Saturday, February 28, 2009

Ladies Saturday Craft Session..

I missed the last couple of meetings. We had one this morning and I went. There were 7 of us, I think.
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Tis another session to see how each one is progressing with their masterpieces.. ..this is one which is still in progress. Most are making for their cucu.... but they are many who don't mind getting them as gifts also... Ha! Ha! See, we aren't that different from our grandmothers... the passing of batons... grandma(s), ma(s) used to make these for their children and grandchildren and it's nice to see this tradition still going strong.... I still have a few my grandma made for me... her memory lives on in those patchwork...
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A mix of design and patchwork... very colourful. Baby sure gets lots of colourful stimulation from this one. 8)
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A bolster with patchwork... Christina drove all the way home just to get it at everyone else's insistence!
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More pieces of patchwork... as you can see the ladies have been very busy. Many have caught this craft bug-lah. Me... as usual I was there to tumpang the food and also the fun. But this time around... we had something new... or rather something old.. another craft work. I was so preoccupied that I didn't take pics of the food.... aisay!!!
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Tatting... those funny shaped things are called shuttles. The black one is over thirty years old. The red one is one of those you get from our local stores here but it seems Alor Setar has run out of them. Guess who bought them up! The blue one is imported from Japan...also the same brand. The black one... at 30 years old, it has to be priceless....that's Ah Ho's. She truly hordes her treasures! The blue one costs RM9 and the red one is RM3.50.

Tatting or purling is also known as wrap weaving. It's an old art... an art of knots and loops; making lace is more apt, I think. I'm still trying to figure it out. The shuttles are made of various materials... plastic, ivory, metal, etc., etc.... Imagine! Just with a shuttle and thread, you can make wonderful pieces of art.
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So, while the rest were yakking about the different designs of quilts, yours truly was sitting at another corner with PY, trying to tat... well, I can tat now, but only one circle. For some reason, the thread refuses to come to a circle after the first one is done... gets stuck. So, I am still at it.... have spent a couple of hours trying to get it going... with the above set!

Anyway, it was good to get together.... to have something common to gather together.

Friday, February 27, 2009

As a man thinketh....

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Another book passed to me for a quick reading. It's a book written at the early 20th century. Another one of those quickie ones like Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
In a nutshell...
Whatever you allow to take root in your mind, the fruits you bear will reflect that you sow. And that is what you become. Thought crystalizes into habit, habit solidifies into circumstances. To put it simply, you are what you think. 8)
And here's a study to prove... from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, April 2009 issue.... yup, I know it's only February... I'm reading into the journal alerts... 8) This is a study on the influence of sexual lyrics in popular songs linked to early sexual experiences. But if you Google this and there're many old studies on it too. Main point of this study.. exposure to songs degrading sex leads to many teenagers engaging in it.

And some figures to back it up...almost 25% of female teenagers in the US suffer from sexually transmitted diseases or that approximately 700 000 teen pregnancies happen every year. I am not sure about Malaysia as it's quite difficult to get the figures. But I suspect it should be quite high; going by the sordid tales that I sometimes get from my young charges. I supposed we desensitize ourselves cos the lyrics of those nice sounding songs will keep playing in our head. We become what we listen to. It's the same watching porn...we tend to get influenced.

A couple of decades ago... songs were not so outrightly direct and debasing. In fact, discreet was a keyword. These days, they promote that sort of 'wild' lifestyle openly. Recently it seems it's cool to get pregnant in your teens. Responsibility for the baby? Don't worry! Mom and dad are still there to take care of the baby! And kid grows up more like a sibling to their birth parents than kid.

Society losing its mores???? Well, look at the kind of stuff heading the direction of our young... with the sophistication of today's communication devices, it's hard to imagine what the young are listening and viewing. The control is difficult to put in place. And that means viewer/listener discretion is required. At that age, it's anybody's guess how discretionary it can get. This onslaught is our own doing. This is progress???

So, as a man thinketh.... so he is...Proverbs 23:7. It is very true. What we put into our minds.... they shape us. So, if it's junk we put into those gray matter, then junk we'll become. If it's good stuff we put in, then good stuff we'll be. Sounds simple??? If only it is ...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Check this out! "Melelakikan Lelaki"..

I almost laughed my head off when I first heard this phrase at one of the meetings I attended. To think that the people up there see this as a need... for today's boys. LOL! In English I think the word is probably masculinization. Only thing is here, we're talking about giving male characteristics to males... double dose.... LOL!

Jokes aside... a couple of days later, in a conversation with colleagues, there was a general consensus that the boys today are not that 'lelaki'. There is this lack of responsibility that seems to be so apparent in many of them. Lack of role models, maybe? Changing lifestyle??? .... Could be due to a combination of reasons..

My thots on this subject...
Emotionally... guys are supposed steady when it comes to this. It's the gals who tend to get a little over the board. Guys usually are in control of their emotions. Less of those emo outbursts... but guess what's happening. Guys are more emo now... their emotional outbursts very often borders no control. Girls cried lots, still do... this is definitely not a guy thing. But these days, guys seem to do a lot of that too. 21st century guy thing??? Beats me!

Sense of adventure... guys used to take pride in things such as competitiveness, honor, self improvement... don't know whether this is still the in thing. A sense of adventure... I think the hectic schedule that they lead has all but killed that. These days it is normal to see a guy cringe at the sight of a roach or even anything remotely dirty. Outdoor activities do not appeal to many now. What appeals?? The 'sense of adventure' from the safety and comforts of the chair... the all invasive computer... it has stolen their boyhood which is necessary for manhood!

Success... it used to be that the guys usually end up the more successful ones in a class and later in life. These days, girls have overtaken them. Even in engineering, faculties are starting to be made up of more girls than guys. Girls are more likely to have a degree these days. More guys drop out of school, lured by the easy money. The percentage of guys in some higher institutions have dipped below 50%. Very susah for girls to find life partners of the same calibre these days because of that... and girls are also getting wiser in choosing... But some girls end up with 'lesser' men out of fear of being left on the shelf. As a result, many lead very subservient lives... Pantang dicabar, the stronger sex!

What they wear... used to be very clear. Girls have their clothes and guys theirs. Clothes, hair, accessories... take a walk along City Plaza vicinity in Alor Star and sometimes you have difficulty telling whether he is a she. Used to be those labelled as 'weird' who would don all those girlie stuff. These days... the guys take pride of their earrings, long hair... even go for their manicure and pedicure. Metro Man.. I think it's just a new term they've coined for these men to give them an excuse to 'touch-up' like the gals, to have legit reason for the soft gentle look and give it a sophistication. Guys go to the perm parlour for a hairdo these days. A cut at the Indian barber would have sufficed in those days. There seems to an identity confusion and I do not know whether it's because of the lack of that masculine figure as role model or hormones in their lives.... or maybe it's just cool to look like gals. Topsy turvy world we're turning into...

Physical appearance... guys used to take great pride in their brawn. Most guys would spend lots of time building muscles in their teenage years. Physical abilities were important. These days, that doesn't seem to be so. Many guys are quite happy looking soft. In the old days, guys would play physical games with their friends, do the guy things. This gen of guys prefer to sit in front of MSN or other chat programmes and do what girls do best.... chat. They're doing that more than going out to play... Play is now sitting on a chair and only the fingers get the physical exercise.

Their roles... guys were the sole breadwinner in many families. But in many families, that responsibility is now shared. It's kinda easier on them, in a way. You hardly hear of the gal being the sole breadwinner in those days. These days.. we have terms such as house husbands. The ladies wear the pants in quite many families. How is that affecting the families?...

Getting hitched... used to be gals wanted to get hitched before they hit a certain age. 30 was considered old. Not for the men...being a bachelor into the 30s was acceptable. These days, the guys can't wait to start a relationship. Emotionally they are not ready but they jump right in. You hear of quite a bit of the disaster they invite as a result. And the gals have gone the opposite direction... they are taking their time. In countries like Japan and Korea, singlehood for the ladies has become a choice.

Intellectualism.... dumb bimbos, girls were considered not so in-the-know, guys were the intellectuals. They seemed to know more... Not so any more. That edge has been lost. Education and the internet has created level playing ground for both genders. Guys are also too lost in the world of digital games, trying to adjust in a maladjusted environment... there seems to less time to be curious, less experimenting with nature. Computer games has seen to that. Tuitions kill off whatever curiousity, I supposed...

So... how's that? Do we need to 'melelakikan the lelaki(s)' in these areas??? I am quite certain that some areas need some rethinking... anyway, the orang atasan seem to think that there is a need to melelakikan lelaki...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

English in today's F5 Class...

Was rummaging through some stuff around the house the other day and came across some of my dad's books my mom had passed to me. Many were English books. I flipped through and thought it might be useful to me. So today, I took the Std 5 books and copied the passages on the board for my Form 5 students to do.. these are your regular low ability students... but the school labels them as the Cemerlang group. There are two other groups - Terbilang and Gemilang. No use of negative terms, you see...
I have no pets but some of my friends have pets Mary has a black cat. Leela has a white dog. Rosli has two green birds. Salmah has many pretty fish in a fish tank.
  1. Who has some birds at home?
  2. Who sometimes feeds fish?
  3. Who has a pet which will bark at strangers?
  4. Who keeps pets in a cage?
Most of my 23 students were able to get the answers right..... maybe it was kinda easy. The second passage...
Yesterday was a holiday. Gopal went fishing. Leela visited an uncle in Lumut. Seng Leng and Ahmad went to the cinema. Rosli helped his father to paint the kitchen. Krishnan did not stay at home. He went to a friend's house.
  1. Who did not go out yesterday?
  2. Who probably bought tickets yesterday?
  3. Who worked with Rosli yesterday?
21 of them had Q1 wrong. 22 had Q3 wrong! The passage above is slightly more difficult in the sense that there are implied facts. What do we have here?? A lack of language or thinking skills? I think probably it's more of the latter cos anything that would require a little brain work would usually cause my students to give up.

In the later part of today's lesson, I gave them a cloze passage (with choices of answers, of course). Majority of them could locate the right answers for the right blanks. But give them a cloze without aid... most of them would not even have any answers. Hence, it is common to get blank sheets if the question requires free writing.

So, regardless of whether Maths and Science are taught in English or in their mother tongue, for this group of students the benefit of them being taught in their mother tongue may be less than what most think.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Koru... Foochow Style

This is something which I've been intending to do for quite a while. Been procrastinating but finally got down to it last Tuesday. 'Koru" or fish maw cooked sweet, sour and spicy style. This is part of my Foochow heritage, most definitely.
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Had some fish maw left from CNY. So, I baked them and soaked as per advised. But I am told that for some maw, it's okay not to bake or fry them. Fried the usual stuff...but I also used Kg Koh Chilli... Foochow style so must use Foochow chilli. Ha! Ha! Dumped in all the other stuff like bamboo shoot, squid, chicken meat (including leftovers), sea cucumber. Also added some cili padi when I did the frying to give it the oomph.

Instead of thickening the sauce with corn starch which the standard practice, I used mashed potato to thicken the gravy as well as give it the extra sweetness. Stock was chicken stock. I had some abalone pieces and scallops in my freezer but forgot to throw them in. Will do so next round.

The dish tasted even better the next day after being re-boiled as all the flavours had settled and seeped into the fish maw. Tasted kinda rich too. This is one of Other Half's favourites. And Mol also enjoyed her share it seems. Cooking... something I can enjoy also-lah! Diversifying more as I grow older.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Of 'new looking' old bicycles....

Thought this was quite quaint... Cycling seemed to be a very in thing in Singapore when I was down there last December. Over here, I guess we are a couple of months behind the latest fads usually. But we saw this on our way back from breakfast on Saturday. And this was something that we don't see every day.
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If you see two guys cycling on 'new-looking' old bikes, I guess you won't pay too much attention to it. But when you see this...
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A whole group on them on old 'new-looking' bikes you would pay some attention. And the bicycles were shiny and spotless. This was on the main road in town and the cyclists were all dressed up; heading to the town centre... probably to the Galeria Sultan Abdul Halim for the opening. One bike even had a sepak raga tied to the back of his bike. Interesting.

Kinda remind me of this song from Sudirman... those old days when you go 'pak-tor' on the old bicycle. And those days it was very 'keng' to own a bicycle. Very romantic... LOL! That was a lifetime ago! These days, you won't get far with a girl with a bike.
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Later in the day... We went for our usual hike. The trees in Pokok Sena seemed greener this week. Probably what little rain that we've been getting this past week is making a difference. There were 9 of us. Everyone in the family went too, first time this year! Daughter's pace is getting faster... at this rate, she will out pace me sooner than expected! Ah Ho and Julia joined us today too!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

My parents don't understand me..

My parents don't understand me, they scold me a lot... they don't listen to me... sounds familiar? Well, if you have a teenage son or daughter, that's something they are likely to say. So, who understands them?? Their friends... well, in my opinion, anyone who doesn't have to clear up after them or keep reminding them to do their stuff, I supposed.

Let me give a typical scene at home... your kid finishes his meal, leaves his plates in the sink. He goes off ... to his room, plays the computer, listen to the music; basically continues to do his stuff..... dirty dishes are in the sink. He forgets, then you wash. But after a few times, you feel that he should not escape his duty, so you go after him. And he has wizened up... he has learned that if he leaves it there long enough and feign forgetfulness, he can get away. You remind him.... these reminders are likely to be followed by unpleasantries. And that's when all these 'my parents don't understand me, scold me a lot' come in. Sigh!

Another common scenario.. he's on the computer. It's late. You tell him to switch it off... it goes on a couple of times.. then a tirade comes from him about how all his friends can use the computer as long as they want, sleep as late, etc, etc. And out comes this again...'my parents don't understand me, scold me a lot'

No matter what path you take, as long as it involves getting the marginal man to do what he is supposed to do but doesn't; arguments are bound to take place cos the marginal person does not see beyond his immediate wants. And it's usually the mundane things that set off such feelings... those mundane things that still need to be done.

So they confide in their friends... and since all of them in the same boat... there is a very high level of empathy.

Teenage years... they're very hard not just on the kids but also on the parents. I was just doing what I call a DVD of memories of my kids, and it brought back so many nice memories of them... happy times. Yet sometimes when I look at my boy, I wonder sometimes where I lost him. Thankfully, my girl still provides me that sort of balance... well at least for now. But teenage years are also knockin' on her door.

So some parents just give up... after all there are maids to clear up. And they are all worn down by the demands of their own lives. It's an easier way out on everyone but out of this, I suspect a generation of spoilt brats will emerge.

So, raising kids... who says it's easy? Parenting is definitely more difficult than going to work, at least as far as I'm concerned. Anyway, these are just my ramblings...

Update (9/10/09):
My Parents Don't Understand Me (Round 2)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Up Malau Hill...

Malau is this place near Bandar Darul Aman in Jitra. It is a hilly area, popular with hill climbing enthusiasts. My sexagenarian friend has been asking me to join her for a couple of weeks already... and yesterday I finally went with her since I've not been to the Malau hills for a couple of years.
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This is another rubber estate area. And this is hiking during the dry season... you tend to kick up dust as you go up the trails. Once the rains come, it'll be a different experience again. You've got to hand it to those people who tap rubber in such kinds of hilly terrains. Considering the huffing and puffing that we had to put in; it's definitely more 'tjia-lat' with the burden of rubber latex.
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We went up 3 hills... most of those in my group were in the 60s. And they are all quite, quite fit. Of course some did huff and puff a bit more than others but generally, I would tabik them for their willingness to leave the comforts the the parks and climb up these dusty hills.
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The slopes are actually quite steep in many areas, with the trails hugging the hill slopes which mean a nasty fall if one were to lose his footing. Some of the trails literally have a straight drop down a couple of metres. So, it's always wise to go in a group. But many were still able to 'fly' down the trails.... very natural with their steps.

There was a suggestion that we mimic the monkey, flay your limbs for balance...legs for the 'footwork' and hands to grab hold of the branches or saplings to prevent you from going off balance. Of course you have to watch what you hold... a couple of years ago, during one of my hikes and in the split moment of trying to prevent myself from falling, I grabbed hold of a thorny plant... the thorn went into my hand... about half an inch. Of course there was quite a bit of blood as I pulled it out in the muddy condition that I was in... 8( I had to get an ATT jab after that!
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This was the last hill we did... Managed to go all the way up without stops. Though it seems not that long of a distance, such kinds of slopes tend to be a bit more tiring cos there are no obstacles to slow you down. Hence you tend to pace yourself quicker as you want to get to the goal ASAP.

Anyway, this was a good hiking trip... but my knees are aching now. This coming at the heels of swimming and badminton yesterday.

If Mom had so much to say...

Then how much would Dad say, huh??? Thought this was hillarious as well....

Other Half and I burst out laughing at the end of it.... but of course I don't think all dads are like that... though quite a majority would fit the bill... Kah! Kah! Kah!

Friday, February 20, 2009

It's so good to be OFF!..

After the day before's sports... the school took the next day off. Nothing like having an off morning while the rest of the people (school people) were working. *grins* Not a day to be wasted... definitely. That was yesterday....

Got up early as usual... only decided not to cook anything. Told my kids to go to the canteen for their food; partly cos I was a little 'burnt out' from the previous day's 'sunning' sessions. Anyway, after sending Lil One to school, had the chance to go to the market.... it was SO NICE to go to the market on a school day. No parking problem, no need to jostle with people or follow crowds, the path ahead was as clear as can be. 8)

Then it was off to swimming... but the pool was quite crowded by the time we left cos a bunch of school kids came for their training. Picked up Mol after that and the four of us went for breakfast... an interesting foursome we made, I think... all of us from different gens; a vicenarian , a quadragenarian, a quinquagenarian and a sexagenarian. The sexagenarian didn't go swimming with us. She went line dancing instead. Missed out on the baby boomer gen though.. Ha! Ha! Go figure out our ages... But it was a good outing together.... swimming, breakfast, a few quick non-regular shopping stops...

And this was sent to me by an old friend of mine in the morning too... I had a good laugh over it too... yeah! Really tepat! Spot on.. Ha! Ha! Ha! The stress that we often times go through.. daily! Kinda nice to be able to laugh over it...

Ah! It was really good to be off.... on a morning when everyone else was working or at school... Yup!!! Yesterday was a good day....all the more fun because I had friends to share with!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

School Sports...

I think this is our Kejohanan Olahraga Ke-26. This was yesterday afternoon. Yup! We hold our sports in the crazy hot afternoon sun. My duty was to sit under the sun and make sure my team members catch the runners' positions as they finish the race. It wasn't something we enjoyed doing... the cos it was so 'burningly' hot. And after break, our big umbrella (in the pic below) at our station went missing. Hmmph!!!
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The students, 'dolled-up' for the march past. Most of them didn't seem to mind the heat though. I guess I must've been like that also at that age.
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One of the most popular uniformed bodies in school. The Kadet Bomba.. aspiring firemen! Yup! It's the uniform... colourful and striking... so every Wednesday which is our Co-Curricular Day, these students will wear their uniforms proudly for the whole day in school... Never mind that these uniforms are made of rather heavy material. 8)
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The sports houses 'dolled-up' also. Every year we'll have a competition to see which house is the most nicely dolled-up one. Don't know which house won but the Blue House on the right had a kiddy pool with water in other colours except blue as one of its deco. Maybe to contrast the parched surrounding... LOL! BTW, the Sports Houses are still named after Proton Cars... Perdana, Satria, Wira, Tiara... so outdated and 'chapalan'. Cos Proton cars... so 'lau-ya'. Friend just got a new Perdana, first week not over, air con gone kaput. Take for repairs... tarak pakai still. And somehow, these days, most of the houses are decorated in the 'pelamin' style... again I fail to see the connection with sports. They are too frilly-frilly for my liking. Ha! Ha!
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Prize giving ceremony... Notice the skirting that has been put up around the shelter... it has this bunga raya motif... Apparently cost RM1K for those pieces of cloth! I dunno how the school can spend that kind of money... *shaking head*
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The highlight of an otherwise ordinary Sports Day. Because the Air Force Flight Training School and Army Camp are nearby, we can sometimes count on them to provide some 'entertainment'. These soldiers are tough. That's ice block on fire... that fler in the picture 'karated' through it. And they banged their head on tiles... saw one guy with a badly cut hand, all bloodied rushing to the first-aid station after the 'show'. He seemed quite cool though it must have hurt quite badly. Soldiers are trained to tahan pain, I supposed.
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This was taken half way through the events... guess which one is my house??? Bottom up! It's been like this for many years... last 2 places usually. *sighs*

Well, the sky was blue, the sun shining brightly on us... we got baked and grilled but in the end, the students who came seemed to enjoy themselves. Attendance in the afternoon was not that great really cos every house would prepare food for all their members.... and at the end of the day, these packets of food became an indicator of how poor or good the attendance was. And we had lots of leftovers!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Perak Comedy Continues...

The Perak Speaker suspended the whole BN EXCO.... aiyo... this is so funny. Then Zambri, the BN MB says it's against the rule of law.. Hah! I don't know what is law anymore. It's been bent left and right to suit their agenda... pot calling the kettle black or is it the other way round?

This whole comedy is having me in stitches... cos that was it did to me when I first read it. Aiya! Go back to the people and let the people decide-lah. If the people die-die also want BN, they've got nothing to worry. Perak will go back to their (greedy and grubby????) hands. If the people still want to stick to the new flavour, they'll probably give PR a whoopingly big majority... since they might a bit sick of the old flavour. I dunno.

What's so difficult about that? What money are they trying to save from not holding the elections? Just ask the Hee (woman) and also the other froggies who have connections with those super well lined pockets people to donate some $$$$... then election can 'jalan' already. Let democracy take its course.

The Sultan could also just dissolve the State Assembly.... maybe his rakyats' adoration will somewhat be repaired. Politics... the comedy of the day in this Bolehland of mine.

Prelude to School Sports 2009

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Can you imagine having Sports on a field like this? The field feels so hot that you feel the heat burning through the soles of your shoes. I think the grass will catch fire if you throw a burning stub of cigarette on it. And the earth has lost its bounce because it's so dry.
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And the surrounding paddy fields looking as though it has gone through an inferno. The ashes and smoke are everywhere. A haze envelopes your surrounding all throughout the day. We read about the Australian bush fire... but here in Alor Star, this is a yearly phenomenon, the paddy field fires, much of it done at night; illegaly. The authorities are aware of it but they close an eye to it. And we have our sports with this kind of burning going on... God-knows how much pollutants we coat our lungs with.

And the heat is enough to burn your skin. Standing in the middle of the field is likened to being slowly baked, grilled, cooked. Kinda takes the fun out of something which should be fun.
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We've been holding some of the events these last couple of days. This morning we had the 4X400m across the board. Cannot believe that many of the girls, especially those from Class 2 and 3 did not finish the race, resulting in disqualifications of their teams. In both classes, only 2 out of the 4 houses completed the race. Our younger gen is not fit. If the same pattern is observed everywhere else, then our nation will be looking at huge health bills in years to come... not forgetting the economic cost as well as we'll be looking at many work days missed as well. The effects are far reaching.... socially and economically. So who says sports is not important?

Anyway, sports is just an eyewash these days. Teachers and students go because they are required to...each by different sets of rules. School administrators can't wait to get the sports season over and done with so that they can start the 'kelas tambahan'. I wonder why we even bother having it.

Sports and co-curricular activities have lost most of their purpose in schools. These are activities which are supposed to train the young in the soft skills, leadership, responsibilities, commitment, teamwork, etc, etc.. These are also activities where the less academic inclined find their niche in school; it makes schooling meaningful to them. Sad to say, the chase for academic results have eclipsed everything else. Another reason why our school system is in such a sad state. My two sen today.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Is faith a real thing???

I believe in God... that I'm certain, though I can be quite a skeptic at times. Especially when my logical mind tries to make sense of everything; which of course makes my life kinda complicated at times. But I've realized the mind is too finite to comprehend the infinite... Still that did not stop me from spending a good part of my early twenties searching... reading into philosophy, the bibles of different faiths... Stubborn-mah!

One thing I was certain is this - Man is created with a vacuum in his heart... Our times of need will cause us to turn to a Greater Being. There are so many things which are just out of our control, you see. It's automatic, almost instinctive. Some may find this puzzling. Some may try to deny this need but it's there. Who do we call out to when things really reel out of our control, when every where we turn only desperation greets us???

Hence, I think Man is created with this built-in antennae which is tuned to God. You know, like our children... they've this built-in antennae which causes them to instinctively turn to their parents in their times of needs. God the Father and we are his children.... we as children of God turn to Him in our times of need.

Other Half put it better. He thinks Man is created as a spiritual vessel. But this spiritual vessel is created with the freedom to choose. Being a vessel means this need to fill it; the vacuum. Question is what kinds of spiritual beings do we fill it with?

How do we know the Being we fill ourselves with is the right one? Other Half's way of making sense.... a car needs to be filled in order for it to move. There's the petrol engine which we are so used to. Then there is the diesel engine on the other end.... put diesel into a petrol engine... car still runs.. sometimes when there is a mix of petrol in the tank, it'll run fine but eventually it will wear or break down your engine cos diesel is heavier and therefore harder on the engine. Something will break eventually!

So, if we fill our spiritual being with the right Being, like the car we'll run okay. But if we fill it with a 'wrong' Being, then perhaps like the car, we'll seem to run okay for a while but eventually end up in the junkyard.

Interesting article here... The Biology Belief... which reinforces what I've always believed; but it gives it a more logical and scientific explanation. Faith makes more logical sense to me after the read.... sometimes going by just simple faith is difficult for me. I have to complicate things for myself.. what of simple faith, huh??

According to the article too, it says believing in a loving God adds years to one's life as opposed to a punitive God... Points to ponder. I supposed bitterness tends to eat us from the inside. Like the rot, it sets out from the inside to the outside. Unseen in the beginning but when it finally shows, you'd be too long gone.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Our lives begin to end....

Martin Luther: Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
Being silent...most of us do that cos we don't want to rock the boat, disturb the equilibrium in our lives, the status quo, etc, etc. Speaking out requires courage and sometimes sacrifice, but it is necessary. This is one of the things which I keep reminding myself... speak out but do it in the manner that benefits all. But sometimes I fail cos I tend to be a bit hot-headed at times. Sigh!

That's the thot for the day for me.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's Day....

It's over-hyped.... and I don't understand why in Saudi Arabia, they go to such lengths to ban it. It seemed the Authority for Enjoining Good and Preventing Evil ordered retail outlets to rid themselves of Valentine's Day paraphernalia. Wow! They have a department for that!... just to prevent evil. But how do you bust evil?? What is evil? Buying a flower for someone you love is evil???

In India, the Hindu Shiv Sena party even went to the extent of violent protests to make their point that Valentine's Day is bad for the society. So, you aren't supposed to show love to the person you love, at least not in the Valentine's Day way... whatever that is. Hmmmm..

People fall in love, regardless of age. So with or without V-day, people will still celebrate it. I know Valentine's Day had its origins in the Christian saint, St Valentine who went to jail because he disagreed with the emperor that conscripted young men should not marry. But, the Valentine's Day of today is only remotely related to St Valentine.... St Valentine didn't give any flower to any gal... I think. Priests and celibacy thingy..

Anyway, V-day was a packed day for me. There was school to start with... which was total waste of time cos nothing much got done except that we replaced a day.
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Then it was followed by another hike up the 888 Hill in Pokok Sena. We had 'new' old people with us; there were 10 of us. My lil one went again.
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And even though this tiny hill has been ravaged for its soil, I still look so tiny. The initial aim was to climb up to the top but I gave up as the soil was kinda loose.This shot is to remind me how puny and small I am as compared to nature.
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And I competed with Aaron at sit ups... I did a total of 65, he had 28, I think. *grinning* I'll gloat over this while I still can cos I know in no time, he'll outdo me.. that's for sure. For now, my ab muscles are still 'fitter' than his. I wonder whether he'll be reminded of this each time he laughs for the next coupla days. Ha! Ha! But he's got youth on his side... I don't. That's him grimacing as he tried to come up from the bench.. at number 27, I think. LOL!

Hike was followed by a 'birthday' dinner. We did a rushed one.... but company and food were good. Then it was off to a wake service... this is the second one in a month. But the difference is, when one has lived a full life, there is also sadness but we tend to look at it as a celebration of life; rightly so too:
2 Timothy 4: 7-8
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
We'll miss her here but she'll be in Heaven waiting for us.

So, there, my Valentine weekend..... packed to the brim but for that I am thankful cos it's nice to be alive and be able to spend time with the people who matter in our lives.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

LoVE iS in tHE AiR....

Had this conversation with a 6-year-old two days back... and it really made my day cos he's in love with me. *grinning from ear to ear* ... and tis the season when love is in the air. And somebody is in love with me... Awesome!

And nah!! I don't need those expensive flowers or chocolates... this beats them. Most definitely! Cos it is straight from the heart!
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This is usually how we'd have our conversations... kids and adults... I enjoy these 'Skype sessions' with them. What we do?? Well, emoticon 'conversations', and lately, maths... *grins*. Wonders of technology....

I've blotted out his name in red just in case, years from now he feels 'paiseh'. But this has got to be one which I'll cherish. Classic! Told Other Half that someone is in love with me.... Ooo la la la....

HaPPy vALenTinE's DAy folks!!!!!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Perak Politics and History

2 months well, actually it's 1 1/2 months since I went back to work... it's been an interesting time. Thought I'd take some time to get used to the mad rush, but it's slowly sinking in. I adapt. But the events which have been unfolding in our country and the world... especially in my home state, Perak....has been quite... well, interesting.

The shock of the 12th GE has already settled I guess, and by and large Malaysians are waking up to the fact that it's not just BN who can rule. I guess too we're slowly learning that the country can still move on without BN, should that happen. And that realization is good cos it shows that democracy is alive.... we need that to keep corruption and excesses checked!

The comedy is in Perak these last couple of weeks. Malaysiakini's poll shows more than 60% of those who took part disagreeing with Sultan Azlan's decision. Well, the Sultans have been gaining popularity since the political tsunami. I guess people had to look to something stable in times of uncertainties.... but guess what? Looks like HRH may have blew it for the royals. His daughter's ownership of Gamuda which was highlighted and its presumed connection with UMNO made him... quite human. Suddenly it made sense... his unpopular and questionable decision.

Prior to this, the fiasco of the supposedly highly respected Negeri Sembilan royalty... where money and power dictated... and the intrigues behind the scenes also did not help the Royals' case. Our supposedly 2 more respected royal families; and when their laundry was washed in public, they certainly didn't look good at all. For theirs was not like the QE2's annus horribilis which was more of scandals and her children's marriage problems. Theirs was that of power play, political intrigues and money. And many royals led lives which included activities not in agreement with their position as heads of their faith.

Now if we were to go back to history. The Royals sold their rights and also the peasants' to the Brits long ago.... of course this can also be subjected to debate.

The Perak royalty started the ball rolling actually. The 1874 Pangkor Treaty marked the beginning of British intervention and subsequent rule in the Peninsula. There was power struggle for the throne among the chieftains. In the end Raja Abdullah got what he wanted - to be the Sultan, kicking Sultan Ismail out with the help of the Brits.... there's similarity with what is happening in Perak now.... with the Sultan playing the Brits' role. 8)

Go read it from Wikipedia... it's more interesting than our textbook version. It's a tale of 'power' for-ownself at the expense of everything else. Of course one could argue that Brits involvement were unavoidable... but that is a road not taken. So no point speculating...

Anyway, why study history??? So that we can learn from the past. And the past records shows that royalties, be it here or anywhere else for that matter... they are there because they want to stay in power. In days of old, the king or ruler was usually the strongest and ablest fighter too. But, they too became wiser and learned the art of politics... and opportunities. These days brawn has been replaced by brains, of course.

Hence, the questioning begins from the peasants cos when peasants can use their brains and think, that puts them on par with the royals and also makes them realize that royals and peasants, there's no such thing as 'blue-blood' separating them. 'Royal' and peasants share the same the blood colour - red! 8)

Just as in UMNO... the peasants under Mahathir; in the 1980s he forced them to surrender their right to refuse assent to laws passed by Parliament. In the 1990s, he wanted to remove their immunity from prosecution cos he thought the royals were unbecoming of their status. He wanted a government that is strong so that the country can move forward. And now UMNO is defending the Royals... My! They certainly switch sides fast! Politics make strange bedfellows, most definitely. Cos suddenly 'derhaka' and 'engkar' have become chic words for them again. And blood comes in two colours again.... blue and red! LOL!

Anyway, Raja Abdullah got the Brits to legitimize his status...because he saw his fortunes rising with the Brits. And similarly, the Royals also saw the opportunity after the political tsunami and they filled that vacuum... but unfortunately the Sultan of Perak, the most learned of the royals.... may have blown that opportunity to improve the integrity and need for the royals. He would have gone down into history as one who made a difference, regardless of the outcome of the election, had it been allowed to take place. And the monarchy would gain utmost respect for that.

And guess what... Gahmen has already started seizing Harakah Daily and also Suara Keadilan... signs of more ominous things to come??? Brawn in play???

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Living With A Teenager...

I've a teenager.... and I think raising a teenager is not easy. At that age, they're not happy about many things. And parents also find it difficult to adjust to this wanting to break away thing. But I guess this is nothing new. Every generation before this say the same, and this goes back to even Plato and Hesiod's eras.

Generation gap... today's gap is made more difficult by the digital divide. Every generation has its own divide... our parents and their parents... the hippie days, flower-power, rock and roll. Mine and my parents?? ... dunno, coming out of Cold War fears, breaking down of the Berlin Wall, break up of Communist Russia, jeans and zippers, Michael Jackson, TV becoming a biggie influence in our lives... but all quite mild after the craziness of the previous gen.... 'make love not war gen'. LOL! But for what it is worth, I'm sure any parents regardless of whatever era found it difficult to understand what their kids were/are going through. 8)

My teenage years... yup! I was rebellious. But I think nothing in my muted rebelliousness prepared me for the response of this generation....I'm sure my parents would have said the same thing.

My parents were relatively strict and there were some rules which I felt didn't make sense. Well, I guess it had to do with I thought I knew better and also that I thought I had it under control. I was wrong on many counts. But whatever they did, I now know it was with my best interests at heart. I appreciate that.

Why the rebelliousness?? They are growing up and becoming individuals in their own rights. So there is this natural process of severing the 'second umbilical cord' from the parents. There would be conflicts, different ways of seeing and doing things. Also, there are wants and desires, which very often they can't have. And at that age, I'd say there are plenty. So, when parents say no, anger and resentment build up.

So what are these desires these days??

Gadgets... mainly the mobile, MP3, Wii, PSPs.... The mobile stands out from this list. I consider it a boon and bane thingy but most of the time it's the latter, until they learn to control themselves. And that's hard cos being young means you want to network. So, time and money become reasons for discords at home.

Relationships... somehow teenagers today can't wait to get involved.... more are getting involved in a relationship at a younger age. Is that good? I mean, if you were to look at this issue from a historical perspective, in ancient days, fatherhood (motherhood) started in the teens. But then again, life span was shorter then.... and they didn't have to be 'institutionalized'. LOL! And a couple of days ago, I read an article about girls and multi-dating... *shaking head*. I thought multi-tasking was complicated enough. This is a world of 'multi(s)' our teenagers are in now!!

Fast forward to this gen of kids who grow up mollycoddled by the comforts of life. What have you? You get hyper strung teenagers who cannot wait to have gf (or bf) cos everyone they know is having one. If you don't have one, then life feels kinda incomplete, that's what they say. And add that to the fact that these kids live in cocoons also meant they mature even later than naturally... you have these marginal man who seem to exercise very little restraint and behave foolishly. And for some reason, it seems more difficult for the boys.

We, parents are at fault here.... at fault for casting their safety net too far and wide! To the point that these kids fail to realize that they need to be responsible for themselves and their actions. And in their fits of emotional outbursts or lack of control, they unwittingly turn their back on family honour and name... So, you hear of seemingly good kids, getting themselves into trouble in the process causing anguish to their family and also sometimes putting a spanner into their own future.

So, while kids are having it better in terms of better education, health and possessions, they are finding it more difficult too... emotionally. More single parents, more working mothers.... and an excessively individualistic ethos plus an education system bent on producing A(s) rather than mould characters... they've contributed to more maladjusted young people.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Education: Towards a Fairer and Equitable Malaysia

Tis the time of the year when offers for residential and technical schools are out. Things have changed very little from my school days. From among my Malay colleagues, I noticed a sizable number with their children offered places in residential schools; be it science or MARA colleges. And also, quite a sizable of them have children in Matriculation which also translates to subsequent placings in overseas universities.

It is common knowledge that a place in Science schools would mean a better chance of securing a loan or scholarship locally or overseas to pursue a course of their choice later. It also means an easier path to Matriculation, which is also another easy path to local universities as its standard is very much lower than that of STPM. Matriculation vs STPM... that is also another much debated issue.

In comparison, I know very few of my non-Malay friends with children in the above scenario. But I might also add that, perhaps from among my friends, most of us are not quite for sending our kids at secondary level as we feel that kids should be with their family in their formative years. But that is another subject for another day.

Now, my colleagues and I basically belong to the same economic group. You can't help but feel that these same people are taking the opportunities from the more deserving ones. There are many more Malay students ... as well as non-Malay students who need that extra help... where taking them away from their home environment would bring about a positive change in their lives. Yet many of these places are given to those non deserving cases; kids whose parents make 5 figure salary monthly.

What then are the criteria for selection? If we go by results, then obviously 30-40% of the students in residential schools should be non-Malays, in proportion to the population. If we go by the economic criteria, then what are these middle to upper-middle income kids doing in such schools? These schools are built with the tax-payers money. The places should be fairly and equitably distributed. And that is where it glaringly shows the double standards that has always been a practice in this Bolehland.

There has been suggestions that a single school system is good for racial integration but the idea is drawing protests from the those who are for the vernacular education system... rightly so too cos distribution of places is not done fairly be it according racial or even economic lines.

In order for a single system to work, a fair and equitable policy must first be seen. But as in many things Malaysian, we still practise our own version of apartheid......

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Chinese Valentine...Chap Goh Mei

Yesterday night after my lesson with the kids, 5 of us gals went in search for the 'orange throwing event'....Chinese Valentine's Day or Chap Goh Mei. Just found out that this is actually a very Malaysian thing. Orange throwing originated in Penang. LOL!!

We got sesat at first... Siah drove us to Pekan Cina but when we got there, the place was empty, except for a couple of flers who seemed to be having a drinking binge.
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Siah suggested that we try Ampang Jajar.... as there were displays of fireworks from that direction. True enough when we got there, cars were parked by the side of the road. Yup! The crowd was there alright. Place was quite packed with people. So we walked the whole length of the park there.
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There were lots of people around, mostly young people, in groups all over the place. The 2 ma(s) felt a lil out of place there.... in the sea of mostly young people. There were occasional fireworks display, lighted from a small boat skimming the water in the dark. Couldn't really see it except for the silhoutte.
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If you forgot your orange, I think can donate some money and get one from here, run by the Lion's Club. Friend said... this one 'hor - giak - lang - boh - ming - gia - cho', so do this sort of charity.There were some who threw oranges into the river. Don't think people throw oranges to get a good husband these days.. cos even the guys were throwing the oranges into the river. I thought they were supposed to fish out those oranges not throw them! They lookin for husbands??? ROFL!!!
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The whole place actually felt like a pasar malam. Music was blaring from a live show. It lent it a sort of festive air. Anyway, anything to do with Valentine's.... sure will have commercial activities. Valentine's Day.... it's a sure money spinner. Come Saturday, more will be spent and earned... all in the name of 'love'. LOL! Anyway, we stood for a while taking in the atmosphere before calling it a night. Lil one was with us and she fell asleep in the car soon after.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Rubber Tree and Politics

1877... Sir Henry Wickham... the first seeds of the rubber trees made their way to Malaya.. and the rest is history. By the 1950s we were the undisputed number one rubber producer in the world.
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My grandfather was brought to Sitiawan in one of those early 20th century immigration waves and like many of them, he turned to rubber cultivation for a living. I remember vaguely seeing him and many others coming back in the mornings with latex in huge metal containers saddled behind their bicycles. Those days, they would tap rubber by the flickering kerosene (I think) lights mounted on their foreheads. These later gave way to the battery powered headlights. Rubber tapping was a tough job... but it brought much wealth to our young nation. But much of this labour was provided by the Indians who were brought in to this country in droves.
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My friends used to tease me that Fuchow ladies of old were very tough... I guess so. Cos apart from running the household, they also had to help their husbands tap rubber and make the rubber sheets. The making of the rubber sheets also involved stepping on them. And it did their feet great injustice as the rubber had lots of formic acid... Also, putting those sheets through the rolling machine required a lot of energy and work. So, they had to be tough... there was no room for the petite and gentle ladies those days.

Hence also, the reason for big portions in Fuchow food servings. One comment which I usually get when my friends talk about food in Sitiawan is the size of its servings. Well, that's part of the rubber legacy. A lot of energy is needed to tap the rubber to producing the rubber sheets. One of the things I think I missed from my grandma's cooking is probably the egg porridge that she cooked for breakfast. And the serving would be huge..... egg porridge with lard! It has this appetizing smell as well.
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So, the wealth of our nation is built on this... the white blood of the rubber tree, not native to this land. And the hands, the toil and sweat which turned this white blood into gold... they too were not native. Many of these lives were lost to the wild animals, snake bites .... dangerous places those plantations were in the early days.
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So like the tree flung from the Amazon which has taken root in this land and feels so native to its adopted land, the people who toiled it also came from afar.. and they too have grown roots and call this land home. So, home is where we toil and sweat... where our hearts and roots are. There's no need to divide us by the colour of our skin.... The Brits divided to rule us. The BN also went along that line, albeit a little more refined. But the reason for that is clear.... divided we fall, united we stand and those in power remain in power unchecked even when they abuse the system to their own benefit.

We each have our own calling card, and on it is written Anak Bangsa Malaysia.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Saturday...of computers and hills

Spent a very big part of the weekend going through my collection of digital photos... we started using the digital camera back in 2001. Started using it in earnest soon after. 2001 was also the year my girl was born... so her photos are all digitally archived.

A couple of months back I had wanted to embark on compiling a DVD of memories. Finally got started on Friday night. There was no stopping once I start on something. And I worked on it through the wee hours of Saturday and carried on almost the whole day. I spent hours on the computer and my shoulders are aching. Age is catching up... used to be able to sit for a long time and not feel it much.

Apple's iLife makes things quite easy. But still it's a very time consuming project. However, working on this was actually quite fun cos it brought back so many fond memories. I have a long way more to go. This project will probably take up a couple more weeks if not months. But it shall be our legacy to our kids.... a legacy of memories together for them.
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Took a break and went hiking in the evening. This time Other Half and I took the Lil One as the bro had BK class. Had friends for company this time too. We used to go in a group when this was a regular thing. Trying to get this group thingy going again.
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I love this shot.. with the blue sky and barren trees. In a couple of months, when the rains hit this part of the country again, green leaves will sprout and the whole place will feel really alive again! Unlike now which is so dry and dusty, the place will be damp and a little muddy. We used to be sticklers to our hiking schedule... rain or shine, we'd be there. So sometimes we'd go back drenched and soak to the skin. Those crazy days!! There was once it poured cats and dogs while we were on the way down the hill! It was an experience for my boy then, having been brought up quite sheltered and all that!
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Lil One took to the hike quite well. Unlike the last time when we actually had to carry her, she was able to move on her own. Ascent and descent were at quite good speed. I only had to reach out my hand for her to hold.... not so much as to help her keep her balance but more for assurance. In time to come, she'll be independent... much as I will miss that. Bro went through that... now it's her turn.
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Tis always nice to sit on the swing, what more on a hill in a natural surrounding. I always look forward to get to the top of the hill cos I know there always places for me to sit, either the swings or the bench.
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What goes up must come down... our descent down the hill, carrying with us some of the containers which we've emptied on the plants in the surrounding area. Some of the shrubs are 'burning' up. I'd fill it up again at the foot of the hill and the 2 kids would carry them to the start of the trail.

We're hoping this would be a weekly activity again... and that more of those who dropped off would come back. It's not just the workout but also the company... and memories.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Autocity.... hard times???

I learned 2 things on our usual stopover at Autocity in Juru on the last trip back...
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The first is I noticed 2 outlets had closed their business.. must've happened in Jan cos they were still in operation when we made our stop there in December. The first casualties of the economic downturn....

Brand name still draw in crowds. Cos the established names were still standing. Guess maybe they're more popular. Son pestered us to go to Swensen's as he wanted to try their Apple Crumble. The place was full to the brim.... maybe cos it was holiday season... and the traffic was heavier than normal. Anyway, no Apple Crumble for him. He took a burger instead... which was okay. You can't go wrong with burgers! Even the cheap roadside burgers made of all the unwanted parts taste good. I tried their Clam Chowder in the bread... nothing spectacular.
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Ordered ice-cream for the lil one.... it was a total let down. A brand that is well-known but either my taste buds have undergone a huge change or their quality has dropped. Even the Wall's premium range taste much better! Anyway, this was one makan trip to Autocity which was a let down.... and also a reminder of grim economic times ahead.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Midlife crisis??

Right about after one passes the 4th decade of his/her life, midlife crisis hits... that is what's generally perceived.

This came to mind in church during the CNY weekend back home.
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What I saw..... 2 generations around me; the generation before me (my parents' generation) with graying hair and the the generation after me. And I realized that I've entered the phase of the generation before me which they have vacated; many among my peers have assumed those responsibilities that came with it... And to replace what my generation has vacated, a whole new younger generation is coming up, filled with youthful vigour and dynamism, waiting by the sideline, ready to assume their rightful places!

I couldn't help but feel a sense of loss...... I could look it from another angle and call it a gain. But somehow, that morning, it was this profound sense of loss that I felt.... though I could see that replacement and renewal were ongoing. The changing of guard was happening, right before my eyes. I saw a good friend's father; he was finding it difficult to stand through the whole worship. And I remember being in awe of him just not too long ago! Everything is so temporal. The youth that we worship.... life here on earth!

Change was happening... Maybe the phrase midlife crisis is not so appropriate. Perhaps it should be referred to as an another awakening to an awareness and perhaps a time of reflection... Just as during our teens we experienced an awakening to the world of adulthood to come, perhaps too 'midlife' is time of another gentle reminder.... a reminder of our mortality and that some day we will have to answer to our Creator! Else, why these phases, why the 'automatic' crazy 'Hyde-moments' which seem to appear so naturally?

So at midlife, it's time to take stock of our lives... maybe correct the sails if we're going the wrong direction but certainly not the time to go more sesat if we are already on that path, though some do. I think sometimes, we find it a bit difficult to accept this particular rite of passage.... confusion, boredom, the need to search for adventure, anger, doubt are among the contributors. So perhaps, because of that, we often hear of those in midlife doing crazy things, just like those in the 'crazy' teen years....

Midlife .... one of my childhood friends whom I met up during CNY was just telling me that she cannot believe that we've reached that milestone. She said she's still in denial. LOL! Yeah!! I too find it hard to believe that I've come this far. If not for meeting up with old friends I've not seen for years but share that special familiarity, friends who shared my youth and its craziness, the realization might not have gone in this way.... sometimes it takes a piece of the past to piece the present for you....

Incidentally, all these politicians in the Perak imbroglio... they're all in their midlife too... their sails seem a bit sesat now... if don't correct... someday... I reckon they'll also have to face their day of reckoning.... it will be a terrible reckoning by the looks of things...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Perak... maybe a silver lining out of this?

The things that are happening there..... in the years to come, when we have the hindsight, it'll be a different thing altogether.
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The BN camp must be feeling very jubilant now. It's a coup. And already there those who say that for the Prime Minister in waiting who is more aggressive approach, this will look good when he becomes the number one this March. But that's another story. PR was a fragile coalition to start with. PAS with its theocracy state approach and looks like they are not going to compromise about it but at least they are not corruptible yet, DAP with its perceived Chinese chauvinist approach and PKR with its multiracial composition - actually most promising of the lot cos if PKR can work, then maybe a Malaysia on equal platform may actually come to fruition though it's still a long shot.

But what with the palace's stand of not dissolving the State Assembly? With the current situation, neither government will be strong. So who benefits? The people certainly are not going to benefit... with political parties fighting to be in power, they will hardly be focusing on what needs to be done to make sure the contraction in our economy will not hit too hard; that the stimulus package will benefit the people.... Nope! All this is not going to happen if politicians are too busy trying to make sure they stay in power.

So who benefits out of this??? Years ago, there was this UMNO leader who dared question the positions of the Sultans. The Sultans came out of that spat quite battered.... at that time, the coalition of parties which ruled the country was undisputed, no other party came close to challenging them. That was BN, unchallenged those days. With the political parties battering each other now.... the palaces have become places to seek legitimacy... power goes back to the palace. So the palace becomes relevant again; and that's what they probably would want. Many countries are questioning the relevance of monarchies in today's modern world.

So BN forms the government... what sort of government will it be? With 3 turncoats and another one already turned twice.... Terrible state this Silver State is in, cos this is a government imposed and not elected. Well, if you look at history... no gahmen has been able to exist forever... eventually their undoing comes out of their own doing. And right now, even though BN seems to be having the upper hand, they might just be starting to unravel....

And of all the Sultans, the present Sultan should understand this best but he too seems to have missed at least half of what his rakyat chose. Sultans are also human with desires... and the Regent of Perak said rulers must be neutral.... his father didn't think so! So, it's back to those days of old also perhaps for the palace?

But then again.... perhaps, just perhaps there is a silver lining in all this which will bear fruit and if it does bear the right fruit in time to come, all those who want so much to hang on to power through such means will find themselves being booted out for good... doing the right thing, that takes a lot of wisdom.... and courage. That is a bit lacking in all departments now...

In the mean time.... this is an apt reminder why we, the people should work together. There's always a next election.

Now that another round of hols is over...

Replacement classes starts!!! We always do this... have extended hols then replace those extra days taken with Sat class. CNY break was supposed to be on Mon and Tues. Most schools in Kedah took Sun off as Cuti Lembaga. Usually a school is allowed 2-3 days of Cuti Lembaga a year which need not be replaced. But they also took Wed and Thurs off as well which meant the whole week off. And those 2 days need to be replaced!

Now that the holiday part is done... it's pay back time. We do the same for Raya also...take this extended break. Then we replace those days with Saturday school; which is a waste also cos not much gets done. Many students skip school. Very seldom classes run as usual. Don't really blame the kids cos it's kinda tiring to go to school for 6 days... and school hours these days are kinda long; some more in this hot and humid weather of ours.

So is it good to have such extended break?? I think the MOE might as well factor in such hols into the school calendar. Then we don't have to keep replacing those days taken. Singapore is predominantly Chinese... they don't take more than the 2 days for CNY. It was back to business as usual on Wednesday for schools.

Then the excuse that it will reduce the traffic congestion and reduce the number of road accidents. But data from Ops Sikap I till the present Ops Sikap does not seem to indicate a big drop in road fatalities. You can see for yourself from here the statistics. As for traffic congestion, I think it gets worse cos everyone, regardless of race is on the road. It used to be turn taking in those old days cos the short break didn't make it worth the while to jam the roads. But these days... the roads are filled with vehicles.

But more time with family... that one is good.. supposed to encourage the masyarakat penyayang thingy.
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But I am actually heaving a sigh of relief with this round of hols over cos finally, I can get down to the whole rigmarole of getting used to the 'term' schedule again... though I must say that one week of break from the nonsense at school was a welcomed break. But it was a short lived joy... after one week.... I'm back to where I was! Crap taking, sugar coated words, show and tell ...... the list remains the same!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Perak Imbroglio

The plot becomes more and more interesting.... Still no decision on the MB's request to dissolve the State Assembly. Of all the 'monarchies' in M'sia, I've always had great respect for this particular Sultan of my home state. Let's see how he'll decide.

With this current changing bedflers thingy going on... probably best to dissolve and let the people choose. Everyone seems to be clamouring to serve... suddenly they seem so noble. But these people seem to have such short memories.... or maybe they don't want to remember. Money politics is in many people's mind at this time.... who has been bought? Who has sold out? After all if the allegations are true, a couple of millions.... why not??? Darn....I'd be damned if I say I won't buckle if that much money is being thrown at my face!

Good and clean governance.... ethical and upright people. All that possible?? Politics is dirty... can clean people stay clean in politics??? Why do people want power? Is it really to serve the people or their own interests? Why did kings hold on to their throne in days of old? Was it to serve the poor peasant sods or their own ambitions? Were they that noble?

And those YBs who have been jumping around like frogs the last few days.... have they no shame??? Where are their principles? ... oh I forgot, they never had. If they don't believe in the party they won their seats with, then resign as YB. Join a new party... take part in the election under the wings of their new party. If they believe the people want them, they will be re-elected. But they know... the chances of themselves being elected... so they take the path that benefits them. And in taking them in, BN will just enforce the perception of a corrupt party .... that already is in many, many people's minds. Now it's being reinforced. Najib will do BN a greater injustice by wanting this quick coup... for all we know, he may be remembered as the one who brought BN to its knees.

Even Tun Mahathir has the sense to see the harm that this will do to BN. Can't the present BN leaders see it? The greed.... the glee... to think that they've 'stolen' the silver state back..... my mind goes back to Judas Iscariot and his 30 silver pieces. And oh! What befell him after the the sell out?

Anyway, Najib may well go down in history the one who nailed the coffin of BN or bring money politics to a new height... or well, we could continue to do what we are doing now, be the proverbial ostrich and write history from our own perspective.

Update: (5/2/09) 3.00 pm
So, the Sultan ruled in favour of BN *scratch head*... BN has former PR and own frogs for bedflers... interesting times. Probably not the best arrangements since a strong government would be good for current economic situations. But then again, maybe with such kinds of arrangements both sides will be out to come clean... though on BN's side it always looks kinda hazy. BN has always had the advantage... from money to agencies; all the way up..

Bento 15 and New Skating Rink in Alor Star

Have been packing food for Daughter and Son but since school reopened, it's been a mad rush every morning. So no time to take pics. This is today's fare.... from my camera phone.
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... ham, steamed brocolli and baby carrots, fried egg and mushrooms in teriyaki sauce.. the whole set. Daughter loves mushrooms cooked this way... there're 3 different types of mushroom in this one.

On the rice... cut the ham into stars, palm tree and heart shapes with a cookie cutter set that I got from Mustafa Centre in Little India. Today's prep time??? Prep and cooking... 20 minutes... cos I had 3 stoves running. 4 if you add the rice cooker. LOL!

The Thermos container is the set that I got for a discount from a warehouse sale in S'pore. 8) I've also used it to bring food to work and it's really nice to be able to have the food still warm after a couple of hours. Maybe I'll consider getting myself a Thermos container to pack my own food. Now poor ol' ma is using a Tupperware. And the food is cold by the time I eat it.
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Incidentally, there's a new attraction... for the young... in town. A new skating rink! It's located next to Skybowl in Pacific Shopping Centre. The place was really packed the day we went. The girls thought of trying it out but in the end we didn't. It's quite expensive... RM12 but no time limit. But then again, how long can one skate?

In the end, we walked around a bit; checked out some laser printers for the girls.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Comedy of Errors... politics in Perak

Comical scenes are unfolding before us... BN guy jumped over to PKR. I thought PKR should not have accepted him. But this is politics. Politics make strange bedfellows. So the BN fler becomes PKR bedfler. And PKR must be thinking... yay! our position strengthened!

The plot thickens. BN still has ammo under their sleeves. Impending corruption charges against 2 opportunist PKR flers... and now trying to salvage their hide... so they go into hiding, as pre-planned with BN I supposed. Most likely script! But maybe they just went into hiding cos they were worried that the ACA flers were coming for them. So thought they can hide from them... unlikely but... this is Bolehland.. PKR alarm goes haywire. Manhunt begins... no luck. There are still jungles in Malaysia where 2 men can disappear.

But PKR also got ammo. Apparently these 2 opportunists signed undated letters of resignation... Ammo fired! Then the 2 flers showed up. Said they didn't resign. They are still fired up to serve their constituents!!! Really meh! Or they're afraid they'll get no chances to get suitcases of $ once they are out? Aiyo! What do they take the people for??? Die, die people also want them meh?? ... Really, they take the people for fools!!! Ketuanan mentality at work here. LOL! Meanwhile a DAP fler also went missing. Wah! This one got offended when Guan Eng gave an ultimatum... in the end she also was not consistent with her reasons... but then again... this is reporting by mainstream media. You know-lah the standard of our mainstream media.

News from mainstream... usually tak boleh harap, sometimes meant to stir things up and make them murky. Then you cannot see what your bedfler is doing, then you worry your bedfler sleeping with the enemy.... then suspicion.... the storyline gets more complicated! Intrigue and betrayal ???? .... the drama will keep you rooted to your couch! But nah! In times like these, there're more things on our minds, as much as we'd like to stay and watch.

And is it any surprise that the EC says by-elections are not necessary??? If PR has the courage then they should just dissolve the State Assembly and call for a fresh mandate. Get this done and over with.

This is Bolehland cum Bodohland... supposedly made up of a Bodoh citizenry who would buy any crap the politicians churn out.... at a time I thought we should be grabbing the bull by its horns; the hard times we're in now..

But I think the people are tired of all these... drama or sandiwara or whatever you want to call it. As the past year has shown... with or without the BN or PR for that matter, it doesn't really matter. What will matter is a good and clean government... cos that's what we need now to bring us through the coming months with the economic turmoil, which may make life difficult for the average Joe. We need good and clean leadership... not corrupt ones who only think of themselves... especially those who are caught with suitcases of cash!

Monday, February 2, 2009

40 million to lose jobs...

That's the estimate of the number of people who will lose their jobs because of the current economic recession... going to be the worst recession since WWII....kinda depressing actually to know that the economy is slowing down and grinding to a halt in some places and many people will be affected. As it stands 11 million in the US have lost their jobs...and the number is set to rise. For Malaysia, the worst is yet to come.

But it is fascinating to learn that some countries are in heavy debt because of the excessive spending during expansion of boom times... Iceland is one such example and the gahmen there has collapsed under the huge debts that it amassed during the good years! And amidst this catastrophe, the media saw the news worthiness in proclaiming the new PM's sexual preference... that she's gay! Going to be the first gay premier in the world!

Whatever happened to the old fashioned ways of saving up some your income?? Keeping some for a rainy day?? Guess while the going was good, spend, spend and spend....the money has got to go into someone's pocket, right?

And it's also logic defying to see Wall Street dishing out USD18 billion as bonuses to its staff end of last year... goes to show, in this modern and sophisticated economy that we've created through the likes of Adam Smith and John Maynard Keynes, the man on the street is still on the receiving end... he gets nothing while the people who controls the stock marts and financial institutions reward themselves unashamedly as the world spins into recession. Then, they, with their pockets full, outwardly lament the difficult times and appeal for help from governments... and they say to save the little people... oh crap! It's to gather as much as possible for their own hide first and then leave the crumbs for the little people!

The excesses are there. They need to be trimmed. Recession gives companies reasons to retrench, close, relocate.... you name it. Just as in the oil prices went northbound crazily and then for equally crazy reasons, went plummeting within a few months. Demand and supply theories have no place here. Greed does... speculation working overtime. All that money lost.... they can't simply evaporate into thin air, can it? Someone's got to be pocketing it.

Many tend to think that the days to come are going to get tougher... generally a gloomy outlook.

But this is one bitter pill that needs to be taken. We need to weed out the excessive practices from those fat years which make us complacent as well as inefficient. It also trims of the excesses of societies grown fat on cheap labour and easy money, questionable practices.... some soul searching is needed before things can become right again.

I used to think that globalization is good.... I'm not so sure anymore. Once upon a time, things operated within a smaller territory; these days the world becomes everyone's playground. Hence, when institutions like Lehman collapsed, even solid banks like DBS got very badly burnt! So when speculators speculate, small people like us suffer. 8( Globalization compounds that...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Roundup CNY 2009

It's back to work for me and as far as I'm concerned, this marks the end of the CNY celebrations...though there's still a week more to go before Chap Goh Mei.

Year of the Ox... it rained and rained in Sitiawan. Usually it's very hot during CNY but the last 2 years have seen more than their fair share of rain, in CTA1. No such luck in sunny Alor Star.

Anyway, we stayed longer than usual this time around. My gal had a great time with one of her cousins. They're both almost the same age, so they click well.
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My highlights would be these...

Meeting up with old friends. I usually don't get to meet people cos we leave early, by the second day. Plus, being the ladies... there're all sorts of valid excuses; no time; need to cook, take care of the kids, daughter-in-law duties, daughter duties etc, etc. I realize that for us ladies, to meet up with friends at such times takes more effort cos we have more things on our hands most of the time.

The guys don't usually see to all the nitty gritty stuff. So, they're freer to hang out. You actually have to make time, which is not easy! Cos sometimes, you may draw stares from your MIL! Sometimes you just don't feel like it. But I am glad that we met up... kinda made my trip complete this time.

We used to spend so much time together.... those days during our age of innocence. Friendship made those days carry with it that special innocence too. The best part is we've not changed much on the inside... on the outside, aiyo!!! All of us are bigger now! LOL!!! No more the petite gals we once were! Anyway, before we parted ways, we told each other that we'll make efforts to stay in touch more often.

Also, had our usual gathering with Other Half's family. It's good for my kids to get acquainted with the Grand Aunties, uncles, aunties, cousins and second cousins. Roots discovery time. 8)
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Trips around town.... CNY is usually the time when we have extra time to do such things. Otherwise, it's usually a quickie trip....everything short on time. I can easily get lost in my hometown now.... And I used to pride myself in knowing the big and little roads! So many new roads and turnings; housing estates, shops.... the rubber estates are shrinking! But in all these development, there are still many idyllic spots of old.

Came back and had a sausage party... we managed to order these 'homemade' sausages from an old school friend. They were quite good!!! Anyway each family brought something, kinda like a potbless thing. Good food and wine, followed by good conversations.This was with 3 other families. It's nice to be able to sit down with the young people of each family. We dared Onnie to eat the larvae of a wasp.... since he had done the sago larvae thing... No such bravado...LOL!

So, how'd I rate this round of festivities? It's very okay... to be able to spend some time with family and friends. That's the essence of New Year! So bring on the bull and we'll be trying our best to take it by its horns!