Thursday, April 30, 2009

Malaysian History..

Ask any of our Malaysian student if they like History and most of the time you'll get an emphatic No! It is a subject disliked by many students for a simple reason. Cos one has to read! And read! And read! Rote kinda learning. And then there is also the perception that our history text books is biased, which I think is true. Many of the kids I know say History is boring too.
F5 History Text
I think history as a subject is important. Of the many subjects taught, this is perhaps one of the few if not the only subject where one learns about life. Apart from giving us an intellectual run around, it also explains to us the whys and the hows of our identity. History has a civic function. It shapes us and prepares us for nationhood. Nationhood is not possible without the study of history. But to me, the most important thing one gets out of studying history is probably humility. We should be humbled by the the folly committed by Man over and over again, over the centuries. We should be humbled by the fall of great empires.. which seemed to be repeating itself without fail; Roman, Chinese, Turkish, etc, etc. History keeps repeating itself cos each generation lives life all over again. Only the wise learns to avoid the same mistakes... but there are few among us.. 8(

Studying history is like learning philosophy. You are supposed to learn from the mistakes of the past and avoid making them. But Man is foolish... we keep treading the same path. Think of the rites to adulthood and the inevitable - death... the rise (and fall) of an empire takes that same path. So, History as a subject in school should be interesting and fun.... cos we learn about life. But in our Malaysian schools it is not. It is a subject of regurgitation, one learns without much thought. It doesn't educate. It only fills the brain temporarily and then is disregarded after exam ends!

Recently Tun Dr. M has this to say about knowing your history to avoid making the same mistakes. But are our text books accurate? Do we teach history from a fair perspective? Our history is skewed, written to serve our political masters. When I was younger, we learned about Hang Tuah and his 5 friends, the Malacca Sultanate and so on. Then we find out that Hang Tuah may not have been who he was... whatever happened to all the romantic adventures that we grew up with? They're still there, only thing is we don't talk much about them these days cos the skin colour of the main actors have become somewhat lighter! LOL! If we are truly 1Malaysia we'd been proud of them just the same.

Similarly, we learned that JWW Birch was killed because he campurtangan dalam adat Melayu. And the children are also taught that the adat in question here enslaved people and Birch was trying to rid the system of that. Then we laud Maharaja Lela and his followers (who were doing the bidding of the Sultan) for having the guts to kill Birch because of his interference. Wasn't Birch trying to eradicate something bad? *scratch head*

In Form One, a student is taught that interpretation of an event is influenced by a historian's perspective. So, I guess our young kids are taught that killing Birch because he interfered with a bad practice was necessary because from that historian's perspective, it was the right thing to do. *scratch head again* What I find difficult to understand is why not give another reason for his killing?... unless of course, the orang putih actually weren't that bad. The power shift here seemed better for the rakyat. The rakyat did not do the murdering. We didn't read much about how the rakyat felt, the ground swell so to say. For all we know, the orang putih's interference may have been better for the average Ali, Ahmad and Ah Seng on the denai. After all, the pembesar had no more rights to take any pretty lass and turn her into his sex slave or any strong young fler to work his fields. Life became kinda nicer for these rakyat biasa, right? The plot to kick out the orang putih was done by the golongan istana. So what is right and wrong, here? Perspective plays a big role.

Hence the civic function of educating and shaping the young minds fall short of the moral absolutes.

Even in the run to the formation of the Federated Malay States, the role of the Sultans in the rebellions against the East India Company... the actual colonization which took place after the WW2, facts presented never seems quite balanced. We are reminded that the Brits were the colonialists. It was an era of making money... very much like our era now too. UMNO is also doling out contracts and tenders...

The tin mines and rubber plantations were money churning industries (these days, it's the APs, contracts, etc). They came, they plundered. What did the Sultans do? Gave in to the demands rather than fight. After all, that would enable them to continue living a good life in the palace. Meanwhile, the fight for freedom were led by the lower echelon leaders.... probably equivalent to grassroot leaders by today's definition.

But if you look around us, much of what was written in this era seems to be repeating themselves again too.. only this time all the main actors are local. But the plundering and pillaging still go on, albeit with more sophistication. Tun Dr. M is right, we should learn our history, and learn it the right way. Then each of us will truly benefit from the insights and wisdom gained and perhaps leave behind a truly worthy legacy....

So it's back to the Humpty Dumpty thingy... it's not what it's supposed to be but what I want it to be.... Anyway, I think how our history text book is written also reflects the true colour of the gahmen... when the learning of History unites and not divide, then maybe, just maybe, 1Malaysia, Bangsa Malaysia, Anak Malaysia... will work! My one sen!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Have we gone 'sesat'??

A beautiful school... is what many of us would like to work in. But in the last decade or so, schools in Alor Setar seem to be in a frenzy of sorts going overboard beautifying their premises.

We always teach our kids that resources must be used wisely.Our resources are limited and it is our job to see to it that they are properly managed to benefit everyone. There are only that many hours we spend in schools. And each of us can only do so much... add that to our teaching duties, I think our minds will get rather frayed if we have to diverge our attention to other matters in school. Spending too much time and money on plants, paints, wrapping papers divert us from our main task. And the paperwork.... going paperless is a fallacy. There seems to be more paperwork now then when I first entered the profession almost 2 decades ago.

Any teacher will tell you, facing 30-40 students in the class is no easy task. If you really want them to turn out well, it takes a lot of your patience..... making sure you go through each kid's work, that they don't get away with not doing any work... in short it saps you. Think parenting! This is parenting on a lesser and greater scale. Lesser in the sense you don't see them 365 days a year. Greater in the sense there're 30 odd of them with different characters. You need to deal with each one in a different way sometimes. If you think parenting teenagers is exhausting, think how the teachers who really put in the effort with the students feel at the end of the day.

Then the administrators come up with all the plans of grandiose. Mini gardens, 'house-like' environment in the classrooms, endless nice looking filings.. projects that make the school look really good on the outside. And who do they entrust these projects to?? Yup! The teachers! Us poor sods!

Hence a dilemma, not the making of the teacher, but of school heads. To concentrate on classroom teaching or beautifying the school? The latter is always more attractive cos it requires less of everything else but rewards handsomely. If 'your' garden is the nicest, then praises and accolades are heaped on you, unlike the 'unseen' results of educating children. In fact, it might even land you your next APC! LOL! Some may argue that you can do both... but I think we can only do so much. Something else must give. And usually after all the hours at school are exhausted, it eats into your personal.

I think programmes to beautify a school is okay as long as it doesn't go overboard. A school should be presentable. But a school should have right priorities in place and it should be priorities on the right things; not those which serves like a make-up. Remove it and you'll find ugly stuff down there.

The rot in our education system... it's such a sad affairs of the state. One, of our own making...

Recently Ministry Officials were in town to check out the schools to be redesignated as cluster schools. Those schools on the list went on a frenzy - filing, putting on skirts to all the furniture with legs, painting, mowing the grass...

It should be an easy thing to do, awarding the cluster school thingy - look at the results the schools produce - academic and non. Not all those pseudo files. I was at Keat Hwa 1 last week and was shocked at how its appearance had changed. It seemed to have put in much time and effort in upgrading its appearance. Skirts were everywhere! Monkey see, monkey do - in a land where awards and promotion are based on appearance than substance! And like the swine flu, it's spreading like an epidemic.

This is just one of many ails of our schools....

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Universities in Malaysia..

I've forgotten that we have this many public universities... when I attended uni, there were only 6, UUM being the newest spanking uni then. Today there are so many that it is difficult to remember their names.

And this is the time of the year when many are looking into furthering their studies.. and many are waiting for the outcome of their applications for matriculation, JPA scholarships, etc, etc... and many will be disappointed and end up in Form 6, especially the non-bumis.
Our public universities
  1. Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (Johor)
  2. Universiti Tun Hussein Onn (Johor)
  3. Universiti Utara Malaysia (Kedah)
  4. Universiti Malaysia Kelantan
  5. Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia (KL)
  6. Universiti Malaya (KL)
  7. Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka
  8. Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (NS)
  9. Universiti Malaysia Pahang
  10. Universiti Sains Malaysia (PP)
  11. Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (Perak)
  12. Universiti Malaysia Perlis
  13. Universiti Malaysia Sabah
  14. Universiti Malaysia Sarawak
  15. Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia (Selangor)
  16. Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (Selangor)
  17. Universiti Teknologi MARA (Selangor)
  18. Universiti Putra Malaysia (Selangor)
  19. Universiti Darul Iman Malaysia (Terengganu)
  20. Universiti Malaysia Terengganu
But none of them is in the top 200 of the THES ranking of universities in the world. UM used to be one of the best universities in Asia. I remember being proud to be one of her undergrads. But even at that time, her glory was fading. It was difficult for the non-Bumis to gain entrance. Our grades had to much better to just get a place. Competition was keen among us to get one of those much coveted places. Right now this is the ranking: They are Universiti Malaya (ranked 240), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (250), Universiti Putra Malaysia (320) and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (356) while Universiti Sains Malaysia (313).

The scenario hasn't changed much even though it's been almost 2 decades. Competition is still keen among the non-Bumis... but it is also now also keen among the Bumis due to the proliferation of Matriculation Colleges. It's easier to ace the exams at Matriculation Colleges as their exams are internal and the scope of the syllabus, narrower. STPM is a more difficult path. Some say STPM is the 3rd hardest exam at its level in the world! But because of the difficulty, it sorts of toughens one up. And because you're up against a lot, you've got to be consistent, diligent, resilient, etc. It can be quite a defining time of one's life.

I'd like to see Najib carry out his 1Malaysia spirit here in the award of scholarships. The outcomes for the applications for those post Form 5 people are trickling out. My observation within my constraints... So far, the indication still is if you are Malay it is more likely that you will get more than one offer. Most of Malay students who have done well would get multiple offers while the nons would be lucky if they have one. And mind you, I'm talking about kids whose parents come from the same socio-economic backgrounds. It would be good to see his 1Malaysia at work here

But it is also sad to see how quality in our own local institutions has deteriorated over the years and how we have failed to check the slide. While institutions in our neighbouring countries have climbed up the ranking, we have gone the opposite direction. It speaks volumes of our country's policies. A good policy brings better everything... a lousy policy will only see one direction... a downward spiral. NEP is one contributing factor. It cripples and stifles. It gives a false sense of well-being to one group of people. It makes another group more resilient. But it creates discord and snubs fair play. In our Rukunegara... the first principle... Kepercayaan Kepada Tuhan. We teach our kids that God is the master of inequality? Or we tell them, it's okay... we play God out too.

Since I'm at it, look at No 3, Keluhuran Perlembagaan -It's laughable what's happening in Perak.

At No 4, Kedaulatan Undang-Undang - Kugan-gate, the murder case of the woman with no name.. or how some quarters feel they are above the law or they deserve immunity... we forget come into this world with nothing, so shall you leave.

At No 5, Kesopanan dan Kesusilaan... look at how our Parliamentarians behave in and out of the Parliament.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Co-Curricular Activities

Co-curricular in schools today... it is incorporated into the time table, as into 'lesson-proper'. At mine, Wednesday mornings (7.30 - 9.00 a.m.) is such a time. I've always wondered the wisdom of this timing. I think carrying it out during the last 2 periods when the students are already restless might be better timing. But maybe the people who planned this know something I don't.

So if that particular Wednesday is Uniformed Body Day, all of them would wear their uniformed bodies' outfits. But this is Malaysia, where the weather is hot and humid. Can you imagine students wearing those heavy jackets (like that of the Fire Brigade) from 7.30 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. in such weather? How to study with the body perspiring or sticky all the time?

As for sports... they're also carried out because we must. Students hardly do real training these days. You only need to watch the relay run to get what I mean. Moreover many teachers also don't know the techniques in many of the events. PE was a compulsory module for us teachers when we were undergoing training. I don't know whether they were paying attention. Anyway, sports is so dead in many schools. Most of the 'athletes' don't even know how to pass the baton. Many schools try to clear off Sports Day as early as possible in the year so that they can proceed with our 'kelas tambahan'. I pity those students who are bodily-kinesthetically more inclined. They don't seem to have a place to develop further in our education system. Our edu system seems to recognize one type of intelligence.... scoring in exams. We've forgotten that school is supposed to be a place to bring the best out of an individual in other areas too. We seem to have forgotten Gardner's 9 intelligence types too.

Schools don't seem to be churning out sports stars these days. Most are products of organizations or associations. Kedah used to be a powerhouse in badminton. It was the Kedah Badminton Association who was responsible for unearthing the talents.... not the schools. I think Tan Boon Heong was one such talent as are some of the juniors.

It's the same too for those with other abilities like musical inclination. Having talent time these days are frowned upon as an activity that will degrade the students' moral... this is more so in national schools. Tongues wag when students have a little fun on stage. I think we forget that these are young people and they need outlets. So, music related activities, if at all carried out, are conservative and dull. Sometimes some people think enjoying, laughing, listening and watching concerts with songs and dances is also a sin. We have a lot of teachers with the holier than thou attitude these days. They seem to be blind to their own shortcomings but wag their tongues aplenty.

So it was actually quite refreshing to see this little performance while I was in Keat Hwa I recently. I think this is a good outlet for some of the students to show off their talents, to feel a sense of achievement too. Achievement is not only for those who score A(s) or can play games. It's also for those who are good in other things - dancing, singing, drawing, music. Notice that the environment is freer in KH1. Maybe that's why they've been able to produce singers and actresses of international calibre, not just 'A' students. If it were to be in national schools, heads will shake, tongues wag....
And while I was there too, there was this MSSD Basketball going on. From the sound of the cheering, I guess the students were cheering for their school team. Schools should organize events they're strong in so that their students get a chance to cheer for their school team. That's where the seeds of patriotism are planted. Also camaraderie, sportsmanship, team spirit, kekitaan, etc, etc... Sports is one area which teaches lots of good stuff...

But some frown upon letting the students out of the class to watch such activities as they feel it creates more problems at schools such indiscipline. But it is also odd that the said schools will take students out of class for activities like beautifying the school - gardening is one such activity. But if you asked me, this is more make some people look good when some big shot comes for visits. Students are free labour. Many hands make light work... so many students, instant gardens can spring up.

So, schools should do some soul searching... these are kids we're dealing with. Do we want the best for them? Or do we want to use them the best way that benefits us? I think many schools these days border the second.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hanging around in Titi Hayun... and Steamboat

Went to this place end of last year. Had the opportunity to hang around the same place over the weekend. Had some 'work thingy' to attend in Yan and lunch was at this place as it was only a few minutes' drive from where we were holding it.
So took some pics of the chalets this time around since the previous visit was to the 'untouched by development' area; where rubbish abound. We had lunch, picnic-style in one of the huts.
This is a man made pool that collects water is then sent cascading downwards. The water looks dirty but it's not. It's water collected from the river. Since water is everywhere I think they harness it too for daily use. Notice too that the water that comes out from the tap was yellowish in colour. Water in this area is reddish... some say because the iron content is higher here.
More pics of the area. This place is clean unlike the picnic areas which were strewn with rubbish the last time I was there. We didn't venture far as we were too tired to climb. Went only as far as the hanging bridge. No visit is complete without walking on it. LOL! While we were there, noticed some students there. A school was having a motivational course there. It's the in-thing now, such courses. Taking them away from school, putting them in such kind of place and then 'brainwash' some senses into them with the hope that they will be motivated to do something for themselves.

Came back late in the evening and did a quick 40 winks as I was dead tired. But I think I didn't even get to 40 cos it was time to go.
Night we had a makan together at a friend's place.... steamboat. And there was plenty of food.....

And mee suah... boiled and then mixed with some garlic oil.
So from the hall to the kitchen, we ate.... second and third rounds we ate. With steamboat one can go many rounds. 8) And we also moved the pots from the hall to the kitchen... LOL! By the time the stomachs were filled and we got home, it was already quite late. I still have some rum balls which Ah Ho made which I've yet to try. And Lil Gal came back with a dog which can sing!

10.42 p.m.
Tried the rum balls.. and as usual...IT'S GOOD! 8)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Canon Ixus 110 IS

This was an unexpected acquisition... Son broke our Canon IXUS 860... and this is not the first he's broken. 8( I am so banning him from using this new one!)

Form wise, Other Half doesn't like this new Ixus. The only reason we got this was at my insistence because earlier as we were discussing about the various models, he said this one has a faster lense... 2.8 as opposed to 3.2. He preferred the 100 IS which was sleeker. Anyway, these are all jargons to me.. whiter/darker lense, bigger aperture. In the end, I said I could live with a not so sleek looking pns camera... as long as it is good. He has his DSLR, anyway.

Well, after two days of trying... have this to say. The form may not be there but the performance is quite good. There is marked improvement over our old Ixus. Auto focus is now really auto focus... 8) Just need to point and it auto adjusts immediately. By the time you press to shoot, it's already focused. The modes are also auto. Point at something near, it switches to Macro. Turn the camera to somebody's face and the Portrait mode kicks in. No need for Idiot's Guide. The auto mode memang for idiots. LOL! No need to fumble for the right settings with the buttons. It's all there on auto. Their auto is really auto. Kah! Kah! Kah!
This is Kuala Kedah in the evening... taken with Sunset mode. Usually the sunset is breathtaking here but ominous clouds were everywhere that evening. Oh ya! As for viewing the photos... shake the camera and the next pic comes on!
LinkSweet Sour Crab
This was part of dinner.. sweet sour crab at Oasis. Macro shot if I'm not wrong... with this one, you can bring it really close and still get a clear shot. Last we came here was July last year, before the girls left for their studies. Other Half and I took our gal there for dinner... just the 3 of us. It's always fun to take her cos she is usually game to try anything new. 8) Bro is the opposite. The rest of the other stuff like stabilizer, etc, etc.. on the camera; all there and tweaked for better perfomance. Of course-lah! Otherwise how to sell!
Tesco Phone Fair
Also, night shots inside are sharp, unless of course in really dark situations. This was at Tesco. They were having some phone fair there. This pic is taken without the flash. These days, put a few small booths together and then play some loud blaring music... they call it a fair. But it takes only 5 minutes to walk the whole thing. Other Half said it looked like a car boot sale. All the booths were so small. And there were like 6 or 7 of them; maybe less. For all you know, they could be from the same company.

Funny thing, one of the signs there was promoting for Celcom... it said even if one is blacklisted, they'll still give a line. This is Malaysia Boleh style... don't pay, get blacklisted... and now they openly say still can. *scratch head* What is there to deter people from getting black listed? Mere words!

Video is great for a small little compact like this. This was zoomed in... so clarity is somewhat compromised. Quality is good when it is uploaded onto the computer.. supposed to be 'semi' HighDef... something like this. But we tried taking a few at church when we went to pick Son... it was definitely better than our previous model. I'd rate it as a good buy - if you can live with the form! Of course Other Half keeps harping about the form... especially the back which he says looks kinda cacat.

BTW... new swine fever in Mexico... schools are being closed. Not good... not good at all. Reminds me of SARS.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Makan-Makan Alor Setar: Lam Seng Restaurant

This is another place that we sometimes go for dinner, especially with friends.
We've been following the cook round Alor Setar for a couple of years, from the days when they operated in Tmn Derga Jaya, then in Lorong Merpati (known as the Red Bubble Cafe) and now here; a journey of almost 10 years. Here now is Jln Putra. There is another restaurant by the name Red Bubble Cafe along Persiaran Sultan Abdul Hamid but it's a different establishment.
This is the view from our dinner table. Across the road is SMK Tunku Abdul Rahman (STAR). Big school with nice sprawling grounds. Can't miss this restaurant cos it's just before Maybank (coming from town). Take note of the street light in the pic - rumour had it that each of these street lights cost around RM5-6K. These street lights were fixed up to replace the perfectly okay, old but not so elaborate lights some years ago. The ones who won the tender to fix them up must have made tonnes. But that was during another gahmen's time.
Food is not fancy but they are reasonable. We usually take their curry fish which is one of their signature dishes. You can also bring your own fresh stuff for them to cook. We've done it with fish, prawns, squids.....
Dinner for 4 was RM40 for 4 dishes. It would have been okay if not for the pesky flies which seemed to be attracted to the sambal asparagus.
It's also at this place that I learn to order drinks by the number. This is 932, basically a pickled lime drink. It's supposed to be quite popular, I was told.
And this was after dinner sky. Breathtaking, ain't it? But turn 180 degrees around, the sky the other side was colourless. And I count around 50k worth of street lights just from this one pic. The last vestiges of the setting sun, the sky's a reddish hue.. in its wondrous glory.... yellow, orange, red.. the last 3 colours of the rainbow.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Friends... my life is richer because of them. God is good to me. He's sent friends in different shapes and sizes. Some are far, some near. I've some friends whom I see almost every day and those I see occasionally. But I've also friends whom I've not seen for a really long time but we're still in touch. But all of them do one same thing for me... they enrich my life. So, if any of you fit into any of the 3 groups up there and are reading this... thank you for your friendship. They mean a lot to me. My life has been made better because of your friendship.

A friend of mine told me recently after a loss. She told me friends are important. They ease the pain during difficult times. The original word for friend is freon which means 'to love'. A friend loves at all times.....Proverbs 17:17.

I've a friend whom I can call at odd hours (daylight-lah, of course) of the day when I need a driver to drive me around to run my errands. Yesterday, I had a few errands to run in town... and so little time. Came back at 3.10 p.m., called this friend.. asked her whether she needed to pay any bills. Then I said I had a big udang behind my rock... I needed someone to drive me around. 10 minutes later, my ride was outside my house. And I ran 5 errands in one hour just before the offices closed at 4.45p.m. Even had time to stop by the kuih shop to buy some tea home for my kids some more. All in slightly over an one hour! 8) Would not have been possible had I gone on my own. This same friend is one whom I can leave my marketing list and when I come home from work, the stuff would be in my freezer or when I have a need, deposit my kids at her place.

I've a friend who will invite us over to her house (or we go out for dinner) for a usually super delicious home cooked meal. And also get pies, cakes and all sorts of goodies sent over to our house. My kids and us are blessed to be able to savour all those goodies.... their ma can't do those stuff! They've been blessed many times over through their stomachs... which stems from the heart of gold of a friend.

I've my 2 young friends, whom are like my own. Watched them grow, mature and blossom. Been there for me in some of my difficult moments... and one feels young with young friends. 8)

I've a friend whom I can do 'crazy' stuff at work such as bringing stuff to cook. Our latest fare was fish porridge. Don't ask how we managed but we did! Or stand by some of the more difficult stands that I sometimes make.... I've a penchant for being a bit off the normal block sometimes... often times creating unwarranted bad vibes for myself... but to have friends stand by me for the right reasons...

I've a friend whom I've not seen for years, yet her kids and I chat with each other from across the ocean as with that sort of familiarity that one usually gets from face to face contacts. Technology has a big part to play but it also has to do with the heart not losing that bit of innocence from the youth of yesteryears.... I often times touch base with my youthful idealism as a result... cos a friend like this is a reminder from the past of what we stood for, what we were taught.

I've a friend whom I see occasionally, another one from my kiddy years... and sometimes when I need favours for my parents, I can still feel comfortable to pick up the phone and ask...

I've a friend who would go the extra mile when my kids need someone to go the extra mile with them. Even when it meant giving up their free day to come and spend that time with my troubled kid.

And I've a friend who has been my soul mate these last 20 years (well almost). We've build a life together, dream dreams...

I've a friend.... to be able to say that. That feels good. Life is about relationships. Our relationship with our fellow man also reflects our relationship with our Maker.

Friends... to be able to just make this list up is a blessing... because of you, my friends I hope I've become a better person. God bless you all!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


I have been at wits end trying to get my students to write comprehensible sentences.. yup! Their English is so bad that despite 7 years in school, majority of them can't even string together a few simple sentences to form a paragraph. And that is the best class in the form! Where have all the years been lost?

I'm fussy and I make sure that my students do their corrections after each exercise. Lately I've begun noticing that among my lower form students, corrections are just mere exercises for them. It doesn't seem to do much good. So, I made a mental note to carry out a little study of my own. Out of 10 books with corrections, 8 of the supposedly corrected work still contained errors... some, the same errors.

So, I started hauling them up one by one; all boys! The chronic cases (and there are many) were made to do their corrections in front of the classroom; where I could see and monitor. But it is very tiring. I went through each book after completion.... in detail. I warned my students that from then, any wrong corrections would earn them more writing of the same. What did I hope to achieve? For them to develop an attitude of taking note of their mistakes. But it may be an act of futility. Sometimes after a lesson like this, I ask myself why I'm still flogging dead horses.

Lesson for me today... I've realised that majority of my kids don't pay attention to their own mistakes. Learning doesn't take place as a result. They complete the work because they had to, not because they want to. When I first started with this class, I went by trust and found out that many were not passing up their books after a while. Then I came down hard... each book not handed in would earn an 'honoured seat' on the floor... compliance went up. Work, at least, got done. A little learning takes place.... what next?

We are all so screwed up by a system that does not instill a love for knowledge. Learning becomes a chore... and also a bore. Take Pendidikan Moral for example... I cannot see the sense in memorizing all those 36 nilai-nilai murni. It's not going to make the students any better. English is so far gone that I think we've our own Malaysian pidgin version. BM is so high standard that I wonder whether they want to turn the kids into linguists. Sejarah contains so many perceived biasness that it feels like a propaganda tool. It's hard to undo 6 years of 'damage' and worse still we inflict another 5 years of such empty academic pursuits.

Was reading about this group of people who homeschool their kids. One kid said something to this extent.... "sometimes we didn't realize that we were learning."... It must have been fun for this kid to learn. That we have failed to do, especially for the younger ones.

My own girl is 'languishing' in primary school. We put her in a Chinese school cos we see no other better options.... or call it kiasu-ness, maybe. She is struggling with her Mandarin and BM. But she enjoys reading, playing and exploring with her toys... she has an inquisitive mind. But her daily routine is so rigidly controlled by the amount of her homework. I used to tell a friend that we did not want to send her to multiple nurseries / kindergartens in her pre-school years cos we felt that her childhood would end the day she started formal schooling. So far, I think we're not that far off.

But we have to make sure she plods on.... I wish our edu system is more flexible especially for the young ones, when they can be convinced that learning is fun. Seeing my students in their current state makes me more convinced that being so exam oriented is not making them any better. So the plan for more school based assessments is maybe a good move... Anyway, exams are no guarantee for success....

Next... to change the mindset and quality of the teachers....

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

24 Hour Banking... The Hazards

Lesson learned... try not to bank in money into the teller machine on a non-working day. Cos if your money gets stuck... you have to wait until the next working day to know for sure whether your money has gone into your account.

And dealing with the countless so called bank officers. They expect us to understand, I expect them to do their job.. their machine jammed.. I did what I should... called their Call Centre....lodged the necessary complaints. Their job is to see to it... but there is never the ideal.

Now this is at Hong Leong Bank Teluk Wanjah... tried to bank in money via the CDM machine on a weekend and my cash got stuck. Their machines have this habit of doing this more often than usual, I understand. I immediately called the Service Centre in KL and was entertained by a sweet sounding lady... who could only asked me to understand. Only their machines and Customer Relations Officers work on weekends. No choice; so I waited.

Monday morning came... first thing I did was to remind Other Half to call. I was told at 9.30 a.m. that they had 'found' my money and will be making the deposit on my behalf soon.... I checked an hour later but no deposit yet.

So I called the bank again. Was greeted by a lady who told me that I must understand as the tellers were still not free to bank in my money yet. They said they had to count the money first... I thought the computer would have recorded the transactions. And the last bundle would have been identifiable... Took them the whole morning to count. A few calls and a lunch later, I checked my account. Again no deposit. Try to compare this to how fast they work when it's time to charge you interest.... and then frustrations will build up. The lady had the cheek tell me to understand. I hope the next time anything happens to her through no fault of hers and she is told to understand after being made to wait... she'll understand.

The money was in the bank all along... been stuck there over the weekend and now that they've counted.... the tellers are not free to bank in yet as they were busy entertaining the walk in clients.

I could compare HLB with Public Bank which is just down the same road whose service is fast and efficient. Counter service... you can have 3 people ahead of you in HLB... it's the same as having 6 people in PBB. That's how slow they are. Sometimes I think they do it on purpose so that people don't use the counter services. Noticed this pattern ever since their unions demanded for extra pay a while ago... when the civil servants got their pay raise.

Anyway, the last time something like this happened to me at HSBC, I didn't do any chasing.. The guard explained to me that it sometimes happens. After I got home, they called me to tell me that they were aware that the CDM jammed during my transaction. They asked for the amount and said my account would be deposited once they sorted it out. And even though I had to wait... I didn't mind. Cos they were on top of things.... this glokal bank of ours??? Still very local in their mindset and way of working.... dunno where the 'g' got sesat.

What to do... never mind... poor service... I supposed I could stop using their services also.. *sigh* Small people like us.... these banks behave like we owe it to them. Some semblance to a political party, don't you think...

Monday, April 20, 2009

From the MacTop of a MacNewbie... Part 2

Part 1 (here)..... My first MacBook, a milestone I should think. After all it took almost 25 years! I think it has been quite well utilized. After 13 months of almost daily usage, my verdict - I think I'd be sticking to it. My HP Compaq nx9040 (courtesy of the PPSMI programme) has been in cold storage most of that 13 months. I only take it out when I need to use IE to log into work related sites which were so rigidly written for IE. Seems to me those programmers don't know of anything else except IE.

As for my PC at home, it only sees light when Son uses it even though it is a more superior system in terms of hardware compared to my Mac.
First, the cool factor since this is one of Apple's pull factor... Me? I'm not that particular. Main concern is the ease of use. And on that count, I think it has matched or if not bettered the PC on many counts. The interface is cool enough but that can be emulated on the PC now. So no big deal. I'm comfortable taking it around in a sleeve that doesn't look like it contains a computer. It's small and light enough while big enough for use.
The new aluminium MacBook seems even thinner than mine and definitely won't be smudging like mine. White may be nice but it needs maintenance. Am drooling over this new version.

I hardly switch off my Mac. I like the flip open thing and you're on. Was enthralled by this feature since Doogie Howser, M.D. days; how at the end of this young genius' working day, he'd push his Mac's button and his journal screen came on! Talk about subtle product placement! LOL! You can do that with Windows too, I know but somehow this seems so Mac thingy. I know I am being bias here. He! He!

I still use Office not because I do not want to use Numbers or Pages but because my documents and spreadsheets sometimes become promiscuous and wander into other comps, which are currently 100% from the Dark Force. I read that there are some problems with the merge data on Numbers and Page but I've yet to get down to it. Once I migrate fully, I fear I will create a zone of exclusiveness for my data. That may translate to double work for me.

I've used Keynote, though. And I must say it beats PowerPoint hands down. The transitions and effects are impressive enough. Other Half has downloaded lotsa templates for me. The final product of Keynote is definitely nicer too. We did the Church Dedication presentation with it. Else Other Half would've needed to use Flash.

The iLife pack is very user friendly... iDVD is convenient for making photo albums. Very easy to put in everything - captions, music, photos. For an amateur like me, I can produce quite pro looking DVD albums. Kinda like the 'An Idiot's Guide' thingy where Mac is concerned. Music editing with Garage Band is a breeze. iMovie is also easy to use. iTunes needs no introduction.
Also Mac has all these cute programmes like the Dashboard and Spaces which, I feel, are typical of the Apple wow factors. With the new aluminium MacBook, I notice that all these can be called up at a touch of one button, instead of 2 on mine. As a result my screen is rather clean of icons, widgets etc. They can be called up with just a touches of buttons. There are still lots of the Mac's capabilities which I've not explored.

Oh ya! I love the iPhoto. The latest version has face detection incorporated. You are supposed to be able to call up photos with one particular person should the need arises. Organizing photos with iPhoto is a breeze cos you practically need to do nothing except enter the title of the set of photos. I like the way I can view and print them all in an orderly manner. And in making a DVD, all these in the iLife pack seem to work rather seamlessly. No need to cari here and there.

But the best thing about Mac I suppose is it doesn't hang; no blue screen of death! I've not had a single one the past year! The second best thing is the little threat of virus infiltration. Mac users are still in the minority. So there are my reasons for sticking to Mac for now. It's pricier than the PC but if you don't mind plonking your small fortune on it, it's quite well worth it. Now... anyone out there want to get me an iMac??? ... this coming from a quarter century PC diehard-ist who is gushing about the Apple.

So if you are considering an adventure out of the PC domain and be enlightened, do.... you most likely will enjoy the journey into the light! LOL!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Lot Seven's Revival & Makan at Swan Swan

Have not gone to Lot Seven for makan in a long while. A couple of years ago, it was one of the more popular places to go for hawker fare in Alor Setar. But in recent years, it kinda lost its lustre. Eventually we also stopped going there cos many of the stalls started to move out and somehow the food just didn't seem that nice anymore. The kids and I did end up there once or twice to eat the bbq-ed 'helicopter' and other shell stuff.
On Friday, we went out with the the Lohs (minus the gals) and I noticed that the place looks brighter now. A revival of the good ol' days in the making? The adjacent new PMC building has been completed and is now awaiting the OC. Once it's operational, the place is going to be really busy and the food joints beside will most definitely get a booster from the increase in human traffic.
We had dinner at Swan Swan. The cook who used to cook there has moved next door. The former runs another food joint under his own name now - Jai Huat. Swan Swan is now run by a niece of Mol's friend. So we went on her recommendation.
Food was quite good. First time I am seeing a 2 in 1 dish; apparently an in thing now. Supposed to give the patrons value for money. This is chicken...fried spicy and with some honey sauce. I only had one small piece as I was preoccupied with another dish.
Beancurd with sauce and just fried as it is. Not too bad, this one. Even small restaurants also try to work on their presentation now. But this is definitely something quite different from a restaurant like this.
This was our main preoccupation. Black pomfret in thick curry. Quite delicious; tasty and just right. The curry was still bubbling when it was served. A generous portion of the curry on white rice was really quite mouth watering. The night was humid and each mouthful also meant us breaking into sweats! I tahpau the balance home for Son to eat with roti canai as he was at his youth meet.
Another version of seafood mix cooked in claypot. Usually can't go wrong with this dish and they didn't. It was quite good. Also one of my favourite dishes but high in cholesterol.

All the above plus another veg dish and drinks for 7 of us was less than RM60. We brought our own pomfret. I'd say it was very reasonably priced. People in KL probably would burn a hole in their pockets for a meal like this. 8) But this is small time Alor Setar... la! la! la! *skips off singing*

Saturday, April 18, 2009

From the MacTop of a MacNewbie... Part 1

From the MacTop of a one-year-old MacUser. Been a PC user for almost 25 years. Touched my first computer at 16. Hah! So, 16 was kinda digitally memorable too. LOL! Supposed to be the beginning of many firsts in one's life. Anyway, school had a computer club then under Mr Loh Keok Seng (I hope I got his name right). I learned some BASIC programming.. but forgotten everything liao. And the following year I became the Prez of the Comp Club. 8)

In uni, I had access to a PC as Bro was studying IT. It was quite a new field then... back in the early 90s. Softwares I used? Word Star, Lotus 123. Games I played? PacMan and one which I was particularly fond of - Xenon. Don't know why the name still stuck on after so many years.

And the monitor?? First it was only one colour.... everything on the screen was green, the monochrome monitor. Then came the black and white - composite, I think. And it was an improvement from the green blinking screen before. Then the CGA, VGA, SVGA, etc, etc. Wikipedia probably has the complete history.

Anyway, I kinda got sucked into the computer revolution thingy. Came out to work... Other Half likes computers. It was one of those very few luxury items we allowed ourselves. The AT, Pentium 3, etc, etc came and went (and stayed) in our lives... As did Jaring, then TMNet, Streamyx, Celcom Broadband...and now we're looking into WiMax. Still remembered that setting up the connection those days required quite a bit of effort... terms that we encountered - TCP/IP, Winsock, FTP, pinging. Mana ada, plug and play then? Even our computer vendor didn't know how to set up the Internet Connection and had a short lesson from Other Half. And ah! Our first notebook - a Twinhead. But the hinge tak tahan.

Then I got involved in developing the IT stuff in school, mostly getting the hardware and later, networking. Those days, it was a big deal to use stuffs like PowerPoint to teach or present. So, I became my boss' pet. What to do, I was willing to go where few would go back then. Actually I have a good man behind me... that's why I dared ventured into the new frontier. Lucky me! 8)

Had a colleague's daughter who sent a router all the way back from the US and we used it to start our own network at school. Me and another colleague tarik the Cat 5 wires ourselves. Did our own crimping. Tools were expensive then but we had a very supportive boss. Allowed us to try even though he knew we might fail.

Because of my 'recklessness' too, I got sent for some courses in various unis. Learnt a little about Macromedia, Photoshop, Sound Forge... and then got involved in some web-based thingy and started using the HTML which was rather painstaking. Even started teaching courses for other teachers conducted by the State Edu Deparment! Made our own animated gifs in those days... wrote some educational web based stuff. Learning curve was pretty steep. But it was kinda fun too. So, I can be considered kinda an entrenched PC diehard-ist!

Then came the opportunity to help set up a full fledged computer lab... planning, budgeting, procurement, networking, hardware for normal sighted as well as the visually impaired. It was then a new technology, new frontier. By then the WWW allowed me to look up latest technology for the visually impaired. Was a good experience... I've had some experience reading for a blind friend at uni, so I appreciated how much technology had advanced by then for them. It made a world of difference actually.
Over the years, knew about the Mac... but never thought of owning or getting one. Different OS and the price kinda served as a deterrent. But finally, last year... we decided to try one. Other Half has always labelled Microsoft as the Dark Force. So, with that, we took the plunge and plonked in a small fortune for my Mac..... to be continued

Related Post:
From the MacTop of a MacNewbie... Part 2

Friday, April 17, 2009

Of Schools and Toilets

We have the ISO9000 to rate management systems, the Star classifications for hotels, movies, restaurants, the stock rating for shares, credit ratings... basically there are many types of ratings. And they serve a good purpose; to ensure that a certain quality or standard is achieved.

Well, it's been the practice in schools up in Alor Setar here to classify their toilets.... I don't know about other states. But Kedah is well known for its emphasis on keceriaan. Maybe that has something to do with this state always occupying the bottom half of the list in terms of academic achievements. So we find an area we can excel in. Somehow, I think we feel that maybe if the school is beautiful it will encourage the students to study harder... This goes in the same breadth as having skirting on tables will also do the same.

So, it came as a no surprise when we, too also decided to embark on such a drive for a 5-star toilet! Been down this road before at my previous work place. You can call this a re-branding exercise to teach values to our students and teachers.... So, the schools embark on renovation drives to replace the tiles, toilet bowls, sinks and what-have-you-not which are toilet related. All in the hope of creating a 5-Star image for the toilet.

Many would agree with me that Malaysian public toilets still have a long way to go where cleanliness is concerned... though I must say that there are improvements these days. And part of the toilet training comes from school. Probably having so many foreign workers in our country has something to do with it... either that or we've progressed. 8)

Anyway, after all the renovations you would expect the users of the toilets to be wowed by it and be inspired to keep the toilets clean and sparkling.... Nope! No such luck! After a while, they get numbed to it.... Ah! the old ways return. Image without the right attitude... cannot last! First world infrastructure... third world mentality, apa boleh buat! Talk till the cows come home also, in the end the toilets remain smelly and dirty cos like many things, they don't think when they use the toilets. Dry school toilets are a rarity. And you get fantastic suggestions like everyone who goes into the toilet must wear the toilet clogs placed there all the time or plastic flowers placed near the wash bowls.

So, to overcome this problem, they came up with this smart idea of putting someone in charge. In a school, who do you think has to shoulder this responsibility??? Yup! Teachers! Now teachers are also toilet caretakers.....LOL! One of the many hats which we wear! The toilets are expected to be decorated, etc, etc.... flowers, fragrance, 'kata-kata hikmat' etc, etc. You would expect that teachers should be spending the time, preparing their lessons and other teaching related stuff... Well, I guess toilet tending or toilet patrol now qualifies as other teaching related stuff. In this Bolehland, all her teachers memang boleh in everything!

And, if you think the teachers are not exasperated by such call of duty and be distracted by them, think twice.... add that to forced extra classes, gardener duties, classroom duties, jaga duty, odd jobs duty and other teaching related stuff, .... how ar? In our SKT, teaching is supposed to make up 95% of the assessment marks with only 5% for other 'kay-poh' and community service. Is it no wonder that this is part of the myriad of problems facing our education system now??? Beats me! The geniuses up there must know something I don't!

Anyway... toilets and teachers.... or is it teachers and toilets.. aiyah! whatever it is, teachers also cannot live without toilets... Maybe we should introduce toilet etiquette as part of the curriculum too.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ordering Mac Online

Made my first order from Apple Online Store... and I am impressed. It's the new aluminium 13 inch MacBook. Not mine but for me to admire for a while. I'll still be sticking to my one year old Mac. Mac rocks!! LOL! I've got one more MacKaki. If online shopping is such a breeze, I think I will be doing more of that. The courier service they use, DHL is very cekap. Was at school when I logged on to check in the morning and it was noted that the merchandize had arrived in Penang and had been dispatched. It was almost 9.00 a.m.
By 12.10 p.m., when I logged in again the merchandize had been delivered. I ordered on Monday morning. And the parcel arrived on Thursday. I could monitor it at every stop. Not bad! What else? The convenience! And on top of it, we paid less for the same product had we gone and bought it from the shop. I like Mac's elegance in simplicity. Even the packing is elegant!

Other Half just pointed me to PBB e-Mall. After the encounter because of my mobile, these days I am thinking that I might as well buy online from reputable companies...

Food For Thought... Chicken ala Carte

A friend shared this... and I feel it drives home a point. How often our children miss this? ... and feel that their problems are life shattering?

And the second set of kids can be so happy with what they get. Appreciate what we have. There're many out there who can only dream of such things that we take for granted.

Life is not fair, huh?? We read about the Somali pirates and we get so indignant of their actions. Hijacking ships and all that. Then the other side of their story emerge.. some of these pirates are also desperate people... people whose country is ravaged by war, the seas pillaged by more sophisticated fishermen; people who are also in part ignorant. Just as in everything else in life.... ignorance breeds contempt, that sort of contempt that sometimes eats ourselves. But I've veered from the vid...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

More Hawker Food in Alor Star

This shop is located right opposite of Timuran... it used to be quite dead until this guy who used to run Old Tune in Pekan Cina took over. Was quite sad when Old Tune closed down as it was one of the better places to go for plain broth in a setting that reminisces the the early days of Malaya. Old black and white pics from the pre and post Malaya era decorated the walls. Old Tune was a really quaint place and they served such good porridge. The duck was especially good. Anyway, this is his venture now. Next to it is the Sayang Cake House. It does not have that quaint look now but by the looks of things, it's getting busier. More stalls are still being set up.
Anyway, I kinda like the choices available here. But the place could do with a little facelift. It looks kinda run down. Anyway, in this one shop lot, the food is not bad.

The yee mee is actually quite good. But you better hope the cook does not have too many orders or you'll have to wait a long time.
This is one of those places where you can get pig's maw pepper soup cooked with salted vegetable and mushroom. You have to order it from the mixed rice stall... but it wasn't open the day I took this pic. Next it is the ju-char, where you can order fried Hokkien mee, nying-nyong, fried bee hoon, etc, etc. Also there is a wantan mee stall.

Duck rice is available should you crave for one. The duck sauce is not too bad, one of the better ones I've taken. But the roast meat doesn't taste that good now. Used to be better when it was at Old Tune. All in all, this place is worth checking out. There's a stall selling Roti John too should you suddenly feel like having one.

There is also a tomyam stall. For RM4, you get tomyam mee with a few prawns and some fresh mushroom. I've eaten better tomyam, especially at Fresh but this one I'd rate as boleh tahan-lah.

The latest addition is the Western Corner. It has the usual western fare...chicken, fish. The place still undergoing changes. The last time I went, the arrangements of stalls had change again.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

All Men Are Created Equal...

All men are created equal... but, you know what, this creature called Man very cleverly invented inequality.

Being fair... this is coffee table talk everywhere. New Cabinet line-up just announced. Poor KJ... got snubbed out. He's a smart fler and should be in by virtue of being the Youth Head. But he got snubbed! PM says KJ understands. (KJ must be seething!..) PM says his exclusion is to enable him to undertake the tasks as the movement's leader. Wah! KJ cannot multi task compared to his predecessors... if UMNO Youth Head has always been traditionally given a Ministerial post and now is not, I guess the DPM post also need not go to the Deputy Prez of UMNO! Anyone can be... especially one of those East Malaysians. Sarawak and Sabah combined together are after all bigger than Peninsular. So, if anyone should be Deputy PM, one of them should! Right now, if they abandon ship, BN will terkubur. East Malaysians still seem the lesser brothers in this relationship of unequal yoke.

The rule of law... it's supposed to be the guiding principle. But the authority of man has superseded it. We go more by the authority of man these days. When NEP was formulated, its intention was to help the poor Malays. When the authority of man is applied, it was used to enrich the already able and rich ones. And it has given birth to so many wrongs. It takes only one wrong to produce more wrongs. And also Kugan-gate.. poor guy. I mean I don't sympathize with him as an alleged car thief.. but then to go through that.... then after death also the body did not have any peace... 2 autopsies. And now after seizing the documents from UMMC, they say the second autopsy is not accurate. Aiyoh!! So many percanggahan. The docs they appoint are all really lousy! Like that how to promote our medical tourism thingy??? Two autopsies... two vastly different conclusions. Would you put your life in these docs' hands??? Scary! Scary! Scary!

Fair trials with witnesses... well, we've seen how our courts have turned to kangaroo courts. 2 low ranking officers now are baa-baaing away. They've been jampi-ed into goats - scape goats and sacrificial lambs. Reason? Something they did to a Mongolian lady. Then we've cases which seemed airtight suddenly go pancat... Mr Linggam? Whatever happened to him? Mr. Rahim Thamby Chik, has he ever languished in the jail? Mr. 2 Muhd - he was even made a Senator and a Minister. And the one linked to the goats is now occupying the seat of the highest political power! And, the outdated law meant to help overcome the commie problem is now used to silence and intimidate the people.

Servanthood vs political power... Who wants to be the servant when they can be the tuan? Hamba follows the orders of the Tuan... Leaders are to serve the people or people to serve the leaders? A tuan gets all the choicest while the hamba gathers the crumbs under the table. A tuan becomes the VVIP and gets all the VVIP perks while the hamba prepares and pays for those perks. Not a bad arrangement, some may argue. After all the tuan will feed the hamba and see to his needs. Well, that's political power smacked into our faces, the rakyat(s).... oops sorry, the hamba, I mean. This Easter I'm humbled by the humility of Christ... in his washing his disciples' feet... feet which must have been coated with whatever you find on the road.. I spent an hour scrubbing my car porch Saturday morning cos my wheels went over cow dung. Smelly and stubborn... had to scrub hard. Walk barefooted on the roads.... surely they must have walked on them too. Yet Christ through this act reminds us that to be a leader is to serve.

Moral absolutes... penarik beca has this to say... some Chinese voters voted PAS in Bukit Gantang because they say PAS 'talak lasuah punya'. (Ha! Ha! between the lines) Who says Chinese or the rest got no morals? They also have a corruptibility index for a candidate's (party) lah. And this round, PAS passed with flying colours. But at least you read from among their own telling people to pijak-pijak the PAS leadership if they makan rasuah. The last time the de-facto Law Minister, an UMNO insider tried to point out his bosses' tak berapa kena' actions... he got booted out! How to make sure moral absolutes remain as such...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Service..

Easter Service.. first at the new premise. Also, there were almost 200 in attendance. Noticed that we had quite a number of guests and those who have not been around for some time.

The choir under Mrs. Khoo's charge gave a very good performance.
This year's group was quite big...easily 25, I think. Why is having a choir good?? Well, I could think of a couple of reasons. But one of them would be, it gives everyone an opportunity to get together for a common cause - young and old alike. Good for bonding also. Plus why karaoke, when you can sing your heart out in a group? 8)

They performed at the SP WMC yesterday night. The theme for this year's choir is God who comes to save..

Pak Khaw gave the sermon.. from Matthew 28: 1-6. It's always good to be reminded of God's love for us.. and also His salvation - and it's free. To walk in the steps of Christ... that's the tall order for all of us.
Service was followed by dinner, which was sponsored by a kind soul. It's buffet style. Yours truly went to help to dish out the food! Queue was actually quite long. In order to make All of us had a good time.
It was nice to be able to eat with everyone. The conditions may not have been restaurant like but it was nicer even though we had some insects for company. 8) God was good too! It was raining just as we were going to church. And we've been having torrential rains in the evenings the past coupla days. The rain stopped and the weather was really nice. It was a good night to have such a makan. Some say, we should do it like this more often.
And this was dinner! The rib curry was yummy-licious. Went really well with the beehoon and rice. Not too hot but has a nice smell and taste. Some went back for seconds, mainly the young. But know what... kids are having it good these days. The big prawns were not too popular cos many found it 'mah-fan' to peel it. Life is really treating them well!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter... Sunrise Service

Sunrise on Easter morn.... another first at the new premise.
Had a combined church service this morning... been having this combined service for some years now. The congregations from some of the other English speaking churches such as TBC, FGC joined us at WMC. Started at 6.00 a.m. just as the sun was rising.
There was a good crowd. Church was quite filled; was told that there were almost 200 people in attendance. There were quite a number in school uniforms, quite a number were from FGC; they were going to school after service. Talked was on the women at the tomb of Jesus; their devotion, distraction - who is to roll away the stone... their determination to the task at hand, to anoint the body... and to proclaim that Jesus is alive..

Then there was an elaboration about the stones in our lives.. like the stones of fear, unbelief, unforgiveness, etc., etc..
Service ended at around 7.00 a.m. And breakfast awaited all who went.
Pies, 'ang-ku' await those who fought grogginess and came. Ah Ho and her gang were responsible for the fare. The pies disappeared in no time. And after all that, the kids went to school and those who needed to go to work, left for work... coming up.. Easter Service in the evening.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Dulu and Kini

New frontiers are being conquered.. old frontiers relived, albeit a different way. Dulu (then) dan Kini (now)
  1. Dulu... Information is mainly in printed forms. Then came the radio and TV which made things quite colourful and entertaining. Kini (mis)information come together non-stop via the web through broadband.. used to be just Streamyx... now there are more players. And the info?? Sometimes you don't know what is real and what is not and they come in at break neck speed.
  2. Dulu.... we used to write letters and send it via snail mail... it was kinda fun waiting for the postman. Kini... we have the email with videos and sounds some more! Rain or shine... one click and "You've Got Mail". But it has also opened up a new world of spam, not the kinda that fills your stomach but that one which irritates you.
  3. Dulu we had to line up at the public phone to call back home. Kini everyone has their own mobile and they're contactable 24/7. We've VOIP which makes it even easier.. and cheap. We are so connected now. Tagline now is ... Used to be "Call me." Now it's 'MSN / Skype / Yahoo me." Sound so chic!
  4. Dulu... if you want to socialize you have to move your butt out of your house on your two wheeler and find your group of friends. Kini... we use 'sophisticated' terms like FB, Frenster; social networking ala high tech.
  5. Dulu... we have to depend on Berita Harian, Utusan, The Star, NSTP. They are our staple diet of news. Kini... these are shun as tak boleh harap. The alternative media like Malaysia Today, Malaysiakini and bloggers are more reliable.
  6. Dulu... if you want to play games, you must go find your kaki(s). You have to be there in person. Kini... online gaming means you can be playing 365 days a year, some more with strangers all over.. all become kindred spirits without a face, friendships with no strings attached.
  7. Dulu.... you can only dream about being a Bollywood producer. Kini... YouTube, Stomp etc, means everyone can be a director, producer. Namewee's Negarakuku is one such example. Made him an instant star! Even the police wanted to interview him! All you need is just a camera that can record video and you are on your way to Bollywood, Hollywood.... all kinds of woods.
  8. Dulu.. those flers who seek pornographic material must secretly pass tapes or go to Thailand. Kini.. one click of the keyboard will bring the world of pornography to you. That has worsened the rot in our already rotting society.
  9. Dulu what you read in the papers, you tend to forget and when you do recall again you don't know where to get a copy of it. Kini there are armies of archivers who do it for free. And because of it, ghosts keep coming back to hound the living - I think from beyond the grave a Mr. Kugan will also come back to haunt that Doc and his 10-man committee.
  10. Dulu.. a pedophile must find long and hard for his victim...Kini, again with those same touch of buttons the victims present themselves. The world has gotten a little more dangerous as a result.
  11. Dulu... as in long time ago in China, if you want to organize a revolution.. you use the kuih to hide your messages to your followers... I call it the kuih revolution. Happened so long ago during the Yuan Dynasty. Kini? You've got to love this! One more frontier conquered! A Twitter revolution - in a faraway country called Moldovia...yup! There's such a country; sounds very Dracula-ish, right? Don't believe...go read it up! The digital revolution is finally a real revolution!
There you have it... the list keeps growing longer by the day. But I never thought of a real revolution by a digital revolution. LOL!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Education vs 'modern day slavery'

Asian men are finding it more difficult to find wives... times are really changing, huh? And we've education to blame (thank??) for their predicament. Women were a downtrodden lot in olden days. 'Given away' into the husband's family, she doesn't have much say until she herself becomes a matriarch of her family. And the vicious cycle is repeated..... that's fodder for another day.

Reason? Education liberates! Yeah! Why slog as a live-in maid? Why confine yourself to the kitchen when the world awaits you? Marriage used to be a one-side heavy thingy - on both sides. Man bring in the dough. Woman take care of the kids and deal with all the home affair stuff. This arrangement would be fine except that it meant women were not financially independent. The man would hold the purse-strings and this would often mean that the women are 'held ransomed' in a way. You hear less of women walking out of a marriage because of this lack of independence.

So to be married in those days meant 'chasing' after the husband for the dough and the kids for the usual parent-kid things; to pick up the mess after them, face the endless piles of laundry, blah, blah, blah... Meanwhile, the men carry on with their jobs with minimal interruption. I've come to the conclusion that it's easier to be a man...

...else why widowers are more likely to remarry than widows? What you always hear is they need someone to take care of the kids; someone to take care of the house, them. A widow on the other hand would say that she's done enough of taking care of others... something along that line-lah. You know, I think women today have become master multi-taskers; juggling between home and work. But I guess it probably has also increased their level of stress.

Sometimes, I think marriage actually bogs a woman down cos they have to to mind 2 worlds, equally some more - their working world and their homes. Men? I don't think so their minds are equally divided into these 2 worlds. They're usually parked in their working world. So, gals... if a guy is madly and deeply in love with you, take it with a pinch of salt.. that 'madly' and 'deeply' thingy only last as long that long before something else 'takes over'... After the bliss has worn off and the mundaneness of life creeps in... they'll be madly into their jobs, money, position and sometimes other women... So working out something like a 'prenuptial' may be a good idea.

And like it or not... dads are usually too busy working to take note of what goes on the house. Kid goes to ask Dad something... he'll say go ask Ma. Then if you go ask Dad to do something about a mundane problem (like clearing up the bed)... they'll say why the Ma(s) are so fussy about this or that...

But the women's world and the men's world... sometimes they're more similar than you imagine. Many men think the women enjoy or 'pang-beh-lok' (cannot let go) the housework, chasing after the kids thingy. What they don't realize is how fast the women are adapting to the 'men's world' and getting used to the 'hassle-free' life. Bringing in the dough??? Anyone can do that these days... education provides that level playing ground. And it's kinda fun to be out working; financial independence, meeting people, a sense of accomplishment, etc, etc. At's financial dependence, meeting kids and husbands, etc, etc...

But as a result of being highly educated, many women are finding it difficult to find a life partner... plus there is an increasing number who chooses not to tie the knot.... the rise of the Bridget Jones generation. That means less educated men are finding it more difficult too. The institution of marriage has come under siege.

The solution. In comes brides off the shelf thingy. For a price you can buy yourself a bride from countries like China, Vietnam, Cambodia - all those poorer nations. Women from these countries are literally sold by their families because of poverty. A friend related to me this story... a family bought a young lady into his family. This young woman not only had to take care of an old lady who was paralyzed but also served her husband. A one-in-all woman caught in the web of modern slavery. Used to read all these tales in the pre American Civil War days - of how the masters of the black women slaves considered it their rights to sleep with their slaves. Hence, the half black, half white children...

The shelf bride arrangements is gaining popularity for men in Singapore and to a certain extent Malaysia too. That is until some day,these women find their liberation. Until that day comes... pity them. I'm glad I'm not in their shoes. So, gals... go study hard. Education liberates!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Caning In Schools To Be Revived...

3 years ago, they initiated steps to ban corporal punishments. Now they say they want to bring back caning to curb indiscipline. For once, wise move. Nothing like a healthy dose of fear instilled.. though there are quarters who say that corporal punishment does not help. Well, if they don't why have caning also in our judicial system? Criminals are caned... for crime such as rape, if I'm not wrong.
Mention cane and I am reminded of Mr. Moses Tay, one of ACS' Sitiawan's Principal. He's not a very forminable-looking man but his presence used to strike fear in all of us. He would walk around with his cane and it was enough to make the majority of us toe the line. He never hesitated using it or other forms of corporal punishments. I remember being warned that if our marks dropped too much from one exam to another, we'd be punished.... duck walk was one form of punishment for the gals. It was very humiliating but it made us work hard... for the fear of shame and pain.

I think a healthy dose of fear is good. How many of us slow down our cars on the highways when oncoming cars flash their lights at us? Why do it if not out of fear that our speeding will land us with a summon which means parting with our money? Fear! That makes us toe the line.

Kids today are smart. We molly coddle them too much. We use too much psychology. Start using corporal punishment and you'll get remarks from parents like..."For heaven's sake, they're just kids." Well, I've got news.. the message from heaven says...
Proverbs 23:13-14
Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.

Proverbs 22:15
Folly is bound up in the heart of a child; but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.
I deal with kids.. teenagers.. everyday I am at work. If you think you are doing them a favour by trying to counsel them, think again! Most of the time they've learned to work around the system and they know how to manipulate the situations to suit them. You'll be surprised at their ingenuity. Folly is bound up in the heart of a child... it is very true. It takes discipline to drive it away. If it's allowed to take root, they'll be emboldened and even crippled by it. Often, that discipline involves corporal punishment. When one is young, one does not think of consequences much. What to do? They're rather myopic, doing the right thing is not in their radar, going by their emo is. So they need to have other reasons to fear those no-can-do/go areas. And there is nothing like instant consequence (pain and shame) to drive home that point.

I used to work under a Principal who instructed her PK HEM (Students' Affairs) to go round the school with a cane. If a student was caught being punished by the teacher while he was doing the rounds, the first thing that he would do would be to cane the student. It was a matter of punish first, ask no questions or ask later. And he would make his rounds at odd times. Guess what, for that year, I had no problems with students' work. Even Corrections were completed on time. The students feared him... Youths have lots of folly in them. And it's this folly that causes them to stray even further if we cut the slack too much. Yup! They'll literally climb above and over your head. That goes without saying cos we adults also do that.

These days... you have teachers who bribe students to finish their homework... as though they owe it to the students. This I find really silly and so wrong. One student even gleefully remarked that her teacher gives out RM2 for completed homework. Like that I might as well not finish at first and then work myself towards that RM2 'reward'. Try putting a healthy dose of fear into such students and I've no doubt most of them will complete their work. It works with adults and why not these marginal people.

Mr. Moses Tay? Well, he must have been one of the most disliked Principals to many students but under his charge, ACS Sitiawan became one of the top schools in Perak and the nation. There was one year when our school from this small insignificant rubber tapping town, where many of her students lived in attap wooden structures in the rubber estates; came up tops in Malaysia for the HSC exam. How did we get there? He made sure strict discipline was adhered to; so that teachers could focus on their main task - teach; and not be drawn by what we teachers have to do these days... talk incessantly to counsel kids who just laugh at our silliness (or their 'smartness' at fooling us) once we're out of earshot.

Corporal punishment! It should stay. We're too psychology inclined.. and it has also brought about too much permissiveness as a result. Too much kasihan culture in practice. And probably one of the contributors to the rot in our teenagers today too. Bring back the cane!

BTW, this is a report about 10-11 year-olds committing crime and laughing about it in the dock? These are kids with no fear of any thing.

Die, die also hers....

It is mind boggling how selfish we can be at times these days... especially when it involves kids. I recently helped a friend's kid fi...