Friday, August 06, 2004

Boo hoo hoo! It's not installing properly. Looks like a faulty installation disk. Back to the dealer I go tomorrow. Aaaarrrrggggghhhh!!!
I must say it's great to be proven wrong about our teens. Today's festivities were such fun because everyone got themselves involved with the activities that went on today. My earlier observations were inaccurate because the context of the involvement was totally inappropriate then as opposed to today's. It's hard to be festive on demand, as was the case on Tuesday (just scroll down). The social setting -- neat, sequentially arranged rows; uniform attire; ritual responses by command; mundane announcements and pronouncements -- everything set up to exclude 'fun' from the proceedings. Sing-alongs just can't be conducted in this environment.

Today was a whole different thing altogether. People wore what they wanted (within guidelines of course), moved as they pleased, arranged themselves by social groups rather than by subject groups. They spontaneously jigged, jumped, waved, ran conga lines in the hall, and chorused out of turn, and everyone was really having a good time. Wonder what school would be like if every day was like this?

For a peek into our National Day '04 event just click here. This would be from 03A2's POV, naturally!

Here's a couple of samples:

Can't resist. We look so 'patriotic,' all in red and white. Posted by Hello

Community Adventuring. Dunno what 'nette has swallowed. Posted by Hello

Must commend NYeDC 04-05 on your first public performance. You've shown guts to perform on such an unusual space, worked well together within your tight schedule, and with minimal 'teacher' input. Crowd response was generous from where I was sitting (inadvertently sandwiched between VP1 and Cikgu Ibrahim). Most importantly, you've shown the hunger to perform and this kind of spirit is going to be the driving force behind our quest for eliteness. Oh, I have some pix of the performance, so up on the NYeDC board they go!

Here's another sample:

NYeDC's renditon of "Home" Posted by Hello

Had another 'workout' after everything was over. (I started way late because of an unexpected screw-up with a CIP I was helping to arrange. The email I received contained the line, "To add value... your students are invited to..." which suggests to me that attendance was optional and refusable. Duh. "Invited" in civil servant speak means "go or die." So I suddenly had to arrange transport for 20 students who will be serving their CIP in a more important capacity than they had been briefed). Anyway, the routine is coming together and it's no longer the monster it was when we first encountered it. I am still in need of polishing and constant revision, but at least confidence levels are higher now.

Thanks to June for doing my shopping for me and getting me that most desired piece of software >bwa ha ha!< that I have had no time to go get for myself. And now for more sleepless nights...!

Thursday, August 05, 2004

And then there are days when we feel snappy, impatient and when stress lowers the boiling point of blood until minor irritations make us want to bark at people who are slow or forgetful or just unaware. On these days, the less said, the better.

Show a couple of stray cat photos instead, taken fresh today.

This is Girlfriend, Bubbles' first girlfriend Posted by Hello

Nabiki is from Girlfriend's first litter. We don't think Bubbles was the father, though. Posted by Hello

Funny Eyes and her family living up on the coffee-shop rooftop. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

I guess we can call this period the mid-term break. With classes to run, National Day to gear up for, various admin ranging from examinations to fund raising to External Validation, new CCA leaders to break in, Racial Harmony Day (thankfully over, along with the embarrassment of giving away moldy prizes), holding consultations with students outside curriculum time, learning steps for our 'workout' routine, and tons of new marking to muddle through, the long weekend is certainly going to be welcome.

Before this job, my life has never been this active (I like to think this is being 'active') and in many ways, I think that this kind of activity is likely to keep me positive for a long time to come. Some stuff I could do without, of course, but most of it is, well, quite fulfilling.

Don't know why I feel embarrassed about saying that, but perhaps I feel that I've got more than my fair share of fulfillment right now while many people are still struggling with their daily lives. I am thankful, but it still is tiring, and right now, I need the break. So this long weekend has been long awaited and longed for. So rest, mark common tests scripts, and Doom 3, although I have yet to go buy it. It's supposed to be in the stores today but I just haven't had the time to go see it for myself. Obsessed gamer, what can I say?

With all this in mind, I refer to the conversation I had with Vince during lunch about promotions. Knowing myself, if there was an opportunity to be promoted but lose all this chaos as a result, I would seriously think twice about movin' on up. Being on the frontlines dodging bullets is still a lot easier than moving to HQ and having to decide what orders to give next. Told Connie managing naughty children is way better than managing naughty adults. Takes one to know one, eh?

Better go mark stuff now, or lose gaming time over the weekend... buh bye!

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Council has the unenviable job of motivating the unmotivatable. Inexperienced, the Councillors use every trick they know or can improvise in order to elicit some cooperation from a tough crowd too full of teenager 'cool' to join in as a member of the community in community events.

Yes, teens don't want to be seen as 'conformists' doing the will of the authorities. That would be so uncool. Teens are individuals -- 'no one can tell us what to do.' So they conform to their own brand of uncooperativeness. Thus united, no one can tell one teen apart from another. The only ones who do stand out are the Councillors who boldly, some say stupidly, stand in front of a hostile audience and hope to get some kind of positive reaction, but usually, expectedly, in vain.

Councillors try every trick in the book to help them get their jobs done. They cannot command, no one respects them that much. They try cajoling, but no one takes them seriously. They know that the student body holds them up as objects of ridicule, so they can only entertain as clowns can. And when they make mistakes, as they did today, everyone reviles them for being insensitive, or not being serious, when really they are at their wits' end.

Teens will not even follow their own student leaders. Teens choose rather to follow their own inertia, their own self-imposed ennui. They are a depressed, repressed bunch we are supposed to feel sorry for, or we don't care very much for (insert your own favourite catch-phrase here). They are unwashed as they are unloved. No matter. Teens are like that everywhere in the (developed) world. And when they grow up, they become accountants.

The failure at this morning's assembly was not the sole fault of the Councillors. But they are the scapegoats, as they are everytime they try to do their jobs. Councillors, you are brave and foolish. Can we add resilient to your list of qualities too?

Monday, August 02, 2004

An afternoon conversation got me thinking about the nature of love and why it seems so elusive to some people. Do we try too hard to find love, do we overanalyze situations, do we lack a sense of commitment, are we constantly plagued by uncertainty so we never recognize it even when it hits us in the face? Or are we just looking for love in the wrong place? Perhaps it's all of the above.

Or perhaps there is no love to be found in the first place?

Before you get up in arms and accuse me of pessimism, nihilism or worse, let me explain. After today's conversation it occurred to me that love and life might not exist on the exact same timeline but that love is always one step or more slower than life. The reason why people can't find love is because they are looking for it in the present when love can only be found when we look backwards into the past. It is in our memory that we recognize if the things done for us, words said to us, gifts given to us were done, said or given in love or for some other reason. Time would have proven the worth of the gesture.

What other reasons could there have been? At the time of doing, saying or giving, there is always a nagging suspicion (that varies in intensity) that there could be ulterior motives or misunderstanding behind the gesture. We worry that when we receive a token of affection, the giver could have just meant to be polite, or was confused, or under some kind of pressure, or they could be really out to take advantage of us. So within the moment there are too many suspicions, too many doubts to be able to see love for what it is.

As a relationship sustains itself and as it matures, we can look back and over time realize that, as we grow old together, the love we sought has been there all along. Love is clear in hindsight; love follows us through our lives, and it is pointless to pursue because it never exists in our future (or even in our present) but rather in our past.

So, the harder we chase after love, the more frustrated we get. Love isn't for the impetuous, the impatient or the ungrateful. It is the privilege of those who have maintained strong relationships over the long-term. So appreciate those who are close to you today, and know that love is there even if you can't see it.

So ends the sermon of the day.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Looks like Singapore isn't the only place in the world with a stray cat problem. Check out what's going on in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Look up for more details!
In MSN today:

From More Things You Need to Be Told by the Etiquette Grrls (EGs), Lesley Carlin and Honore McDonough Ervin
  • Polite boys stand when a girl enters the room, and when she departs. Actually, everyone, regardless of gender, should stand when an elder, or a very important person, enters or leaves. Boys should open doors for girls. Please actually hold the door for the girl, instead of merely flinging it open and running through, leaving her to sprint through before it slams. Open the door and step to the side while the girl passes through (perhaps saying, "After you," if she hesitates). At this point, the girl should politely thank the boy. He then says, "You're welcome," and, when she is through the door, goes through it himself. See, dear reader, this is really quite simple!
  • Girls precede boys through every door except revolving doors. Boys, if you encounter a revolving door [like at the Fullerton] when you are walking with a girl, you should enter it first so that you may push the door. (Of course, you should not push it too fast, so that the girl has to leap like a gazelle to enter the revolving door you've set spinning out of control.)
  • Boys graciously give up their seats on buses, trains, etc., when all the seats are taken and a girl is forced to stand. Simply say, "Excuse me, please take my seat." He should also offer to assist her with her luggage, especially if she is obviously attempting to heave her heavy Pullman suitcase onto the awkwardly placed luggage rack. (Girls, of course, should immediately thank the boy for his kindness.) Again, the same principle applies to when the elderly, the infirm, the obviously frail, or the pregnant are standing, no matter your, or their, gender.
  • It is very nice for a boy to help a girl into her coat. Just stand behind her and hold the coat by the shoulders while she puts her arms into it. There is no need, however, for you to button it up for her [darn!], or help her on with her mittens.
  • In a bar, if there is no table service, it's nice for the boy to fetch the drinks.
  • Very old-fashioned, polite boys sometimes order for a girl in a restaurant. Now, if you're going to do this, you should inquire what the girl would like to eat before placing the order with the waitress. It would be very bad for her to have to correct you because she breaks out in terrible hives when she eats shrimp, for example. Also, you really have to be a traditional, perfectly chivalric boy to pull this off with grace, since your waiter at, say, Bennigan's probably isn't going to expect it.
  • If a boy has asked a girl out on a date, he should pay. This is just the polite thing to do. If for some reason the girl has done the asking, then the responsibility of paying is hers. Under no circumstances should anyone on a first date reach for the check and demand the other party pay up! In longer-term relationships, you may find yourselves switching off occasionally, as both parties will be making plans, and this is fine. The EGs just think it's nicer to alternate than to have both of you reaching for your wallets every single time you go out.
  • When you are taking seats at a theater, concert hall, movie theater, church, lecture hall, etc., the girl precedes the boy into the row of seats. In a restaurant, when the maitre d' is leading you to your table, the girl precedes the boy.
  • When a girl is taking a seat at a table, the boy pulls out her chair for her. This is a maneuver that takes a bit of practice to be done gracefully, however. (The EGs have heard embarrassing stories of teenage boys who know they should do this at, par exemple, the prom, but get a bit over-zealous and yank the chair completely out from underneath their poor dates. Not a pretty picture, dear reader).

Something about this 'etiquette' thing makes the modern guy's skin crawl. But, hey, if the ladies like this sort of thing, it's a small price to pay for their company. Until you bump into that ol' gang of yours, that is!