Saturday, May 21, 2005

Spent the afternoon with 3 chatty, lively schoolgirls. Took them to the official launch of the National Interschool Blogging Champoinships 05 at the Esplanade. These girls are the team who will mastermind a group blog to represent our college in the contest. As a tutor advisor, I have no editorial rights over the content of the blog. I'm just around to safeguard that the rules of the game are upheld.

The event was hosted by DJ Jamie who was taller than I had imagined. Not that I make it a habit to imagine her, mind you. My girls took a couple of snaps with her and got her autograph too.

The idea behind this contest is to see how schools can tap into blogging as an outlet for the voice of our youth. Whenever it comes to asking kids what they think about issues, they generally clam up and pretend to be dumb about things, but give them the time, the leisure and the opportunity to write and sometimes interesting things come to light.

Judging criteria are quite basic. Make the blog attractive, keep the content interesting, bring in lots of visitors, and erm... use good English (at least on the part of the main contributors to the blog; nothing we can do about the unwashed masses that leave ungrammatical comments on our entries). 9 colleges are participating, our ambition is to be in the top 5 after the 1st round of judging is over.

Well, if that's the case, I told the girls to make sure their posts remain interesting enough to reward the visitor every time he or she loads up the page. Then, and only then, will people bring other people to drop in and say hi!

The girls are now working on creating this blog so when it's ready (hopefully real soon) I'll link to it. Maybe I can entice some of you to have a look? We could use the support!

After the event, the organizers arranged a simple reception. Free-flow post-mix drinks; finger sandwiches; delicious, hot, crispy samosas; and deep-fried wontons with Sinsin chilli sauce dip. A nice, polite way to end the proceedings, but the girls were still hungry, having skipped lunch to attend the launch so I took them to Thai Express where they tanked up on different forms of Thai rice. The pineapple type, green curry type, shrimp paste type and the olive type. Yummy.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Took the Drama Club J1s to the Woodlands Library to rehearse for their debut performance. It's only a short dramatic reading but it's a pretty big event considering who the Guest-of-honour is going to be -- my Big Boss, himself.

Dramatic reading is a very delicate balancing act. On the one hand, you're reading off a set text; but on the other, you're dramatizing the scene for an audience who is there to watch the action. In a straight drama performance, the idea is to rid ourselves of our texts as quickly as possible as reading from a script loses the audience interest very fast. Here, we have to know the text well enough to play the scene, yet keep our scripts open and manipulate a handheld mike at the same time. The scene itself is a courtroom drama where most characters are held in place by protocol: Judge in his seat, witness at the witness stand, counsels seated at their desks, audience fixed in the gallery. So not a lot of movement called for, very little we can do to keep the audience's attention.

Fortunately, we've been given only 10 minutes to play, and I think that's long enough. The other items on the programme have music, movement and dance incorporated into the readings of texts in our other national languages; Malay, Chinese and Tamil. Since there's so much movement in the other items anyway, maybe we can exploit the contrast in our item and put our stillness to our advantage? We'll see.

Rushed over to the CSC in the evening of the 3rd installment of our Ministry's bowling challenge. They gave away the prizes for last month's top results before our game commenced. The top high game from last month was from a lady bowler with a score of 233 (out of a possible 300). Our competiton is truly quite awesome. I did pretty ok nevertheless, averaging 153 pinfalls out of 3 games. My sparing accuracy is crap -- for the 2nd game I simply couldn't close the frames, else my score would been higher. Training objective for next training session: practice clearing spares.

Guess with this game under my belt, my overall personal standings should have improved some, though still nowhere near the top yet. Makin' progress, though.

The team's standings are hard to judge. Yee and Vince both had good games and, like me, at least 1 poorer one. Anthony has an injured elbow and couldn't bowl his usual game. It would be good if we all bowled like we practice... Oh well, overall team improvement as far as I can tell. Cheers to us, the Gutter Boys!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Before we knew it, the first installment of this year's PW assignment was due today. Deadline was yesterday for the kids, today for us staff to submit the collated submissions. One of the major new developments in this year's PW cycle is the submission of individual proposals for a group project even before the formation of the students' project groups. This procedure ensures every student has a chance to show they can have a bright idea rather than just going along with the idea of the most on-the-ball person in the group. Of course, when you have to supervise 50 individual students in PW, having to look through and assess 50 individual proposals can be something of a headache.

It doesn't help when you have kids who insist they didn't know that the deadline was yesterday, though this little nugget of information has been repeated quite a few times over official and unofficial channels. I feel like proposing my own little project, something along the lines of equipping all teaching staff with cattle prods to inspire and motivate the blur and tardy. We could raise taxes to finance this worthy cause.
We took yet another step towards fixing the leak in our toilet this evening. It was after June had made several phone calls that we discovered our constituency's Meet-the-People sessions are usually on Monday evenings. We quickly drove down to our MP's office to have a quick dinner before he opens for consultation at 1930. We arrived on the dot but the waiting room was already crammed full of petitioners awaiting their turn. We prepared ourselves for a long wait and settled in to watch "Survivor" playing on the TV to occupy ourselves.

We watched the elimination of another "Survivor" contestant, Jan, and not long after that we received our summons in to see an official. Apparently, our problem is minor enough not to require handling from the top man himself. It's a standard procedure that our official seemed quite familiar with.

"Toilet leaking?"
"Uh... yes."
"Okay." (signs on our notice from HDB)
"Um... what happens now?"
"Oh, nothing. HDB will send you a letter in a couple of days. You'll get a subsidy of 50% of the repair cost and the balance you pay 25% and your neighbour pays 25%."
"Wow. Thank you and goodnight!"

What might justify this subsidy? Our floor is leaking due to some poor workmanship from our HDB-approved contractor who only waterproofed the shower area though he should have waterproofed the whole bathroom floor instead. wear and tear of our bathroom waterproofing, so in a way it's a bit of compensation for the repair costs we have incurred as a result of the leak.

Our visit didn't take us as long as we had anticipated. In fact we wasted a parking coupon preparing for a 2-hour visit and we were done in 1. It was early enough to join the guys at the CSC for another practice round.

I did good tonight. 3-game average: 169; and my personal best game total: 187.
I'm starting to strike more often, but my spares still suck, else my scores would have been even better. My score, though, showed a steady decline with each consecutive game, probably because I get tired easily(...?). Conclusion: don't bother throwing a warm-up game else we'll get too tired by the time the tournament starts.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Entry for 2 days again.

Saturday: College Day, so spent a weekend afternoon in long sleeves, tie and proper shoes. Arrived early fearing lack of parking lots on campus and parked outside in the HDB parking lot anyway. Spent $5 on parking as a result. Interesting how the brain of an idiot works, no?

Due to withdrawal symptoms the Gutter Boys hatched a plan to get some practice after the speeches, prizes and politeness of the College's most important day on the calendar was over. We were unlikely to get lanes on a weekend evening so we got Weng to book a lane for us at the S'pore Swimming Club where he is a member. But because he couldn't join us, he instructed us to seek out his mom at the club first to obtain his membership card so we could sign for the lane in proxy.

Now, that seemed like a bit of a hassle so Amy tried getting a lane at the CSC instead and scored one most unexpectedly. So we bowled there in the early evening; 3 games until we got kicked out when the people who had a prior booking showed up.

The night was still young so we did as Weng suggested and used our booking at his club. We would have to pay a no-show fine if we didn't anyway. We were meant to follow each other in a convoy but Amy and I lost the lead car (Anthony's M3) in heavy traffic so Amy drove on by instinct and I kept doggedly on her tail trusting she knew where she was going. She didn't. She made a wrong turn at Old Airport Road instead of Mountbatten and wisely stopped her car on the side when things started looking unfamiliar to her.

Fortunately, I knew this part of the neighbourhood and managed to get us the rest of the way there, though I made a mistake and parked in the Members Only parking lot. After our training session, both our cars had warning letters planted on them. Next time we park there we'll have our tires clamped and face a $100 fine. Never again.

The team's doing well, Yee is running hot now. He posted a score of 211, the high game for that lane for the day. The weak link now is me, posting lower scores than the others, though higher than my usual. If we continue bowling like this for our tournament game this Thursday, we should see certain improvement in our standings.

Our contractor finally dropped in to see our bathroom. June basically entertained her while I hid in my study in denial. The repairs are going to be such a painful process for me, but for June it's the final product that motivates her.

Went back to washing the M2 by hand and got it nice and shiny again in record time. Now that we have a system that we're used to we're a lot faster now than before. Except that I left our sponges to dry in the sun and we forgot to collect them when we packed up and drove home. Fortunately, the washing bay is only a short walk away and Q-tip got an unexpected outing just to retrieve them.

Picked up parents and bro in bright and shiny car to meet sis and family at Casuarina Road for dinner. We celebrated Mothers' Day and my bro's belated birthday with more food than was possible to finish. Drove back to my sis' place to plough into the cake we bought. A lovely chocolatey one it was.

One of my passengers (don't know who) tracked a wad of chewing gum that had stuck to the sole of his/her shoe into the M2. My rear right car mat now has some indelible stains and a nice pepperminty smell as well. Nah, I'm not upset with my passengers, but that inconsiderate turd whose indiscriminate disposal of gum has messed up my car's pristine interior owes me a new car mat. Not that I'm ever likely to collect though... grrr.