Friday, September 01, 2006

Q-tip accompanied me to Sembawang Park for a little prelim marking. Earlier on there was something of a flypast from the airbase nearby: 2 Chinooks, followed by 2 Super Pumas, followed by 2 Apaches! We felt sooo honoured. Posted by Picasa

NBS on keyboard, Ivay on the 'bone Posted by Picasa

JY tries out her audition piece in front of a 'live' audience. Good luck, JY! We're behind you all the way!!! Posted by Picasa

Mel powers out her 'top of the world" feeling at the Staff dinner on Wednesday night. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 31, 2006

A happy 'chers' Day to my friends and colleagues! The actual day is tomorrow but today are the festivities. I got a chance to sit out of the performances this year and let the new guys and a couple of evergreens take the spotlight in my stead. I was glad to get out of the way 'cos I got to enjoy a good show in its entirety.

The unnamed staff band rocked socks. A little more practice and polish (NBS, read more rehearsal time), a more confident presence from the band members (don't let Mel steal all the limelight from you), and a catchy band name, and you'll definitely top the charts on campus! I think there's actual quality here, and it'll be a shame to let it just get forgotten after only 2 outings. Cut a record, guys! Think about it...

Gotta thank various people for the miscellaneous consumables that came my way: Li Ting, Shu Hui, and the collective represented by Glyn. For the little magic wrought by KI's Taily and Que, the card of quiet understanding from Shao Xun, and warm and sincere slippin' of skin with 'deep, Stan and Jackie. For the most appropriate reporter's pad and pen from conneX' Loga. For the e-card of heartfelt appreciation from conneX' Faith. For the photo ops with 2 great gals, Mun Foong and Hui Chiet, and with Jian Sheng too! And for the album of thoughts and well wishes from 05s6a. Um... did I miss anyone out? Thanks so much, everyone!

S6a, about your album, I think that above everything else I've tried to teach you, I wanted you to learn to write truthfully, honestly and from your heart. It seems many of you have learnt that one most important writing skill going by some of the things you wrote, and I am gratified that I have done my job so well. Thanks for the encouragement!

I've also been recently blessed with a pile of prelim essays to mark over the hols (thanks...). Just how bad were the prelims, anyway? I'd appreciate feedback!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

It's the calm before the storm as a sullen mob gathers outside their room of doom. Welcome to the short spell before we let the kids in to take the GP prelim paper. Yup, prelims have begun as the calendar counts down the days left to the 'A's
Hey, for what it's worth since you'll only be able to read this after your paper, have a good paper y'all!

Monday, August 28, 2006

The modern tricycle is an irksome machine, reminding me of everything that's wrong with today's version of 'childhood'. The tricycle I remember was a 3-wheeled, muscle-powered vehicle that transported a kid to wherever his imagination took him. Today's new-fangled contraptions come with an added innovation: the adult supervisory steering (ASS) handle, which sticks out from behind the rider's seat for a parent to grab onto and literally become the back-seat driver. As if parents these days don't have enough methods of pushing their kids around, as it is.

Sure, the parent doesn't have to hold onto the control stick, but I would think that such a device ought to be an opt-in choice rather than an opt-out one. If parents want such exclusive control, the onus should be on them to bolt on the device themselves rather than making it the default option. After all, who's riding the trike, anyway?

Fine, it's safer, 'cos who knows what horrific accidents a kid might cause if he's left pedalling by himself? Who wants to risk a civil lawsuit on grounds of parental neglience by failing to prevent junior from bringing down a telephone pole, thus causing communication outages in several sections of the neighbourhood?

But that's just it, isn't it? Childhood has become too 'safe' for society's good. From the cleanliness and sterile hygiene of infancy, to the padded surface of the standards committee certified-safe playground, to the educational safety-nets parents tend to over-provide for their growing offspring, everything about childhood is designed to enhance the viability of each individual child to employable maturity.

Is it any wonder, then, that we're having a Great Baby Shortage? With the chances of each child making it to adulthood so high these days, we don't see the need for multiple redundancies any longer. Back in the days when Safety didn't feature so much, attrition compelled us to lay our genetic eggs in as many baskets as possible. John got smallpox and died; Mary fell off a cliff and died; a mammoth stampede killed Jason; Steve got impaled with a spear in the... (ahem) wars against the Medes and is, um... not likely to bear any offspring as a result; Thomas got sacrificed to the gods for a good harvest next year; and Graargh, the Sabretooth, happily dined on Heather last weekend; leaving only Harold and Sally to carry on the family name. Two replacing two, if we were so lucky.

These days, we see that kids are so gonna make it into adulthood that we don't mind that they're other people's kids. We don't want or need our own since we're already assured that our species will go on at least till the next generation, so hey, why bother? Other parents' bundles of joy are our bundles of joy, minus the bonus of soiled diapers and screaming competitions that we really can do without.

What then do we have to do to increase the number of babies born to our populace? It isn't the money, it isn't the time, it isn't the selfish attitudes of our young adults. There simply isn't the biological incentive to make more copies of ourselves than absolutely necessary.

So what do we have to do? Remove the control handle on the tricycle, for a start. Remove the safety standards from our playgrounds. Let kids eat the dirt and crap they prefer to their sanitized processed foods. Let them play with other kids and risk grevious bodily harm as they rough-house each other. When the mortality rate gets high enough, we will compensate biologically. It's only mathematics, after all.

Forgive me. After a couple of lean, uninspired days, we get this sewage overflow.
Recently, I've had several enquiries about the Language component in GP, mostly regarding the basis on which we assign the grade. Without having to explain the entire "band" marking scheme which can get unnecessarily quantitative, here's my own qualitative approach to gauging language use in a paper:

You have to imagine your essay or compre script as a discussion between yourself and your examiner. You are both seated at a coffee table talking over the issue of your question. The examiner is most likely to be a native speaker of the language, and you are, well, you.

Ask yourself how comfortable you are with the situation. Can you have as easy and fluent a conversation with your examiner as you could with a friend? Is what you are saying comprehensible to your examiner or are you likely to get lots of "excuse me," "pardon me," "could you repeat that s.l.o.w.l.y. for me, please" requests? Are you giving the impression that you are treating the examiner with the proper respect as an equal, or -- like you do with your mother -- are you trying to brush off the issues as quickly as possible so you can get on with the rest of your life?

You can multiply these self-check questions with the application question. Sitting with you and your examiner are the authors of the articles that you are reading as your compre passages. The AQ is a full-blown discussion amongst the 3 or 4 of you, all learned, articulate men and women, interested in the world, sharing different ideas from all your myriad experiences over biccies and a hot cuppa'.

The ability to speak a language is a mark of peerage. In other words, if two people use exactly the same language, they are equals. In this case, the more equal you are, the higher you're ranked. Paradoxical, but there you go!

Kaiser got his claws trimmed. He's not gonna stab me in the toe while I sleep again! Posted by Picasa

Look who's got a new haircut -- that scruffy snowball look was so yesterday! Posted by Picasa

It's been this kind of a weekend for Q-tip, and us too! Posted by Picasa