Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Stories....

A car gets stolen and is left at another location which barely 5 km away from the place where it was stolen. The thieves had second thoughts??? So for 3 weeks it sat in a parking lot in an area frequented by police patrols... and they didn't notice that the same car sitting there. So finally, one observant fler called the police to report the car which had been sitting in the same spot for so many weeks. Turned out the car was stolen from Pacific Hypermart's parking lot. Don't they put out APBs for stolen vehicles? Aren't our police trained to be on the look for things out of the ordinary? Every area is supposed to have their own Beat Officer(s). So, if the said officers have been doing their rounds, they would have noticed the car in the same spot day after day, evening after evening and night after night. Anyway, suffice to say that the owner of the car, an old lady was glad to have her wheels back again. One more thing, this car was parked in an area where you are supposed to pay for parking. 3 weeks! Not even a wheel clamp on this car! So much for efficiency...
Donations
Schools have also become grounds to collect donations. I recently saw a brochure from a NGO to seek donation from students. Apparently it's sanctioned by the MOE. And students who donate more than RM100 will be given a certificate signed by none other than our Angkasawan. But at one school, the students said that their school counsellor told them to go canvas for 10 people to give donations or if they cannot do that, donate RM5 themselves. The donation is for the Gaza cause. A friend of mine was questioning how can we be sure that the money will get to the intended people... After all, there is no issuance of receipt even for money given. There is no transparency at all. These days... it's money this and money that. Some schools hold a Bacaan Yasin for their exam students but make them pay money (around RM5); for food. We want to be hospitable but we make our guests pay for our hospitality. Aiyo!

A friend said this recently... all the ferrying her son, the crazy tuition schedules, the long hours that he had to stay back at school... and all for just 3 days of UPSR. A whole year of childhood gone into all that. Now she wonders whether it's worth it. I said most of us will say it's worth it when the momentary joy of seeing the 7A(s) on the result slip. But deep down I wonder too... why have we all turned so siao?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pendidikan Moral...

In Pendidikan Moral for SPM they have 7 bidang (area). And this is from the first one. There are 12 nilai or values related to Perkembangan Diri or Self Development. With each one comes a definition which must be reproduced most of the time bulat-bulat.
  1. Kepercayaan Kepada Tuhan (Belief in God)
  2. Amanah (Trustworthy)
  3. Harga Diri (Self Pride)
  4. Bertanggung jawab (Responsible)
  5. Hemah tinggi (Cultured???)
  6. Toleransi (Tolerant)
  7. Berdikari (Independent)
  8. Kerajinan (Hardworking)
  9. Kasih Sayang (Compassion)
  10. Keadilan (Justice)
  11. Rasional (Rational)
  12. Kesederhanaan (Moderate)
And now take all these nilai and try to measure them up against our political leaders, top figures and bosses in the civil service and see how they fare. Where the Pengetua in Johor is concerned, she'd probably fail at 8 or 9 of them. LOL!

Let's take the Siti Inshah Mansor fiasco and put it on the Perkembangan Diri yardstick and measure her. And on the other side of this same divide, we have Namewee. Both would fail equally miserably on the nilai score.... but then again, perhaps both also didn't take Pendidikan Moral at SPM level. LOL! But I am sure Ms Siti would have gotten enough teachings from Pendidikan Islam... students have to either take Pendidikan Moral or Pendidikan Islam. As for Namewee, he took the UEC and I am not sure whether he took his SPM.

So do you wonder why our students poke fun at Pendidikan Moral and label it a useless subject? Add that to the senseless memorizing of definition and silly situations, Pendidikan Moral actually teaches our young how to be 'politically correct'. Ms Siti Inshah interpreted her political masters correctly and hence came out with her diatribe....

So, even if your interpretation of the situation given contains a nilai (value) that is applicable but not listed in the mark scheme, no marks will be awarded. But in the case above it's in and full marks hence no action 46 days since her speech at the assembly.

Our measure of morality is really skewed... Pendidikan Moral equals a failed subject too.... not forgetting rote learning intensified; otak becomes kayu.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Eat, Love, Pray... by Elizabeth Gilbert

This is bonus round cos it has gone beyond the amended target of 40 books for the year. Book 41, recommended by Other Half.

It's a best seller and has already been Hollywood-ized. So, it's selling like hotcakes now. I notice that it's being mentioned a lot on the radio stations lately. The novel is more like a travelogue of Gilbert in search of the meaning of life after going through an emotional (identity?) crisis; she divorced her husband. So, to 3 I(s) she went - Italy to seek the pleasures of life, India for spirituality and Indonesia to balance pleasure and spirituality.

The author is candid, witty and intelligent. At points one might think she is schizo and she wonders it herself... but then again, aren't majority of such people are tortured souls? Amidst the deep melancholy, arises the genius... something like that.

Eat
In Italy, the pleasures of eating. I find her description of everything Italian interesting. Didn't know that Italian men are to what we think of French women. Hmmm... interesting to note that she finds Italian men beautiful (not handsome). She wrote about Depression and Loneliness as 2 characters coming back to sway her in Italy. Interesting!

Pray
To an ashram in India she went. There's this appeal in Yogic meditation, the pull of a Guru, etc. But I echo her sentiments on this particular thought - the longing to have something to believe in becomes more pronounced as we end our journey on this side of the divide. But this longing is up against many obstacles - intellect, common sense, greed, etc..... As much as many of us might proclaim that life ends with our last breath, many too ponder about the claimed worldly divide. Humanity is a constant evolution in search of the divine, in many forms.

Love
In Indonesia, she had these 2 friends... both medicine people, Ketut and Wayan. It's quite hilarious though some of the accounts she made of them. We need balance in our lives. Faith is a choice. I always believe that God created us with the ability to choose. Everyone is entitled to make their own choices. Faith is more than just doing good... it's trying to live out to a calling. And love - the balance between the first two. Faith and works, the compelling factor is love. Hence we try to do good...

So Eat, Pray and Love.. I look at it this way. EAT represents the passion and pleasure that we are created for. God created us to have fellowship with him and PRAY is precisely that... a union with our creator. If this is too hard to comprehend, think parents and children. Children long for their parents' fellowship when they are young, and the roles become slightly reverse as the parents age and children become adults. But children tend to forget their parents sometimes in adulthood. (We forget God because we feel we are self-reliant). Love is faith in action, meeting the needs of Eat.

Her narration also caused me to ponder and reflect some what. After all, this is a book written by a woman in search of an identity and the meaning of her life to her. Typically, a woman is expected to marry, focus on the family; basically she loses her individual identity in a manner of speaking. She even assumes her husband's name! But the emancipated woman of this generation finds it hard to confine herself within those boundaries created by the marriage institution... I guess I found this reason one of the most appealing reason why I enjoyed reading this book. The identity search... you see, for a woman for centuries past, marriage plays a vital role in determining her identity...

Where faith is concerned... there is always this bit of soul searching that we go through. For some, the soul searching starts early, for many it begins as we approach the end of our journey... but I think most of us do some soul searching at some point.Many years ago (if feels like a lifetime ago), as a first year university student, I, too did my soul searching, reading into various 'holy' books - (Bhagavad Gita, Teachings of Buddha, Quran, works by philosophers of the Renaissance period and even parts of the Upanishad). Some of the readings were course work. Others were reading by choice.

So did the author find her balance??? I don't know, though she seemed happier at the end of her book. Each of us would like to think that we do but the final chapter is often not written till the coffin is nailed and sealed.... and no one has come back to this side of the divide to tell us what is beyond that.

Book 41. Definitely a good read. Might want to catch the movie if I have the time - Julia Roberts. 8)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Miss X and Mr Y

Chromosomes at play and this is biology. When you have X and X you get a girl. An X and a Y get you a boy. That's how they tell us boys and girls are made.

Then bring in a little Math and you realize that there is a constant and a variable. The constant here is X and the Y is the variable. In a nutshell, looks like we need X in the world. X is the girl in everyone of us. Yup! Every guy has a girl in them.. LOL!

And it is a no wonder that guys today are spending more time at the hairdresser. Nope, barbers are out! Many guys actually balk at the thought of going to the barber. I even have friends who say they won't send their sons to the barber cos they don't cut well. And you have guys who go for facials too now. There are tons of skin care products which cater for the XYs. The girl in every guy is coming to the forefront now. It's a latent thing, biologically substantiated too. LOL!

I've also noticed many teenage boys and young men looking more and more girlie these days. I sometimes find myself making remarks how 'pretty' those guys look. I guess the XXs are also finding such feminine looking guys appealing too. I wonder whatever happened to the macho and rough image....

Anyway, guys looking like gals. I guess that's another round of revolution we're going through. 100 years ago, it was the other way round, gals started to wear the pants (literally, LOL!) and look where we are now. Perhaps this is the beginning of another change; we'll soon be seeing guys staying at home, full time dad, househusband while their wives wears the pants of the family.

The order that we know twisted.... yet again. So Ms X has become a little more of a Mr. X while Mr. Y has become more of his other X. Nurture has a lot to do with that too as mothers these days spend even more time with their sons than the preceding generation. Busy generation we are!


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Syok sendiri...

Latihan Dalam Perkhidmatan or LDP - teachers must attend at least 42 hours ( I think, it could be 48) starting this year. LDP is supposed to improve your professionalism, quite a noble objective. But that's where it ends cos most of the time, I find the courses they give quite boring and impractical.
Scribbles
Many of us more than met the minimum hours needed this year but that did not stop us from being forced to attend yet another course on a Saturday! .. we've a term for it; paksa-rela. LOL! Going back to school on an off day certainly did not appeal to many of us but we had no choice because we were told to write a show cause letter if we did not attend.

It was a course on Asset Management... of no use to me since I'm just an ordinary teacher. And they called in the same guy who a couple of years ago told us that in order to help Bumi companies, we should give them the tender even if the price given is not competitive, even if it's higher than its competitors by a ringgit a unit... so much for accountability of public funds. Never mind if we do not get our money's worth. Integrity, accountability, efficiency.... glossy words but not practised! So, it was a switch off the minute the voice started droning.... yet he is thought as someone who is very good at what he does. That's how system works. We don't go by efficiency, we go by crutches cos we applaud those who continue to make sure the patronage system remains alive even if it costs us more tax payers money. We bleed ourselves cos we think it's a right. And you wonder how come Malaysia is losing out on competitiveness??? Sheesh!!!!

And what was supposed to be a 2 hour talk ended an hour later! So much for good planning. The world of officialdom is not so time-minded after all. It is very stretchable.... poor time management! Time is asset, no??? Guess that's also poor asset management.... LOL!

Syok sendiri... bosses, speakers and even us attendees. This particular LDP provides each group a different kind of syok sendiri. And it was a most unproductive Saturday morning, at least for me. I'm sure some people found it helpful but it was not my cup of coffee cos it had no relevance for me.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Weeding....

I've not done weeding for quite a long time but today, I did, after visiting a friend's mom. In the last 2 weeks, I've started going back into my garden again, cleaning up the pots, clearing the dead leaves, etc.... And I found out that I enjoy the solitude that came with it. I could think. Life has been a blur of rush. My son tells me that I am constantly up to something and he gets flustered cos I'd be reminding him to do this or that....

So, this afternoon, after I changed the string of my trimmer, I decided to do some weeding. There was a slight drizzle but it wasn't heavy enough to wet me. The rains in the last few days have made the ground soft and pulling those weeds out didn't need much effort.

And my mind began to think.... Weeding and life... When Other Half and I renovated the side of our house, one of the things we did was to take our contractor's advice and put in a layer of sand for our compound. He ordered red sand for us so that our grass would grow better. He over ordered and we ended up with about one foot of red sand laid in our compund! Weeds would have a hard time rooting themselves the soil beyond the one foot deep sand. 8) We planted carpet grass and in those early years, we'd diligently pull out the weeds. But fighting against the weeds is a hard battle. They keep coming back with a vengeance. One way of slowing their advance is to make sure that our grass grow well. The red sand was good for their growth... and though we had some problems every now and then, the weeds were well under control.

That was until some years back, when we noticed that the snakes would come at certain time of the year. So, we started to put sulphur as deterrent.... I've had many encounters with these creatures and they still make me squirm. Little did I realize that sulphur is acidic and over the years (my own negligence cos I didn't check on my sis-in-law who was happily spreading the sulphur) the grass by the fence began to thin out and in some areas, they actually died. And the weeds began to have a gala time growing in those areas.... turns out weeds are really hardy and not totally put off by the acidic nature of the soil. So, they grew....

Weeds... you can never get rid of them cos if your neighbour's compound is full of weeds, it's just a fence away from invasion.

Life.... we too have weeds in our lives. Weeds are like bad peer pressure or negative company. Weeds grow too. They are also green. If you use a trimmer and trim it real short, from far, the compound looks kinda nice too. But they're not nice to step on cos some have thorns which will hurt your legs. Some throw your planning of your compound into disarray with their odd shapes and sizes and different growth spurts.

Like weeds which grow easily, bad practices are easy to pick up, easy to let it grow and overwhelm our lives. Weeds if given half a chance will overwhelm an area in no time...

Our fight with the weeds is made easier because of the groundwork we put in earlier (the thick and fertile sand) but even though groundwork was made, without the proper maintenance and vigilance, the weeds still had a field day. The damage control and repair is very hard on the knees and back..... 8( And weeding is a job where you must get your hands dirty. The dirt finds its way to your nails and can stubbornly lodge themselves there. Was thinking about the challenges of raising kids as I thought about this. We may lay good foundation but if we don't monitor, our kids might still stray.... etc, etc.

There were many more thoughts which went through as I weeded. I ended up with a small bag of weeds. The drizzle got heavier and I went in to make a cup of tea to go with my book (Eat, Pray, Love); it was nice sitting on the swing, reading, accompanied by the sound of running water from my fish pond, and chimes from my need-to-change wind chime, caressed by the cool north wind which blows at this time of the year.... It's a nice change, going back to the greens... especially at this time of the year, when sitting outside is possible.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Free Computers...

Gathered this from the announcement made over the PA yesterday. It seems quite a number of students at school will be given free laptops! Some prerequisites; parents must earn less than 3K, students have no record of discipline problems at school, good results (meaning in the top 3 classes but where I am students in the 3rd class can be quite weak academically) and no computer ownership at home.

Free laptops... what will kids do with them? Without a broadband connection, there is a strong likelihood that it will be turned into a gaming console. I mean, how likely will the parents spend money on internet connection, unless free ownership of a laptop becomes an impetus to subscribe. Cos without it how fun can it be for a teenager to be 'playing' with a word processor or spreadsheet. But one might argue that he might be hooked onto graphic designing and editing... but that's a long shot.

Free laptops... will that mean more visits to places with wi-fi connection? Will this encourage a new spate of lepak-ing, at those places offering free wi-fi connection?But perhaps this is good to help menjana ekonomi for the upscale kedai kopi? So is it safe to assume that kids will be spending more time hanging out of their homes? After all with a laptop in hand, what is to stop a MPOG rampage?

And parental control. Kids can always tell parents they have no right to tell them what to do with the laptop. After all, "school give wan". Parents might have extra headaches dealing with their kids.

Free computer... I've no idea whether the kids must keep the computers at school or have the freedom to take them home. But if it's the latter, I wonder what 'educational' value there is. I wonder about accountability too... The last time the gahmen gave the PPSMI teachers computers, many of them ended up as gaming consoles for their children too... 8)

I don't even give my children their own personal computers to use. They use the main unit in the hall, in plain sight. I think the tumultuous teenage years will pose a big challenge to monitoring. Laptops are way too mobile, way to easy for secret viewings. And it's easy to hook up to the Net via the mobile phone too. There are various packages available now for short term use.

But above all, anything free.... will we appreciate them more? We make university entrance easier and look what's happening to the ranking of our universities. Look at the kind of graduates we're producing. We lower the required marks for our public exams and now we have so many A students that it's now very difficult to tell what quality really is. Our politicians keep telling us our standard of education is good but read around and you find that under all those glossy report, much is not well. Freebies... how many of us can honestly say that we jaga the freebies like we would the things we buy with our own sweat and toil???

And the final pondering... is anyone making a buck out of this? The same money might as well be used to upgrade the physical classrooms.

On another topic but also to do with our edu system. This is taken from another blog... and it's something which many teachers talk about, the lowering of marks to give a semblance of quality when it is actually not there.
Petang tadi saya berkesempatan minum dan makan roti canai dengan beberapa orang kawan yang bekerja sebagai guru. Mendengar daripada topik perbualan mereka, kisah dan cerita yang berlaku di dalam sistem pendidikan negara ini amat membimbangkan saya. Daripada markah lulus (passing mark) untuk subjek Sains dan Matematik yang diubah-ubah untuk mencapai target peratusan lulus sehinggalah kepada soalan UPSR yang bocor hampir setiap tahun.

Menurut seorang kawan saya ini, beberapa pelajar yang mendapat keputusan yang sangat cemerlang seperti mendapat "A" di dalam semua subjek di dalam peperiksaan UPSR mereka telah diterima masuk ke sekolah berasrama penuh, tetapi selepas beberapa bulan, mereka dinasihatkan supaya menukar ke sekolah biasa kerana didapati masih tidak menguasai asas pembacaan, penulisan dan pengiraan. Bayangkan, pelajar yang mendapat semua "A" dalam UPSR dinasihatkan keluar dari sekolah berasrama penuh kerana tahap sebenar mereka tidak menggambarkan keputusan UPSR mereka.

Menurut kawan-kawan guru ini, projek "menolong Melayu" (kononnya) ini bermula selepas pencapaian markah yang teruk di dalam subjek Sains dan Matematik di kalangan pelajar Melayu apabila pengajaran dalam bahasa Inggeris mula-mula diperkenalkan untuk kedua-dua subjek ini. Pada mulanya, langkah menurunkan markah lulus (passing mark) dilakukan hanya sebagai 'quick fix' sahaja kerana untuk mengelakkan kejutan dan menjaga air muka jabatan dan kementerian pendidikan. Tetapi amalan mengubah-mengubah markah lulus sudah menjadi budaya dan mula sebati di dalam sistem. Menurut kawan-kawan guru ini, mereka terkejut bagaimana ramai murid yang mereka mengajar setiap hari boleh mendapat "A" di dalam peperiksaan sebenar UPSR sedangkan markah kebiasaan yang diperolehi sepanjang ujian dan peperiksaan percubaan hanya sekitar 25% sahaja.

Menurut kawan-kawan guru, golongan atasan di dalam Jabatan Pendidikan amat menjaga "KPI" mereka yang berdasarkan kepada peratusan kelulusan dan juga peratusan mendapat "A". Lagi pun ini untuk "membantu Melayu", kata mereka.

Penyakit ini ditambah juga oleh satu barah yang lain, iaitu soalan peperiksaan UPSR yang bocor setiap tahun. Kebocoran kertas soalan UPSR inilah yang menghasilkan pelajar yang layak masuk ke sekolah berasrama penuh, tetapi masih terkial-kial untuk menulis dan membaca. Menurut kawan-kawan guru ini, 10 tahun yang lepas, mereka senang untuk meramalkan pelajar yang akan mendapat keputusan yang cemerlang atau yang gagal di dalam UPSR kerana keputusan peperiksaan sebenar juga lebih menyerupai keputusan ujian dan peperiksaan percubaan yang dilakukan oleh pihak sekolah. Tetapi pada hari ini, keputusan UPSR mengejutkan mereka. Pelajar yang tidak pernah lulus di dalam peperiksaan di sekolah sepanjang tahun tiba-tiba mendapat "A" di dalam UPSR.

Menurut kawan-kawan guru ini, kebiasaanya Terengganu ialah negeri di mana bermulanya soalan UPSR yang bocor. Ini kerana kertas peperiksaan UPSR akan tiba lebih awal di atas pulau-pulau yang mempunyai sekolah-sekolah. Saya tidak tahu samada polis juga bersubahat kerana kertas peperiksaan ini disimpan di balai polis.

Mampus lah kita macam ni...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

With a pinch of salt...

Do you believe everything (or most things) that you read from the Web? There are many people who seem to think that every thing they read or video they view is gospel truth.

I've been receiving lots of mail and links about this and that, have friends post cautions on FB too... Most of them mean well; they want to pass along helpful cautions and tips.

I remember reading about a python swallowing a 16-year-old boy in Taman Negara. It was a hoax but many actually believed it. Recently I received an email concerning Burundanga, a drug which if you touch will render you helpless. Such kinds of news are made more believable because they are sent by our friends. One reason why viral marketing works great is because we share all these supposedly must know and good stuff with the people in our social network.

What about testimonials of people? Sometimes you get email about what a person says about his faith only to find out later that it's just half truths or even worse, no truth. The point is, these days truth can be masked and untruths can be passed on as truths. And we are no better than before... Too much information can bring about more headaches too.... one pinch of salt may not enough often times. LOL!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

P For Peril... by Sue Grafton

This one was a letdown cos the ending was left hanging! 8( Made me wonder whether I missed something or the ebook was not complete!

It's another one from the Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone alphabet series. The other 2 which I've read are N for Noose and U for Undertow. Murder and detective work... reading her novel is like watching the TV, suspense, action and drama; though of course you play it all out in your mind.

A doc went missing. His ex hired Millhone to investigate. The plot was twisted by his second family; young wife with a baby and a stepdaughter. Add that to some problems at workplace, you get many motives. But the end of the story sees another twist. It's light reading. Nice enough for teenagers and interesting enough to keep one glued.

And this wraps up the 40 books for the year. It isn't the meeting of a target that matters, though it helps that I was keeping track of my readings. I've still some unfinished books lying around which I'm trying to finish... one of them a biography of John Sung which is in the form of a physical book. Cannot carry it around cos it's just too thick and I'm usually beat by bedtime. So, it's still sitting in (and on) my table waiting to be finished. And I've bought a couple more other books which are lying around the house too, waiting to be read.

Reading is good. It sharpens my mind. It makes me think. Tales may be fictitious but the human mind creates stories from likely situations. Reading helps you see them and you begin to start looking at bigger pictures of things that happen in your own life. On to more books.... 8) I've 3 plus months before the year ends.... might not have so 'much' time to read after this since I've more things to do at home now.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Card Making During the Hols...

This was one of the other projects that kept me busy during the last 2 weeks....
Crafts
Mini mass production of wedding invitation cards! This is the second time we're (Other Half and I) doing this. I wouldn't dream of doing this if Other Half does not pitch in and help. Designing is his forte.... We did our first batch last year, for another friend's son's wedding. This time around, our Little One pitched in to help and offer ideas ever so willingly. Our boy on the other hand had to be persuaded to help. Kids! I've one on each side of the spectrum. One who wants to spend as much time as possible with us and the other, who seems happy to be in his own world (which includes his FB) and oblivious to us.

And it's also a time when all the tools that I've amassed over the years come into good use; plus it's also good excuse to get some more. 8)
Photobucket
One thing about handmade cards is you never get identical ones. Even the choice of paper changed mid-way. I saw this 2-tone card with some glitter when I was scouting around to replenish my paper supply. Must say that the end result was quite nice. And all the stash of unique papers that I kept through the years also came in really handy... that's one hoard that came to good use. LOL!

These days, with the computer to aid with the design and printers, a bulk of process is sped up. So in between SUPA Camp, house clearing, classes for the kids, we managed to make more than 100 of these cards. It's nice to be able to do it....
Skies
Incidentally, I was making the cards when Other Half phoned me to take a peek of the sky. He was at the pool with our gal. Literally, one sky, two halfs... one looked as though it was going to engulf the other. But in the end, after 15 minutes or so, the fiery golden hue disappeared... and was replaced by the gray of dusk.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Finally, our Malaysia Day...

16hb September, 2010... Hari Ini Dalam Sejarah. After 47 years, Hari Malaysia is finally declared a public holiday. But for the last 52 years, Hari Kebangsaan (Independence Day) has always hogged the limelight where West Malaysians are concerned. We hardly are reminded that Malaysia has another bigger half across the South China Sea.

On Malaysia Day, guess what hogged the limelight over here? The Sekolah Harapan (read as school for pregnant teens) 'opening' its doors on Malaysia Day. This is surely one school on the fastest track from inception to conception. Definitely Malaysia Boleh. Money for akad nikah thrown in... I'm not sure if there're any other monetary benefits.

Malaysia Day fell near the Raya celebrations this year. I was on the highway, nearing Raya. And this year, I notice more than the usual number of compact cars on it, many zooming past me even though I was holding my speed steady at 110 kmph. Then I found out that the bus companies didn't have such a busy year this year. Could it be that people are fed up of the waiting here and there, overpricing of tickets, shabby buses, inconvenient pick-up places??? Our public transportation systems don't seem to be getting any better.

Dropping FDIs... most people don't bother or even pay attention to this. We keep reading in the papers that our economy is doing okay... All I know is we can definitely do better but we're not. How can I tell? Well, 47 years ago, Brunei was supposed to join Malaysia. Singapore was in for a brief 2 years before being kicked out. We expected Singapore to come crawling back to us on our terms.... it was not to be so. And where are they now? Going by the per capita, Singapore and Brunei stand at No 5 and No 6 on the World Bank list. Singapore's meteoric rise has been amazing. Everyone knows that. Where are we? We are at No 56!

Malaysia Day! Many Sabahans and Sarawakians are waking up to the fact that they have been and still getting the shorter end of the sticks. I find it interesting reading about the present Sarawak CM (Taib Mahmud); some have labelled him the Donald Trump of the East. Reading about his wealth has indeed been an eye opening experience.... so much wealth, such opulent lifestyle. And in the meanwhile, many East Malaysians still live in longhouses with no basic amenities.

And here we are continually divided along racial lines. Who says the only the British practiced 'divide and rule'? Bersatu teguh, bercerai roboh.... try looking beyond the myopia of one race into a Malaysian race. We'll definitely do better, achieve more. Help those who require assistance without looking into the quotas or skin colour. I was driving on the road the other day and saw a Malay family in a Porsche Cayenne.... and it got me thinking. When the driver buys a house, he still gets a 5% discount! Does he deserve that? And right behind him was a Proton Saga driven by an Indian.

And work commitment, ethics, etc... I think we've become more malas and better at curi tulang. The recent Raya break - apparently patients and doctors on duty at Penang GH had their meals delayed as the workers of the catering company went MIA. That's what many are prone to do these days... they extend their leave/holiday by taking their own leave or MCs. That's the Malaysian mentality when it comes to work ethics. Many think it's their right to take any number of leave and the employer is supposed to bear with it. Counter services (except for Immigration and hospitals) in many gahmen agencies are painfully slow and your forms are likely to go missing or delayed.

Malaysia Day.... to be truly Malaysia, to have us all truly Malaysians, we still have a long way to go.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Ending of Hols

My hols is coming to and end... my gal went back to school earlier but it was only for a day as some of the pupils were given an extended break due to the UPSR... sheer happiness! 8)

2 blissful weeks. Going back to school means the usual harried year-end stuff. I had my hands full with the SUPA Camp as well as clearing up of the house these past 2 weeks. Even washed all the flower pots and their stands around the house with Other Half and our gal. I've thrown and given away sackfuls of stuff. Yet when I look around, things still look more or less the same. Unless I open the cupboards and look inside, the change can be seen. Life is like that too, I realise. What we throw out or put into our hearts... it can't really be seen... until you act. The act opens us up and lets others see us as we are!

There are major adjustments to be made too with the opening of the final semester. There will be inconveniences but there are good things behind those inconveniences too, I believe. And always, those friends who pitch in and make light those days for us. Am thankful.

It's almost the same feeling I get these days whenever the school break comes to an end... with a sigh that it's back to the grind again. Then again, without the grind, there will be no welcomed breaks! Life's twist! No pain no gain. Easy life, we become soft...

Some digression on something I witnessed this morning... was at a coffee shop taking my breakfast when I noticed a lady. First I thought she was one of the workers. But then after she threw down 2 'bangles' on the floor which made a loud clanging noise, I took a good look at her. She sat down at a table beside mine and started muttering. Her mutterings got louder; and sounded like she was angry. I went back to my reading. When I next looked up, she was squatting right outside the shop, digging into the rubbish bin and throwing its contents all over. She even hurled a bag onto the road, a taxi happened to pass by at that very moment.

From my table, I noticed she continued to mouth words with an angry expression. Everyone started looking and a few of us even told the proprietor to call the police. Then as suddenly as the anger appeared, it dissipated. She started picking up every single bit of rubbish on the road; even those she did not throw. 10 minutes later, everything was spick and span. She proceeded to the stairs of the adjacent shopping complex. There she sat, huddled; looking thin and scraggly, lost.

A drama, all within a span of half an hour or so. I felt kinda sorry for her... I know she does not want pity. She looked as though she had been under the sun a lot, probably has not taken a bath for a while, and seemingly alone.... I wonder whether there's anyone out looking for her. What tipped her over? Why the anger? The line between sanity and insanity is often very fine.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Don't Judge A Man Until You Close His Coffin

Singapore's Minister Mentor, Lee Kuan Yew said this (don't judge a man until you close his coffin) in his latest interview.... I always believe that hope means just that... people can change as long as he has his mental faculties! As long as a man is alive, there is always hope that he can change. So, Mr. Lee is right! It is at death that the conclusion of a man's life is sealed.

I've been to a few funerals where in death, you see the worth of their lives in the eyes of their fellow man (and woman). My first impression was formed some years ago at a friend's funeral. Never had I seen so many people who came, for the 3 days. And those who came, came because they had genuine affection for my friend. And many too, because their lives were touched by her. When the coffin is closed, you see a person's worth (or unworth).

Growing old... I think most of us will never be ready for it. We want to continue living if possible. Lee Kuan Yew is the man who laid the foundation of modern Singapore, one of the few SEA tigers still standing proudly after the 1998 financial crunch. Yet, mortality comes a-knocking at this 'tiger' himself. No one lives forever.

This interview shows his softer (perhaps softening??) side... reflective, a man searching and trying to accept what is to come. I've read both his books.. The Singapore Story. Very thick books they are but I enjoyed reading them, especially Part 1. It provides insights from his angle... not the usual diatribes we hear from ours.

MM Lee is 87 this year... his mind is still sharp. He's blessed than most but also mortal like everyone of us. Growing old... it's a hard on everyone. And no one escapes it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

SUPA Camp 2010... Video Version

I promised the kids I will put up the video within a week.... so here it is. It's already of FB, the choice for medium of connectivity at this moment.

SUPA Camp 2010 from amech7 on Vimeo.

Watching the video brings back many of the priceless moments at the Camp. I think all who went were blessed one way or the other.

Kids are so same yet different. Each one has his/her own personality... character, even quirkiness. But one thing remains, they are all precious in God's eyes. It's been a while since I dealt with kids at this age. I am humbly reminded that as a kid around that age, I was blessed by people whose commitment and love for God made it memorable for us too. Mrs. Tay, Ms Teoh.... I recently met Mrs. Tay and at 80++ she looks really good and still can drive. And she can still call me by name! Awesome!

We showed most of it on the last night. It's a change for the kids to watch themselves starring in their own movie for a change. LOL! And I think many of them enjoyed watching their own and friends' antics.

Skits, hike, waterfall dipping, cookout on a charcoal stove, quiet time, teaching sessions... to those who made it possible, God bless you all!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Hoard, hoard and hoard...

I think it takes it takes a lot not to be a hoarder. It's still Raya break and apart from the SUPA Camp and a foray to Penang on the day the bridge caught fire, I've been doing lots and lots of clearing. But the empty and neat space makes up for the tiredness... and the lack of blogging. The mind has gone on holiday too!!! Working holiday... LOL!

It's amazing how much things one accumulates over the years. And how the things you hoard slowly take over the space in your life. And before you know it, you've no space in your heart to give away.... yup! Attachments to objects literally grow and the roots grow deep, even with 'junk'.

I must have thrown and given out a few gunny sacks of stuff.... toys, books, papers, clothes, pots and pans.... etc, etc.

We're all hoarders. Things that we get, we develop affinity, even though we don't use them at all sometimes. Then there are things which we use but then after a while lose their usefulness. We simpan them also. So, the piles continue to grow, the empty spaces in the cupboards filled up. I think space becomes a commodity as the years pass and they spill onto the corners. Dust gathers... yet still we hoard.

Most of us have this 'beh-kam' feeling of throwing things away. We store away telling ourselves that someday we might need them. And then before we know it, we'd have forgotten about them..... until you do a spring cleaning and find them.

Yet there are some who keep because the things hold sentimental values. They become keepsakes and sometimes even family heirlooms. They hold value to us because of the people (or places???) behind them.

But sometimes we hoard because we are lazy to make a decision to throw... indecision is very much a part of many of us. We don't throw cos sometimes in throwing things we're reminded of our wastefulness or that we've been spendthrifts; there's this little voice of conscience still bugging us... by hoarding we appease our guilt feelings.

I am going to try to throw or give away anything that I don't see or use for 6 months. I'd like less clutter. Filled cupboard with things not used only become roach playground or silverfish to have a field day building tunnels. Some things will be of better use given away. Keep them 10 years and you actually deprive someone its use for 10 years.

Hoarding.... it's a penyakit that many of us are afflicted with.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

More on SUPA Camp 2010

SUPA Camp 2010
It's over! Got back in the evening, super tired! This stream runs through the campsite. Surrounded by hills, the mornings are really beautiful and quiet here. Was a good camp for the kids (all of whom are primary age)! Most of them said they want to go back again. Journey home, the last 50 km before home is always the hardest, if you are the driver... the tiredness really sinks in. But God was good! All of us got back in one piece! 8) I had Joyce and 3 kids in my car. We made good time despite the pre-Raya traffic.
Charcoal Stove,Cooking,SUPA Camp 2010
We had a 'Cookout' Session... letting the kids do fried rice on charcoal stove. I think it made some of us appreciate the gas and electric stoves a lot! I vaguely remember the 'big-do' every morning at grandma's over her huge wood stove! Cooking those days was a lot of hard work. Chop the wood, start the fire, stoke the fire, keep the fire going... you've to multi-task while you cook!
SUPA Camp 2010,Hiking
A Camp is incomplete without hitting the outdoors. Since we had really small kids with us, we swapped stream trotting for waterfall dipping. And they had fun.. thankfully this place is still clean. Our Malaysian rubbish mentality is the reason for the spate of leptospirosis in our rivers.... Sheesh!!!!
SUPA Camp 2010
Sessions were fun. I salute Peh Lan for her commitment and also those who went to help. And also for the young people who went despite having to pay the full campers fees. Camps such as this will not be complete without them to play the roles of big bros and sis.
Charcoal Stove,Cooking,SUPA Camp 2010
And the kids... today's kids are different from my gen when we were their age. They seem to know more but they are also kids with little exposure to nature. Most of the city kids squirm, squeal or cry at the sight of bugs.... what more leeches. That one, sure to elicit cries of fear and tears. Also, this is a gen grown up on 'kakak this' and 'kakak that' (read that as maids). One kid told me her mother sent her for the camp so that she can learn to organize herself (things), do things for herself. We had to do all those things as part of chores at home. Plus, the influence of the media... it's apparent. LOL! In our days, we played a lot outside. It's not safe for kids to do so these days. So, while the kids seem 'smarter', there's also this sense of helplessness when they're out of their sterile and concrete world.
SUPA Camp 2010,Hiking
3 days away from home. While some didn't like the hike to the waterfall (they enjoyed the playing with the water) and had to do many things for themselves, most if not all enjoyed the fun and friends; and they wanted the camp to last a little longer. I had to piggyback a girl up to the falls on the way up. Tim did most of the carrying during the later part of the hike. My gym, swimming and games sessions paid dividends. LOL! I surprised myself. Hiking - the lesson behind; hard work pays... all the hard walk, for the fun of frolicking in the water! Reap what you sow... in a positive way! 8)

Been over 20 years since I attended a camp where I had to 'rough' it out like this. However, even this is luxurious by our standards those days. But it was fun; something which is good for the kids. It's always good for kids to know about God, to have that compass in their life, to know that they are loved. Faith keeps us going when the going gets tough in life. And tough times ebb and flow in our lives.

Monday, September 6, 2010

SUPA Camp 2010

I had to send my gal to the SU Tapah Campsite... and so that's how I ended up as one of the helpers. Almost 30 kids! For the people who give their time for this, I salute them. Me? I came because my gal came... These people do it because they are committed. And it's not just their time they give but also their resources... and the kids are the ones who benefit.
SUFES,SUFES,Tapah,Tapah,Campsite,Campsite
Reminds me of the days long ago, when there were those who did the same for us. Am thankful for them.

And I realised that I've become a creature of comfort too. I actually find myself missing the comforts of my home. But my gal seems to enjoy it, even though they have to do their own dishes. LOL!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Lucky One... Nicholas Sparks

Book 39... The main character, Thibault, a marine. finds a photo in Iraq. It becomes his lucky charm. He survives more ambush, combats than most, to the point that some of his fellow marines believe that if they stick close to him, they'll die and he'll survive.

Then he gets an honourable discharge, goes home, meets up with his old marine buddy from Iraq. His buddy dies while a boat sliced into theirs on a fishing trip. He survives yet again. With some prompting from this same buddy, he sets out to find the lady in the photo, with his dog, Zeus.

He finds her in a small town, falls in love with her and fits right into her life. Suspense and thrill appear when the ex-husband tries to put a wedge.

It's a typical Nicholas Sparks book in the sense that it tugs at your heart strings....

Friday, September 3, 2010

I'm Right and You're Wrong

How often do you think you are right? Or perhaps I should ask it this way. How often do you think you are wrong? We are very righteous people and we like to think that we're right most of the time, if not all the time. We get indignant very quickly. Regret and remorse take a long time to grow roots.

As soon as awareness and consciousness set at puberty, we tend to think we are right. And I think that's one reason why teenagers rebel... parental rules are rarely in their favour. If we pick an argument with a teenager, it's more likely to end up with lots of whys, hows and finger pointing that we are making their lives difficult.

But guess what, into adulthood too we carry this 'way of thinking'. To admit wrong or even to back down takes a lot of humility and sensibility. We think we are right...

What got me thinking? Watching 2 friends have a misunderstanding due to mis-communication or the lack of communication, reminded me of one which I went through some time back. Very often we seem to be communicating, but often too the communication that takes place is from our point of view. There is also this tendency to negate the other party's perspective when this stance is adopted... it becomes a mis-communication created by us.

I'm right, you are wrong.... sometimes it's just easier to walk away and leave that all behind. The art of negotiation involves 2 parties.... communication is also 2-way, it takes 2 to tango, everyone wants to walk away winning.... these days, I don't see any good in the win.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

'Pregnant' School Opening Soon...

Heard over the news today that the 'pregnant' school is opening it's doors on Malaysia Day! It'll open its doors to pregnant teens as young as 13. Teachers are to be all females, I supposed. Too dangerous to have men teachers definitely!

It'll be a girls school; since only the XY gets pregnant. Already I'm wondering how the school environment will be like.
The first prerequisite - must be pregnant.
The second - must be school going teenager.
The rest, usual-lah.

Going back to the school environment... what would the chatter among the students be like. When are you due? Who is the father of your baby? Why did you do it? Would these be the standard questions? Or would it be something like this.... lotsa bragging about how many guys they were sleeping with, etc, etc.... I really don't know what to make of such a school. Unless I read wrongly, the state government seems to be sponsoring these pregnant teens.... what other messages are we sending to these kids, huh?

A school full of pregnant teens.... what ideas will the teens in the country think of in general? Sometimes I think our leaders don't use much of their gray matters to think. A whole school full of 'victims', willing and unwilling; and every time each one steps out of the school gate, a social stigma is instantly plastered onto them. Can you imagine the daily onslaught of such stigma? And pimps... do you think this might be one place that they'd stake for future 'workers'? This is surely 1Malaysia Boleh!