Saturday, March 04, 2006

Here's a bonus for us car drivers: a video clip of a jaw-dropping display of synchronized driving, apparently from the early 80's. Here.
Last night was the Chinese society's drama presentation. A double-bill generally featuring dead people. Must be the latest trend or something.

The first item centred around a retarded boy. Or rather, because the boy was retarded, attention went to him by default. Maybe it's just my bias, but I'm fed-up of the tendency to milk the character of the 'retard' for sympathy and cheap drama. It doesn't take a lot of skill to literally "play the fool." Just act irrationally by randomly and abruptly changing behaviour patterns, and absolutely refuse to engage the script except in response to such stimulus that triggers off the most basic of reptilian brain functions.

It would have been better if the script had at least tried to develop some complexity to his character, but instead all it led up to was his inexplicable self-defenestration. Basically, he was stupid, therefore he fell out the window. That's one way to put the audience out of our misery, I suppose.

The second piece was an improvement from the earlier one. A delinquent kid gets pretty much into everyone's bad books. His little girlfriend discovers the grief that lies behind his unmotivated hyperactivity (ooh, ooh, oxymoron), while his superstitious granny makes him confront it, bringing him back into society's fold once again.

A more coherent plotline in this one, more realistic towards human behaviour and experience. The interaction between delinquent and granny had its amusing moments, especially when granny attempts to exorcise spirits from him, and the moments between him and girlfriend were quite sweet.

Strange choice of set placement in which the park set is smack centre-stage flanked by living-room set on SL and dining-room SR. It looks like there is a park in the middle of the apartment, when the two locations start alternating with each other. Visually confusing but one gets used to it after a while.

And, yes, there's still a tendency to rely on the blackout, but at least scene changes are much faster, reducing wait-in-the-dark time to a minimum.

Chinese Society's annual "Bai Yun Gang" event has its own identity and a very strong support base of students and alumni. It was nearly full house in LT4 last night, and it's sold out tonight as well. Hope NYeDC can capture similar commercial success, as well as critical success this year. Break a leg, guys!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Field trip: NEWater plant with NBS and a few KIds. Hadn't counted on there being a primary school group on the same tour, and a bunch of senior high school exchange students from India as well. 80 little monkeys, a handful of trying-to-be-dignified-in-their-blazers-and-ties teenagers, and then there's us and our kids, casual as they come.

The tour, of course, catered to the lowest common denominator; the below-10 crowd. Hence the Barney-style presentation with toilet humor thrown in to keep the small boys happy. But the kids were the life of the tour, regardless of how I usually feel about them. They were lively, responsive, curious, and rambunctious. Without them, and the tour leader displaying remarkable skill, patience and good-nature in dealing with their shenanigans, the tour could have devolved into the #1 cure for insomnia. Well, maybe not. Perhaps the presenter might have been prepared with a repertoire of adult jokes for an older audience?

Oddly enough, there wasn't time in the presentation for a proper Q&A session. Many times the little ones' hands popped up but they were never allowed to ask their questions because the content material just kept steamrolling along. Is that why when they get to college level, noone bothers to ask anything any more? Too much content to memorize because there is no other avenue on which to engage the material? Noone to ask of because "you're supposed to know the answer already! What have I been talking about for the last half-hour?"

Guess that's my key take-away on this trip: the difference between GP and KI. Conventional GP kids make it their job to know the answers. KIds make it their job to regain their curiosity and start asking questions again. Hmm... if that's the case, then perhaps all college kids should have a dose of KI first, since GP seems to be the more advanced stage of this two-step process.

Mimi sits, guarding my 'blading equipment. Her cough seems to be subsiding, thanks for asking. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Since I was at the petanque courts to photograph the kids in training, June and I took the chance to catch "Underworld:Evolution" at the Eng Wah across the street.

Cool movie. Almost non-stop violence and gore as werewolves battle it out against vampires, from medieval times to the present. Not much of a reason given as to what they're fighting about, though. Then when the vampires run out of werewolves to fight, they fight amongst themselves. Last ones standing get to kick the last (who also happens to be the oldest, biggest and baddest) werewolf's butt. Brilliant!

And some stylo costumes mostly in the scruffy leather category. It's a treat to see Kate Beckinsale run around in her cat-suit. It's even more of a treat to see her out of it. Heh. ;)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Got my GP tutorial working on writing up proposals for the use of the 'Opportunity Funds' being allocated to all schools from this year's annual Budget. The idea is to boost the finances of neighbourhood schools so that they don't lose out so much against the better-off self-funded institutions in terms of providing enrichment programmes for the students.

Some schools are considering using the money to subsidize out-of-country field trips and IT expenses for kids from families which can't afford such luxuries (some call them necessities) outright. Other schools want to expand their library collections, and introduce programmes that offer training in non-academic lifeskills. You get the idea.

I wondered what students themselves might come up with if they had a say in the application of these funds, hence the proposal-writing exercise. While there were a couple of groups in which the membership just coudn't decide amongst themselves what they should propose to buy, there were a couple if interesting ideas that surfaced.

Use the funds as seed money for each class to use as capital to set up and operate a small business, perhaps for a finite period of time and in competition with one another. The other suggestion was to equip and train a group of students in the fine art of clowning. I thought these ideas were excellent! So much potential for independent, self-motivated learning in many aspects of life.

Schools are making their own decisions as to how to use the bonus income. Some schools want to consult parents as to how to spend the money. But since the money is meant to be used for their sake, shouldn't the students have a say too?

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Had to make a decision. Consulted the Journalists and they agreed that a weekly publication was indeed too stressful to write for. Decided we can focus on delivering more quality if we published every fortnight instead. We'll have time to look through the stories in more detail and correct factual errors and other oversights. Perhaps investigate things further without the added pressure of meeting impossible deadlines, and do homework, and mug, and de-stress all at the same time. Next ish comes out in a week's time, then.

Monday, February 27, 2006

I've for a long time wondered what the etymology of 'milo dinosaur' was. I ordered one today at lunch and took the time to observe it. It looked larger than the regular milo, anyway, which could account for the size association, though that's a bit of an exaggeration.

A milo dinosaur, for the uninitiated, is a large iced milo sprinkled over with a respectable mound of chocolatey milo powder, forming a little brown mountain at the top of the mug. As the milo powder comes into contact with the cold fluid milo, it petrifies -- that is, it clumps together and hardens into rocks of different sizes.

Soon, the lumps of milo 'rocks' fill up the gaps between the ice cubes and the concoction becomes increasingly difficult to stir.

Like the bones of an extinct dinosaur get trapped and frozen within layers of geology, so too does a milo dinosaur become bogged down in a sticky quagmire as the chocolatey sediment settles and hardens inside the beverage. And maybe that's where the 'dinosaur' can be found.

There are days on which I feel the same way. Stuck in a rut, immobilized and clinging to the old days, while everyone else has already gone ahead. The trick is not to be a dinosaur in a fast-paced, ever-changing world. The call is to move on, move on; adapt and change, or stagnate and die. To the world, it makes no difference whether you do or you don't. To you, of course, it does.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Since she had her teeth done yesterday, Mimi's developed a pretty horrid cough. She coughed through last night and late this morning she started coughing up some nasty phlegm that scared us enough to take her back to the vet to find out what's up.

We found out that part of the procedure for administering anesthesia during her dental work involved the insertion of a tube down her throat that might have caused some irritation. It didn't help that when she came to, she started barking the place down -- frantic because she couldn't identify a familiar face nearby. In fact, the vet called me an hour before the appointed time to collect Mimi and Kaiser, 'cos Mimi was "very stressed."

Today, the vet gave her an anti-inflammatory shot and an antibiotics shot, and prescribed a codine-based cough mixture as well. Oh, and 2 weeks worth of antibiotics tablets too. That's a lot of medication for a little dog to handle. Hope we know what we're doing.