Saturday, October 30, 2004

Meet Flirt, Girlfriend's daughter, whom we are taking to be spayed today. Posted by Hello

Doc just called and it's lucky we opted to spend $85 on a blood test for her. Anesthetizing her would be quite adverse to her health as her liver is not functioning normally. Besides, she's preggers (we have reason to suspect the old vetran, Ginger Tom) and Doc advises that she needs to be brought to term while being medicated at the same time to get her healthy again. Poor thing!
There are days in which there's nothing to blog home about, then there are days like today when so much happens, it's hard to remember everything at once.

It's the official last day of term, and everyone's gearing up for a long vacation, right? Well, not till PW's over, not till 'A's are over and certainly not till Halloween's over which takes place tomorrow evening. Ticket proceeds are for a good cause, so it's an invitation to our Year 2 students who need a short break from mugging your brains out to join us for an evening of revelry. Party ends at 9pm, so you can go home with a clear conscience! If you haven't been studying, well then it's your own judgement call. It's good to know that the Halloween team has been putting in another day's hard work, but without working hard there'll be no fun at the end of it all. Thanks for the effort, people!

My meeting at HQ was a re-examination of the programmes that fall under the category of NE in college. Some sacred cows, like many others in our society, are being considered for slaughter and the bigwigs are feeling out what sentiments might be like from us groundlings. Some good ideas came up for the running of the LJ and CIP that might steer these programmes towards a more realistic approach, more relevant to the interests of our students and more than just lip-service to their educational objectives. Might they not be run as one event fulfilling both objectives? Our NE pogramme could then function as one-stop station to facilitate student-initiated projects that are more relevant to their interests (i.e., CCA-based interests) and at the same time to the subjects they are studying (i.e., ST-based interests).

One major problem we have had before is that there is so much duplication of events attempting to fulfil more or less overlapping objectives that all our well-intentioned programmes become nothing more than an additional work burden to our students. Visits, etc., are carried out simply because they must. How mind-numbingly boring. Students do the work, we tutors get the credit for organizing the events, at least if we take a cynical view of the situation.

Perhaps we need to learn to decentralize, do away with a one-size-fits all solution and instead customize field trips according to the needs, interests and talents of the individual students who as a group request to visit a place they want to go to together, to do something they want to do as a team together, to learn something specific that they want to learn together. If we can suit the trips to Project Groups who are looking for primary resources of information for their research, that might be one more bird killed with a single stone.

Perhaps in the 2 years that a student spends in college, each student should only get 1 chance to propose and participate in 1 such field trip, and that's all. Each individual student will then have to choose his or her 1 trip very carefully, or lose the opportunity altogether. It sounds like hell to manage, but if the students find such a programme more meaningful, then we will find a way to manage. A lot of what-ifs and why-nots. I think that makes our discussion quite fruitful and I'm glad I went.

June and I joined Vince and Amy at Wild Rice's "The Visit of the Tai Tai," a delightfully bizarre, dark comedy with old friends (Tina and Ben) and familiar faces in the cast. The Tai Tai and her retinue represent promise, progress, science, opulence, everything the impoverished backwater town of Saitang aspires towards, but dealing with her is also making a pact with the devil, or at least a mockery of what was once human.

The premise is a complicated moral dilemma: for a large sum of money that will lift a starving community out of abject poverty, will that community correct an old injustice by committing a new one? Will common human decency prevail or will the temptation of economic salvation push a proud, upright citizenry to do unspeakable things to one of their own?

These questions resonate with us because we live in such times. Foreign investment is our only salvation; this is our reality. What are we prepared to lose of ourselves, our identity, our values, in order to make ourselves attractive to such investment? Is it worth it? And the answer isn't as automatic as we might think. The human will to survive at all cost is a pursuasive force, though it is easy to underestimate.

Right. Ivan requested us to sell the show if it meant something to us. "Tai Tai" runs till this Sunday, 1 November at the Victoria Theatre, so if you can spare the time and the cash, go. It's a great show!

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Ever since Halloween came to college, I've become a nervous wreck this time of year. I worry if the event is ever getting off the ground; if the event will be publicized enough so that our student body will take some time off to come and have fun; yet not so well publicized that unwelcome guests crash the party and in so doing damage our assets or find trouble with our students, etc.

The first two years, I was in the centre of the event getting everything organized and I was just too busy to enjoy myself. Last year, it became more student-oriented and it was great as I started to take a back-seat and let the event run on its own, more or less. Last Halloween was a flamboyant affair, with emphasis on great-looking costumes and a very simple programme -- a haunted house tour, Bhangra till closing time with a best-costume judging thrown in.

This year, things seem to be falling into place at a slower, more methodical pace with the Drama Club leading the way. A more ambitious, varied programme involving more locations in our new building, but with the same general focus as last year, rockin' the house with music and dance. It was nice to see the club members hard at work today preparing material for this year's haunted house. I previewed the band and though they aren't exactly larger-than-life, they have a pretty good sound that should add to the festivities in a big way. Hope their equipment hold up, AV crew, please be on top of things.

One more announcement at assembly tomorrow and we're committed. Saturday evening I'll be a nervous wreck again hoping everything will turn out fine, everyone would have had a great time, nothing gets damaged in the process, and everyone gets home safe from a crazy, memorable experience. If we can do that, it'll be one more notch marking an event that will in time become integrated into our college culture. Jus' doin' my bit for my college.

I also received my SAF100 in the mail today. Normally, I'd be steeling myself up for 2 weeks of military discipline which I don't look forward to, but this time I'm being 'invited' to a 2-day course on using the new personal weapon, the SAR21! I've been looking forward to handling this new piece of equipment and I had thought they'd never give it to my unit this close to the end of our 13-year cycle. Time to trade in the old M16! Upgrade mania strikes again!
Rach must be one of Phoon Huat's best customers. That was a gorgeous chocolate cake to celebrate Mei's 18th with. Happy bdae to both Mei and Farisa! I don't actually pay attention to birthdays, but when I do get to hear about 'em, they deserve a mention.

Today I attended the wake of my Grand-Uncle, the oldest representative of Mom's side of the family. He lived to a ripe old age of 92, so he's lived his adult life through most of the tumultous times we only hear about in history and NE sessions. I vaguely remember that after his retirement he still volunteered to take school kids to various historical locations in Singapore and tell them about historical events from his experience, making him a walking, human narrator of our unbelievable past. Unbelievable, because the past that we keep hearing about seems so far removed from our present, though the time scale really is only 1 lifetime, no more.

He will also be remembered for his great faith as an Elder in his church, and he will be missed for his knowledge of Christian scripture and his service to the church that he spent most of his life with, even as a boy.

Oh, I just wrote a eulogy, didn't I?

Also met my ex-boss at the wake since he goes to the Grand-Unc's church. He essentially baby-sat me in my working life for four or five years while I tried to figure out how I really wanted to be gainfully employed. Basically, I was his personal assistant, accompanying him as he took on short-term jobs with one company after another. I helped him with his administrative tasks while he, erm, envisioned possibilities for new business ventures for whomever his employer was at the time. It was like being a squire to a ronin (masterless samurai) in the business world. He got all the excitement while I polished his katana. I didn't do much, I didn't get paid much, I didn't expect much, and I was contented, though not necessarily happy.

And Blogger's being a pain again. Guess this entry's going to be a day late.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

There. Presentation made and one more pressure item is now off my list. 'sif and Kareen had suggested I talk about the video-making project, but I found I had less to say about that than about the download-neighbourhood-map-and-explore-area-on-foot exercise of this year. The presentation was about sharing thoughts and ideas about the "teach less, learn more" concept and I thought perhaps a negative example, i.e., how NOT to do it, would be a better learning point for all the teachers attending the sharing session.

It turned out to be a much smaller event than anyone expected, even to the organizer's surprise. Bad time of the year to organize an inter-school do. Everyone's busy with exams and other things. Yesterday, I was told to prepare for an audience of 30, which seemed ok as that will be about the size of most tutorial groups next year. Today, Thad and I arrived at the appointed time (though I had the honour of being designated last speaker) and no one else apart from the organizer was there. Eventually, 12 to 15 people arrived to hear the 5 presentations from 2 primary schools, 1 secondary school, and yours truly.

The first primary school presented twice, including one Prize Winning initiative for teaching language using DVD movies. The other primary school presented their idea of using games (Boggle, Scrabble, Pictionary...) in the teaching of English.

When it was my turn to present, my audience amounted to a grand total of 10; one group had to leave due to prior commitments. Guess I'm still not ready for prime time national reach yet. Still, what was left was a comfortable tutorial size.

The next challenge was how to eat all the food that had been catered for 30+? Ramadan didn't help the situation much. We ate what we could, said our thanks and goodbyes and waddled off for home, decision being that the remaining tea would be distributed amongst the school's students who will return in the evening for self study as they prepare for their 'O's.

June bought a brain teaser from the pasar malam downstairs. Messing around with shapes and patterns should keep her occupied all night. The sales guy kept pushing the idea that solving the puzzles doesn't require much effort; only observation, analysis, working with possibilities and "understanding the question." This guy should come and teach GP with me.

Just received 2 consecutive phone calls:
Cat Auntie's out of a job again so we assured her we'll be going downstairs soon to supplement the strays' dinner. Mom called with info that my Grand-Uncle has passed away, wake to be held tomorrow evening, Friday evening and funeral Saturday morning. Grand-Uncle takes a wealth of Singapore's oral history with him. Hope his work with the National Heritage Board would have preserved some of his personal memories for us.

Off to feed cats now!

Monday, October 25, 2004

I can feel an MC coming on this week. It's only a question of what day will I be really too sick to function? The nose is drippy, the head just a little spinny and I'm falling asleep in the middle of consultations. Not a good sign.

Should have prepared my presentation for tomorrow afternoon over the weekend. Now that I should be resting I'm still getting my points together and I still have a bunch of slides to make too. Good thing I'm the first presenter. Hopefully I can sneak away after my spiel then go home for more shut-eye.

Thad is going to be my co-presenter, though I'm not quite sure I know what to do with him. I told him that he's just going to change my slides for me, but he really should be fielding questions during the Q&A with me. I know he's got some good ideas to share with the Cluster too. Hope I can convince him, or perhaps I shouldn't give him a choice? Heh, heh.

Edit 01:
Oh no! I just saw my updated presentation schedule. I've been bumped down right to the bottom. Last speaker. Boo!

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Too many indulgences today. Too much junk food, too much staring at CRT and LCD screens all day, too much indolence and not actually getting anything constructive done. Wanted to prepare for my presentation on Tuesday, but couldn't get in the mood. No wonder I'm feeling sick right now. Think maybe I'll try sleep it off... at the next available opportunity.