Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Blurred Lines

How do we know if something is God's will? It seems that our lines often become blurred when the subject of God's will comes into light. And with one utterance of "It's God's Will", it's often easy to shut people up into submission. 

Between that which is in our reality and the realm that we seek to understand is this chasm that challenges us to go by faith because our limited understanding cannot fathom the incomprehensible. Without that faith, there there is no bridge to connect these 2 worlds. 

How does one know the will of God? Does it mean going by what's morally right? Or common sense? Or the voice of reason? Or perhaps it's just a feeling? Cos supernatural displays are not something that everyone gets to see. Or perhaps the will of God is just whatever that we want, sometimes all murked up by us.

What if a loved one lays dying, and someone comes along and says that he sees a vision that  he is going to make it and then the opposite happens? Do we reinterpret? Or if someone comes along and says that it's the right thing to do because he feels God wants to bless him but then turns out that right thing isn't right to begin with? Do we rephrase? Or it's just this deep down in us, there is this arrogance that we will get things our way? Or perhaps it's just plain ignorance or simple faith? It gets confusing....

Or this... these days kosher-ness seems to be so much an issue with my Muslim colleagues that most would not touch any food we give them; even those that we give in good faith... meaning we go out of our way to ensure that they are kosher. Is that God's will, that they show such lack of humility?  ... never mind that there is God says the onus is on the giver and the receiver...

Illegal lottery is something which I believe is thriving. Yet I've heard tales of this or that illegal lottery operator being super religious on certain religious festivals, putting up offerings, seeking divine blessings and so on. Is it God's will for these people to make profit out of those they hook onto this gambling addiction? To be a part of such misery, yet be religious as the same time. 

Or knowing that something is clearly against the law, yet we still take that first step that breaks the law. Then when the weight of it all comes crashing onto us, we say that perhaps there is His will somewhere.... Way leads on to way. Yet if we know that the first step into the path is morally or even legally wrong, does it make what comes after it okay?

Lines become blurred because very often we impose our will into God's and claim it His; after going through our own reality distortion field that is. We give it good credentials by gluing on God's will to it. And together with the dogma we create, they get hijacked and become God's will. So logically, can it be concluded that God's will is actually what we want or convenient to us; just like how our kids weave their way through and around us to get what they want.Take a cue from the ongoing UMNO General Assembly. There were calls to defend their faith (which is fine)... But then, those calls started to involve name calling with words like bangsat, bapok; makes me wonder too whether it's within God's will to use such deragoratory terms. It's not hard to see why cynicism flourishes. It's after all the rection or response to those that we project. Ending Nov with a sigh....

Monday, November 28, 2011

Environment Idaman and Rubbish

On 1st September, the Federal Government signed an agreement with appointed companies for solid waste management. While the agreement was only recently signed, those of us who reside up north here have been seeing the Environment Idaman trucks at work for quite a while and many would probably agree with me that rubbish collection didn't get any better under them. In some places, it got worse. One gets the impression that they seem to be constantly running short of garbage trucks.

Anyway, there was a 'big-do' of a launch regarding this waste management thing recently. And since then, it has been interesting to see how the company has gone round 'distributing' the 120 litre rubbish bins which is supposed to cost RM120. From one FB post I learned that a friend who happened to see the truck distributing the bins went back home and photocopied the necessary documents rushed back to the truck to get the free bins. Then we heard no more about it. The posters which were hung up during the launch (which asked the residents to be 'sabaq') went missing soon after the launch.... 

Then suddenly, yesterday evening, my kind neighbour gave me a set of forms and told me to go to the same field to queue up for the bins. It was already almost 8.00 p.m. But I went anyway because my neighbour was so kind as to to tell me. I got there and they told me they had no more to give out for the day. But when I peered into the back of the truck, there were still some bins... (maybe those were malfunctioned bins... I don't know). Anyway, they told me to leave the forms with them. They told me to go again the next day to 'claim' my bin. I told them that the report and poster stated that they are supposed to send the bins to the people. And guess what? One said that might pose a problem since they actually do not know who has been given and not...  Anyway, I was told that the truck will be there from 11.00 a.m. till evening today. I passed by the place twice today and guess what??? No truck!!!! 

So how accountable is this whole thing? I guess we will know in 4 years; since the distribution of the bins alone is supposed to take 4 years. Like the flood relief money, and the recent RM100 aid for school students; implementation of programmes which involve money always seem to reek loopholes. 
Environment Idaman 4
Take a look at this sign to inform the residents of the collection times. It is so small that you need an eagle's eyes to notice it. Back home ( in Perak) I noticed signs (very easy to read ones) informing the rubbish collection times being put up a year or two back. Mom tells me they are regular and quite punctual.
Environment Idaman 2
For these... You actually have to stop your car (or bike) and get down, peer up to read these!!! And guess what? They are printed on papers!!! How long do you think they will last before the sun bleaches the paper white or the rain breaks down the paper? Rain water flows freely through the slots.... Action speaks louder than words. Is Environment Idaman serious about creating an environment which we idam for? Or will it be one that is filled with bad dreams?
Environment Idaman 3
Well this is our current environment idaman... The bins which they placed at 'strategic' locations have never failed to attract rubbish of all kinds.... and pests too, might I add. See the toilet bowl??? And right around the time they started these strategic bins, rubbish collection also deteriorated... so I guess our idaman now would be hopefully, a really organized and accountable rubbish collection system to hit off. It used to be so much better when the Majlis was doing it years ago. Privatization where this is concerned has not brought better service, and we have the Federal Government to thank. 8(

The one improvement that I saw in the last one month is Environment Idaman workers digging the drains... but not the ones near my house. Years ago, the drains would be cleared quite regularly. These days, to catch people clearing them is a bonus!!! After the flood last year, I dug the drain outside my house and came up with a few wheelbarrows of sand, rocks and soil.... goes to show how poor the maintenance has been.

Anyway, maybe 4 years from now, when this post is revisited, things might have improved by leaps and bounds. Or if it further deteriorates, then we can always point finger to the holders of the concession... UEM, Metacorp among the main partners... companies seen to have major cables.

Nippon Yataimura

This is Nippon Yataimura at Queensbay. We went there with fond memories from our experience dining at their outlet at Jalan Burma quite some time back. But we were a little disappointed.
As Queensbay was on our way home, we stopped by for some quick shopping and also to have our lunch. And so we decided to give Nippon Yataimura a try as we've not gone for a while. 

This is something all of us enjoy. Beans. Endamame. But there weren't as nice as the ones that I get at Kaede

Other Half ordered this; their pork mayonnaise which was okay. 

I had this... quite a simple and plain fish dish. The taste wasn't too spectacular either.

Our gal's unagi set. It came with sashimi, a mix of tempura veg and chawan mushi. The unagi had too many bones to her liking and we ended up eating most of it while she took some of the chicken from Other Half. 

We had earlier gone for the Stationery Fair at PISA, which was another letdown. Thinking that stationery might mean paper, I went expecting to see different types of paper. Instead, what greeted us mostly were souvenirs and lots of those modern computer aided sewing machines which could sew all those intricate designs. Dying craft... hand stitching.

But we saw this too.. a professionally made light box. Other Half tried to make one long time ago using white foamy rubber and a box. It was cheap to make. This one??? It's almost RM2K!! 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Watches

Never one to give much attention to watches, bro recently introduced me to this world... I think my dad's penchant for collecting stuff rubbed off us. I went into stamp collection. Still have quite an extensive collection to this day. They'll go to one of my kids. My bro on the other hand is into anything that is collectible - currencies, watches, knives... even RC toys. I used to be quite, quite mad about stamps and would spend hours poring over brochures from philatelic societies. In those days when snail mail ruled, I had a classmate who was equally mad about it and he would be the one to write to the societies which were overseas. And with a few other friends, we would use the pocket money we saved on them.

Anyway, we had an interesting conversation on his current preoccupation with watches. A watch is more than a timepiece. There is a watch for every occasion and situation. Sports, casual, formal and so on. People collect watches because they are fascinating and each one represents the era that they came from too.

These are second or third hands... all in still in good working order.
Telda 1
This is a Telda watch. I am told that it is between 60-70 years old. It has a stopwatch function too. It looks well worn. I liked the solid feel. People made watches to last in those days, like most things.
Telda
Bro even took out the back cover to show me its inside... again looking really solid. It's very him to learn up, understand whatever interests that he has and learn it well too. Every piece seemed to be locked in place solidly. I've seen the insides of some of the present watches and the parts are mostly flimsy and feels like they might break easily... fragile.
Oris
An Oris. The little red circle is the date pointer. The company used to rank below the more famous Swiss brands like Longines and of course the other more famous names. But in recent times, it has sort of built a name for itself too.
Borel
A Borel cocktail watch. This was given to me some years back. The centre piece moves and gives out a psychedelic design which makes it rather quaint. I checked it out and one can find people bidding for it on E-bay. 8)
Sixty
Sis-in-law was wearing this, a Sixty watch probably made in the 90s. She gave it to me when she I told her it looked rather unique. The colours change as the second hand moves. Even Son and Lil One like it lots.

Old watches... I bet each one has their own story to tell if they can speak. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Sense of Purpose

Other Half says I am an Apple evangelist... LOL! I've been buying for or convincing my friends and family members to get for themselves either the iPod or iPad ever since I started using them. And I have found many good uses for them. No iPhone in the list cos I didn't see the need in it earlier but I'll be getting the 4S. 

Anyway, for most people, an iPad should suffice, unless you have needs for a smart phone. For those of us in our presbyopic years, the phone screens are too small for comfortable reading. Moreover doing stuff on a bigger screen is way easier for senior newbies. The mouse on the PC is rather daunting for them. And these are the lessons I learned...

Give a person something, but if that something does not meet a need in his life, for whatever promises it might hold, it is useless.

My oldest iPad convert is into her mid 70s. She got convinced to get one because she was captivated by references which she can make on the Bible apps. There is a new zeal in her to study in depth because she sometimes gives sermons over the pulpit. Bible study is a breeze because multiple references can be made easily. Also, many apps have Bible Reading Plans and Devotionals incorporated, making it a one-stop with options of font size, brightness and background adjustments. You can't do all those on a printed book. And so she became willing to try to figure her way around this new gadget because it fills a need and in part too because Other Half and I availed ourselves to be there for her; to get it for her and to show her the ropes.

I had the opportunity to show her the other functions in my first session with her... I saw her eyes light up when I showed her how she could see her children and grandchildren's photos on FaceBook. She began to see that there was much more this new gadget could offer her. It's very much like introducing the Gospel to someone. First, see the need, then the act to accept/receive. And once that door is open, then one will find more relevance and beauty. But first one has to see the possibilities. And opportunities must be provided to learn, serve, etc.....

I have another friend in her 60s who wanted very much to share her photos on FaceBook with her family members. She had found the PC daunting.... There is a pull factor but there were barriers too sometimes we need help to overcome the barriers. I always assure these senior friends of mine that I am only a call away.... Being in the family of God is supposed to be like this too.. but sadly we often fail here. There are daunting moments and trying times, we are supposed to be there for each other, go the extra mile but sometimes it's hard to do because it means giving up some things which are dear to us, sacrifice. To create a strong sense of belonging, more is asked of us.....

One of the things that I have noticed among us, adults is we are always fearful that the computer will crash if we press a wrong button. And when that happens, we might have to send it to the shop. It costs not only money but worries as well. But when I tell them that it's okay to try and will help them out, some actually let go of their fears and learn to use their tools really well too. I've another friend who would not hesitate to call me whenever she ran into problems... sometimes even appearing at my doorstep at night. Service. Very often we think people are not ready and so we do not give them the opportunity because we think they might not be able to handle it. Or maybe we hang on because we want to continue to feel relevant. The thing is we forget that if we don't provide the time and space to try, they'll never be ready, they'll never be good... simply because we keep waiting for them to be ready. And they never will because we actually shackle them. I think it's okay to 'bungle' up a bit... we just need to be there to hold them or guide them a bit. Encourage or even be critical in a positive way.....

Anyway, being an iPad 'promoter' has its own rewards. I enjoy seeing faces lighting up. I like to know that in some way, I have helped chalk up some happy moments in their lives when they can Skype their children, read a book, organize their photos....

We recently got another iPad for Other Half. The oldest iPad in the house now is shared by our kids. These days, I do mind maps of stuff for my kids and dropbox or email to them for quick reference. Scanned materials find their way there too for easy reference. It's a breeze cos I no longer need to print them out or sit at the computer with her. My son asks me for points for his PA and our discussion is paperless.. from wherever I am in the house, and I will email it to him. He has begun putting his notes in the iPad. It's easy and convenient... one tool, everything that has been digitalized can be put in.

Putt Putt Saves The Zoo

And this! A page from Son's childhood.I was pleasantly surprised when I saw Putt Putt in the App Store. Suffice to say, we bought it. Brought back memories of those days when Son was just a preschooler. We'd sit with him at the computer and help him solve the puzzles so that Putt Putt can save the day. 8) My girl enjoys it too. The graphics are not HD but it's still nice game for kids. Better than those mindless games that are aplenty these days.

The iPad is changing the way we interact with our world. Who would have imagined that after all the flops before it. And it has also taught me a few lessons about life too...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Of Tong Sampah and Big Do(s)

Even tong sampah (waste bins) can become a crowd puller. But in the end, I think not many people stayed to listen or whether at all any speeches were given. I didn't stay.... not interested to listen to more crap.
Tong Sampah
I actually read about this freebie of a tong sampah a couple of months back and when I saw this poster yesterday, it triggered a search for that article dated Sept 23rd, 2011. Let me just quote some of the content here... So, all of us can expect to receive this 120 litre bins by Sept 2012, according to the article. 
All households in the peninsula except in Penang, Selangor and Perak will be provided with a 120-litre garbage bin starting next month to separate their recyclable waste.
The exercise, which is expected to take four years, will start in Kuala Lumpur, Malacca, Johor Baru, Seremban, Alor Setar, Kangar and Kuantan. Households in these places will receive the bins by September next year.
Distribution of the bins to all the major cities would begin by the end of next month, followed by other areas, said Solid Waste Management andPublic Cleansing Corporation CEO Datuk Zaini Nor.
“The initiative is aimed to better manage waste produced by households as well as raise awareness on the importance of recycling,” he said.
Zaini said the 120-litre bin would be for daily organic waste, while recycl-able items should be placed in another bag.
Tong Sampah 1
I was told by a neighbour that we had to get a form (I assume from the tents at the ceramah). We had to bring our IC it seems. But in the end, she got a copy for us and told me that there wasn't anyone there manning the form counter. Everyone was just taking the forms themselves and many left soon after. Food was also provided amidst the muddy fields. There was a heavy shower yesterday night. But the posters say the bins will be delivered to our houses, which makes me wonder whether the form thing was a ploy to get us to the tents...
I was a little surprised as there had been a flurry of activities around the housing area the last few days. Ever since the the private contractor took over the waste management as well as the upkeep of the place, I have noticed a drop in service. Rubbish collection used to be very efficient. It's not so now. Instead they tried to create all these 'central rubbish bins' around the housing estate which have become mini dumps. I feel sorry for those whose houses are near those bins. I know I would be most annoyed and may perhaps even take things into my hands and pull those bins away to another further location from my house... but fortunately I have been spared of that. The bins are a source of of eye sore and pest attractions. But these last few days, service was somehow different. Now I know the reason... sprucing for VIPs.
Field

So for the next few days, the area will be nice and clean... These days, when I see such activities of benevolence, a few things cross my mind.

First and foremost will always be, who gets the contract to supply the bins? They are supposed to cost RM120 per bin. Are the bins obtained at the best price so that the savings can be passed back to the people? This coming after all these slew of news about the exorbitant sums that we seem to be paying for submarines, fighter jets, sugar prices which seems to be going northwards after it was given to a certain connected figure to the politicians, extension of toll concession under the guise that there will be less raises in the future... and the way that our leaders don't seem able to put us on par with the countries that started off from the same block as us... Taiwan, Korea, Singapore.. and those behind our block are fast catching up.

Other terms of usage of the 'free' bins include a police report if they are lost. And we have to buy new ones if old the one goes missing. I can already imagine unscrupulous people going round carting these bins away since it is also stated that rubbish will not be collected if they are not placed in these bins. Crime rate has been on the rise despite the government telling us that they are taking in more police.... police presence is another issue. And the bins cannot be tied to the fence or any other structures. I guess for house owners will have to get people to build structures to contain these units.... more money spent. *sigh*

Waste management... personally, I try to do my part for my environment. I keep aside almost everything that can be recycled for the lorries or vans that come periodically to collect. Most of my vegetable and fruit peelings are buried for compost. Our family generates very little rubbish these days. But that comes about because I want to do it. I feel it is important and the incentive of being paid; selling them to the recycling vans/lorries. Many of my students who live in the kampung say they don't recycle because there is no such facility. So for convenience sake, some of them just throw their rubbish into the river behind their houses... or just dump it into the big bin beside the road.

Waste... free bins.... these days, politicians want to be seen as giving something to the people. But they keep forgetting that it's their performance and lifestyle that give us some things to wonder about. In this connected world, when they flaunt their wealth and live beyond their means and then claim that they got there mainly through their abilities, you get questions put into our minds. You wonder too why all the PM's children are millionaires (or perhaps even billionaires??), or how before they even hit 30, they have made it. Or how a penny-stock company stirs up a price tsunami when a 28-year-old whose father is the PM gets appointed to its board??? One should wonder... Waste bins.. they stir up thoughts like this...

Now to wait for the bins to get delivered.... in four years, if someone wants to do a research for a postgrad, a study into whether all the households get the bins might make an interesting study... Accountability has gone into hiding for too long cos those who manipulates it know that Religion and Race can be counted on to create havoc and make things murky in our minds.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

New Old Stuff

End of the year is when I have more time in my hands and this year, I am rather happy with what I have been able to learn. These are my current preoccupations.... and they left me rather exhausted, mentally on most days, but the time was well spent.

What started as a goal to teach my gal Science in Mandarin developed into quite an interesting journey of discovery... and it's still evolving. I still can't read very well but with the right tools, I have been able to plod on. And so, it was with much amusement to myself when I decided that I would try to do mind maps to help me teach her concepts and ideas. Another search in earnest and I came across this after trying out a few other mind mapping apps. IThoughts HD....
IThoughts2
Making the maps was the easy part! LOL! I used to make such notes when teaching my boy, but they were done on desktops; with Visio and then later Smart Draw in a language I was totally familiar with. I moved on to Concept Draw when I switched over to Mac. So, it wasn't something new, the mind mapping. Trying to remember and read the Mandarin characters were the tasks which gave me lots of headaches! But this app is cool because I can expand and collapse the callouts. And to make it even more PPSMI friendly, I did it in 2 languages! ... all on one single page. 8)
IThoughts3
When Other Half showed me his discovery what the iPad was able to do for the blind, another door opened to me; the half blind in Mandarin. I can always depend on support and new discovery from Other Half... 8) And it was also then I understood why Stevie Wonder thanked Steve Jobs for the iPod, iPhone and iPad. And it met my needs too. The beauty was in the Voice Assist function. For the visually impaired, the Voice Assist together with the Assistive Touch functions enable them to navigate the seemingly impossible tablet screen and empower them greatly.

Having volunteered my time for a visually impaired friend during my varsity years makes me appreciate these functions even more because as I worked with him, I understand the limitations posed by their lack of sight. But it also made me aware I of the technology involved and how it has evolved over the years. For the visually impaired, they depended a lot on the sighted to read for them. But the computer age changed all that. By the time I graduated, I remember seeing scanners and computers at the library for the use of the visually impaired. Scan and OCR and there were softwares that could read for them. It freed them of the need for us, the readers.

When I helped to set up a computer lab for the visually impaired students some years back, equipment had to be procured from the States. They had been some improvements but they were still cumbersome to use. The iPad is liberating.... and I think Apple did good in making sure that this technology works so well for them, even though the visually impaired group is a small one. Apple deserves one up for this effort.... Kudos to Jobs! I tried navigating without the help of my sight and found that I could.... Amazing!

With Voice Assist, I can make the iPad read for me as many time as I want the words in the mind maps too! That's as good as any teacher I'll get for sure. The iPad has enabled me, with a half-baked command of Mandarin to do the mind maps! Awesome!!! I would not have dreamt of this 5 years ago!
HanDbase
The next project that I embarked on was database, for next school year. I wanted a database for class management, so that I can manipulate and call up the information that I want at my whims.... 8) I used HanDbase many years ago on my Palm. But what greeted me this time was more exciting. Through trial and error I discovered that I could do many things with it. Me, who knows very little about database building could get it to work.... LOL! Of course, I was feeling rather pleased. I thought with age, our learning slows down. These days, I am beginning to realize that it's our attitude that counts more than anything...
HanDbase1
And so, I plodded, tried and retried... until I managed to get it going. I am now able to get forms out... will try it out next year! And improve on it.
ZiteRunningSlow
I capture this screen weeks ago... found it amusing that it is so polite in apologizing to me about the slow speed, which wasn't even the app's fault to begin with! And that's one of the thing I like about Apple... they pay attention to the small details, which sometimes don't seem important but is able to bring out a smile from you in a moment of utter frustration when a page doesn't load.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

9 Hours

Next year trial runs will be carried out in 4 states for a 9 hour work day for teachers; basically it means for the morning session, it will be from 7.30 a.m - 4.30 p.m. For schools with afternoon session, it will be from 9.30a.m. - 6.30 p.m. Afternoon session still exists, years after the government supposedly went on a school building spree.

The Deputy Minister of Education said that one reason for this 9-hour work day trial is to ascertain whether teachers work too few hours. Perhaps regulating the hours would be good for us. Once the work day ends at 4.30 p.m., work ends and no more Saturdays for meetings and other activities. After all, the civil service operates on a 5-day week now. And an official 9-hour work day should also mean there is no need for sports activities in the evenings or the need to take students for competitions which run after working hours and over the weekend. Many teachers might actually find their weekends freer.

Teachers should also be subjected to breaks like the other civil servants. I wonder whether that means that teachers will have more flexibility of going in and out the school. 8)

NUTP is already up at arms. I bet many teachers too. And some are already using this as election fodder. Foremost would be the issue of co-curricular activities. Can we hold games like football, netball, hockey, volleyball in the hot 3 p.m. sun? Our schools are not equipped with halls. Most schools don't even have decent and clean toilets, let alone shower facilities. Canteen food is horrible in most schools. Staying back until 4.30 p.m. means that kids would be taking at least 2 meals at school.

It'd be interesting to see how this develops. I get the feeling that the authorities are looking for a fix to problems in our education system. Are all these fixes going to work and bring about change for the better? Good work ethics are becoming relics of the past. We seemed to be pushing all the buttons for a quick fixes but they don't seem to get the required results. Just look at how the PPSMI was implemented. After so many years, the Minister admits that a very small percentage was actually teaching Math and Science in English all these years. It's no wonder that PPSMI failed. The authorities never ensured that it was carried out as planned. Even right now... has anyone actually bother to find out what ails our education system? For as long as we cannot bring ourselves to admit the root of the problem, we'll continue to try to fix it with measures which we feel are measurable and quantifiable.

9 hours.... many teachers are already doing that if you consider taking home books to grade, preparing lessons out of working hours 'work'. As it is, many morning sessions are ending between 2.30 - 3.00 p.m. And we do not have the luxury of an hour set aside for lunch break. For some dedicated teachers, they are involved in training students for athletics and games. But then again, there are many too who seem to have nothing to do too....

Update 20th Nov, 2011
With one 'edict' the DPM aka Minister of Education declared that he had ordered the JPA to cancel this 9-hour thingy...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Another Term Gone By

...and another school year coming to a close, soon. Been a busy week somewhat, as end of the year usually is for me. Tables and chairs to arrange, slips to print and stick - exam season. Also the preoccupation of flood everywhere. The alerts are out. After last year's flood and the current flooding in Thailand which has been hogging the news for the last few months, I guess it's understandable why everyone is jittery. News of flood can be found everywhere... I don't know whether it's because we are so connected these days that we read of similar events happening in tandem. And we've been having some freakish storms too.

Changes are afoot too where work is concerned. Form 1 kids get only 1 year-end exam from next year onwards. I don't know whether this is for the better. But if I were a parent of a Form One kid next year, I'd be keeping a close eye on my kid's progress. Can't leave it to just the teachers. I wonder too if the students will be motivated enough to learn without apparent assessments.

Just finished another round of movie editing for a friend.... with iMovie it's a breeze as long as the materials are there. And Mandarin learning is still ongoing. I'm moving on to varied materials. And as usual, I'll gush about the role of my iPad as my number one Mandarin teacher.

Other Half and I made it to our 20 years! Hurray! And for each year that we've had, I am thankful. I could not ask for any better.

Personal lessons as usual were plenty. I'd like to think that I learned them well but that's not possible. Just as in I teach the kids that history is coloured by bias and perception, those lessons that presented themselves would be dotted with them too and it would be mine. Plus our need to be right always stands in the way and they clutter our paths.

One more week to go! I am looking forward to the long break. Going too long, running like a clockwork most of the time requires effort. Not that I am complaining because I think I'd do them all over again. I've learned lots. I've pushed my own limits, gone into territories which I may not have gone. How way leads on to way.... Every journey takes you through its own myriad of paths. Sometimes you come out of it scathed. Other times, you get bruised. Yet, there are times when you think you are beaten. Then there are those moments when only you can feel that sort of quiet triumphs, which for most part is made possible by those tiring, scathing and bruising moments.

Have not been writing lately. The gray matter is sapped most of the time of late by other pressing attention.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

PPSMI....Nails Can Be Pried Open Again

Apparently a 'No' by a political leader does not mean very much. For months, various parties have been asking that the government re-look the decision to abolish PPSMI. The DPM cum Minister of Education said no; adamantly and with the air of finality most of the time.

Then on the day when we were supposed to get more news about the MBMMBI (Strengthening of Bahasa Malaysia and English), a turnaround. PPSMI will continue after all, albeit for those who started their education while it was still running; meaning those from Year 2 onwards will get to finish their education with Math and Science in English. I guess the many parents of Year 1 students will be hopping with unhappiness now.

So, my kid gets to continue to be taught with the PPSMI. I should be elated but I am not. My concern remains the quality of instruction in English and also the marking of her public examination scripts later. There is a 'generation gap' of poor English command of the teachers. Try as the MOE did to upgrade their English, it is still not getting far. We have been seeing some statistics in the last few days why PPSMI should be abolished. And one was a low percentage of teachers are incompetent in the language. And that is why my elation is muted... and also why I think we should bring back English medium schools.

The government and nationalist claim that the medium of instruction needs to be in BM for national unity. But that argument has many faults. Our schooling system. Chinese and many Malays who want 'better' quality education flock to send their children to Chinese vernacular (national type) schools. The national schools are predominantly made up of Malay students; in the Peninsular. Integration? Nation building? How to have nation building when schools are made up of almost single race?

The need for BM is rather minimal out of the civil service; and it's generally difficult for non-Bumis to get into it, attested by the low percentage of non-Bumis in it now. One can get by with all sorts of dialects and pidgin BM (bahasa pasar) in one's small world - since that seems to be the objective of our having so many types of school along racial lines. Each race feels compelled to preserve their culture and heritage. If everything is done in the best interest of everyone, I think this siege mentality would somehow be reduced. Look at America or even Peru and so many other countries where assimilation is total. It's hard not to come to a conclusion that the we have been divided and ruled so that a certain group can continue to remain in power. Power is now considered a privilege and not duty to serve.

So, coming back to PPSMI. It's been an interesting few days. Through the discussions on FB, I've learned that the growing middle income families are now more aware and concerned for their children's education... and this cuts across racial lines. I read of the Johoreans who send their children over to Singapore to be educated and how their parents take courses to upgrade themselves so that they can coach themselves. I've read of how those in other cities are toying with homeschooling and international schools. Different races, backgrounds, and there feels like this consensus that our education system is not getting any better, and that those who go through our education system are not well-equipped for the working world.

The voices of those without the means to express themselves via digital technology are not really heard and they continue to be made used by politicians. This PPSMI latest announcement is by no means a solution because it still leaves our education in 2 worlds. There needs to be a revamp, that's for sure. But whether we have a government who has our best interest at heart remains to be seen...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Shopping

November is here... the term is coming to a close. Have not been blogging as much lately because I am preoccupied. Will be blogging about that preoccupation soon.

But last Saturday, we squeezed in some time to go shopping. It's been a while since I went shopping like this; have time to amble down the aisles and take my own time to check out things. My friend says going shopping with me is a whirlwind affair. In part, it's because whenever I do go shopping it's mostly for essentials and have limited time. I find myself wishing for more hours in a day. Wishful, of course.

Lemon Balm

But we got this at Jusco. Lemon balm herb.... We got this small pot and have replanted it, hopping that it would propagate.... 8) We still have not given up on trying to plant some of our food. Out in the garden, my salad is growing, and cucumbers too. And of course, I still have my faithful long beans.

Then we went to ACE Hardware, which of late has been one of our favorite haunting places at Queensbay; for a simple reason. It is possible to get stuff which we normally don't find in our local hardware shops... like natural oils to preserve your wooden furniture.

Clorox Ready Mop

What got me a little more excited than usual was this..... A disposable wet wipe... which squirts out the floor cleaner liquid. LOL! Been thinking of such a contraption. I rarely use the broom to sweep the floor in the house these days. Ever since we got the robot vacuum, I've realized that sweeping basically doesn't clean the house much. The fine dust gets stirred up and floats around till the air stills and then settles down on everything. You will be worse off than before you began.

Clorox Ready Mop

For the places where the robot vacuum can't go, I use the floor wipe. The floor stays clean longer and I need not mop it that often; which comes in really handy at those times when my day help goes on her quirky and temperamental absences. I tried this contraption after I fixed it up. Not bad. Now to see whether it lasts. One problem though, I can't get refills here. So, the bottle better last... as in not break. 8)

I belong to a generation of working women who are expected to be 'super' women. We hold 2 jobs; the regular one like the guys and another one at home. Both are demanding and juggling between the two worlds can be rather tiring. So 'super' women need super tools to help them save energy and time, both of which come in limited supply. And this one would qualify as one, I think.... one of my super tools. It complements my swivel mop very well. LOL!