Saturday, April 24, 2004

There is something to be said of Pai Mei, Gordon Liu's character in Kill Bill Vol 2. As a teacher, his pedagogy sucks big time. He is a taskmaster; he is insulting, demoralizing, demonstrates a technique only once and expects replication, and causes actual physical harm to a student who disrespects him. What does works for him is that he knows that his students' success does not lie in his skills as a 'teacher' but in their own determination and reslilience to learn the skills that he is master of. The key is that the students truly desire to learn and master the skills and will go to any lengths involving humiliation, tedium, pain and deprivation in order to acquire them. They know 'why' they want to learn, and thus they can do little else but learn.
Endless repetition, doing the same piece of work over and over again, constantly being told it isn't good enough is par for the course in the learning experience. As with physical exercise, doing 10 push-ups perfectly once isn't going to make an Arnold Schwarzenneger out of you. Likewise, learning is a muscle that needs to be stressed daily in order to develop. It also needs proper nutrition and rest, but without the student's will to do until done it's just going to get flabby and flappy and pretty much useless.
Pai Mei doesn't bother himself with caring whether they are learning or not. He knows a good student learns regardless of circumstance, regardless of the teaching approach. It's a tough world out there, beyond the institution that the students will one day have to venture into. Their survival, not even their success, depends entirely on how much effort they were willing to put into their training when they had the opportunity to. You either learn to survive or die. It's really that simple.
Perhaps that's what's wrong with the 'education system.' In trying so hard to develop the best teachers, the best curriculum, and throwing money on the best facilities, we have forgotten that the students lack the motivation to learn because they are given everything even before they know to ask for it. They need to need, they have to learn to want, more than anything else. They have to search themselves for the reasons why they are studying the subjects they are taking. How badly do they want to master these subjects? What are they willing to tolerate to achieve this mastery? On this basis, they can truly assess for themselves how well they are likely to succeed in their course of study. No other report card/book could be a more accurate assessment.
The other point to note in the film is that Pai Mei, who lives by the sword dies by the sword, so to speak. I guess he deserves it for being the kind of teacher he was.
I've had less than 3 hours sleep today. 2 hours last evening and 1 hour this morning. Wonder if I will survive the rest of today on my feet? Had an eyeful of blood and gore at the Kill Bill double bill at GV Plaza, which explains my zombie-like state. Had initial complications with the online booking at the GV website. Was impatient with the processing of payment and I must have hit the refresh key or something, thus halting the system. So I redid the process and discovered "to my horrible" that I had just spent $80+ on 4 tix instead of $40+ for 2! Resolved to talk my way out of paying for the extra 2 tix at the box office.
Box office clerk was understanding. Happens all the time, I guess. Said that he'll try to sell the 2 extras for me but I'll still have to bear the processing costs of all 4 tix anyway. Fair enough. The double bill must have been in high demend. The 2 tix were sold immediately to a lucky pair (not couple, mind you) who were just trying their luck. The lucky dogs got 2 great seats and I was saved from having to fork out cash for nothing. Actually, that wasn't my main concern. I didn't want to deprive 2 movie buffs a chance to catch a movie they wanted to watch simply because I had bought their tix by mistake. That would have been unnecessarily selfish. Right. Oddly enough, the 2 who bought over my extra tix look very familiar. I think I saw them at Hellboy last week at Sun Plaza. I think.
Got a free-flow of popcorn and drinks for the double bill tix. Also got a freebie notebook with the Kill Bill Vol. 2 poster printed on the cover. The one with the death list, first 2 names crossed out and a katana blade piercing the list through the centre.
I hadn't seen Vol 1 when it came out last year so I enjoyed its hyperbolic violence, knowing that I'll reach closure without having to wait for months to finish the story. Think I preferred 1 better. Seemed more movement based with extravagant fight choreography and had more aesthetically composed cinematography. I'm referring to the battle with Ishii in the snow-covered garden, snowflakes gently, peacefully drifting down in contrast to the sharply coordinated cut, thrust and parry of the warriors engaged in a game of sudden death. White background, splashes of crimson. Also the anime sequence in which Ishii's origin is told came as a surprising change of pace and medium, telling Ishii's story in a way that suggests a blend of fact and legend. The dance-floor fight sequence vs the Crazy 88s was pulse-pounding but ultimately ridiculous. Shows up 'The Bride's' maternal instinct in her confrontation with the last 88 standing, so I guess it does count for something.
Vol 2 had more focus on plot and tying up loose ends. Tarantino substitutes the anime sequence from Vol 1 with an unconventional, punctuated longshot focusing on sound rather than visuals. This device does a little foreshadowing of Elle's come-uppance, but it does get uncomfortable after a while (like it's supposed to, I guess). Bill dies, of course, but you knew that from the start anyway. The manner of his death is likewise predictable, though how 'The Bride' gets there is what holds our attention.
One more movie on my list crossed off. I feel so accomplished.
Dawn of the Dead,
Van Helsing,
Spider-man 2
you're next (though not necessarily in that order).

Friday, April 23, 2004

Looking forward to tonight! Got tix to the Kill Bill double bill at GV Plaza. June & I haven't done a midnight movie marathon for years, so tonight will be quite special. Gotta get some sleep in a while but haveta blog first. Writing this crap's getting unusually addictive!

Day was pretty routine with only the mad running around to fill up financial assistance forms, log PEARLS activity with PE Dept and attempt to arrange AV and logistics for next Wednesday's S-cube Seminar for Millenia Institute to break the monotony. Couldn't find Messrs Lee and Pao so maybe I'll have to do the latter thing tomorrow before Odyssey rehearsal.

With ol' faithful lunch partners Anthony, Vince, Cara and Darrell, we went to Ivin's Thomson branch for Peranakan food (sorry, Ray, for patronizing your mom's rival restaurant). Had satisfyingly lemak nasi lemak that came with chicken curry, fishcake and a generous portion of omelette. We ordered sides of sotong, ladies' fingers, homemede otah, another shrimp-crab omelette, and bakwan kepiting, a tasty pork-crab-shrimp(?) meatball soup. Darrell & I split Cara's chicken because she only eats fish on Friday. Finished up with gula meleka sago for dessert and bandung. Dessert was sweet and thanks to the addition of crushed ice, cold and oddly crunchy. Mildly spicy meal with a number of different flavours pleasantly rioting in your mouth.

Without warning the sky burst open while we were lunching. Torrential rains fell, trapping us in Ivin's row of shophouses far away from our respective transports. Took the opportunity to explore the couple of petshops in the vicinity to look at puppies on sale. The first pet shop we went to suddenly sprung a leak, flooding most of the shop floor in seconds. The shop assistants bravely assaulted the leak with a mop and pail. The effort was valiant but futile. One lucky plumber is going to be real busy tomorrow!
Someone rescued a schnauzer and his chihuahua friend from the cage on the floor before they all got wet. They must have joined the shih tzu on the cash-counter top.
We hastily but without drawing much attention to ourselves departed the rapidly sinking shop before they ordered everyone to wear life-jackets and man the lifeboats.
The other pet shop we visited was much dryer, of course. It sold chinchillas rather than puppies. The little things are so fluffy and would be hard to resist if not for the prohibitive price tag -- $1440+ for one of these fuzzballs. It would be the most expensive meal I could feed Momo with if I was ever to get one.
Ran for the bus stop when the others decided to get a massage while waiting for the rain to stop. No time to waste getting a massage and blowing $40 which I didn't have on me then (great -- I sound like a skinflint now; I'm not, honest). Managed to catch a cab from the bus stop (see, I can spend cash when I need to) and now I should prepare for a very late night tonight.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

All along I thought I was a blue! My life must have changed after York U!

you are red....Reds are physical and sexual. They
love expressing themselves through their
sensuality and their physical bodies. They live
their lives in the here-and-now with zest,
strength, courage and self-confidence.

Reds love to live in physical reality, to
manipulate their environment. Reality must be
tangible to them. They must be able to see,
touch, hear, taste and smell it. Reds are not
abstract thinkers. A wall is a wall and there
is no need for further discussion or
speculation. Reality is literal, not ethereal
or complicated.

Reds require proof that something exists. It must
have a concrete and tangible substance. Reds
remind us that we have bodies, that we are
matter flesh and blood. These robust
personalities enjoy the physical aspect of
life. They dont try to see life as an illusion
or try to escape from it into a fantasy world.

please rate my quiz!!!!!

what color is your aura and how does it affect u?(cool pics)
brought to you by Quizilla
I'm happy that the kids in 03A2 can play so well together. My concern is whether they can work together. I'm imagining an office scenario with 03A2 as the staff and I wonder how long the company will survive. What seems to be lacking is a central uniting personality, a strong leader who has an eye on what's important and to rally the troops towards a common objective. It sounds so cliched, but I don't know how else to describe the situation. Those from amongst the group I thought could be that leader have given all they could and yet the inertia seems too great to overcome. We're wading in molasses, looking for the 'do' and not so much caring for the 'why' (the 'quid' as above). Apart from our own entertainment, can we find any other reason for getting a project done together? Can we see that something is worth doing and therefore do it?

I can't be that leader, in case you're wondering. As it is, they already think they work for me. It doesn't matter what I do, I'm still an Authority Figure. As the perceived 'employer' they don't trust my leadership. It's the Dilbert vs pointy-haired monster relationship. They have to find a leader that they perceive as their equal to give their trust to. Trust is a hard-earned commodity these days.

Old story but worth repeating:
A skilled craftsman has been in the employ of a building company for many years. His skill is such that the company comes to depend on his expertise in most of its building projects. He is now about to retire and his employer asks him to complete one last job -- a house by the beach. "OMG," he thinks, "they're never gonna let me off the hook. They'll just keep exploiting me until I drop dead! I'm so close to retirement and I still want to have some energy left to enjoy my golden years!" He figures the faster he's done with this last project, the sooner he can quit and run off to enjoy life. So he rushes through the design, he orders materials without thinking through the specs and he isn't so careful with the supervision of the workers. He meets his deadline as usual, but while the house looks fine on the outside, the pipes and roof leak, the tiles could fall off at any moment, and the foundations are unstable. Still, the job is complete and he turns the house over to the company. "I've finished my last job for you," he says, "as of today I'm officially retired." And the manager replies, "Yes, you've been waiting for this day for so long. We thank you for the good work you've done for the company for so many years. Looking back, we feel that we haven't really appreciated you enough. Going by your past record, we know you've done a splendid job on your last project and we know that it will make the perfect retirement gift for you and your family. Here are the keys to the house, you can move in any time you want."
03A2, once you realize that you don't work for the College, the Principal or your tutors, but rather for yourselves; and that the work you do is for your benefit and not anyone else's, I think we've taken our first step together as a CT for the right reasons. We are all responsible for our learning so let's not let each other down.
List of missing things:
Trust, belief, vision, leadership, shared purpose, common direction, work ethic, urgency, courage to speak your mind in public and raison de etre.
We only have 5 months left to find these. Why? Because you need to tap on each other's strengths to be satisfied with yourselves at the 'A's. Because I don't want to see you forget each other once you've taken your 'A's. Because individually you have the talent, verve and passion to thrive in this world, so can you imagine what you could do if you were united? Because your friendship, regardless of all else, is the most precious thing you can take from the College when you leave. For your own sakes, don't settle for anything less.

Today's Casualty list:
'nette : food poisoning
Yan: sprained ankle caused by fire evacuation from the apartment she stays in
Kareen: stomach flu with other complications
Please take care of yourselves, ppl. Your health is important too.
So unnerving when Kareen called in sick today. The pain made her unintelligible over the phone and I decided the best thing to do was to send Lynn, Chun and Ray over to her place to take care of her. Ray's question to me reflects the general dependence on Authority for specific direction, "What can we do?" The answer is a rearrangement of the words in the question, thus, "do what we can." You are heading out into an unknown situation, the urgency of which does not allow you much prep time. On arrival, you observe the situation, identify the specific needs and do your best to meet them. The reason why you did this today is based on the value you place on your friendship; you are after all her closest friends. I suspect she needed to know she wasn't alone in her situation and that all you had to provide at that time was your company and emotional support rather than carry out CPR or open-heart surgery. Interesting this happened during our I&E discussion. You really got a practical lesson in Innovation if not so much Enterprise today.
Hope Kareen, 'nette and Yan get better real soon.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

No more excuses. Got papers to grade – backlog and this week’s assignment, not forgetting that there will be another assignment to be given next week too – a mid-year test to put together, and the SYF to think about. No more excuses: the tournament is OVER and maybe now I can get it out of my system.
Bowled a totally crappy first game, a score below 90 using a combination of 11 and 12 pound balls, trying to find one my fingers could get used to. Didn’t help that at the same time there was so much excitement and activity around me from all the beginners looking for bowling tips ‘cos they hadn’t come for training with us over the last few weeks. Expected this to happen, so I’m bouncing from one beginner to another correcting grip, demonstrating swing and encouraging them to ‘just roll it down the middle.’ And there I am rolling wildly left, right and hitting the occasional gutter. Thank goodness the first game was just a warm up and the score, pathetic that it was, was not counted.
Started the tournament stuffed full of Middle Eastern food from CafĂ© de Caire (how do you pronounce that?) on Arab Street. I had a Greek salad which was called an ‘Arabian salad’ on the menu. I’m a sucka for feta cheese. Followed that up with ‘foul’ (Arabian bread) with sausage and they were so generous with the foul I couldn’t finish it all. Thinking back, I should have brought the leftovers back for Cara to accompany the vegetarian kebab we ordered to go for her. She might have liked it, I don’t know. Anthony had his apricot flavoured sheesha and I think it was an afternoon well spent, even without the bowling to follow. Mei Lian, Jong Yann and Lawrence were supposed to join us but they decided that parking on Arab Street was impossible at lunchtime, so they went to Bugis Junction instead. Wonder what they had for lunch?
I changed into my Bermudas to be comfortable for the game, but I made the mistake of bringing my short Berms instead of my longer ones. Result: in the first game, given my knee bashing bowling style, I put a hole in my right knee in the first official game of the Tourney. The epidermis on my right knee sort of peeled off on a careless, violent throw. It wasn’t serious enough to sideline me but it was enough to remind me that every throw would cost me some >pain< from then on. Fortunately there was no bleeding else next year the College would classify bowling an extreme sport and we’d all have to pay insurance as well as lane fees.
Our closest competitors, Yee and John had to drop out of the Tourney because of unforeseen circumstances involving work, so erm… it was good news for us, I suppose? Mixed feelings about that. Not having to worry about Yee meant that our next closest competitor was one of the Bowling Club students. I don’t know his name, Tan something, but he was awesome. He clinched the highest individual pinfall and High-Score (201 pinfalls) awards. He and his partner came in third in the Tournament, so hats off to them both.
How did Anthony and I do this year?
Score, just for the record:
(3-game total)
Anthony: 449
Me: 447
Team Total: 896 :)

In the unforgettable lyrics of Queen:

We are the Champions – my friends
And we’ll keep on fighting till the end
We are the Champions
We are the Champions
No time for losers, ‘cos
We are the Champions
Of the World… (Queen. “We are the Champions.” 1977).

Team Pegasus Rules Nanyang bowling!!!

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Now, how is this supposed to work? I've been faithfully updating this blog with some dumb diary entries over the last few days, and I'm not sure if this really is the point. The options remain open that I could still write something more meaningful in here, but nothing in my life right now is particularly meaningful -- except maybe bowling. Not that that's exactly earth-shaking either.
How does it work? Aren't blogs public? Aren't they open for anyone to look at them and identify with them and comment on them so you either have people comiserating with you or lending their textual support or something? I haven't got an audience at the moment. Is that why I'm feeling a bit let down? Then again, is my motivation really to write to an audience? If this is the case, then I only included the Shoutbox and Comments only because I was showing off that I could; that html was a code I don't have to fully understand to use. Right, begs the question, who am I showing off to?
This meta-thinking is geared to asking myself one question: how am I going to get myself an audience for this junk? Do I invite people to read it, or do I let them find it on their own? How do I know who's looking for this content and how do I wave a banner in their direction? & most importantly, how narcissistic can I get?
No, wait. it's not about narcissism. It's good to have an audience -- it helps you focus your thoughts and helps you express the one thing that you want your audience to know, and that one thing simultaneously becomes an insight into yourself seen from outside yourself and thus you see yourself a little clearer. That's what I want -- memory and clarity. If I am going to be my own audience, then so be it. I seem to be entertaining myself pretty well at the moment and for now I will be happy.

I'm procrastinating again. Lots of things need to be done that are probably more important than bowling but the handy excuse is that I'll get round to it "after the tournament." After tomorrow, I'll have run out of excuses --but don't count on it.

Can feel my mind losing coherence right now. It's after midnight already, so what can I say but, "goodnight!"

Monday, April 19, 2004

Discovered black-pepper pork chops at 'Gerald's favourite coffee shop.' They were so good, I must have downed the stuff without much chewing. Still feeling indigestion from lunch. It's a worrying trend 'cos I felt the same after breakfast yesterday. It's not indicative of anything unhealthy, I hope.
Forgive the fixation on bowling. That's all I can think about now that the tourney is only 2 days away. It's safe to say I played my usual game today, though scoring below 100 AGAIN in one game is really scary. It cannot happen again. I don't have 5 games to bring my average up to par. Really hope there is a warm up round or Pegasus will be in trouble. Anthony isn't faring much better either. We're both underperforming today. Can't strike as well as usual, can't spare even the easy ones.
SAFRA Yishun has a 'tikam-tikam' night every Mon & Tues. They give out keychains with a tiny flashlight at the end for 140 pinfalls and above in a single game. Beyond 180 you get other nifty prizes right up to a car vacuum cleaner and a made-in-China mini-compo set for a near perfect game. Anthony and I usually get a nice haul of keychains between us but today we only managed one each. Pathetic. (SAFRA owes us our keychains tonight 'cos they're out of stock. Lame-o).
Hope this is just an off day and it's not that we peaked too early. Let's just save it for Wednesday and we'll see how it pans out. Relax. Cool. Chill. >phew!<
On the Phoenix front, with a little more consistency, Cara could almost be Vince's equal. Phoenixes, don't lose your nerve just because it's a competition. Just play your usual game and you'll be fine.
Yee will laugh if he ever finds out our scores tonight. Maybe we should just tell him and get it over with. Hey, it's not Wednesday yet!
Funny how competitive I can sound when I think I have a chance of winning. Does that mean I give up too easily too often? Hmmm....
Trainees have upped and gone to bowl for Griffin, even though Dawn & Lynette had earlier agreed to bowl for Pegasus. Eunice's decision. Since she's running the Tournament, we're not going to argue with her. Not when she has the power to toss us out of the game even before we throw the first ball. Let's not antagonize her unnecessarily. Trainees were supposed to train with us tonight, but decided they'll score with beginner's luck. There's true confidence!
Good fortune, y'all, and may the Force be with you!

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Lazy, lazy, lazy. Got zilch accomplished though June was busy. Q-tip got her bath and the floor is clean again. Bought bamboo poles to hang our clothes out to dry on; red, yellow, yellow. Sold off our VCD player (still in good working condition) and our VHS player (confession: I bent a transistor or something trying to remove a stuck tape and now it's screwy). Karang guni man paid us $5 for each appliance, hence we made a killing on our VCD player which we got for free! Not too happy about our VHS, though. June bought a replacement with only 2 heads and the one we got rid of had 4! Heartache.
Thought of having steamed crab for dinner but the crabs available downstairs were small & pathetic looking. So we settled for 1 durian for dessert instead. Very yellow, flesh curiously triple layered. One tougher outer layer, creamy centre layer and another tough layer close to the seed. Taste -- dee...licious, wish we had bought another.
Oh yeah, got a haircut too. Young whippersnapper of a barber asked, "A lot of hair falling out, ah? Why, ah?" I like him, he gives me the best haircuts -- made me look like a Marine just before my Hawaii trip last year -- but please spare me the running commentary on my state of alopecia, thank you.
A most unremarkable day. I am grateful.
What is this? Now I'm starting to correct grammar AND spelling on my previous entries! Get a life, man!!!