Sunday, May 31, 2009

Up Penang Hill...

This was yesterday.. we took our Church Community Tuition Outreach Programme students and MYF'ers up Penang Hill. There were around 40 of us... youths and adults. Other Half, Son and I went. I ended up the sweeper... Sweeper punya kerja - sweep everyone up! Make sure nobody sesat or strays. Last 2 hikers made it up in 3 hours. Yours truly was one of them! 8)
Penang Hill1
We started our hike at almost 9. It was raining but the youths were keen to give it a go in the rain. For many I guess that was one of the rare times they actually got to walk in the rain. 8) For safety reasons and also because many of these 'city' kids have not gone hiking before, we took the tar road up, though the jungle trail would have been more fun. But when we came home, read in the papers that 2 men were lost there for about 12 hours before being found.
PenangHill2
The gradient was actually quite steep in certain stretches... As in any group, some were really fast and others, really slow. But whatever it is, once you start, you'll have to plod on to the top of the hill; guess it's very much like life. Once we begin, we have to plod on; high or low moments, life goes on. I always feel that hiking is a good activity... apart from the good workout that it gives, there are also many lessons of life one can get out of it.
PenangHill3
View of Penang from the top! That's Komtar sticking out in the middle. The rain sort of washed the haze that covered the island the day before. The view and cool air up there were actually quite nice.
PenangHill4
This was a surreal scenery captured by Other Half from up there...

And these 2 were caught trying out the tandem bike... they didn't get far on it. Found it difficult going and returned the bike for normal ones. Half an hour on the tandem is RM10, normal bikes go for half of that two.
PenangHill6
Touristy behaviour... these kids were gathering around the cap stalls... The caps had all these hebat brands printed on them.... and Son bought one as well.
PenangHill7
Going down was via the other alternative, the funicular train. But I feel they should not jam so many people into the train. There was hardly enough standing room. You've the change trains at the halfway mark. The trip down via the train would be a pleasant one minus the sardine packed conditions. The air became more humid after the halfway mark. Good thing it had been an overcast afternoon.
PenangHill8
We saw this at the exit of the train station. We were half tourists, half hikers... so got the sequence of welcome and goodbye terbalik also. LOL! But it was a good outing for many of us. And for some, it was an achievement of sorts, being able to make it up to the top. That, I supposed is also another lesson about life... sometimes we think we are not cut out for certain things. But if we adopt an open mind about it, and prepare yourself mentally for the challenges, be determined and adopt a certain stoicism to the task ahead you might surprise yourself... and along the way, God will send people to encourage, remind, nudge you along too.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Holidays are here again...

The hols come around every few months and are much welcomed. Exams are over... for my kids and me. I finished grading all my papers! Yay! No extra classes for the school going people in my house this time around - thank God for that! But you can be rest assured that the extra classes are still running in most schools in Alor Setar.

My boy is not having his cos in a 'Chinese' school, the better students will usually balk at the idea as most of them are packed to the brim with their own tuitions. In national schools, like mine, the extras are on for the exam classes - we group them into groups like Gemilang, Terbilang, Cemerlang. Notice the absence of negative words... that's how inept we are at coming to terms with reality. Face it... our school is academic and not every one is academically inclined. A kid who flunks all his subjects is categorized in the Cemerlang group! Last I checked, the word cemerlang meants outstanding. We are using way too much psychology and too little common sense. Similary, you can't be labelling every student in the Science class as Gemilang also. It belittles the word Gemilang, Terbilang.... Words become so cheap!

If you break down the extra classes to individual subjects, it boils down to one or two (at most) classes for the respective subjects. Somehow, the administrators feel that they will do wonders to the results....actually it's more for them to show the Department and parents that they are doing something... they care... which actually they don't.

I am not involved in this hols extra classes cos I refused to have it. But I feel I may not have the option to dictate my wants and wishes too long. I feel that if the teachers can cover the syllabus and give enough exercises, there's no need for these 'show-we-are doing-something' classes. During my time as a student, my teachers hardly gave us extra classes. Extra classes were meant to finish of the syllabus unlike today's extra classes which are meant for question drilling.

The extra classes are actually quite meaningless sometimes as teachers are forced to carry them out. So, grudgingly they do it. Very often, extra class translates to giving out the questions to the students to complete. Teachers would then just give out the answers. It would be much better if the students could do their revision on their own, like my days. But students today need spoon-feeding... on their own, they seem not to be able to move..either that or we are the ones who don't teach them to be independent.

So, guess extra classes will be here to stay..

Friday, May 29, 2009

Ley peah... Foochow version

Photobucket
This looks like a piece of mini murtabak. But it is not. This is 'ley peah', a Foochow biscuit, though mom said it might be Hockchian. Drove past the kuih seller near my parents' house in Sitiawan during my recent trip home and decided to stop to have a look. I was actually looking for the peanut bread but since they didn't have, I decided to give this a try. Trips home these days also give us the opportunity to eat all the food that we miss.
Photobucket
Been so many years since my last bite of this particular biscuit. It's quite okay. However it's not as sweet as I remembered. Maybe people are more 'health conscious' now. The filling is made up of a mix of stuff... tang gua, porbably lots of lard (which gives it its signature smell) and other stuff which I am not sure. Made Son try it also.

Mom tells me this is one of the stuff they send as 'hantaran' during weddings in the olden days. Anyway, it was nice to be able to eat something from my childhood that particular trip. 8)

The oldest profession...

...is as old as mankind. And it's also thriving in our country. I was highly amused and a little wowed by how much income can be generated by the 'high class' call girls.... anywhere from RM36K - RM45K monthly... and they are all tax free! No wonder it's so lucrative. But it also highlights a problem that plagues our societies.... morals are loosening. And with it, a whole floodgate of problems of other problems, sexually transmitted disease, breaking of the social fabric, human trafficking, modern day slavery, abuse... the list is endless. Not forgetting how debasing it is to women.

And in Malaysia, this is a growing sector... as can be seen in the article in The NST. It is a multi-billion industry... all underground!!

In Alor Setar, we too have our own 'brothels'. One day my two young friends brought me to Lorong Merpati to see what they labelled as 'The Service Centre' in action. There were a few makeshift brothels. The authorities tore down some of the dilapidated structures there last year but these 'brothels' grew again. Simple reason... there is a demand and for those who offered their services, it's income. It was only mid morning when I drove past but already there customers making a beeline for their turns. Dishevelled and unkempt.. these are people from the lower income group. I went again one of the other days in the evening... the crowd was still there.

For the young misguided ones... it's easy to fall into the flesh trade. Easy money and their search for perceived affection attract, etc... It's also a long list.

So, how come it is thriving? Is there any way of returning the dignity to the women? I used to think that trying to curb prostitution is a lost cause. That was until I read about Sweden. Sweden is one of the countries who have been able to reduce the flesh trade... And the way they went about it was quite different. One of the changes they instituted was to make it a crime to buy sex. Also, they decriminalize the selling of sex cos they consider buying sex a form of male violence against women and children.

Now in Malaysia... will we ever adopt such an approach? Will we drop the male chauvinist outlook and start to look at things from another perspective? You see, over here... we are ever so quick to point finger at the women and say that the fault is theirs and therefore they should be made to bear the consequences. It's like those narrow minded flers who say that rape happens because it was the women's fault... their dressing, the way they walk... the men are faultless. It's a man's world, huh? So, in the meantime, the flesh trade will continue...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

In house....

These days we've to sit through 7 days of Kursus Dalam Perkhidmatan. Objective? Supposed to keep us abreast with the latest. But it's generally boring and uninteresting due to many reasons... speakers, our own attitude and the kursus itself. Once in a while we do get good speakers but these are far and few.... very. And in order to make up the 7 days, even whole day meetings are counted.

Anyway, just had one on Monday!

Pengajaran dan Pembelajaran Berkesan / Pengurusan Panitia.... that was what the kursus was supposed to be about. Well, the speaker had impressive enough credentials... JUSA... guru cemerlang. The intro wasn't impressive though. First, he was 15 minutes late. Then he spent 15 minutes introducing himself. Half an hour gone! Hardly a good start. And we were made to understand that he draws a really fat salary.... over 15K, what we were told. Who says teaching does not pay well?? 8)

We were told that he is a busy man... going around most of the time. What's a cemerlang teacher doing out of school so much? Teachers who are promoted to the super scale for their expertise in their subjects... aren't they to stay in school so that the students benefit? Well, one could argue that he should share his experiences and expertise. But the thing that seemed to stand out is this... we promote a teacher because he can teach well... but in the end he doesn't seem to spend a lot of time in school teaching. How's that for the guru cemerlang thingy?

The content of the course.... nothing extraordinary. I probably sound like a wet blanket but I think I can find more inspiring stuff from the Net. His PowerPoint presentation was rather bland... sure there were lots of P Ramlee clips but it's not something that connected well with me. And I am a fan of P Ramlee. And he went on and on about Geography... which most of us don't teach. I noticed a few in the audience nodding and dozing off, plenty of others were grading their mid term exam papers.... but the following day, many were gushing about how good he was. Duh! You mean the ears were fully tune despite the sleep and grading?

2 hours of sitting there... one afternoon wasted! .... such is our motivational sessions...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dumb and Dumber

You can bail out banks by printing money, but you can't bail out a generation of dumb people by printing diplomas... Dean Kamen, the guy who is responsible for Segway said that. This, coming from a guy who never earned a college diploma.

Bank Negara lost 20 billion ringgit in 1994 from foreign exchange losses. It was the biggest ever loss by a central bank anywhere then. Before that there was the BMF scandal in Hong Kong. Bank Bumi lost 2 billion ringgit, considered the largest banking failure during its time. See, our obsession is not just with the tallest building, etc... it's also with biggest 'bungles' as well. Bank Bumi went on to be bailed out 2 more times after the BMF scandal.

The recent subprime crisis has also seen institutions being bailed out by the gahmens... to protect the public's interests, so they say. In the first place, these institutions abuse the trust of the people in them... then when they bungle up... the people's money is used to bail them out. It's a foolproof plan, a license to abuse the system and the best joke is, they get bailed out. Dumb we are! This lack of accountability for each of these scandals is an audacious act. Most of the big fish got away, leaving the small people to pick up the pieces.

The next half of Kamen's words of wisdom... a generation of dumb people by printing diplomas. It feels like we're equally dumb here too. Tens of thousands of graduates are unemployable with the bulk of them coming from UiTM and the remainder from our other local universities. Printing diplomas for a generation of seemingly 'dumb' people, dumbed down by our educational system and political masters. Dumber we are!

Employers today complain of graduates who seem to lack the drive for work ingenuity and commitment. And the gahmen has been absorbing them, placing some of them in schools, expecting them to fill in the vacancies temporarily. Don't know what ruinous stage these non-marketable grads are bringing our schools to. How can the uninspired inspire the younger generation?

Decades of twisting and bending moral absolutes, providing crutches for one race in what mirrors the 'divide and rule' of the British colonialists.... one wrong begets more wrong. We bail out banks by printing money.. Okay! That's dumb. But we are doing something even dumber, raise a dumb generation by printing diplomas... we lower the passing marks for public exams, have double standards for PSD scholarships, two systems for entrance to the university, one easier than the other... so many double standards. We skewer ourselves, ready to be barbecued.... 8(

Feels like double jeopardy we're in, doesn't it?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Generation Diva...

Wanna know how much ladies of different generations spend for cosmetics? Here's the beauty breakdown... it's an American statistics. But it'll help us put things into perspective. In Malaysia, we're not innovative or creative enough to see the need to conduct studies of such. Our journalists are all too engrossed with the political upheavals. And there seems to be no market for such kind of research... either that or our researchers simply don't think long and hard on 'trivial issues' which actually have a great impact on the social revolution of a nation.

So guys! You better watch out what kind of gals you look for? They may actually bleed you dry. Kah! Kah! Kah! Beauty is not only skin deep, it's also pocket deep. And gals dig deep into the pockets to beautify themselves! Everyone is trying to keep their youth via the cosmetic jars. But even the cosmetic jars are no longer sufficient. These days, they use the knife, chemicals, compounds and procedures to stay 'beautiful'! And boy! They are all terribly expensive.

In comes Generation Diva... the tweens who pay great attention to their hair, face... every natural asset of theirs which conjure up the beauty image. And with today's more disposable cash, these tweens don't think twice about 'burning' a hole in their parents pocket. Even in small time Alor Setar, it's not uncommon to hear of tweens and youths spending RM50-300 on their hair. I left my tween years eons ago, and I've yet to spend that much on my hair, let alone face! I grew up simple and still do not find much use for cosmetics.. the time that I need to apply those stuff would simply eat into other things.... getting breakfast ready for example.

But coming back to Generation Diva.. these tweens are getting make-ups splashed and plastered over their faces earlier and earlier. Mom disallowed us from make-ups till we left school. She used to drum it into our heads that make-up will make us vain and our studies will suffer as a result, which I think still holds quite true. Multi 'tasking' and the young (and most of us for that matter) don't really go hand in hand. Didn't mean that she was anti make-up cos after I started working, she'd tell me to take care of my complexion, and other related stuff.

The proliferation of the influence of FB, internet, television, real life divas, fashion magazines has brought down the average age of the girls using beauty enhancing stuff and hence the new term coined for them, Generation Diva. It's not out of the ordinary to see 9 or 10 year olds wearing adult outfits or putting on adult accessories. Even I see lots of mini adults these days in Alor Setar. And parents think their kids look cute looking like an adult. And girls' esteem are taking a beating too, especially with so much pressure coming from their own peers. I think to have a kid who can say no to cosmetics and all other adult stuff translates to a kid with a high self-esteem; sort of... and that, I think should be something that I must instill in my own gal.

Beauty is not only just on the surface of the skin. Inner beauty needs development too. When we focus too much on one aspect, something else usually has to give. And development of inner beauty needs a head start from a young age. The outer beauty stuff??? Give it a few decades and women will automatically and generally reach out for a few jars of creams in their effort to preserve that fleeting youth. I've friends who have gone to the extent of eye lifts, eye tattoo... I do not know whether I'll tread that path some day.

Generation Diva is a generation who will constantly be trying to achieve that ever fleeting standard of beauty that goes higher. And with it, their pockets will take a beating. More money of cosmetic products will mean less money for other things. And among the other things which will take a beating, I guess will be books. In Malaysia today, beauty care is big time business already. Books are not! Such a sad thing!

So what Mom said to me all those years ago rings true too... if you spend too much time staring into the mirrors, lots of other important things will get neglected. Generation Diva... it's not a good thing for our daughters to be in... cos what are supposed to be lovely add-ons to enhance our beauty have become essentials. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia, lack of self esteem, and many other eating disorders will become more common.

The complexities brought on by modern living.. so many different quirkyness of the different Gens - Generation G, Generation Jones, Generation X, Generation Y, Generation M..... and now Generation Diva. Kinda makes you wanna dive your head into the sand and remain there, oblivious to the world around.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Malaysian PSD Scholarship...

Why give out scholarships? I think scholarships should be given with strings attached. Scholarship money is after all taxpayers' money. I pay tax. So, part of it is my money also. All these recent brouhaha over the award of the PSD scholarship is reminding me that my money is not well spent. The political parties via the gahmen is using my money to buy support. So I wonder why even bother to pay tax?

Those who get scholarships must serve the nation. Therefore the onus is on the PSD to ensure that the best and the brightest are chosen so that upon graduation they can come back and serve their country, via the civil service... not be cut loose so that their places can be taken by unemployed graduates. We need bright and capable civil servants not just for medicine but in all fields so that the whole country can move forward together.

My observation in my own little world of teaching. The quality of teachers has dropped. The best and brightest no longer look for a career in teaching. At one time, teaching was the last resort for many... cannot find job else where, go into teaching. And the MOE receives them with open arms. The result - students suffer. And because of that, the profession is now saddled with 'half-baked' teachers. English teachers who don't quite speak English, Maths teachers who teach by reading from textbooks, Physic teachers who don't quite grasp the abstract concepts.... in short 'ill-equipped and uninspiring teachers. How to teach well when the teacher is not good at what he's supposed to teach??? The gahmen does send students to be trained overseas... unfortunately mostly for English. Other subjects oso should be sent out.... for the exposure and different experiences.

Of late the civil service has been absorbing the unemployed. The gahmen has become the biggest employer of those unemployed graduates.... you see these less than qualified graduates come out from the ivory towers minus the marketable skills. But being a graduate they will not take lesser jobs. In order to keep the protests and dissatisfaction level down, the gahmen takes them in. But can this continue indefinitely without bleeding our coffers dry?

Meanwhile these people take away the places from the more qualified ones, those better suited with better aptitude. The gahmen has compromised a lot because of this. Once compromise becomes a way of life... all other wrongs will creep in. In Alor Setar, it is common to see gahmen officers in the kedai kopi after 8 a.m., especially in the former Restoran Pak Tuan. Of course that has nothing to do with aptitude, more of attitude.

So PSD scholarships... time they really give out based on excellence; real one that is. Time we make our exams more stringent too and have better quality than quantity.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Best Sui-Kow...

... in Alor Setar. Well at least to me. This is another makan place I went. Kafe Kim Hoe is located on Jln Putera, next to Sentosa Plaza, right next door to Chuan Lam, supposedly another popular place for Hokkien Mee here. Anyway, the owner used to operate a stall in Pekan Simpang Kuala years ago. That's where I discovered him. Then he moved here.
Kafe Kim Hoe
He has his own regular patrons. This is where you get good 'sui-kow'. Went with Other Half for breakfast there recently. The owner's daughters were busy helping him. They're all still quite young. The eldest girl there looked like a she's in Lower Secondary. Good girls, all of them, helping their parents out.
Dry Curry Mee
We ordered this... dry kuanloh curry mee. Not the best I've eaten but palatable.
Duck Kim Hoe
And this to go with it - roast duck with some taugeh and a very generous amount of sweet sauce. The sauce was too sweet to our liking. And the duck wasn't that good either, a little tough even though it was a drumstick that we ordered.
Sui Kow Kafe Kim Hoe
But this is what this particular shop is good at... sui-kow. Been quite a while since I ate this but it was still good. Sui-kow is actually a Chinese dumpling, wrapped in wantan skin, served in clear soup. The filling is a mix of meat, prawns, vegetables... basically you can put in anything you want. It's a bigger version wantan. Anyway, I like this particular shop's sui-kow.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Gathering With The Girls...

I curi this title from Groovy Olives.... cos it was so apt for me for the week that was. Had 2 gatherings with 'the girls' these past week. And both group of girls were significantly of different generations.

My first gathering was with oldies... many of these were gals a good decade or more older than myself. Some are grandmothers, some are about to be... but all their kids have left the roost. I'm the 'kid' in this group. Dinner was in one of their homes. Food was cooked by another.
Food
Dinner talk covered the big and little things in life. The perspective is more subtle. They are more settled in their lives.. stable in a way, gone through loses, toughened and coarsened by their experiences. They give a glimpse of the possibilities that I can have for myself when I get to where they are now, God willing. It was exam week for my lil one. I took her along. She brought her books. But she ended up darting here and there, hogging the tv and being 'spoilt' by my 'grandmotherly' friends. I had a good time with them.

My second gathering was with the yuppies. Ranging from mid to late twenties... they were my past. The reason for getting together? It was sort of a send-off for one of them who will be going off for a short while. Dinner was at one of the restaurants... They represent my past. I was once upon a time where they are now too. Each come from a different profession yet they share a common past too. Conversations also covered the big and small but with more sway to the future... enthusiasm, hope, basically looking forward to the future. I enjoyed the night out with them too. They are my reminders of the hope to come, for them and my own kids.

Two gatherings with 'the girls'... and both enriched my life in their own ways. Friendships that cut across age and generation... I consider that a blessing. And it kinda reminds me of the visits from the 3 ghosts to Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.... Ghost of the Christmas Past, Ghost of the Christmas Present and Ghost of the Christmas Yet To Come. I kinda went through the 3 ghosts this past week!! 8)

Friday, May 22, 2009

In Perak... the sandiwara continues.

I am no lawyer... and no learned Justice. Thought the Perak Constitution was clear enough. But apparently we have extraordinary judges. We entered extraordinary waters in March last year. And 3 judges who voted unanimously.... no written judgements yet.

Re-election; yet it is feared. By-elections not contested because they do not want to be dragged into a game play, so they say. The people would have spoken through it. And whoever wins it can rightfully claim the right to govern... But right now, from the royalty to the very last ADUN in BN.... *sigh*

Then another rep dies. Another game play? Or grace extended for repentance. Cos sekali kick the bucket, no chance to turn the clock back so that prospects of entrance to pearly gates become possible. Power corrupts... absolute power corrupts absolutely. Seems that way, doesn't it?

The bending and twisting continue...

Honda Civic Hybrid.. Test Drive

We test drove a Honda Civic Hybrid... they had a test-drive model available while we were at Alor Setar Mall. So we took the opportunity. Other Half did the test-driving while I 'played' passenger. Like the petrol powered Civic, the ride was comfortable enough. The drive wasn't as smooth as we expected...seems to have this jerk when the power is switched between the electric motor and petrol one.
Honda Civic Hybrid
But I must say, we're not that wowed by Honda. The seats are too low. Feels like our butts were scrapping the road as we moved along. But I was told by the salesman that is a selling point for Honda; the 'sports-car-like' feel. And the dashboard was way too complicated - too many buttons and knobs all over.

The Honda City felt better though. Driver seat felt higher. Was able to get a better view of the road. Dunno, I'm a sucker for slightly high cars cos they give me a better view and more comfortable ride! 8) Tried sitting in the Accord... and it was also a nope! Didn't like the height of the seats either! No go for Honda cars, I guess... for now.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mid Year Exam Season..

You know how they talk about football season, durian season, kite-flying season, dokong season, etc... and exam season!.... A season for everything! Mid year! Thought exams were behind me after I left uni. Then came a career in teaching. But at least it was minus the stress. Then got hitched! And it was followed by parenthood... and exam season went right back onto my map! ... for the next 25 years!

Parenthood threw us back squarely into school again. Cos when the kids (especially primary ones) take their exams, it feels like we're taking it too! *sigh* In fact, I think the parents are more 'kan-cheong' than the kids themselves. I've two end of the spectrum at home. One is older - awareness has set in. He's feeling the stress and you can see a bit of it. The other one is still 'mind-less'. Doesn't seem to feel much.... she's still reading her story books.. and if I don't hound her, she'd still be playing in her tent of toys. If you have primary going kids, you'll know what I mean... There's no sense of urgency for their own exams at all! LOL!

Son is in upper sec, and I've stopped bugging him to do his revision. I no longer have to sit with him. He's old enough and he seems to be able to move on his own, quite independent. At this point, we think he's old enough to understand the opportunities that avail themselves through education... after all those years of drilling it through his thick skull. If he can't, guess he'll just have to make the best of whatever opportunities that he creates for himself.

I see parents, especially of primary going kids, stressed up as if they are also sitting for the exams during this season. At school, parents are more kiasu than the kids themselves. My lil girl is not bothered whether she knows her times table well. It's the parents who get flustered when their kids don't know.

Exams... can't run away from that! School equals to exams. Good uni entrance depends a big part on that too! Just that I wish they don't have to start the mad race so early on... cos in the process of it all, a big chunk of childhood goes out the window too.. 8(

Anyway, the Lil One finishes today. I'm relieved. The older one still has a week more to go!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Pendidikan Moral ...SPM

It's folio season for SPM and Pendidikan Moral is also one of the subjects with kerja kursus. We're supposed to move towards school assessment and MOE has come up with all these coursework and PEKA (for the pure sciences). For Pendidikan Moral I think the kerja kursus is made up of 8 tugasan, 4 of which must be kerja amal to be substantiated with photos (correct me if I'm wrong). The students have to compile a folio at the end of it. Sounds good so far?

So at this time of the year, students will go on a photo shoot frenzy, ... doing chores at home, community service, etc cos they have to stick those photos as proof that they have done something. Very much like the documentation frenzy that schools go into these days to proof that they've done something. All the beautiful files etc.

Like all the other subjects Pendidikan Moral also integrates other skills - ICT, Critical and Creative Thinking, Social Skills, Future Studies, etc...

Here's my take on how the skills have been learned by the students.

ICT Skills - First it gives its learners a chance to learn photography; and some modelling work, so to say. Give all those model wannabes a chance to hog the camera! Only these subjects hold the brooms, mops... Welcome to the world of pretense. Lights! Action! Shoot! LOL! My own boy is no exception. One night he held up the mop, vacuum cleaner and broom to pose for photos. Bah humbug thingy! Bollywood! Here we come! They not only get marks for 'good works' but also learn the use of digital cameras, printers, computers in enhancing (or digitally 'doctoring') their photos for their assignments... truly an integration of skills as laid down in the syllabus. Not forgetting too how they 'menjana ekonomi' in the process. Photos need to be printed - ink, kedai foto, electricity....

As for social skills, students learn the art of crapping... fine tuned to sing praises about themselves (from here our pool of politicians will come).

Then there is Kemahiran Mengkaji Masa Depan... many of the students feel that Pendidikan Moral is a useless subject... However, due to the importance of as-many-A(s) in our A-crazy society, they study hard.... mahir mengkaji masa depan sendiri. Cos if you want to apply for JPA scholarship, an 'A' in Pendidikan Moral is a must. Kemahiran Mengkaji Masa Depan fully comprehended! LOL!

Creative thinking skills?? There are lots of opportunities to hone it.. you've got to be creative in your assignments and exams to get the grade you desire. A lot of 'crapping' takes place and this requires your creativity to function at its best. Of crap, crapping, crapology, crapologist... Pendidikan Moral encourages it, it even trains you in it. You become an expert crapologist!

And then there are the nilai-nilai murni one must memorize.. the definition as well as give examples to support each of the 'noble' values. It is not surprising to see students cook up glossy tales of good deeds while not practising them themselves... We are in the business of encouraging hypocrisy, I think. I'm not sure but it looks like it.

Then there are also allegations teachers have been told not to fail students. Hence even if a student is found to have copied his assignments lock, stock and barrel... he still gets a B.... for copying, I guess. So much for making them understand that in life there's such a thing as bearing the consequences of your own actions! They have no comprendo where this is concerned! And just think! How reliable do you think our school base assessment is with all these 'kesian' thingy going on?

And finally the content of the subject. Moral values would be better if inculcated through the other subjects... it's supposed to cut across the curriculum. But nah! We deem it better to teach it in its rawest form and hope that our students become better out of it. It's a sheer waste of time, spewing out the definition of 36 nilai. Memorize, memorize and memorize... then hope they stay in the recesses of their brains long enough for them to come out intact; then after they're done - buang! Moral Studies... where are our morals?

We pride ourselves in offering such a ridiculous subject in SPM. Would be better if we offer Philosophy, Drama, Arts or something along that line.... even the long 'dead' Geography would be a better choice than Pendidikan Moral! But the ails of Pendidikan Moral are not exclusive; they plague the other subjects as well.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Zero Sum Mentality..

What is this Zero Sum Mentality? It's a one winner, one loser concept... that for every gain there must be a loss. It's akin to siege mentality, brought about by a perception of persecution.That is the mentality that prevails in many aspects of our Malaysian life.

Found the following piece of printed material in the one of the classrooms at school. It's rather disturbing. Did some looking around and found it to be part of a book by Ahmadi Hj Baharuddin in his book Menjadi Survivor Dalam Dunia Penuh Cabaran. Found it disturbing too that teachers are printing stuff like that to be distributed in class... or it could be the students bringing it to school and left it lying around.

The terms used such as 'musuh-musuh Islam' and the tone of the article... it gives the reader the impression that the Muslims feel they are under siege. It's kinda disturbing (and sad) that our young are taught to have such a mentality... and it has found its way to the minds of the young at school via teachers. Indoctrination of the worst kind cos instead of developing our young to be fair minded... we 'poison' them.
Samuel Zwemer
Anyway, the article got me interested about this guy Samuel Zwemer... who he was cos when I read the phrase 'Muktamar Jerusalem', my first impression was it was something of Jewish nature. Then the phrase mubaligh-mubaligh Kristian appeared and I got 'curiouser'. So, I did a Google search on him. Zwemer was an interesting read.

While I feel everyone should be given the freedom to choose and to win others over, it should not be done in the way that creates animosity, fear or even hatred. What this article above does is instill fear. It also encourages readers to develop a feeling of 'it's other people's fault for my predicament' thingy. It contributes to the forming of a people who will not strive to better themselves, a people always looking for crutches to prop them up or blame to place on others when things don't go their way. We should steer clear of such attempts.... because it promotes Zero Sum mentality - One winner, one loser. It does not encourage symbiotic existence.

And what is worrisome is such kind of articles being placed in schools... what are we implying to the students? That if teachers other than their own race teach them, then it's also infiltration of the 'enemies' into the various areas of their lives? ... cos at the end of the first page... let me quote.
.... sehingga ke hari ini, musuh-musuh Islam telah begitu berjaya mempengaruhi, menguasai dan mewarnai pelbagai bidang 'kehidupan' umat Islam di seluruh dunia dan tidak berkecuali di negara kita, antaranya;
1. sistem pendidikan
2. sistem ekonomi
3. sistem politik
4. sosial, kebudayaan dan hiburan
5. sistem kehakiman dan perundangan
6. jati diri .... dan sebagainya lagi
So, everyone else is the enemy. I thought life needs different colours. Guess these people better go build themselves a cocoon and insulate themselves from all that is perceived as the 'enemy'. Be like the Amish... live secluded, segregated from the ways of the world.

Zero Sum Mentality prevails in the mind of the writer of this particular article.. cos he implies if they take practices from other cultures (which may be good), they'd still lose their souls... that's the impression that the writer of this article gives me... So people, time to throw away Microsoft products, mobile phones, food products, electronics, our political systems, justice system, etc., etc. After all, they come from a culture foreign to theirs.... It's a crazy world we live in.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Light and Easy in Alor Setar

I went to this particular cafe when it first opened... I think it may have been a year or more back. Anyway, I was telling Other Half about it and we decided to give it a try since he has never been there. My last visit there was with Son.
LightNEasy1
This place is easy to find. It's flanked between Standard Chartered and UOB, along Jln Gangsa. But pinpointing it will take some effort as the signboard is really inconspicuous and the cafe is upstairs.
LightNEasy2
The place hasn't changed at all from my last visit though the menu has. Ambiance is still nice. It's a nice place to go for a sembang... nice comfy sofa set. Can just order some drinks and snacks and sit around. There's a dearth of such places in Alor Setar... 8(
LightNEasy3
Can also sit on the open balcony... it overlooks the parking lot. Beyond is the 'store' for Toyota. But for those with a penchant for attracting the mozzies, it's best to sit inside. 8)
LightNEasy4
True to its name, service is also light and easy. You better make sure you are not in a rush. Takes a while for your order to travel from the kitchen to your table. It was like that the last time I went with Son too. Then, the menu was also very limited; one page to be exact but like I mentioned earlier, their repertoire has improved! This is roast chicken with mushroom which Other Half had.
LightNEasy5
This time around, they actually had quite a lot of choices. There's even steamboat! A friend said their steamboat is good. But I prefer to make my own steamboat.... get better and fresher stuff this way. I had this; salmon steak. The sauce was nice.

Son had Chicken Maryland... while Daughter had Chicken Sandwich. The portions were generous and the price, reasonable I feel. So, if one is looking for a place to lepak and chat with friends, I think this is quite... light and easy as goes its name! 8)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Teacher's Day

This is something we do every year at school. It's one of those must have thing on the school calendar.

Teacher's Day always begins with an assembly. There're all these boring speeches to be read and then we, teachers have to sing this Kami Guru Malaysia song while the students watch on. I feel it's kinda silly, having us sing up there. Then the students will give a token (usually a small gift) to each teacher....

When I was schooling, one of the events we'd look forward would be the concert but these days such activities are frowned upon. Schools are getting too 'religious'. But there'll be some presentation of songs, skits... everything controlled. Mind you, I'm in a national school. I think Teacher's Day is still quite fun in the 'vernacular schools.

There was one year my school made the teachers contribute a 'kenduri' for the students. Imagine... I thought it was silly. For most part, Teacher's Day has become more of a burden, sometimes. I think the best thing they can do for us is to give us a holiday.

This year.. (I know the morning is not over). My school started the morning with a bacaan yasin.. something like that. The non Muslim students were asked to wait in the canteen. Huh?? How is that for promoting racial integration? On the morning of Teacher's Day, they hold such events - for one race, leaving out the others. If it had been Maulidur Rasul, it would have been understandable. Racial integration? We, teachers are promoting racial segregation. So, how do we hold such 'narrow-minded with holier-than-thou attitude educators' accountable for their divisive actions?? A short prayer of blessing would have been fine. I could go on but what is the point? These are people with thick skulls, who think that they are doing a wonderful thing.... We have indeed regressed!

And a while after all that... the speeches began. In it, the writers espoused negara bangsa, modal insan, integrasi.. blah, blah and more blahs... all rhetorics and empty talk, like a clanging cymbal. You know if you 'clang' a cymbal the sound is deafening and awful. A cymbal only sounds nice in a band. I'm generally a little pissed off this morning.... I am part of a system that epitomizes hypocrisy... and I'm ashamed! 8(

Anyway, over the years.. there have been a sprinkling of students who left indelible mark in my heart.. a flower here, a card there, a small token here and there... I know it came from their heart. And they encourage me on. This year...
Teacher's Day1
I got this early... but refrained from opening it until the day. From 'my kids'... it was sweet of them to remember. But what made my day even more was the content of the card... This morning too, when I arrived at school, 2 girls left a little something on my table. These are girls I nag a lot at in class.... And a colleague was sharing how an ex-student called her yesterday and wished her Happy Teacher's Day. The boy was one she punished a lot when she was teaching him.. and he still remembers her; and a few more other teachers who punished him a lot.

We came to the conclusion that it's often the recalcitrant students who remember the teachers who took the trouble to steer them back to the right path.... how's that?
Teacher's Day2
At school, I had a flower and some gifts. A few stood out. One from my last year's Form 5 students. They remembered! Another from a boy whom I've just had to reprimand quite 'harshly'. .. such are the memories that I'll cherish and also the reason why I still find teaching a calling. And these kids... they too have been a blessing to me cos in going down their paths, I grow up over and over again. ... and relive my youth over and over again too! LOL!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

H1N1 has finally landed... in Malaysia

So, we are finally on the H1N1 map - 2 confirmed cases. Problem is it's flu; I guess everyone becomes a suspect the minute they start to have flu. The gahmen says we are prepared... they say they've given out the instructions to those in the health services, both private and public, that they've mechanisms in place, experience from SARS and Nipah, etc, etc...

The thing is, talk to any private practitioner and they'll tell you also that what they know, they get from the mass media or internet. The gahmen has not really done the briefing or whatever they say they have been doing. They give us the impression that they are on top of things... and lull us into complacency as a result cos we think someone is in the know when they actually are not.

Even the US is having a hard time... my conclusion ... since both the confirmed cases came on the same plane from the same place. How did they get on board of the plane? Airport scanners? I thought they say those scanners are supposed to single out those people with fever? Doesn't seem to be so, it seems. I wonder whether the front line people have been given their flu jabs (which actually don't protect against this strain) as announced earlier?

H1N1 doesn't seem to be that lethal as thought to be but WHO worries that it'll mutate. All this promiscuity, the hopping around... viruses mutate to survive! Think Spanish Flu! Anyway, this flying swine flu has landed... mutation of swine, bird, human and what-have-you-not combi. Kinda reminds me of the mutation that Ben goes through in Ben 10. He did 'mutate' to become stronger, didn't he? ... whacked all the aliens and send them running away with their tails between their legs and all that!

Add that to the way our politicians handle things and how our professionals have also started handling things ala-politician style... God help us if it breaks into an epidemic in our country!

Of merits and scholarships...

The cows have come home... and the issue stands. We are a nation of many 'exceptional' students. So when these exceptional students apply for scholarships, we cannot fault them for having high expectations. After all, aren't scholarships meant for them? Then as the results of the applications for scholarships came out, many of these exceptional students found their hopes dashed... which is nothing out of the ordinary in this beloved country of ours.

Next, we have all these politicians (our MCA Prez is one fler) who says there must be a revamp in the selection. His sidekick, the Youth Head says the selection criteria makes no sense. Who are these flers kidding? Problem has been there for eons. We've been bleeding best brains for years now. Meritocracy reeks compromise. And we've way too many straight A(s) for our public exams.

Each time the results come out. My Malay colleagues with children involved seem to take it for granted that their children will be given something even though their results are less than perfect. My Chinese and non-Malay colleagues on the other hand will wait expectantly - half hoping to get, the other half expecting nothing, and invariably these are kids with usually better results. But I also add that these days, I hear slightly more getting offers but still there are many (especially non Bumis) with excellent results who get nothing. Non bumis make up almost 26% of the overseas scholarship recipients, it seems. They fare worse at the local level, making up only around 10% of overall number. It's back to the drawing board of racial quotas.

The imbalance is there cos there are still way too many exceptional students. These are our own creations... it's easy to increase the number of exceptional students these days... with passing marks allegedly running in the ten(s) and A grades running in the sixty-ish. The quality of an 'A' student is often in question. Hence you have students getting credits or sometimes even an A in English not being able to speak or write well... or students who pass their Maths but cannot even count properly. That is the standard of our school leavers now.

How did we get to this state? Years of mollycoddling, giving less than the true picture, lowering our standards, the kasihan culture... all to increase the number of A(s)... to paint a rosier picture, to give a false sense of bolehness. To keep people under crutches so that they continue to need assistance.... to give those people in power a sense of being seen as they are doing something for their people... The final picture - a red rosy nice looking apple. But when you cut it open, a lot of it is rotting inside. What is outside is just a covering of the rot that has set and is eating its way out.

So, yes... there must be a revamp in the selection system for the award of scholarships. But there also must be a revamp in the testing and grading system too. Scholarships should not be awarded at SPM level. It should be at STPM level. We should do away with the Matriculation path of getting into the local uni and have one standard for all. The disparity of quality is great between Matriculation and STPM with the latter being the more difficult one. SPM has been greatly compromised... despite KBKK (Kemahiran Berfikir Secara Kritis dan Kreatif) being one of our goals, majority of our students are far from it. They remain a spoon-fed generation, lacking in general knowledge and maturity.

We need an overhaul of the whole system, a makeover as well... to trim away the rot that is eating us. Wrong means will always lead us to the wrong end; no matter how one tries to justify it cos a wrong will continue to perpetuate more wrongs.... my two sen.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The most stressful job...

...and the award goes to.... MOMS!!!

And these last couple of days.... one word to describe me... TIRED! The kind of tiredness that knocks you flat. And it's only May... Cannot wait for the next round of hols to start! I started the year feeling good; energetic. Five months into the year and one whirl after another... the tank seems to be reaching Empty. These last couple of days, I feel as if I'm on auto mode. And it's on days like these that I turn to coffee! So that I remain lucid and not rant and rave over nothing. Nah! I'm off coffee still. Almost became dependent on it again a couple of weeks back. Close shave! Had headache for a few days after I stopped. It's back to taking it sparingly... on a need to basis, as in really need, as in yesterday! Pathetic, huh?

Apart from being moms to the kids... there is the house... sweep, mop, iron, paint, food on the table... blah and blah! I'm thankful for the daily help that I get to clean the house. And the caterer. Tell me, how often do you hear dads doing all those stuff without being told??? Moms... they are the driver, the maid, the Minister of Home Affairs.... the list is quite endless. Moms... ! I am a working mom... so these become added stress.

Some say be a stay-at-home mom. I've contemplated that. But I think work helps me keep my cool. Work place is where I regain some sanity sometimes cos it gives me the break from all the 'madness' of a growing family. Apart from the financial independence and also the control of my own life that it gives, it allows me to meet up with friends and lepas tension. And it gives me a good reason to go out for something meaningful, though sometimes I too crap about work. One can only go window shopping that many times before it becomes a mindless activity.

So, being a Mom... I guess it can be rather stressful. Work becomes therapeutic after chasing the kids, ... and sometimes Other Half... then the dust... the pet fish; everything at home!

So, if you still have your moms with you, show them your appreciation... where we are now, who we become... a big part of it is due to our long suffering moms. For that I salute my own mom too!!!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Someday...

I'm going to play this well. Right now, I can only manage sounds which are not too painful to the ears but not sweet as it should be... but it's been sitting in its dark box for over 2 years. 8(
Yamaha Flute
My Yamaha flute! Cost me a small little fortune. It was my way of rewarding myself with a little something after my last round of upward move in my pay. That was eons ago... then my time got eaten up by demands of a growing family. And before I knew it, my hands were full. Dunno where all the seconds, minutes, hours and days went.

Last week, I took it out again from its box. Gave it a good shine and told myself that I will make time for it next year, when I hope I shall be freer. 8)

Don't know why I wanted a flute so badly back then. Must have been something from my band days that got me into that mode... Used to play the piccolo. I wanted to play the concert flute but never got there. Ended up playing clarinet for 5 years instead. Either that or it was just plain simple retail therapy! LOL!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Fresh biscuits.. Jln Kilang Tebu

Don't really know what this biscuit is called but it's quite visible everywhere... market, shops, coffee shops...
RS2
The outside is like curry puff pastry and the inside is a little sweet, some bean paste I think.
RS1
Anyway, we found the place which makes it. So, if you want really fresh ones, as in straight out from the oven, this is where you can get it. This little cottage industry is in the vicinity of Ampang Place, near Keat Hwa II school. One of those little roads off the road leading to Tmn Seri Ampang and the school.
RS3
And just down this same road, one can see this....berthing area for fishing boats. It's quite a quaint place. There are some houses here too. Kinda nice to be fronting the river but I'm not sure whether it floods. Alor Star may be a city but it's still very idyllic in many areas.... if only they could do something about the rubbish, it'd be even nicer.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cars... of Protons and Prius

Been casting an eye or two on cars lately. Nah! Not buying one at the moment. Just looking around. Was at Pacific and saw some Hyundai cars, the Santa Fe and Tucson. Nice cars... I like the 'high' cars. Better view from 'up' there. 8)

So I started browsing for more info on some of the cars which caught my eyes.
Prius
Toyota Prius! 3rd gen. Sleek looking also! Word has it that Toyota is bringing it into Malaysia this second half of the year. I like the idea of a 'green car'... though the green concept is not totally green given the fact that the earth also takes a beating for every Prius that is rolled out of the assembly plant. But I like the fact that it is economical.... trying to get rid of the guilt for emitting so much noxious gas into the environment!

Was looking at the specs... nice. Maybe my next car will be this.... *wish..wish*. Word also has it that it'll be priced like the Honda Hybrid... at almost RM130K. So I went to check out the Prius price in the States.... starts at USD22K or RM88K. So there you have it, we still pay a premium to own a car like that. And why? Because we need to protect Proton and Perodua. This is such a karat story already. We pay more and get less for a car.

Hyundai and Proton probably can be lumped into the same basket. But their Santa Fe is good enough to be listed in the top 10 picks in the highly competitive American market. Our Proton?? While windows that don't quite wind up, aircons that don't seem to cool are problems of the past.. there are other problems which have cropped up. I've a friend who just took delivery of her new Perdana and she has to insert this piece of paper in her aircon knob so that cool air can continue to blow. Else, it'll be hot air. Most people who get into her Perdana has this itch of pulling out the paper cos it looks so out of place. It has been sent to the Proton service centre... and a few months down the road, the problem still persist. A piece of paper keeps the air con working. Kah! Kah! Kah!

Most of us have our own stories. Years ago, when we bought a Wira, the glove compartment warped after a few weeks. Then the power window gave way after a few months. My neighbour's Waja got flooded with its own aircon water within the first year. LOL!

So 2 decades down the road, we're still on the receiving end... receiving less for more paid. So, should we really keep Proton? A new car for RM88K comes complete with all the gadgets (GPS) and added safety features. Proton's new Exora... it boasts of 10 cup holders and also GPS, of course. But with a full load, you'd better not be overtaking on a busy road.

The poor quality of the car plus the way the gahmen has forced Proton cars down our throats have actually created many desires to shun it if they can. So, they make other cars out of reach... Malaysian National Cars - they've not given us better for less. They make us pay more for less.

I shall continue to dream about the Prius... LOL! Notice how the roads are beginning to clog up with cars? There're more cars on the road now. It was earlier announced that RON95 will hit the petrol kiosks in May but then pushed to Sept. At current prices, RON95 will retail less than the present RM1.80.... which is not good for the environment. Well, eventually prices of fuel will go up again... Prius, anyone???

Monday, May 11, 2009

Banner Collection @ Random Shots 3

Currently on display:
(11th May, 2009)
Alor Setar
Bulatan Teluk Wanjah at dusk. At the roundabout is a fountain built to commemorate the silver jubilee of the present Sultan's reign. We see the fountain working more often these days. There was one time when it hardly worked. Last year we celebrated HRH's Golden Jubilee. Not too far away is the Telekom Tower. Standing at almost 165.5 metres, it's the second tallest tower in Malaysia. There's an observation deck where you can see the whole of Alor Setar.
(7th May, 2009)
Photobucket
Black is the theme for today... thinking of my home state, Perak. Locked in a tussle for power. And the circus called politics.... circus tent is the State Assembly premise; the players - our supposedly respectable Datuks, Yang Berhormat... those very people whom we lay out red carpets each time they grace a function. Aiyo-yo... politics turn people into comics!

And now to see their antics... Where is their dignity?

We have Mat Rempits cum purse snatchers turn murderers and the police can only give feeble answers on it. Then we have people wearing black as a sign of protest and mourning (???) and the police warns they'll be arrested.... and some were. Police flex their muscles against 'peaceful' demonstrators but seem to relax them against the Mat Rempits. We know the Mat Rempits come out 'to play' every weekend. Yet the police are not seen much in curbing or going after this gatherings of Mat Rempits. We have today's Black Monday and it seems that coffee shop patrons pun jadi OKT (orang kena tahan).

So the world watches... the mockery of our laws and democracy. Of the abuse and lack of transparency. The state constitution has been damned. The process of damning it has shown to us how little regard our politicians have for the sanctity of this document. And also, never before has the news of such an act been beamed to all in such a short time. Pics and detailed accounts some more. We learn about the separation of powers.. no longer are the three bodies separated. Each uses the other for their own means. I am reminded of Zimbabwe at this point of time.

Real problems which affect us, the police don't act enough... real problems which affect certain group of politicians, they over react. *sigh*

(1st May, 2009)
Photos
Labour Day... a break from the usual labour. And this is the flavour currently. Taken with the Ixus110IS, Macro mode. No need an expensive DSLR to do the bokeh... this one pun good enough! 8)

(30th March, 2009)
Photobucket
This is a shot taken from the Ampang Jajar Bridge at around 7 something in the morning. The sky is filled with vibrant colours at this time of the year. I've been feasting on that vibrance every morning on my way to work. Can see the difference compared to a couple of weeks ago when it was kinda dull. The sky colours are just awesome some mornings. I supposed it has something to do with the angle of light coming into the sky at this time of the year.

Related Posts:
My Beijing Olympic 2008 Banners @ Random Shots
Banner Collection @ Random Shots
Banner Collection @ Random Shots 1
Banner Collection @ Random Shots 2

Mother's Day

Last week we did this... at LF's place. Wrapped up the presents to be given to all the mothers in church..
Mother's Day
These porcelain jars with covers are quite useful for soups. I'm putting mine at work. It's great for making my half boiled egg. Yummy!

And very aptly, we had this for tea...
Lorpo peng
Wife Cake... direct translation. LOL! All the way from Ipoh! Biscuit was really thin but quite nice, though. It has this sweet filling. There're a few stories as to why...
In ancient China, there was a poor couple. They adored and loved each other, staying in a small village. When a mysterious disease spread, the husband's father became very sick. Although they tried really hard to raise money to provide treatment for him, it wasn't enough. Sadly, the wife decided to sell herself as a slave, exchanging herself for her father-in-law's medicine.

Once the husband learned about what his wife did, he made a cake filled with winter melon and with a crispy crust. A cake for his wife. However, his cake became so popular that he was able to earn enough money to buy his wife back.
There's another one in which the husband got himself into debts and sold his wife into slavery. Guilt laden, he made the biscuit in her memory... Can Google it...
Mother's Day2
Anyway, this is the end product. Many hands make light work. The youths distributed one to each lady over 21 in church. Mother's Day is also MW night. Speaker for the night was May Chin from FGC... one of the rare lady speakers to grace the pulpit at WMC so far.

No fanfare for me this Mother's Day. In fact I cooked dinner some more. When I came back, my gal had 2 cards for me. Very typical of her... thoughtful! One she made on her own, the other her teachers asked the students to make. When I was schooling, there was no such thing... Mother's Day was just not something we 'celebrated'. I guess times have changed, at least on the outside. But on the inside, I'm not sure. Mothers.... the pillars to who we are. Just that very often many of us take them for granted.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Another visit to Precious Home...

This is like my third visit to this orphanage.

Last visit was about 6 months ago... saw one or two familiar faces. But could not remember the rest. Some are temporarily abandoned while their parents undergo rehab. Hopefully, these families get a chance to be reunited again.

There were around 19 of us, including some youths. Hopefully the youths will feature more in our social outreach.

Decided to do a movie instead of putting up pictures. Flavour of the day now is iMovie. Been trying it out these last couple of weeks and it's thumbs up, so far. Problem in putting in music since there're copyright issues to deal with. So just hentam with one that doesn't have-lah.

We brought lunch to share with them, also some clothes and toys. The kids were quite excited with the toys, mostly Lil Gal's. She was quite apprehensive to part with some of them but we told her the kids there do more justice to them.

Kids like mine... they are fortunate, as in those who went. I hope they realise it. Without the family support, their paths would be so much more difficult. Who knows, some of them might actually be out there working for their own living now.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Dinner on Friday Night...

If you have friends who invite you to dinner... it is a blessing. And these were the blessings that went into our stomachs... all except one was home cooked. Another one of our Friday night forays...
Dinner1
Meat on mushrooms, with carrots, brocolli and cauliflower and scallops.. very colourful and inviting. But the food gets better.. 8)
Dinner2
Prawns minus a good part of their shells, lightly fried with stuffs that makes them smell good. Fresh and succulent.... unfortunately us, the 'more matured' ones had one each only. Most of them went into the 'young' adults' stomachs. At our age, we've to reckon with cholesterol.
Dinner3
Indonesian fried chicken, most likely, of Batak style. Fried just right, it's tasty and juicy. I don't take much fried chicken these days but this one still tastes good. It's seems a favourite with the younger adults though...
Dinner4
Stewed 'tu-gar'... my personal favourite. Stewed with ground nuts and other spices, it goes well with white rice. Most of the younger adults have not acquired the taste for this yet. Anyway, less man more share. 8)
Dinner6
Oyster fried in egg.
Dinner7
Angel Hair... Lil Gal's favourite!
Dinner5
Lastly, thick and rich mutton and potato curry. Would have gone great with any bread. After dinner, a little port and sparkling juice. 8) Sat around a while and sembang. A nice dinner get together. Meals are always nicer taken together, with people share a common ground. And once in a while, can look at the pics; drool and remember. LOL!!!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Vanity, Thy Name is Wo(Man)..

Vanity, thy name is woman. Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella; nearly all the fairy tales would have snippets about women and vanity - hours of combing the hair, sitting in front of the mirror; plastering all those mud-like texture stuff onto the face; of carefully tailored clothes, pelisse and paletetots, uncomfortable clothes like bustle, or wasteful attires in the haute couture, all acts of vanity. If the hairbrush can talk, I'm sure there are many tales of vanity it can tell us.

And why not? In those days of serfs and lords (hamba dan tuan), the upper echelon of the society had slaves to meet their needs; which of course freed the women fortunate enough to be born into that class a certain life of frivolous pursuits. The only hazards in their lives were probably childbirth and the fall of their men; in the strongest-takes-all environment those days. So yeah! Women had hours and hours to entertain vanity. Else what could they do?? But I think vanity is not just women's domain. It's just that over the ages, women have always been portrayed as vain.... by men!

Vanity, Thy Name is Man... sounds so weird, right? Yet I think men are just as vain as women. For women... vanity equals to jars and tubes of creams, trips to the beautician and hairdresser, face-lift, plastic surgery,... but men also do that now. Metro Man is the invention of the 21st century! They too go for their manicure and pedicure! The soft look is in. LOL! But man's vanity goes beyond just being the Metro Man.

It also comes in the form of what car they drive, how big of a house they have, how pretty the lady they kepit beside them, how successful they are in bringing the $$$... call it stoking the ego... but it's also vanity. Only different in form. But women are fast catching up also with men in this. Emancipation, equal rights.... I'm glad to be born in this gen!

Contrary to what is commonly held, William Shakespeare didn't say this in Hamlet. What he did say was, "Frailty, thy name is woman!" in his exasperation when he found out his mother remarried soon after his father's death.

Anyway, it should be... Vanity, thy name is Wo(Man). In this world of equal opportunity, I think both genders are equally represented in the matter of vanity too! If the old ways were straightforward, vanity today is a combination of marketing and science... SKII, technical re-bonding, hair dyeing to preserve that fleeting youth, facial, Mary France Bodyline, liposuction, bust lift, eye brow tattoo, eye lift, botox.... but all in the name of vanity and money. Vanity, Thy Name Is All! Kah! Kah! Kah!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Visual Novel...

I am so tickled by this. Literature (with a small L) was made a component of English in secondary school years ago in an effort to improve English among students. So, in Lower Secondary the students do poems, short stories and 'abridged' novels. It's the same for Upper Secondary, only a different set which is a progression of the lower secondary set. So with the little 'L', our 'under-the-coconut-shell' students are exposed to the works of literary greats like Roald Dahl, Shakespeare and a few others. It's supposed to be a journey into different minds and cultures via the minds of literary greats. But for those of us who teach in normal day schools, the kids are getting no where. Either we are such lousy teachers or the students are. But I think it's a combi of both.

So, I was tickled pink when I was told that they'd be introducing visual novel soon. It sounded kinda novel. Did a Google search and came up with this. Visual novel is supposed to be a game of some sort - something like anime, the Japanese thingy. But don't think the Ministry is supplying computers to every student to learn to play this game thingy.

So I think the curriculum people meant Comics (Visual novel)!!! LOL! Comics as novels! So much for literacy. We are continuing in our effort to improve English - by making the syllabus even easier. Maybe kids today need visual stimulation in order to learn. They can't sit and read through long pieces of passages, what more books. But whatever it is, the standard of English is so bad that now we really do need the visual aid... hence the visual novel.

This is also MUET season... MUET is an exam meant to gauge the proficiency level of students aspiring to take up courses in the universities. Candidates are placed into 6 bands, with Band 6 being the Highest Proficiency Level. In the last exam, Kedah had over 7000 candidates but none was placed in Band 6.
  • 71 candidates made it to Band 5 and
  • 4000+ candidates fell in the Bands 1 and 2.
If you are in Band 1 or 2, it means you are only capable of utterances... in other words, hopeless in English. At national level, from a total of about 76000 candidates
  • only 9 candidates were in Band 6.
  • 987 were in Band 5.
  • 12000 were Band 1.
However, it's one of the few believable exams we have left. Our SPM results are so fantastic that we seem a nation made up of super duper geniuses. Compare that to our first world neighbour down south which only had only one top student with a lowly 10As, we should be super ahead of our neighbour. But we are not.

Whatever it is, one thing for sure.. our English is at a pathetic stage. Some people say this is nothing new... yeah, in a way. But we must remember that our English was not always this bad. We have regressed.... I hope we're bottoming out.

So this visual novel thing... it should be quite a novelty. Maybe it may even get students interested. Literature in comics... I guess maybe that's what we're capable of handling now. So yup!... nothing new except that Malaysians have lost out in the mastery of the current world lingua franca... and so many other things also.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Teachers also wear uniforms

I've been reading into circulars regarding the wearing of 'uniforms' in schools by teachers. You see, many schools are into getting the teachers to wear a 'uniform'; once a week and special occasions. And this has been going on for almost a decade. It's one of those things which I consider very silly cos... don't have to wear, beriya-iya want to.... waste money, everyone aping each other, no individuality... aiya! everyone looks the same!

In many schools these days, we have school administrators 'instructing' (and teachers comply cos boss says so) teachers to wear the same clothes... I shall use the term 'same clothes' as these 'clothes' differ from school to school. Thus School A can have a red batik motif clothes as its uniform while School B can have plain red clothes, for example. And the design would differ from one individual to another and school to school. And my grouse is, we are made to pay for the cloth as well as the tailoring. Just because people up there want it... for whatever purposes they may have in mind. Most of the time it's to make themselves look good to the even higher pihak atasan.

While the rationale given is that the 'same clothes' we wear would make us identifiable during functions, it isn't really something that is necessary. I mean, how many teachers do you find in a school... at most perhaps slightly over a hundred but the norm... anywhere from 50-70. It is not that difficult to make out who is who given the small number. Plus we are not made up of huge departments... But what this might create instead is business opportunities for certain individuals. And also, 'hardship' to the teachers as they would have to fork out money for cloth and tailoring; which sometimes can come up to quite a lot.

From the circulars, all they say is for those whom uniforms are not supplied, they should wear respectable looking clothes, nothing that is too revealing...

And here we have, trying to make all of us look alike on the outside..... it kinda reminds me of my days as juvenile, long ago, of how we had the tendency to ape our friends... then as we grow older.. we start to try to exert our own identity.. I wonder sometimes whether our educational institutions have regressed in its development? Monkey see, monkey do?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Bento 17.. Bread, Egg and Fruits

Been a while since I took pics of the food that I pack for my lil gal. I've moved to metal containers. Still using my plastic containers but rarely these days. Kinda worried that those stuff in the plastic will find their way to the food.
Bento
The night before I asked my Lil Gal whether she'd like to have a 'bear-egg' to school and 'car-bread'. It was an enthusiastic yay! How not to prepare with such enthusiasm? So this morning I did a quick one. Boiled egg and shaped with with my teddy bear mold. Strawberries and grapes in the silicon containers. And bread in the shape of car and bear with a heart; spread of strawberry/grape jam and butter.

It's been half a year since I made something like this for her. I still pack food for her but I do other stuff for her. And she came home that day, beaming.. telling me that even her monitor said, "Wah!" A year ago, her classmates didn't really bother what their friends bring. Now, I can see that they're beginning to pay attention to what their friends bring and have. The beginnings of the role of peer pressure. Yup!

And she asked whether I can make more 'car-bread' for her. The bear with a heart is also a hit. You can eat its heart first! And she asked whether I could make extra for her to bring to school. Her friends want also! 8) Even her soya sauce in her strawberry sauce container was popular! The things that excite a kid!
Bento1
And so I did... This was today's. The rabbits came out to play among the flowers. With love from the ma! 8)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Hari Bomba Sedunia 2009

To market, to market and I got these fire trucks instead... 8) This was yesterday morning. Was on my way to the market when Other Half called to say that they were having this parade. So patah balik to get my camera.

l've never seen so many fire trucks on one road in Alor Setar. They came in all shapes and sizes. The trucks, motorcycles, 4-wheel drives, boats, water scooters, etc made a big circle from Stadium Darul Aman into Lebuhraya Sultan Abdul Halim and Jln Stadium before ending up at the stadium again.
Bomba
Hari Anggota Bomba Sedunia 2009 or World Firefighters Day; can see this poster around town but this one is right outside the Fire Station along Jln Tun Razak. Firefighters drew a lot of attention for their sacrifice and bravery during the World Trade Centre tragedy back in 2001. Many firefighters lost their lives there.

There weren't many people around as it was raining. But I had the opportunity to see one of the bands warming up during the brief respite from rain. This was Keat Hwa I School band, one of the best bands in the state. But notice that the conductor was a little listless. I could think of the Conductor for the Choral Speaking competition who was more lively and interesting to watch. Many parents and teachers feel that joining the band is a waste of time. I think it's a good activity. I was a school band member for 7 years... performed in many places. Waste time? The time would have been wasted anyway.
SAHC Band
This is the Sultan Abdul Hamid College school band. Kinda cute with their cowboy hats. 8) Suits them. I can imagine them swaggering and not taking things seriously... making a joke out of everything. Boys! The Sultanah Asma Band came as I was leaving the Stadium grounds.
Firefighters' Day
Little firefighters wannabes. The kids looked really cute, marching in a group.
Firefighters' Day 1
This must be really old. It's nice the Fire Department is still maintaining some of the old vehicles.... All in all, it was actually quite interesting to see this in such sleepy old Alor Setar. 8) Glad I caught it on camera.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

On the 1st of May...

We lepak-ed!!! Yay! Boys went off for their usual morning 'brain exercise' while we started our hanging around. It was a day of binging... Breakfast was at the usual place cos the girls have not been there for a long time. Only difference this time was there we were not homogeneous. Other Half joined us.

Then off to lunch, to celebrate TH's birthday at Samila. This place is not so obtrusive cos it's in the hotel and you don't see any clear signboard. Anyway, this is one place we go once or twice a year. Their Western fare is not bad. The girls had thoughtfully and lovingly carried the cake back from Penang....

Song is just a joke... only good wishes for this young man from all of us. Anyway, we continued our good time with a 'karaoke cum 'dance' session at Mol's.
Cups
Cups to be filled with apple juice....Daughter helped with the blending while the 2 boys were chivalrous enough to fix up some shades for Mol. The rest of us just lepak around... 8)

Tried some dance moves but apart from Ling who seems to have a perfect pair of legs, the rest of us who attempted some moves either had 2 lefts or 2 rights. And singing the oldies with Mol made us realize that the songs from those days were kinda slow. Songs have kinda moved along too....

Earlier we went through some of John's fishing reels. Some of them are still in the box. Not used.
Ambassadeur SX7700CL
This is the Ambassadeur SX 7700CL... still in pristine condition. The original box is still there.
Shimano Calcutta 4000
The Shimano Calcutta 4000, also still in the box and shiny like new. They've all not been used. There are a few more... we're thinking of putting them up for sale.

Night... well we continued 'partying' while the boys went for their youth meet. Dinner was at Flora Inn. After a day of binging, clear porridge seemed rather soothing to the stomachs.