Saturday, January 27, 2007

At last my campus-issued laptop purporting wireless compatibility shows signs of connectivity. I'm doing the road warrior thing right now, surfing with no strings attached at McD's, King Albert Park. I'm sitting here with the intention of getting a few essays marked (yeah, right), but I'm also pursuing a story for NY conneX. The things I gotta do to keep my promises...

I'm about to rendezvous with the staff accompanying the Outdoors club on their hike along a stretch of deserted railway around the Bukit Timah area. The staff will be stopping here to lunch on Big Macs, while the kids will stay out in the wilderness and eat leaves and berries and things (or so they tell me). It's educational.

Hopefully, I can get some quoteworthy impressions of today's programme from the staff, and some of the kids, if I can find them...

... My contact, SXL and hubby arrived early. Chatted with them while they lunched, then they brought me over to where the kids were -- along the KTM railway line, resting up before the next leg of their expedition. It was raining so we all got quite wet, me because I was unprepared for the weather, the kids because it was fun to splash around in mud and puddles. City kids.

Catch the full story in NY conneX next Thursday! *crosses fingers behind back

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Someone June detests wheedled and begged for a benefit he didn't deserve and got it. When she found out about it, she was understandably furious. After all, her work ethic is so much stronger than the guy's and to June, a contract is a contract, so he shouldn't even have had the temerity to ask for more in the first place.

I don't think I helped her mood much when I responded to her story from a Sith-y frame of mind (yes, the Dark Side seems to be strong with this one lately).

I said that if he was dissatisfied and fought for more, despite his contractual binding, what he won was what he deserved, because he was willing to struggle for it. Whereas, in June's case, since she was content with her contract, she too deserved what she got -- and rightly so -- because she worked for it.

OK, so I wasn't sympathetic, but it's time to wake up and realize that the world isn't fair. Corporate management has no time to observe the steady, quiet worker. Management already has enough problems to deal with, so while they're grateful for the busy cogs running in the background, keeping the wheels of industry moving, they also tend to take them for granted. If they're already with the program, there's no need to give them special attention.

But it's the squeaky, wobbly cog that threatens the smooth running of the company's operations that needs to be dealt with. And with labour laws being the minefield they are, sometimes it's easier to just throw money at the problem than fire. So with a quick application of corporate lubricant, the cog is happily running again and management can quickly go back to taking care of business as usual.

Corporate is illogical, brutal and uncaring. Corporate will try squeeze more from you than you promised, and give you less than they promised you -- unless you can turn the tables somehow. So you are either contented with your exploitation, or you risk it all and stick it to the man!

Or you quit the whole thing and take up teaching instead.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The DSTA is offering a $1m prize for designing a robot urban warrior? That's kinda' pittance considering how much they'll make if they ever get such a thing mass marketable for the world's military markets...

Men, listen up! This one is your new platoon mate. He just posted in from the defense lab to assist in your FIBUA ops. His dossier say his name is 'Terminator', but you all can call him 'Ah Ter' for short, lah.

You all chow Hokkien peng now have some tough competition for Best Recruit. Ah Ter very smart -- his results is A*Star one -- and for physical fitness, he is the real Ironman, ok? So you all better give him the proper respect and don't let me catch you programming him to do your area cleaning for you, understand?

Anything you can do, he can do. You can topo in the jungle, he can topo around a building. You run the SOC, he also can overcome obstacles. But he can also do more than you! He is training to negotiate with terrorists, but so far he can only negotiate with the stairs. He can also take lifts -- not like you lazy buggers! If I catch any of you lazy buggers taking the lift, you will all knock it down twenty for me! How to pass your IPPT if you everytime take lift, huh?

And the best thing about our robot friend here is that unlike the remote-controlled bomb-disposal unit, Ah Ter is completely autonomous. A-U-T-O-N-O-M-O-U-S. That means Ah Ter got initiative, not like you useless people...

Eh, Recruit Ah Ter! Sit down! I never authorize canteen break yet! Ah Ter! Come back...!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Please advise women how to deal with MRT perverts
ST (online) Forum Letter

ON JAN 20 at about 7.55pm, my wife took a train from Bugis MRT station heading towards Jurong East MRT interchange.

A middle-aged man boarded the crowded train in one of the stations along the way and stood in front of her.

The zipper of the shorts he was wearing was down. He was moving his folded umbrella around his 'private parts' to attract the attention of passengers seated nearby.

He also stood in a way that enhanced the opening in his shorts.

My wife was embarrassed by the action of the man and did not know what to do. The train was also crowded and it was inconvenient for her to vacate her seat.

For the sake of women passengers, could the MRT authorities advise them on how to deal with such a situation?

Nelson Quah

Dear Nelson,

Your wife should commit to memory as many details about the pervert as she can: dress (or undress, as the case may be), accessories, facial features, identifying marks, etc.

She should alight at the next immediate MRT station and inform the MRT staff about her inconsiderate fellow passenger, give his description, and if possible, which car she last saw him in. MRT staff will board the train at the following station, apprehend whomever fits the description and confine him until your wife can make a proper identification.

If your wife positively identifies the suspect, the MRT staff will arrange for her to make a police report, following which the police will investigate the matter by interviewing both her and the suspect separately. Your wife may face more than 1 interview if the suspect claims trial.

At the trial a few weeks later, if your wife maintains an unwavering testimony and the judge finds the defendant's protestations lack credibility, the defendant may receive a fine, or get his butt thrown in jail, or both.

This is the end of the story as far as the Authorities are concerned. [True story, btw. The perv's MO looks exactly like that of the guy Mrs X threw in jail when she faced the exact same situation not too long ago. Maybe he hasn't yet learned his lesson?]

Or, your wife could just politely tell the guy that his fly is down, putting the onus back on him to zip up. Depends on how brave she is, and how much time she has to waste with the Authorities to assuage her embarrassment.

Monday, January 22, 2007

If for a moment I thought that I have been trying to gain attention with my antics on campus, I'm glad I've come nowhere near the nonsense these HK tutors are up to:

In a highly competitive HK tuition market, tuition agencies are now marketing themselves by showing off their most attractive staff in their advertising campaigns. We're talking 'attractive' as in long-legged catwalk-sizzling supermodel-types with the poise, coiffure and come-hither allure to match. Don't ask me what the men are marketed like, 'cos I've never met an attractive man before, and I don't particularly want to either [ed. careful, your biases are showing].

And this whole image thing isn't just for a one-off photo-shoot either. They maintain their appearance in class too, or I guess the fallout from a false-advertising claim would be quite devastating to the company. So they're all gorgeous and dressed to kill so that they can teach a bunch of horny 14 year-olds English.

While having a swarm of English-speaking Gisele Bundchen lookalikes in my staffroom would do wonders for my morale, I do wonder which demographic the ad campaigns are pitched at. Would the pre-adolescent student have enough decision-making ability in the family to insist on going to a school whose teachers have the most outstanding gazongas? Would a mother trust a teacher who looks better in person than she did in her wedding album? Or does dear, distracted, drooling Dad decide? I dunno enough about family dynamics in HK to say for sure, so marketing the sex-appeal of teachers doesn't make much sense to me.

But so far, all this looks like fun and games. Besides, it's great for the teacher's ego to admire his or her own glam poster put up at the MTR station, and the money's apparently great too -- the best tutors teach up to 4,000 kids, so they must be getting astronomical fees.

But what exactly are they teaching the kids? From the article, as far as I can tell, the one (and only) expert educational point they impart is in "predicting what questions will be asked in the exams." Now, that is absolute crap, teaching kids to memorize and regurgitate on cue. If that's all, I hope the kiddies will get their money's worth in jiggly eye-candy because they sure aren't getting an education.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Nothing like a bit of venting and ranting to sift the mind and the heart and see what it is that's been bothering me lately. Sorry for yesterday's self-indulgence, but I think I've got it figured out.

I remarked before that my current work culture has become a lot more intense than before. Even the newbies are already going flat out, punching in long hours with all manner of purpose-driven activity. And I've been trying to fit in, y'know, group solidarity, that kind of thing. Yes, I have been taking steps to grow up, as per NBS' admonishment.

But I might have overcompensated and seem to have taken greater strides than I have been ready for. I've been offering advice to people who don't need it, and perhaps even attempting to arm-twist others into supporting one or another of my new hare-brained causes of the year. So far, everyone's been polite and tolerant, but looking back I feel embarrassed about what I've been trying to do to make myself "useful around the house," as moms like to say.

To keep my sanity this year, I have to remember these few things:
1) Stop competing and comparing myself with others.
2) We each have our own pace and our own paths.
3) Be myself, and not try to be who I'm not.
4) 1 Cor 13:11 reads, "When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me," and not, "when I put childish ways behind me, I became a man."

Thanks, Taily, for the positive reinforcement.