it's not what they expected. Last week, rumours were flying that text books for Std 1 in BM have made their way to schools. These came from people who were in charge of the distribution of textbooks. So, they would actually be in the know. Presently all students get their textbooks free...so many schools are giving out the books before the new academic year begins. Kononnya so that the students will do their revision before school starts. Hello!! I wonder the policy makers themselves once did extra revision during the hols as kids.

Today, the Education Director General said that there were no basis for the rumours as school textbooks are only given out a week before school reopens. Again, wonder whether he knows what he is talking about. I supposed he meant that the schools are making the students go back to school a week before the new term begins.... Our DG has been sitting high up there for so long that he doesn't really know what is going on.

After 6 years and a couple billion ringgit later...we will change policy again??? It baffles me how the policy makers think. Why can't they see that whatever policy we carry out, whether or not BM or English is used as the medium of instruction, there is another issue at hand...competency and commitment of the teachers and school administrators. Get the best people for the job and perhaps we may see better things to come. There are Math and Sciece teachers who still refuse to teach in English....ignorance, pride and no touch with reality.

Ah, maybe by keeping the populace ignorant in English may work well for the gahmen...most anti gahmen stuff...they're in English. So keep them happy and ignorant...maybe the power will not shift from them.. I dunno what to think cos I see no sense in this. Teach in BM...students also cannot do. Teach in English...oso the same thing. So why all the hoo-hah??

More on volleyball...and role models

Been going for volleyball...and there'll be a few more this hols. It's something different for me cos this is the first time that I'm actually going to play this game for my department at the inter-states games.

Something came to mind as I was playing yesterday afternoon...I shan't use the word training cos if it's training proper, most of us would be dead meat. This is not my best game...so I tend to suck at it a bit. But over the years...in my own quirky ways, I've tried to upgrade my game and I did.

Was reading about the need for good role models in our lives. As we grow older.. sometimes we tend to think we know better (even when we actually don't) most of the time. As a result we tend to look up to others less because we think we know enough. Sometimes, age makes us a little 'proud', as wealth, position, etc.etc...so we begin to look more to ourselves rather than take in life's lessons from those around us.

Well, a humbling lesson for me this time... made possible in part because volleyball is not my best game... and also because there is a very good young player around this time... I'd consider myself a dinosaur compared to her. 8(

In the beginning I kept to the clique that I was comfortable with...But as I observed her, I realized that there was much I could learn from her. But she was so much younger. I wanted to improve and the logical thing was to learn from her. So I sought her out. By doing that...i.e. doing basic skills stuff with her....I was actually pushed beyond what I thought was my limit. And my skills have undergone refinement because of that. So even though I was improving on my own, I actually became even better when I had a role model to interact and work with. And the plus point is a relationship is also built....a friend made, and my own life enriched.

Role models...that was what came to mind. We need role models in our lives. They help to shape our character and mould us into better people. We need people who make it their business to create goodness, truth and beauty as our role models. We need to work towards being a good role model as parents, employees ....juz about any shoes that we fill. But more importantly, our spirit must be one that is willing to move in that direction. Seek out those who will be a good role model.... And to have the humility to see that need to watch and learn. That was my lesson for the day!

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Full Saturday....

Last Saturday was a full day...more so for Lil One.. She was totally knocked out at the end of the day. Church school and 2 birthday parties...one kid version and the other, adult version.
Photobucket
This was our last church school meeting (8/11/08)... Next year it will be changed to Friday morning at the new premise at Ampang Place. As usual, there was a makan and presents for the kids. Lil Gal got a Mickey watch....just nice cos she is in need of one. 8)
Photobucket
This was after Church School. Neighbour had her birthday celebration, so kids in the neighbourhood were all invited... Mr. Potato, the clown had his hands full.. all the kids wanted balloons. Mine was no exception. Wasn't interested in the food as she had hers at church school.
Photobucket
Lil One drew this for Aunty N...for her 50th birthday. After making the card, she thought she'd paint her a cake with the new set of water colours that we got for her. I thought it was very sweet of her to do that.
Photobucket
Dinner....service was fast. Food was okay, quite good; crab, fried squid, claypot french beans, etc., etc....
Photobucket
Then it was back to the house for this...choco cake...with the 5 candles. Other Half and I had a good laugh over the photos we took... The cake was moist and nice....the kids got it for their mom. No problem in finishing the cake.
Photobucket
And this...D24 durian from Pahang. We stuffed ourselves full with the earlier meal, cake and durians. The young folks don't seem to be that crazy over durians these days. At this rate, durian orchard owners will be looking at a market where supply may outstrip demand. In these last coupla years, this is the place I'd go to eat my durians as Other Half is not an avid fan of them. So, usually if I buy home (and that would be really rare), I'd buy the peeled ones.

Another thing about durian eating...it's always fun to eat them in a group...there's this aahing, oohing and gushing about the taste that somehow actually make the eating experience more fun. But whatever it is...eating together with friends is always more fun, I supposed.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hurray!!!

Last day of school for the year!!! Hurray! Hurray! Hurray! Am welcoming this break with wide open arms.....stretching it as far as I can. LOL! Feeling really glad that I don't have to get up so early every morning. It's actually quite a balancing act...family and work.

Anyway, am looking forward of not facing classes and constantly chasing the juves to keep quiet or listen. Glad that I don't have to sit down and pore through the essays or go after the students for their work. Happy that I don't have to carry out the various programmes. Ecstatic that I don't have to hear words like Gemilang, Cemerlang, Galus... they only mean one thing...must get students to score or pass. Learning and teaching become so rigid and boring! I am just happy that the break is here!
Photobucket
Clear skies up ahead!!!...at least till Jan 09. ...then it's back to the dark clouds again. 8( It's going to be a time to unwind. Do not know whether I'll have time to feel really bored as in some of the previous years when I'd be looking forward to go back to school.

I'm on HOLIDAY!!!! Have some things that I want to carry out...but I'm not going in with great expectations. Son will be away for 2 camps. Visit from my sis whom I see rarely. Going for games... for just a couple of days. Then there is the family vacation and trip back to CTA1. Maybe paint some walls, touch up a bit around the house. Do some spring cleaning.... And Christmas!!!! HOLIDAY! NO SCHOOL! Yup! Definitely looking forward to the coming days! (grinning from ear to ear!)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I salute you Datuk Zaid Ibrahim..

Datuk Mohd Zaid Ibrahim.. I salute you.
For making a stand.
For trying to instill a sense of balance and fairness
Justice.
Change for the better
A shift of attitudes
Values of freedom,
Human rights
Respect of the law
Malaysia needs more like you.

Yesterday's paper says that UMNO has issued him a show cause letter for his recent open letter to the PM to repeal ISA and also for attending a meeting with PKR MPs. It's really a case of ketuanan here...Tuan says this...anak buah cannot bangkang. If anak buah bangkang, then anak buah derhaka. Ain't this feudalism then??? ...where autocracy, monarchy, totalitarian kind of rules are the flavours???

Wondering what is it that these flers who issued the show cause letter stand for?.....everything that is not morally right??? I think they should go for Pendidikan Moral lessons... when leaders start to say that unjust and unfair practices are the ways to go, something is obviously wrong, right??

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Mobile Broadband Finally

Finally got myself Celcom Mobile Broadband. Got the Blue Cube Modem Plus today.... been going to Blue Cube a couple of times. But never subscribed cos the Blue Cube people I asked all gave me blank stares when I asked whether the modems were Mac friendly. One fler even thought he heard the word 'computer bag' when I said Macintosh...now how to surf the net with a computer bag, yah??? Duh!
Photobucket
Another one.....said 'what Mac'? When I said Apple Mac, I think he looked even more baffled. At the Blue Cube at Kanchut Celcom Branch, they said they weren't doing the promotion that had been advertised on The Star. How could that be? I thought all the branches supposed to hold whatever promo published in the paper.

So I went to Blue Cube at Tesco. Again drew stares when I said I am using Mac OS. The guy kept repeating 'Windows XP issit'? After a couple of times, apparently a new light dawned on him and he said, 'Vista issit'? Aiyo!!! Alor Star is really behind time-lah. Apple got not many takers here! Mention Apple and people probably think of the fruit only.

One thing though, they didn't have a line that I could try....almost didn't want to get it. But finally, decided to since I've been frequenting Blue Cube. Came home...tried just now. Worked like a charm on Other Half's comp which was running on Vista. Then I connected it to mine...it just refused to connect. Both of us looked for a way to get it connected....I kept uninstalling and installing the Connection Manager while Other Half looked for solutions online... Finally we managed to get it going.

So now, I can get online with my Mac anywhere, especially work place.....Yahoo!!!! SchoolNet is so tak boleh harap. It seems to go through this 'siao' periods where we cannot access the Net. And SchoolNet is supposed to be perpetually on....sometimes I wonder whether it's the hardware or the operator that is the problem. But...I don't care...I can go online anywhere! Yay!

Tuitions...

It may be the end of the year but this is the time when 'tuition-hunting' is the norm. For the fear that there may not be places left, the mad scramble begins right after the public exams such as UPSR and PMR.

The popular tuitions would be fully booked even before school closes for the year...and mind you, these are for next year's. Tuition centres have their own jump start programmes. Form 4 students start their Form Five syllabus right after their final year exam. Then a month break in December. In January they resume. For other new registrations, some parents spend a small fortune registering their children at multiple tuition centers for the fear that their children may not get a place or that the kids may change their minds.

Then they have also the remedial tuition classes; the target is mainly those who did not do well (and kiasu also) in the final year exams, mainly the Form 4s. They are called intensive classes. These tuitions try to cram in work for the last one year in one or two months.

Tuition is a very lucrative business these days. Charging between RM60 - RM100 for 4 lessons, they cram in the whole year's work. So who needs school when you have such fantastic arrangements? Can skip school and still can catch up via such classes. Many seem to think that their children won't make it without attending such classes. And kids probably think...."nah! don't have to worry. Got tuition to back me up, woh?"

So are the tuitions making our kids any smarter? I dunno. Maybe, though I tend to think that if a particular tuition is good then all the students who go there will be acing their exams. But kids who go for tuitions also fall into the bell shaped curve. Are the tuitions good for our children? Again I dunno. All I can say is, with so many tuitions to attend, surely something must give. Some kids attend as many as 8 tuitions per week. Some kids attend tuitions from 5 p.m. to 10.00 p.m.....with a one hour dinner break presumably.

Parents busy...kids busy....now end of the year also filled with tuitions? Kids cannot work hard on their own? They need to be spoonfed for the rest of their lives??? If this is not a crazy existence, then what is.

BTW, who says teaching is not lucrative? If you build up a good name, the sky's the limit. Take out the calculators and go tekan-tekan and see...RM100...100 students per class. If you have 3 classes... of course you have to work hard-lah. So, for those who are still thinking of a career.... consider teaching. Got long holidays at the end of the year! (6 weeks at least) LOL!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Not so new fountains working now...

Wrote about these splash pads at Wisma Negeri back in August. Built for the Sultan Kedah's Golden Jubilee celebration it only saw action for a few days before going dead. Recently it was resurrected again.

I pass by the place quite often and once in a while I'd see people working there. And 2 weeks ago they kicked into action again. These are some shots we took when we stopped by recently.
Photobucket
Would be nice place for kids to come play...at least another attraction in Alor Star...if they last that long to be called a permanent attraction! ...
Photobucket
Unfortunately, like many things that we build these days, flaws are seen quite early on. This place was completed just in time for the Sultan's Golden Jubilee in July. It's early November now and already the place seems to be breaking at its seams. All over you can see these lines stretching from one end to the other. It looks as though they dug it out to lay some cables or something. Or it could just be the earth shifting...poor foundation work. Walk around some more and you'll find many loose tiles, some already cracked, others cracking...
Photobucket
This is one of the spouts that don't quite 'spout'...somehow the spout alignment has run. Water is shooting at the glass with just sprays coming out of the hole. I counted at least 3 like that. Looking at the way things were, I'm really wondering whether these splash pads can continue to function as they are intended.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

My 'bestest' buddy...

Ah.. Seems like yesterday that I took my wedding vows. But it's been so many years... years which I cherish. I think my Other Half has made me a better person today. Never the one to set limitations, he has encouraged me and shared everything. And that has made me a better person. I'm blessed!

Through thick and thin, he's been there for me. He's weathered my worst with me and made my better even better. 8) In sickness and in health, he has been by my side, ever faithful... often times bearing the burden of worries upon his shoulders. Was there when I went through the worst period of my life... never failing, ever faithful. I am blessed!

A hands-on father he is. Always ready to do his share even though he works long hours. He'd change their diapers, bathe them and be there for them through most of their firsts in their lives; staying up when they were sick. They are blessed!

We were friends way before we got married and he's now my best buddy. Like any couples, we had our rough patches but I thank God that we've always been able to work around it. That is my best buddy...many years ago.... excerpts from our wedding vows
with this ring I thee wed
for better, for worse
for richer, for poorer
in sickness and in health
Today, almost 20 years down the road, he has done all of that... and I thank God for that!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Bento 14

Usually do spaghetti for dinner but since it's Lil One and Son's favourite, decided to cook for them to bring to school. This was last Tuesday...

Seafood spaghetti, fried...always fun to cook for Lil One this particular dish cos she really, really likes it. Had to sacrifice my really big prawns that morning for this cos I found out that I had run out of my usual mid-sized prawns. Out went my baked prawns in cheese.... (sigh!!)
Photobucket
She had it at school and finished off the balance from the morning's after coming back for school. How's that for spaghetti crazy??

Friday, November 7, 2008

Volleyball...

Been going for volleyball training...trying to improve my game. Enjoy the camaraderie, feel good to push new limits, learn new tricks and fool around (like those days so very long ago). Always find it difficult to understand myself when I get down into the courts... There is this sense of forgetting oneself and just taking in the moment. Then when it is over, you feel a sense of elation...it's hard to describe.

As I grow older, it's no longer just the games... sometimes it's the hanging out, call it 'lepak' if you must, it's the fun of being together with a bunch of people whose company you enjoy. Just one of those things which adds flavous to one's life. I've come to realize that we, adults, also need to hang out occasionally...be 'insane' for brief moments before wearing the picture of our sane and serious self again. I'm just rambling...cos I'm trying to make sense of why I still do this....juggling guilt and wants; and I've come to the conclusion.. there's always this little bit of the youthful self of yesteryears that I miss. That part which I let go as I moved on in my life....but when opportunity comes a-knocking, one jumps in...with mixed feelings because of various reasons! But each passing year also tells me that the limitations that comes with aging has become more apparent.

And today I did something that I have not done for a while. Got up early in the morning... went and put myself in the mercy of the morning sun...got 'fried'...I'm now probably one or two shades darker; bruised arms and sore knees to reckon with at the end of the day. Then did the same again in the evening. In between, took my kids and went out for lunch with the Lohs, watched Son, Daughter and Ms. Loh practise their skills in bowling, walked round Pacific and 'tumpang' their shopping jalan-jalan, then went back to the Lohs' place and baked bread pudding. Pudding turned out nice. We added green apples into the pudding! 8) Evening session wasn't too bad...arms were sore but the pace was bearable. At my age...this must surely come across as crazy to some people.... I'm inclined to think so myself too! LOL!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Story of Five Friends...

The story of five friends, led by Hang Tuah, Hang Jebat, Hang Lekiu, Hang Kasturi and Hang Lekir is one which has been etched into our minds, well at least in mine. At our National Museum a statue of Hang Tuah is supposed to stand proudly with the words "Tak Melayu Hilang Di Dunia" inscripted. I don't know whether it is still there cos I've not been there for ages.

As a kid I used to read and re-read the tales and adventures of Hang Tuah and his five friends, of how he single-handedly brought down a man who went amok in his village; and how that incident was a signal of greater things to come for him. Not that I understood that then. I was around 10 when I first read his story. What do you expect a 10 year old to think? Basically I was just mesmerized by the adventures. And because of the way Hang Tuah was portrayed, he became my young self's hero. But as I grew into my teenage years, I actually started to dislike Tuah because he could not see Jebat's loyalty. Teenager...again what do you expect? Friends are everything and Tuah did not see Jebat's loyalty to him. So, how could I like a person who did not appreciate his friend's loyalty? Then in my adult years... I saw both as people with personal vested interests. Tuah wanted to be the Sultan's man. Jebat basically was power hungry and arrogant. See how the perception changes with time and input????

Tuah became the Laksamana (Admiral) of the Malacca. He was a famed warrior. He and his friends were likened to the Knights of the Round Table of King Arthur to the Malacca Sultanate. But then he was framed and sentenced to death. His good friend Jebat tried to avenge him, so we are led to believe. Unknown to him, Hang Tuah had been spared by the Bendahara (Prime Minister). He was called out to fight Jebat as only he could overpower him. Jebat was killed.

Pantang Melayu derhaka kepada Sultan, the concepts of daulat, tulah, blind loyalty, greed, lust can be seen in the tale of Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat. That is until more theories surfaced recently....it seems Hang Tuah and his four friends may not be Malay after all. They may be the gifts from the Yellow Emperor to help protect Malacca from Siam. At one time, Malacca had to ask China to be big bro to keep Siam's ambitions at bay. Some speculate they were descendants of those who accompanied Hang Li Po to Malacca. Ever hear of Malays with the name 'Hang'? Unless if you are in Kedah where 'hang' basically is local dialect for 'you'.

Some still insist that they are Malays. But whatever it is, it shows one thing very glaringly....the study of history is very subjective, more so when there is not much evidence to fall back on. History is just that.....perceptions and subjected to biasness. One man's perception may differ from another. Another is intention... Is it to educate? For propaganda? A political tool? Reasons abound.

What may be right for one may not be so for another. If we are able to be objective about history writing, then maybe our nation will scale greater heights. Pride in a nation built on false perceptions is likened to building castles in the air.... it will not last because there is no substance to hold it up. In writing our history, we should be objective. The wrongs and falsehoods should not be tucked away, hoping that they'll be forgotten. They should be studied so that we can avoid making the same mistakes. Those lessons learned from our own mistakes tend to stick around longer.

And in writing history too, we should not twist or conveniently forget certain facts. An example.... history books usually states that the Chinese and Indians came to Malaya at the turn of the 20th century, omitting the fact that many Chinese and Indians have settled in Malaya for centuries by then. Many Chinese and Indians can trace their family lineage back many generations, some longer than some of the Malays. So, is it really important for us to be ethnically divided just so that power remains in the hands of a privileged group? Even our Home Minister (Syed Hamid Albar) is a first generation Malay, his father migrated to Malaya from Indonesia as a young man. My family has been here longer than his.... since my grandfather came to Malaya as a young boy. I'm second gen here. So, I find it illogical that I'm considered less Malaysian than him. And he is one of those flers with a loud and big mouth!

Footnote: The gahmen did commission a group of historians, scientists back at the end of the 20th century to look for the graves of Tuah's friends....to study the remains, etc., etc. It's been a decade...wonder whether they discovered anything interesting to back all these theories which have been flying around.

And by the way, would you idolize a person who kidnapped a princess the Sultan lusted after just because he wanted to gain his favour again? That was one of the things that Hang Tuah did.

The study of history is important. With a little wisdom, it goes a long way in shaping our minds and a good future. Of course to the fool, he'll twist it to his benefit....but things that are twisted eventually bring about our own destruction.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Change has come to America..slavery to equality

America leads the way...another big step from Abe Lincoln's time when the blacks were freed in a bloody civil war. Then women's suffrage in America; though that did not see her becoming the first country to allow women to vote (that honour belongs to tiny New Zealand), we have seen great strides in women's rights by her.

Will he bring about the change that Americans seek? Only history will judge how Obama will govern as a President. But for now, his election shows one thing ... that in America, men and women, regardless of race or colour, they are equal (well, at least they give it a real try); that there is a real attempt at equality. Will we see that over here? We often lambast America for many things....from politics to culture. But in this aspect, it's difficult for us to match up. Will we see a Chinese or Indian or Kadazan or Bidayuh or Murut PM or DPM any time soon enough????

I know some people are going to say this..our country is still so young.....not ready, etc., etc..

At the pool...

My little girl started her swimming lesson last week. Probably the youngest there. Yesterday's her third lesson. I actually had to wait for the instructor to take her height before she was okayed on the first day. She had to be a certain height before they took her in, you see. Could see the trepidation on her face as her height was taken as she wanted so much to learn to swim. She was one eager learner.
Photobucket
Been down this road with Son before...though he was slightly older when he started. My heart felt a pang of sorts as I watched her in the pool. So small but this one's a little dynamo. In a couple of years I'll miss doing what I am doing with her now...watching her from near and far, learning to use those tiny hands of hers to swim.

There were many mothers there waiting for their little ones who were in the pool. Made me realized how much things have changed. I grew up at a time when swimming lessons were a luxury. If we wanted to learn how to swim, we'd go to the beach. Into the sea we'd jump embracing the waves; eyes teary from the salty water and jellyfish for company in the water. More often than never, there'd be this mad scramble to the shore when we hear of these transparent creatures in the vicinity. And we were stung a couple of times too.

So, here I am back at the pool after a few years' hiatus. When Son was learning, I used to sit and watch in the beginning....until I got tired of waiting. Then I joined in the fun and learned how to swim. All those years at the beach ... I could only float and paddle a bit. After the boys learned how to swim, I'd take them to the pool almost every morning during the school break...at 7.30 a.m.; initially with 4 kids (1 mine) in tow but eventually with the mom of the other 3 too! It was a fun time....not too long ago. The 2 boys even followed us gals to the pool on ladies' night on Mondays! They were let in cos they were still kiddos!!! LOL!!

Well, that batch of kids have all grown up! Sometimes I kinda miss those years...cos I realize that someday, these memories would be what I'd have of my lil gal too....coming back to the pool....these are some of the memories rekindled and to be made.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Me and Games...

I've always been active...from my school days. My best game is badminton but I try my hand at every sport. I was always game for anything new, a sucker for any athletic activities. 8) And it hasn't change much, even though this body is older and more worn down now. There are more aches, pains .... but I play squash and badminton regularly. And last week, lil one started her swimming lessons. I joined her in the pool too. Did that with Son when he learned years ago. It's deja vu all over again! 8)
Photobucket
Then a couple of years ago, at the behest of a few friends, I got reacquainted with volleyball. I used to fool around a bit when I was schooling but my skills were never quite honed. Being a badminton player meant I could serve harder than most people. 8) But my digging skill was bad.

Never the one to balk at a challenge, I bought myself a ball and 'played' with the wall at home almost every afternoon one year until my digging improved. And I did. He! He! I've always loved challenges like this...improving as I go along. That was a couple of years ago. Crazy, huh! Anyway, it was just something I wanted to do for myself! 8) But it wasn't fun playing with the wall and at some point I drew stares from my neighbours!

Games are fun. It gets your adrenalin pumping. It keeps you fit... but it also gives you pain. 8( I used to want to win...used to play badminton competitively, took part in sports. But as I move along in years, I've learned to appreciate the other aspects of it.

It has widened my social circle. Given me better endurance. I don't think I'd be able to do the things I am doing now, if I don't have the stamina. It has also made me many friends from different circles of life. And it also provides an avenue for me to have some fun...sometimes out of the game itself, sometimes from the meeting of lives, sometimes just because it makes us to work together for a goal....and sometimes, just to have something extra to talk about. 8)
Photobucket
So, sometimes I wonder a little bit more when some people cannot see beyond the other worth of playing games. Sportsmanship is set aside.... win at all cost...stuff like that! As a result they lose themselves in the pursuit of winning, often time, meaningless matches. One good thing though, I'm now better at keeping my cool .... LOL! Maybe I should list this down as another positive aspect of games.

Anyway, enough rambling for the day.....

Monday, November 3, 2008

Bento 13 ...

Been a while since I posted any Bento pic...not because I've not been making but been caught up with other things as well as feeling too tired. Have started volleyball training for the PSKPPM...this Games thing for those in the MOE at national level. Not sure whether I want to go yet but have joined the training after being persuaded by friends. Then there's also badminton....but somehow, the heart is just not quite there!
Photobucket
This was last Thursday's. Baked bread pudding again. Felt pleased with myself cos I managed to finish everything in half an hour. (Jumping for joy!) And I actually could sit down for 5 minutes before changing into work clothes!!! Savoured every minute! Yahoo!!!
Photobucket
Discovered that if I whisk my egg long enough before I add in the milk, the pudding actually comes out lighter....(any expert will be able to tell you that, I supposed). Baked a tray...for Son to chomp down when he got up...(no school that day) and a few in the cups, as suggested by Hijack Queen earlier, for lil one to take to school. Green apples go very well with the pudding.

Kid and Other Half liked the sugar on top of it...says it makes the pudding taste better.

Lessons from a seagull

Have not picked up a book for quite a while...knowing the quickie that I've become. Tend to skim and scan these days...bad habit. But this was thrust on me by a friend..... It's quite light reading; interesting. Something along the line of Who Moved My Cheese kinda book. It's an old book, published in the 70s. Was quite a hit then.
Photobucket
Story is about a gull by the name of Jonathan Livingstone Seagull. In this book, most of the gulls don't bother learning more than just the simplest facts of flight. To be able to fly, for them was basically just enough for them to get from shore to food and back again. Jonathan was different. He wanted to fly ... and fly really well. So he put his heart into the art of flying. He learned it so well that he set a speed record for the gulls... He wanted to teach the other gulls to fly well but his quest for excellence and unwillingness to conform to the mediocre ways of the gulls caused him to be made an outcast.

A creature in pursuit of excellence has no place in the flock. So he moved on to another plane of existence where he found a new flock of excellence. There, he continued to learn and excel. But finally, out of love, he decided to go back to his old world to share his knowledge with his original flock.

Fear of his new ways and also the threat of expulsion by the council of elders kept the rest of the flock from him. But eventually some were won over...and one of his students took over the teaching and became the teacher after Jonathan left.

This is one way of looking at the book....I can think of others but since I'm in the socio-political mode now; here goes....
As I was reading it, I drew a parallel comparison of the behaviour of the herd of gulls to our socio-political situation. We now know that NEP has shackled whole generations of our people, putting them on crutches. Yet, when we have people like Zaid Ibrahim (former Law Minister) speaking out against them, you can sense 'fear' in the people to move out and explore their own abilities. Zaid can be likened to Jonathan Livingston Seagull.... encouraging the Bumis to learn to excel on their own accord, to fly and reach out for the skies... but what he says and does are frowned upon by his own people....considered breaching what has been 'law' for ages.

And also like the herd of gulls who watched silently and hidden in the shadows, wanting to strike out on their own while Jonathan tried to encourage them, we have too have many of our own by the sidelines feeling the same. However,they fear that if they speak out, they will be made outcasts by their own, even though they see the good that removing the crutches will result.

We could learn a lesson or two from Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

So, though this is another one of those quickies...it's worth a read. What was written almost 3 decades ago actually reflect somewhat the state of our nation today.... My two sen today!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Critical thinking, logic and crap...

In the teaching of languages, there are 5 to 6 contexts in which topics are derived from...People, Environment, Social Issues, Values, Health, Science and Technology. I think they forgot to add in another one....Political Awareness. If our country is to move forward, we must bring up a citizenry capable of thinking critically of their government's policies and administration.

Why is this important?? Cos our headlines are filled with news such as these...

First...the Eurocopter fiasco. Different ministers have been giving different figures. Some of them obviously think that rounding off the figures amounting to billions is small change. What is 30 million or 300 million when the figure is 1.67 billion? Wah! This small change can put a person on the Who's Who list. And never mind that these choppers were bought without even a detailed study or tests..... it's just like buying crackers of the supermarket shelves... if they don't taste good, just throw them away and replace. Vaguely remember reading about some planes bought by our gahmen but in the end didn't even see service. Just sat there in the field, wasting away!

Second...the fuel rebate scheme which was introduced when the government increased the petrol prices by some 40 percent. Now that oil prices has come skydiving down, the honourable Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs says there are many complaints from the public regarding this scheme. Is that so? One does not need rocket science to figure out that the scheme is no longer tenable. Period! What complaints? Only idiots would complain when money is given to them. RM625 goes a little way in paying for household expenses, you know!

Third... our leaders seem to think that we're insulated from the recession which is hitting everywhere now.... If the cost of producing a barrel of oil for Petronas is around USD$60 (I may be wrong), then obviously Petronas won't be making that much money. Couple that with the dip in our commodities' prices...again no need for rocket science to figure that the budget that we tabled earlier would be a hard act to keep up.

Fourth...probably the most famous acquittal in our judiciary's history. It enforces the notion that this nation is indeed a nation of Bolehland. One sits in Kamunting...I hope he will not be forgotten....for writing 'stories' related to this debacle. His stories contain such 'preposterous' and sordid details that I think they'd have no problem qualifying as scripts for Desperate Housewives and what have you not...

Fifth...the yo-yoing of the teaching of Maths and Science in English. Face it, the deplorable state of our English is also our own doing....call it racial politics or protecting individual race's interests or the Brit's divide and rule...they're all the same. One objective - so that the brown, yellow, dark skinned flers all will be wary of each other... united we stand, divided ...ah, we stumble along. You stumble your road, I stumble mine. Anyway, this teaching in English thingy,...how to get it to work...when the teachers who are supposed to be the front line flers can't even master the language which is supposed to be the medium of instruction. Again no need for rocket science...

Such is the state we're in... I'm not anti gahmen...I just hope that our leaders have our best interests at heart! For the brown, yellow and dark skinner flers who call this place home!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Same thing....all over again!

Public speaking is like drilling for oil……if you don’t strike oil, stop BORING! Interesting don’t you think, the word play here?… Had to sit through a meeting today…. and that’s how it felt. Do we all have a price? It always strikes me that the higher we go (read that as the climb up the work ladder), the more likely we are to get caught in whatever the flavor of the day is. Of course it does not help if the environment we are in is full of skewed principles and values.

We had a meeting today…at a 4-star hotel. Of course we had to pay for the use of its meeting room. If anything is to go by, it was pretty uncomfortable. A meeting without tables…for hours we had to sit….in a room infiltrated by smells and smoke, quite definitely from the kitchen which was just beside; the strongest smell was the ‘ikan kering’ which was being fried. So, can you imagine the hilarity of the situation….we actually paid to be smoked. From the comforts of our own domain we transported ourselves, some more had to pay parking fees for our cars and burn fuel (good thing petrol price is down by 15 sen today) to sit in an air-conditioned room which came with a ‘cold-sauna’ treatment…. came out smelling like 'ikan kering'.

Interesting also to note, during the meeting we were reminded that it’s the time of the year when the SKT is rearing its head again. We were told under no subtlety that those who had been given any APC will not be considered…… Point taken… all one needs to do is to work hard once and you can relax after that cos no matter how you may work your butt off…. you no longer deserve the APC. If this is not promoting mediocrity, I don’t know what is. This is after all, Bolehland!

Sometimes I wonder…why all the fanfare? We are often bombarded with these…For God, Country, etc, etc…all the right things. Yet when it comes down to the actual doing….looking good on the outside overshadows everything. Substance does not matter. It feels kinda crappy, doesn’t it? We profess religious piety, we shout to the world that we do it for our God , country, etc, etc….yet it does not feel so…how come?

I write this with a tinge of …I dunno how to actually express it…but it all comes across as rather superficial. Something for me to reflect on also at the end of the day…… and examine myself!

And oh, today I got myself reacquainted with Shakespeare again......from Othello
O devil, devil!
If that the earth could teem with woman's tears,
Each drop she falls would prove a crocodile.
Out of my sight.