Saturday, September 29, 2007

Treetop walk

Last Saturday HPFers and TFers from church went on the HSBC Treetop walk... we took the shorter route from Venus Drive and the whole journey was about 7km in total... completed in about 2hours including rest stops...

It's not much of a kick actually... its this very safe, secure suspension bridge... heh.... 250m... and when we look down we can see lots of trees. Of course, for some of them it was quite an experience...

It was some experience. Good exercise, although dinner more than compensated for it.

Friday, September 14, 2007


Hey here are some pics of my car after washing it

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


OH MY GOODNESS! YUMMY! AND I FINISHED IT ALL! (just the last 3 biscuits) YAYYYY. You guys really have GOT to try it. Bought at Candy Empire but maybe it's cheaper elsewhere.

On obeying authority, and being honest with myself

Back when I was teaching in school one day, I was at my desk in the staff room, feeling really upset that nothing seemed to be working out... and a reality check came from my other colleagues from related departments...

Is the chaos normal?
Is the fact that maybe just 10% of whatever you try to say gets through normal?
Is it normal that children are so rude and defiant?

Yes it's normal, they say.


"Oh you must understand their family background, etc etc so on and so forth..."

Fair enough, I don't care what happens in their homes or if they've been taught properly. At least within the school there should be some basic standards, or else how is learning ever going to take place?

And that's the reality. To be a teacher now not only do you have to just teach content. Before you can do that effectively, you have to, on your own, build up your own reputation so that they'll actually cooperate with you. And there are two ways: tyranny or 'being their friend'.

Let's talk about 'being their friend'.

The stuff you see on videos is the 'build rapport' thing which means that you need to win them over to get them to do what you want. Sweets, chocolates, patting them on the back when they hand in their work, etc.

That's not in line with what I understood schooling to be, unfortunately. You are supposed to respect derived authority. Period. Whether you eventually respect the teacher personally is another matter altogether.

Now whether the children were taught to respect authority is beyond the teacher's control, but within school at least there needs to be some sort of discipline to reflect that, at least within school, this is the expected standard.

It's like I'm at the mercies of the kid's whim and fancy when it comes to basic things like not talking back, handing in homework, shutting up when I'm talking et al.

Oh and the stare hard at people tactic doesn't work now. There's no sense of decency and embarassment with some of them. They just keep talking or doing their stuff.

Now let's discuss option 1: tyranny

I have seen some of the senior teachers doing that very effectively. But it saps your emotional energy because you get really angry when you keep scolding and punishing them.

Few people have a disposition that seems to indicate they're angry even when they're really not, thus fooling the kids all the time.

And I can't punish people for nuts, I get really really upset when I have to send people out or to detention. I try to detach myself and just do it but it just really makes me feel so bad. And the kids know it, and that I have a very high level of patience and tolerance.

But even if I could stand it, learning is not going to take place if the kids don't get in line, so what's the point?

Only now do I understand how much harder it is to be a teacher, especially in a place where children are spoilt, rude, have no respect for authority, and it's always a tension of people wanting to break loose and wreck havoc and everything is only just barely contained, if at all.

If anything, I realise it's a reflection - a reflection of Singapore's future... and we are rapidly descending into America's public school system ... breaking down and going through the motion... and the worst part is that the poor teachers (including a HOD of mine) in the service for so long don't realise how bad the extent of things are, because they're like the frog in the slow fire cooker... they adapt, and they accept it everytime standards go down bit by bit... whereas for someone like me, whose last dose of school life was 8 years ago or more, to me its such a great, sudden shock.

It's also an indicator of how relative morality is not going to work, because with no yardstick to follow, we just go down bit by bit everytime...

I know I sound like one of those useless people who complains and then doesn't do anything about it, but to me, education is not that important. Killing myself to prop up a secular system that refuses to change... is still a lost cause.

On the other side, the elite schools are getting more elite. Remember the idea of spreading the good students amongst all the schools mooted by a retired civil servant? Would be violently unpopular with the elite parents, and understandably so. Even the Education Minister himself brushed it off, saying something about focusing on niche areas...

Sometimes I can see why people don't want church and state to separate. Education is so important, not just for practical reasons, but also for people's morality, upbringing, and value systems. I dare say that it is only by God's grace that my two brothers have made it through tough neighbourhood schools intact.

So goodbye Public Education Service, I'm out. I respect those who have been there and are still there making a difference. Running after 40 kids and disciplining them, doing their parent's job and then actually having to teach them is not my cup of tea. I do not have this overriding love for children against all the odds.

What does God have in store next, I wonder?

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

update on project Ah-Peh

Due to recent financial setbacks... Project Ah-Peh is in serious limboh. Right now all that I can do is to make a list and prioritise what needs to be fixed.

This car is a classic. It's 4.68m long. That's because it's very old school and the car design philosophy was different then. Everything, engine, transmission, etc all were designed in a straight line, unlike today's tall vehicles which stack mechanical components one atop another. And it's relatively low at 1.39m. It's wheelbase is amazing, at 2.72m which later translates into very secure road-holding. The double-wishbones suspensions, though ensuring very good handling in spite of old tyres, eat a lot into the rear cabin room thus the legroom is only slightly better than that of a contemporary upmarket 1.6litre car.

Maximum power is 130PS and even after 16 years it still feels ever-ready to rev and agile, a testament to being a Honda. It's fuel-injected and SOHC so its key advantage is torque. It maxes at 4500rpm with 18.1kgm but actually the curve is such that from idle torque begins from 14kgm and reaches 16kgm by 2000rpm before moving till 18kgm by 4000rpm. This holds out until 5000rpm. All this pulling a weight of about 1250kg. This is all shown graphically below.

And guess what... it has got to be a... manual! What else for the anal-retentive me! It's clutch is quite worn out and needs a bit of accelerator while engaging it... but... hehehe... it rocks!

Btw, the stereo features 4 speakers at the back with very nice wooden boom boxes eating into the trunk... it sounds awesome!

So far, these are the problems it has.

1) Front passenger window can't be lowered completely or it'll misalign when it goes back up.
2) Front window rubber seals are worn, so there's wind noise at 90kmh onwards
(1) & (2) would cost about $300 to fix... bleah

3) Tyres look old and are oversized! The speedometer's reading is 6% slower than reality! So when I was going at 100kmh... it was actually...
(3) it turns out 16" tyres cost $100 a piece! GASP!

4) There's this pathetic "Proton" logo on the 16" alloys - I'd rather have gotten smaller rims and a better brand instead...

5) Alternator belt making interesting sounds tt correspond with engine rev... its getting worn... sigh...

6) Clutch is worn and needs a bit of fuel or pre-rev to engage smoothly. Gearbox feels rough when not warmed up.
(I don't even want to ask how much it'll cost)

I'll post pictures when I actually get down to washing the car lol


Some nonsense

Way long overdue now is my convo picture! *Sigh... don't carry a Prosumer Camera hoping ppl can take pictures for you because they'll get the shake all over... So far this one has survived...

From left to right: My Aunt Janet, Moi, Dom the future PhD (bah! what's this trade course you just graduated from?) and Mom.

It was so exciting because the convo was supposed to start at 10am and I arrived unrobed at 9.45am... haahAHahAha..... but thanks to some kind ppl in the robing room I still managed to make it. Now the whole thing is finally over!

The real world beckons... and oh well... wonder how much longer and how many more resumes I must send before I cease being jobless... not earning your keep is not a nice feeling... but getting a job you feel seems tough... or should we just resign to doing whatever we have before us?

Also, today the 99a53 vjc supper gang (remnants) sent Pok off to the USA... he's going there to study for his Masters and PhD after topping NUS FASS E. Lang... fully paid of course. 5 years. Woah. Here he is standing next to Mr T. Toh, our resident legal advisor. The crazed banker D. Chiam could not be captured on camera.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

sunday reflection - back to basics

I had a good run today. I finally completed 2 rounds around Maha Bodhi, finishing about 2.8km. My physical form has been flopping ever since I started work, with all the stress-related overeating and the lack of energy and discipline to exercise due to a very packed schedule. Now that's all set to change.

The pace, however, was not IPPT passing. But a little bit at a time.

Unfortunately, on the way back I had stepped on some dog poo so I had to spend 15min in the toilet using a defunct toothbrush to scrub away the cakes of excrement from the intricate patterns of my right shoe's contact patch. Imagine, the fine little splatters of poo (after the major cakes are out) that spray out into a repulsive mist of brown after you dig the remaining stubborn swabs out using the ends of the toothbrush bristles, just like how you'd dig out stuff stuck in between your teeth while brushing. Except that everytime the poo splatters into a mist, it seems that the increased contact area of each liberated poo droplet with the air sort of multiplies the overall pungency of the matter.

Not exactly the kind of subject matter you'd like to tackle just before a sumptious dinner prepared by mom, but, yes it happened to me.

I've tendered my resignation and am actively on a job hunt again. I'm looking for marketing positions, media-related and/or writing assignments. Its interesting how different people aim differently when job hunting, both in their expected pay, the types of companies they look for, and the job scopes they consider. I know there's no perfect job, but it should at least match most of your skill sets (read: just ability, not interest) and something you can go to work to everyday.

I know realistically that I'm not a career-minded person, as in I don't envision myself at this post drawing this pay by this age and so on, and tend to be quite clear about the line between work and my personal life. It's not that you can't help out more at the office during peak periods, but there's a line to be drawn for such things. If it happens all too often or the nature of the industry is as such, then it's probably not for me...

You could call it a lazy mindset, very un-model worker like, but I see work as work - a means to earn a living. What's the point of earning enough to enjoy a luxurious lifestyle if you don't have the time or the peace of mind to enjoy it? Rather, keep life simple, and appreciate the family, friends and relationships God has given you... which is a full time job in itself already.

We have a very interesting culture here. Intense work. And intense enjoyment. Is there such a thing?

Intense work I have experienced. But is there such a thing as spending a half an hour quality intensive lunch with your family?

Even if it took place at Westin Stamford, there's no point if all we do is comment on how expensive the food is, and yet we effectively live separate lives. Or an intensive trip to Europe in a week after your bonus? All you do is rush here and there, buying things, not seeing, understanding or appreciating the culture, history and different ways of life they have. Or spending your sweat and blood money on that OSIM chair to solve all the stress you get at work.

"Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work ome from a man's envy of his neighbour. This also is vanity and a striving after wind." - Ecc 4:4 (ESV)

Now this verse is NOT an excuse not to work, because if you look at the context of the following verses :

"The fool folds his hands and eats his own flesh. (but) Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind." - Ecc 4:5-6

So work, yes, or you'll not be able to earn your keep. But just remember not to chiong in your work for the sake of chionging. Be responsible, but don't sell your soul. When enough is enough, say it is enough.

But then sets us in perspective about what work is. Christians who say they want to work hard earn lots of money to glorify God to show that Christians can do it - beware!

These thoughts and ideas are my own and how I am led to understand the Bible. I'd welcome comments and thoughts on this.

Dinner time!