Friday, January 20, 2006

Parents' Night on campus. The annual ritual of calling in parents of current year 1 kids to see for themselves that we're a decent college and that we'll take good care of their kids should they decide to stay on after 1st term.

Staff instructions are to "mingle with the crowd and make 'em feel welcome." Uh huh. Me? Mingle? When I already have problems mingling with my own friends when I get invited to their parties?

Well, I tried. I patrolled up and down from the staff room and past the wall of orbs to LT4 and back several times looking for any parent that might want to have a chat. No one did. A couple of my students waved in my direction, though their parents were engaged elsewhere, so after a while I began to feel like campus security instead of faculty staff. Yellow plaid short-sleeve shirted, college tie wearing campus security on foot patrol. No wonder nobody wanted to talk to me.

I hung around during the panel discussion with the Heads just in case Boss Lady got asked something she couldn't respond to about my subject. Fortunately, the parents were sensible enough to ask only a couple of basic questions about KI, so Boss Lady didn't need my help to field them. Otherwise, with a cordless mike in my hand...

Still, after formal talks had ended, I found myself face-to-face with a couple of my more enthu KI kids and their moms whom I spent some time bringing up to speed about this esoteric new subject their daughters had decided to take. Nice folks, neither critical nor cynical, but genuinely interested people. Hope I didn't get carried away and promise the moon again.

A well-deserved prata supper with Amy and HP. Long day.
Thoughts wandering again. Came up with this nonsense that I won't insist on everyone reading. Read only if you want to induce a headache. Click.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

3 weeks into the new year and already it feels like we've been on the job continuously without a break. It's pointless to reminisce how spontaneous we were last year, running off to snack or do silly things whenever we felt like it. This year, our schedules and disparate agenda make even maintaining group cohesion difficult enough; though I still believe that once we get used to our new routines we'll learn to adapt to each others' once again. Today, I put the brakes on attempting to schedule recreation time into a weekly appointment book. Having to organize my whole life -- including when I can have fun -- just feels so... wrong.
The furore over draft dodging since Melvyn Tan's slap on the wrist, and the subsequent proposal to stiffen laws and penalties shows once again that we would rather do the right thing to avoid punishment than do the right thing because it IS the right thing to do.

Seems that when Melvyn 'got away' with 'only' a $3000 fine for all the years he didn't serve his National Service, those of us who did our time became all indignant and upset that his sentence was so light. What? If we had known that dodging NS would only cost us $3k we would have gladly paid up and thumbed our noses at Uncle Seng? As if.

I'm not trying to defend Melvyn for what he did, nor decry the non-consequences of his naughtiness. What I'm worried about is the fact that NS men appear to feel more strongly against the lightness of one defaulter's punishment than for the value of their own contribution of service to the place they call 'home.'

If the sentiment is truly such, then the main reason behind our serving NS is the fear of being severely punished if we don't. This attitude suggests that when we consider NS, we see an option -- either serve, or be punished. Most of us choose the former to avoid the unpleasantness of the latter; nevertheless, the latter may still appear to some of us as a viable choice. But if we think there is a choice in the matter, we are dead wrong because there is really no option: either serve, or the consequences will be far more severe than what the courts can throw at us.

Monday, January 16, 2006

It's true. It's here. It's now. What NBS and I have been preparing for all last year has become a reality. Today we officially launched our KI tutorials with our 20 students, just the exact number that we agreed is our maximum limit.

After our introductory spiel, we had a Q&A session during which the kids wanted to assess our confidence levels in leading them in a pioneering direction, and what if they don't pass it this year? Typical.

Anyway, the Gutter Boyz and our, um, groupies celebrated the birthday of one of our own. Ate at the Manhattan Fish Market, Plaza Singapura. We ordered 3 sets of flaming seafood platters for 2 (for Anthony and Wendy, Yee and Amy, me and June) while Vince and NBS went ahead and ordered their own things. The seafood platter comes in a large saucepan and comprises some blowtorched (hence flaming) shrimp, calamari, oysters and a large chunk of battered fish on a thick layer garlic rice and fries. Made for good eating, but the portions were so large that we couldn't eat it all.

Finally presented Anthony with his farewell gift. Today seemed like a good opportunity since most of us who signed his bowling pin happened to be around for this occasion. Guess he won't be forgetting us in a hurry. Heh.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

1st cross-dept "professional sharing" session. Reps from (L-R) PE, Arts, English, and Math Depts attend. Posted by Picasa

Chinese Dept and, um... Staff Welfare? Posted by Picasa

It may be the year of the dog, but I hope people will buy these pups for the right reasons. Posted by Picasa

A preview of Q-tip's CNY outfit. Posted by Picasa

Who could resist picking up this little furball and giving him a squeeze? Posted by Picasa
The report about the naked salesman in the papers is cause for a raised eyebrow at least. Not that the guy was in the buff but that his neighbours took the time and trouble to make a police report to get him arrested.

I mean, sure, the guy was nude, but he was in his own house where he should expect a modicum of privacy at least. After all, a man's home is his castle, or maybe it was while the Brits were still here. What exactly is he guilty of? If you look at the pix in the papers (which out of good taste I won't upload here), he's engaged in his morning ritual of shaving his whiskers. Hardly anything to be concerned about there. "But he's not wearing any clothes!" as a neighbour might complain. Sure, but how did you get to see so much detail? The pix undoubtedly came from a police or press camera with a TELEPHOTO lens, rigged to catch him in the act (of shaving). Now, that's an invasion of his privacy, period.

The poor sod's being held for psychiatric evaluation pending further punitive procedures. The guy plainly isn't nuts. He might have been naive and stupid but definitely not psycho. So why did he do what he did? Simple: He doesn't look into his neighbours' bedroom windows, but forgot that his neighbours might look into his. After all, there's no indication that he was even aware that he was being watched. He didn't jump up and down, or wave, or do anything else that might have suggested that he was attracting the attention of anyone, though if he had then it would have been a different matter altogether. He just went about doing what everyone else normally does in the privacy of one's house, albeit sans attire. That's a crime?

It's typical of Singaporeans to approach the authorities to solve a problem for them, rather than work it out amongst themselves. Things would have been much better if his neighbours had just talked to him first, but they opted to slap criminal charges on him instead. We don't live in a problem-solving culture, we live in a problem eradication culture. Unthinking and unsociable is the Singaporean mindset.

So now they've ruined the guy. Publicly tarnished his reputation, stigmatized him with a criminal record, questioned his sanity, deprived him of his freedom, and probably strained relations between him and his wife for good measure. All just so that they don't have to see a naked man any more. They didn't just get rid of the nudity; they got rid of the man too. My children feel so much safer now, thanks to their civic consciousness. Thanks a bunch.

If I were him, I'd go find a good lawyer and file a counter-suit: invasion of privacy, defamation, wrongful accusation, and for social and psychological damages for starters. With his back against the wall, it's his only recourse.