Friday, November 05, 2004

Hi-tech is supposed to save us work? Today's language exam put our new bar-code scanners to use again and if there was any evidence of work saved I certainly didn't see it.

The procedure is supposed to go like this:
Candidates are saved of the work of writing their names on their answer scripts. Instead they paste a large bar code label that we invigilators issue to them. We then use our handy little hand-held device to scan each bar code to take attendance. We scan the bar codes again at the end of the paper to ensure that everyone who took the paper has handed them in to be marked. Accurate, easy, efficient, just as it would sound on someone's EWSS suggestion. No wonder we jumped on the idea.

Candidates' individual labels come printed on computer forms, conveniently perforated for our tearing convenience. As the paper begins, the invigilator struggles with ripping apart the forms and arranging them in numerical order so it's easier to distribute them once they have been separated. I'm sure the sound of paper tearing has a demoralising effect on an important exam, not to mention the occasional cusses of the invigilator whenever he encounters a particularly tough piece of label that may or may not tear at the right place.

On distributing said labels, we still have to check if the labels correspond to the person who happens to be sitting at that particular spot. *Goes desk to desk checking ID for verification. Now we take attendance by scanner. *Goes desk to desk scanning labels for attendance. Next, we pass on the scanner to the next door invigilator with whom we have to share. *Goes next door, hands scanner over. Oh, we still have to take attendance manually??? *Applies pen to paper ticking off manual attendance list. Part 1 done.

At the end of the paper we collect the answer scripts and the bar-code counterfoils. *Goes desk to desk collecting said items. We pass the time counting collected items while waiting for the invigilator whom we shared the scanner with to give the scanner back to us. *Goes next door to help self to the scanner after an appropriately polite wait. We scan through our set of collected scripts to verify the numbers. *Scans hastily as Candidates have been sitting through 3+ hours of exam taking and probably need a toilet break ASAP. In our haste we may have missed scanning one or two scripts. *Stares uncomprehendingly at why the number of scripts collected fails to tally with attendance recorded. We slowly trace the stray scripts whose bar codes did not get captured. *Feels 30 eye-daggers prickling back of neck. Finally locate stray scripts and scan them to the scanner's satsfaction. Release the candidates at last. *Goes to fetch a bucket and mop for those who couldn't hold it any longer.

Mom always said if I didn't study any harder I'd end up as a checkout clerk at a convenience store. Shoulda' sat for my MA.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Now I remember why I avoid taking the bus. YJC is only 5-10 minutes from my place by car, but on the bus it takes 45 minutes! My miscalculation nearly made me late for my invigilation duty this morning; and in fact I arrived just after the paper had started. Oh, that means I was late, lah. Going to have to wake up earlier tomorrow, then. What's the point of opting to do duty at a center near my house, I ask you?

Wonder what people made of the GP Eaxm? The essays looked kinda' boring, but at least they weren't difficult to interpret. Paper 2 was an eyebrow raiser. Quite a philosophical topic and some strange questions to answer. I bet this Paper will raise lots of comments amongst the students. Wait for it...

YJ campus is quite tight on security. Every car coming in and leaving is recorded on a clipboard. Visitors likewise have to sign in at the security checkpoint and receive a clearance sticker to adorn your person. We invigilators have to wear a large tag printed with the College crest, address, contact numbers, and the title of INVIGILATOR in large RED lettering. As if we weren't self-conscious enough already.

1 duty down, 9 duties left.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Marathon consultations from 9:30 to 7:00 today with only a short break for Cara's farewell lunch and an hour to meet the Drama Club Exco to debrief Halloween 04.

Hope those who came to me for consultation have got something out of our discussions together and their hard work will pay off in the GP paper tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow. The Day we warned our students almost 2 years ago; the Day we've been preparing our students to face; the Day that no one believed will ever dawn. It's here.

My best wishes to everyone. You've been a wonderful batch to teach. I have really done all I can for you, wish I could have done more, but anyway, enjoy your paper tomorrow and start your 'A' Level campaign off on an upbeat note. Don't ever come back next year wearing the old browns again, hear?

We celebrated Cara's departure at Gayatri's. A number of J1 tutors were busy with PW so there weren't that many of us but we made enough noise to make Cara happy I guess. At the table were Nirmala, Anne, me, Vince, Joanna, Boon Sin, Amy and Anthony to see her off. Yah, that and to stuff ourselves with chicken korma, mutton mysore, chilli chicken, dum bryani (served in a deceptively tiny-looking pot), and all the rice and side veggies we could eat.

Nirmala said she prefers this restaurant to the more touristy "other one" down the road because the cuisine here was more authentic, not tailored to the tastes of our tourists. She was right. The flavour of a number of different spices brightened up each dish and though everything we ordered was familiar to me, the taste wasn't what I had expected. It was rich and full of body and robustness and, and, and... made the tongue work overtime? Something like that. Personally, the spice flavour went a little overboard for my taste and I think I prefer to eat at the "other one," but then I'm a peasant (or a tourist) when it comes to food.

Ciao, Cara! It's been fun! Thanks for your company, good fortune at the Ministry!

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Had my longest consultations today with a couple of unscheduled drop-ins adding to my list. From 9 to about 5 advising various students on their concerns about GP Papers 1 and 2. Just a quick working lunch as a break at Gardens then back to work again. I actually had a great time teaching tiny groups of people who were actually attentive and interested in what I was teaching them. It felt good to be teaching to the students' interests and answering questions that they raised on their own accord, rather than answering questions I raise on their behalf since under normal tutorial conditions noone really asks anything. Why do they have to wait until 2 weeks before their exam before they start getting interested, though? Kids.

It has finally come to pass. I hear Cara's farewell lunch is on tomorrow, though I haven't been invited yet by whoever's organizing it. Well, hope her 2-year committment with the Ministry will fulfil her as much as her time spent with us. I've known her for at least 4 years now and it feels strange that she won't be with us next year. Who's left for us to tease endlessly and mercilessly at lunch? Mel? Hmm...

Forgot to add Flirt's vitamin powder into her dinner tonight. I am supposed to break open 1 capsule a day and mix half the contents in her food for easy ingestion. So I did what I thought was smart. I got hold of her after she had eaten and poured half a capsule of powder directly into her mouth. Trust me, it wasn't easy. She sputtered a bit then the powder suddenly reacted like sherbert. I had a little pregnant cat frothing yellow at the mouth and where she walked she left a trail of slippery vitamin-enhanced cat drool for me to wipe up. Fortunately she has a forgiving personality and doesn't seem to be holding this incident against me. Now I have to feed her her antibiotics. Wish me luck!

Rediscovered Neopets! Finally understood the instructions on how to let through my firewall as a trusted site and saved my poor wocky and lupe from starving to death. After all that thinking from this morning, I could use the mindless distraction. See you in Meridell!

Monday, November 01, 2004

Used to be, this was the first week of the end-of-year vacation, at least for the J1s, tutors included. As of last year, this is the week that PW OP, WR and GPF assessment commences. J1 is no fun any more. Still, since the term is officially over, we now get to sleep in a little later and arrive on campus by 8am. Then depending on who has booked a consultation with us, and who actually shows up to make use of the booking, the day for us J2 tutors proceeds accordingly.

Indeed, it feels like things are finally slowing down for us. Classes are over and now it's just the wrapping up of our last gift to our students: their testimonials. Apart from that, it's just preparation for next year's work. Hopefully, I'll stay with the Drama Club, though with all the shuffling around of CCA advisors nothing can be guaranteed. I also opted to go back to J1 and start fresh with a new batch of kids even though I have PW to look forward to as a J1 tutor. I don't like the idea of following up on a class that is used to someone else's style and personality and has to adapt suddenly to my own. Hope HOD and LH2 are ok with getting some other J2 tutor to remain in J2 for another year.

June collected our travel tickets from the agent today. Australia, here we come! We'll be focusing on Sydney and the Gold Coast, free-and-easy. I'm buzzing with anticipation as I've never been to the smallest continent before, and our ininerary (that we planned and booked for ourselves) promises novel activities, picturesque vistas and lots of fresh seafood, not necessarily in that order. Will try blog my vacation, time and cybercafe permitting, or maybe keep a pencil-and-paper log then u/l it at any opportunity I can get. We'll be leaving immediately after the prom, so Ill avoid making the same mistake I made 2 years ago -- winging it off to Korea and conveniently forgetting about my date with the Librarians of '02 at what would have been my first prom night. I don't think anyone really missed me, right, ZL?

Flirt's become like our 3rd cat, though occasionally she appears homesick for her crappy rooftop. She probably misses her family and her boyfriend, Skull. At our place, Momo and Belle are quite mean to her, giving her the cold shoulder or even trading hisses with her whenever they make eye contact. We're supposed to keep Flirt for 2 weeks while we run an antibiotic course on her. Then we'll take her back to the vet for a follow up exam to see if the medication has done its job. Question then will be, do we release her back to her natural habitat, or will she be so comfortable with us by then that she'll have a hard time adapting back to her old home? Guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

NYeDC ham it up at Halloween 2004! Posted by Hello

Another Halloween event has been laid to rest. Amen. Hope all who participated had fun! I could see the organizers were workin' their butts off, and I for one truly appreciate the effort. For Ben to coordinate logistics and scheduling for this event within such a short time, I'd have to say he's proven himself most capable of being our Stage Manager for Drama Night '05. JT was almost tireless tonight, "putting out fires" all over the event venues and ensuring that things went according to plan, dealing decisively with unforseen circumstances in a responsible manner. Faz 'n Jaz stayed on top of things, managing the Haunted House, and as this station soon became increasingly popular, handled crowd control as well. Everyone who lined up for a tour got a tour even though it set back our schedule a little.

... too tired now to think of anything further. Will complete entry after some sleeep...

Edit 01:
It's difficult to assess how successful Halloween 04 was.

There could certainly be improvements made to the operations of the attractions, especially in marketing them, in crowd control and in ticket accountability; and other improvements to our allocation of human resources. We could have used an overall business plan that looked into enhancing the cohesion and profitability of the entire event. The groups involved needed to work more seamlessly with each other for a more unified 'feel' amongst the various attractions, and no group would feel 'secondary' to the proceedings.

On the other hand, different individuals showed their capability in throwing this hastily executed event together. They showed committment in working hard together on a common purpose and creativity in improvising solutions to problems as they came along. The event threw up a talented band, still rough and green in presentation, but entertaining nonetheless. We might still need to work on being more crowd-pleasing, but the basic foundations for a show for Drama Night 05 are here and they have passed their test. Now, if only we could get a script out in time...

Thanks everyone, for your work and your support for the event. To Rugby, Soccer, Biz Club, ICS, Dance, 04A1A, AV crew, Photogs and First Aiders (who thankfully remained unemployed all night). And NYP's dancers too.