Friday, October 05, 2007

Ooh! What a stoopid headline!
"Officers find ecstasy in Mr. Potato Head" Must have had a deprived childhood...

Whether we give too much attention to paper qualifications was the topic of discussion among Maddy, HH and me this morning. Consultation with the kids does sometimes bring up eye-opening observations. Despite our insistence on presenting a 'balanced' viewpoint in our essays, it was difficult to resist arguing that this situation exactly describes how maniacally obsessed we are over our certs, degrees and other black-and-white acknowledgments of our skills and accomplishments...

No point completing a long and boring essay discussion here, so only if interested, ok? Click.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Hope Mary will pull through the next few days ok. She got tix for us to LaSalle's "Oh! What a Lovely War!" but while driving to meet us, she knocked over a motorcyclist. The guy hurt his arm and was shaken up, but fortunately, nothing worse. Now she's going through the necessary reporting stages, investigation, and whatever else.

Meantime, our dinner and show plans carried on as usual. We met Jen and Adrian at Sketches for a quick pasta meal. Jen generously shared her voluptuously juicy sausage that went with her spaghetti.

"OWLW!" was quite a slick, professional production by the students of the drama school. The house opened with the chorus streaming out into the lobby area to personally invite the audience in. There was no opening curtain as the cast was already performing a selection of WW1 songs while the audience was still finding their seats. With such high energy from the outset, I knew we were in for a great show.

It was quite the history lesson on the First World War, seen from the viewpoints of the various European nations involved. We got an insight into the political and industrial leadership's motivations for the war, as well as look into the lives and attitudes the commoners at home, and the soldiers in the trenches.

It was uncomfortable as the sober realities of the horror that was WW1 were brought home to us through comic sketches, songs of the period, a backdrop slideshow of old b&w photographs, and simple mass dance movements. I was thinking that if anyone was studying up on WW1, this show would provide a nice, broad overview.

The use of the different European accents might make it a little inaccessible to our local audience though, especially if they're not used to 'Allo 'Allo. The tech was also a little off, with some of the action taking place in the dark, and occasionally the lights came on late.

Regardless, there is a lot of talent in these students. They ensemble cast played well together, to deliver a highly polished production. The guy with the megaphone had me scratching my head a bit, though. What exactly was his role, being cast so anomalously in relation to the period and the other characters? Both in and out of the ensemble, my best guess is that he is the audience's anchor to that distant conflagration so long ago.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

My usually bimbotic entries have temporarily given way to issues with slightly more political overtones.I'm probably suffering from an overdose of KI critical thinking paper marking and it's carrying over into my off-duty hours.

Well, since I'm at it, I know a couple of people who have things to say about the political nastiness going on in Myanmar, so while I recover my own wits, I'll let them take centrestage for a while:

Meet Leounheort, who's all fire and brimstone about the injustices taking place up there and how we're implicated in the mess due to our money-grubbing "bizness" and other ties with the junta heads up there.

And here's ST writer, Keane. No, I don't know him personally, but he suggests a bottom-up approach to resolving the crisis which is novel and less confrontational. What do you expect from ST, right?
Interesting that Ms Yu-Foo asserts that "women in their 20s now earn 98 per cent of what their male counterparts do." It's even more interesting that the respondents to the ST report would get all indignant about it. NS shortchanges our guys in terms of their pay and career prospects? I don't think so.

If Ms Yu-Foo's assertion was meant to show how we're closing the gender gap in wages and work, we need a reality check. Because of 2 years' NS, women get a headstart on their careers, while the men discharge their national obligations. Chronologically, women start work or continue their education at the university at 18, while the men can only start at 20. So women have 2 years' seniority over their male counterparts, and yet are still earning 2% less than a man who is just landing an entry-level position at his first job.

It's even more disturbing to consider Ms Yu-Foo's observation that our female grads outnumber our male grads. A female grad with 2 year's seniority over her non-grad male counterpart earns 2% less than him while they are in their 20s? I'm no Math major, but somehow that doesn't sound at all equal to me.

But a more important consideration of wage equality would be the gap between male and female earnings as we grow older. I'd like some data on that before I agree that we have indeed closed the wage gap between the genders in S'pore.

Where the guys are really losing out is in their academic achievement, if what Ms Yu-Foo says about us having more female than male grads is true. That means that more women are in a better position to advance in their careers than men because they have the necessary qualifications to do so. Education does seem to be the Great Equalizer of social disparity in the long term.

So, guys, if ya wanna be lazy, slack off, and don't study, then don't complain when a girl overtakes you on the career track. Understand?

Monday, October 01, 2007

We are approaching the last leg of our 18 month tour. The final stretch before another batch of JC kids take their final exam and, nothing personal, but we hope to never see them again... except perhaps as future colleagues or if they return with valuable tribute in gratitude to the ones who have set them on the path to their success. Right.

This is the last 100m sprint to the finish line, and the good news is that whether each student crosses the line in great vigour and strength, or limps across battered and bruised from falling face first into the mud once too often, everybody wins! And in this final stretch, we staff will be pushing, pressuring, cussing, cajoling, waving pom-poms, whatever -- anything to keep spirits and confidence up so that as many of our students as possible will find the courage to make this last effort to finish well.

The majority will, as they do every year. But this stage of preparation is also like the eve of a major battle. In the gathering gloom, faces aglow in the flickering campfire light, the Commander will "proclaim...

That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
(Henry V, 4.3)

This too is the reality of the task we are all facing. There will be those who for one reason or another are still deficient in the training, the focus and the courage to do what's necessary to ensure victory, or even their own survival. They shouldn't be tested if they haven't earned the right to be tested.

These next few weeks will be crucial to all our JC2s. If you commit to the fight, then you bloody well FIGHT! Each subject you take is a front you must attack to your last breath, no giving up, no giving way. If you waver now, you might as well go home now. Choose.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Finally took Cat up on her lunch offer today. It was great to see her & Sam, Joyce, and Joyce's little 'un, Jun, a reunion of sorts of people who once spent a lot of time in each other's company. Dan was celebrating his daughter's birthday so he couldn't join us. And Googling around, I found Nic who's now a corporate head in the ad industry in KL, a whole capital city away. So perhaps the old YU alumni (though Sam's actually from UT) might actually start meeting each other more regularly, now that we've sort of reestablished contact.

I was last in TO in '92, and in 15 years, we're married and a couple of us have kids. But the last decade and a half, for me at least, feels like no time has passed at all. Yet so much has changed, and we no longer have a common campus or church to keep us together any longer. It'll be will and goodwill, and email(!) that'll keep us in touch with each other now.

Our afternoon began at Brewski's. Location happenin' but not overcrowded, central enough for all of us to get to, food of good variety, quality and value. Seeking dessert, we moved from there to Dempsey Road, Cat's preferred stomping grounds. Dempsey Road is a huge knowledge gap for me and June. The rustic charm of the expansive converted army camp promises intriguing eating and exotic shopping and demands further exploration.

From the various choices available, Jun decided for us that we wanted Ben & Jerry's. The outlet here is like a countryside barn, all wood and some cast-iron supports. It was packed and noisy, with an electric atmosphere, more than what I'd expected on a lazy Sunday. The youthful staff were smiley, friendly and warm. Great place to while the afternoon away, catching up on old friends and acquaintances (what? no! really?), while our ice-creams melted slowly in front of us.

The quick snapshot here shows (L-R) Joyce, Jun (see the resemblance?) and Cat. See y'all again real soon, 'k?