Thursday, June 30, 2005

Bathroom tiles arrived today, much earlier than appointed. I was already on campus and June was just leaving for work when notice came to her via our block cleaning staff that a stack of tiles had been delivered to the block unloading bay, a.k.a. the block garbage dump. June calls to appraise me of the situation and I get permission from Boss-lady to take an hour off to settle my domestic emergency.

5 boxes, 12 tiles per box. Nett weight per box: 19kg. Individually hand carried back to my unit by myself. June couldn't even lift one, though she tried to help. They're all now sitting nicely on my living room floor waiting to be installed next week. Maybe my muscles and bones will knit themselves together by then too.

In the afternoon, the water heater got installed. Hot showers again! So spoilt, right? And our bathroom contractor dropped in to take a look at the tempered glass partition in the bathroom which we asked him to save and reinstall once the renovation is done. He came over, took some measurements, worked out his sums and priced this 'extra' at $350. Thank God (and HDB) for our repair subsidy.

In the evening I was horribly upset by yet another letter from the Traffic Police. I quote: "Inconsiderate Driving (Non-Accdt LV)* Under S65 RTA CAP 276" and this one comes with demerit points: 9 (Nooooo....!!!) and fine: $170 >O<. The date and time: 5 April 2005, 1109 am. This is no longer funny. I reread my entry for that day to recall what I did to deserve this summons: On 5 April a truck had damaged M2's rear early in the morning and at 1100 I was coming back from reporting the accident at IDAC Braddell. My situation at the time should be grounds enough to mount an appeal against this TP charge. Item 1: I was a relatively new driver..., Item 2: driving and still getting used to a new car..., Item 3: in a slightly distracted state of mind after having suffered survived an auto collision a few hours ago..., Item 4: traveling for the first time as a driver on a road with lanes leading off in confusing directions while trying to figure out where I should go next to get to my intended destination.

Despite what I said earlier, I am NOT a bad driver and I feel quite victimized by this spate of correspondences. 9 demerit points is damnedly serious and needs at least an attempt to fight off. I'll have to use the Youth Day hol on Monday to 'have tea' with the TP in their HQ and get this straightened out. Wish me luck!
Marking essays. The question reads, "Do you think young Singaporeans are well-prepared for life today?" If ever there was a question inviting whines for answers this would be it. I've got the angsty kids railing at the education system, accusing it of rigidity and failing to prepare them to be critical/creative thinkers which is what the economy needs in this new Information Age. I've also got the suck-ups who praise the "government" for recognizing that people are the only resource in our [pathetic] country and the initiatives -- some students actually do bother to name a few -- it implements in schools will stand today's students in good stead when they go out to work as adults.

Nothing wrong with either answer, per se, but the conclusions seem a little hasty.
Newsflash 1: school isn't the only agent responsible for preparing kids to grow up.
Newsflash 2: the higher up the rungs of education our youths climb, the less representative they are of the general youth population. Already at JC level only a small proportion of a year's academic cohort are priviledged enough to further their studies, but at the same time pretty much isolating themselves from the majority of their contemporaries.

So students who just focus on how education is ruining their lives and eroding their hopes for the future; or those who agree with policy without question just don't have the scope to answer the question adequately. Sadly, lots of students have taken either tack. The difference between pass and fail therefore boils down to how well they express themselves in English on paper. Same as always.

My standards are clear to me. But I have to wonder, am I being too nit-picky as a marker? Am I expecting too much from these JC1 kids? As they are, their answers are reasonable, though I would also like to reward sophistication as well. Here is my dilemma with every paper I mark. Is it fair to punish naivete? No wonder I'm slow.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

It doesn't take much to break my rhythm. 2 morning meetings and 1 afternoon of shopping around for bathroom floor tiles and I'm behind on my marking quota. Then again, overcoming inertia is always slow going in the initial stages. Let me take comfort in that.

Our bathroom renovation is about a week away and we still needed to make a decision on the kind of floor tiles we want. The contractor offered us some options that simply would not do. We couldn't find a suitable colour to match our wall tiles -- too light, too pinkish, too ugly... and the material didn't seem all that non-slip to us though they were supposed to be. The other option was to source our own tiles and pay for them outside our package deal though the contractor will install them at no extra cost to us.

A trip over to Balestier then, where we got a sand-coloured tile set for the bathroom. Delivery on Thursday, 7 boxes worth which I will have to personally carry from the void deck back to my unit 'cos delivery isn't a doorstep service. Guess I could use the workout.

While at Balestier, June bought a couple of durians from the stalls in front of the Chinese temple. They were potent, fragrant and delicious. More delays. Heh heh.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Yet another half a year has flown by again. Today begins Term 3 of the school year and we celebrated this red-letter day with the GP mid-year exam. Marking open season begins as a result and I have a bunch of essays to finish marking before Friday. With 3 days' worth of concentrated marking, I should be able to put a major dent in my marking quota, then I can travel to KL over the weekend with a clear conscience.

June's been busy looking for accessories to touch up my pirate costume. She found my hoop earring and a plastic cutlass, which I will have to explain to customs is meant as a costume prop and not for threatening the bus driver with to take me to Trengganu. Now that everyone's expecting to wear some kind of costume, June's slowly starting to ponder her options. Let's see.

Finally, after weeks of showering with cold water since our heater died on us, we're getting a new one installed on Thursday. I thought it would get easier to accept cold showers through repeated acclimatization, but it turned out not to be. We were actually waiting to do up the heater during the Great Toilet Renovation but since we've decided to cut out the 'dream' part of 'dream toilet' in the hopes of being able to afford some travel later this year the heater can come in first. We're not doing the wall tiles anymore.

And I've just received my first traffic summons. Apparently, as I interpret the letter, I changed lanes at a place I wasn't supposed to. I have no idea how they discovered my crime, and I have no memory of ever having committed such a thing, but given the way I drive, it's quite plausible that I did. So the penalty is 4 demerit points (bloody ouch!) and a $130 fine (doh!). Maybe I should cancel 'Initial-D" off my must-watch list.