Friday, December 28, 2007

There was a lot of repeating, overlapping material during our discussion groups' sharing session as we collectively planned for next year's programme. That's a good thing, because that shows that generally, we are all on the same page on what we need and want to do for the college, the kids and ourselves in 2008.

In retrospect, we've done fairly well in helping our kids absorb knowledge, enough anyway to get through their year-end exams. But knowledge isn't really like random plankton drifting around on currents, and our kids aren't really sponges and anemones willy-nilly ingesting nutrients that unhappily float within tentacle reach. As a species, we've evolved further along than that, so to revert to such a learning pattern will inevitably bore us and our kids to no end.

I think we've begun to view knowledge as a slippery, fast-moving, shape-shifting thing, that to acquire needs to be hunted down, tamed, and manipulated into working for and with us. Or else it just isn't knowledge.

We already know that knowledge shifts with remarkable speed. A day or two ago, Pakistan was heading for a democratic election. Yesterday, Benazir Bhutto's life tragically and brutally ended by some random element that didn't agree with her. Today, Pakistan has to deal with an upcoming democratic election in which bombs and guns make more impact than a person's vote in the elimination of prime ministerial candidates. That knowledge, and its implications therein shows how uncertain the world is. Knowledge may bring hope today, despair tomorrow, but as long as we're not dead, life goes on. Hence, our kids need above all to learn how to live in uncertain times.

First, they'll need to make a habit of sampling from good information sources to constantly be aware of their environment as it changes around them. They need to identify threats and dangers, but also sense opportunities to capitalize on to sustain their existence. They need to learn that we hunt best in a pack, so we have to teach them pack dynamics and strategies so we can work together for our mutual benefit. They need to experience that not all hunts will bring back rich rewards, and so tough it out during lean times. And when times are good, they must learn how to share their bounty with others. That, and a dash of personal and collective confidence in the future too. Not asking too much, are we?

Essentially, nothing's changed since our earliest civilizations, except the nature of our prey. We no longer hunt animal prey, but information and knowledge. The good news is, there's plenty of it to be found everywhere, but it needs to be chased down to be exploited.

Our challenge as I see it: to create an environment that catalyzes the evolution of inert, invertebrate sponges into a tribe of hungry, thinking hunters with a plan for action, and not devolve them back the other way.

Today, we decided where our destination lies. Getting there is half the fun.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

One final fling before the work cycle picks up again. Having failed yet again to procure black pepper crab at Eng Seng -- we were there at 1800 by which time all their crabs had already been sold out(!) -- we contented ourselves with chili crab yet again at the Red House. There was a smaller party this time: me & June, B-lo, HP, Mel, Amy, Linc & Grace, and Wayne.

Our appetites must be shrinking 'cos among the nine of us, two crabs were more than sufficient. Ok, besides the crab we had bbq squid (which was better than I expected), a so-so fried rice, drunken prawns, tofu served with all the broccoli Mel could eat, and two rounds of mantou. That altogether didn't quite add up to our usual capacity. Maybe our Christmas feasting might have had something to do with our lack of ambition tonight.

Dessert at Icekimo: proprietary ice-cream with lots of local flavours to choose from. The place seems to be a hit with the below-8 audience. Guess they were having a final fling before school starts for them too.

Time to punch in tomorrow morning: 0800. Oh, the inertia!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The teeth get a clean bill of health despite my not having seen a dentist for a couple of years already. On June's recommendation I went to L&O who have a plush and comfortable waiting area at Far East Shopping Centre. I really needed somewhere to wait as the dentistry was so backed up today, my appointment got pushed back about two hours.

While waiting I popped into Borders and bought Christopher Moore's "Fluke" to entertain myself with. It's an intriguing and light-hearted read involving the mystery of whalesong and it's got some memorable characters as well.

Back at L&O, all I needed was a clean up job. Some prodding around the spaces between the choppers and I was done. Done enough to take June out to dinner at Tonkichi.

Teeth freshly scraped, tonkatsu for dinner... ouch* what was I thinking?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Another Christmas over. Gifts unwrapped, food eaten, remains thoughtfully or creatively disposed of, carols sung, once-a-year relatives met and greeted. Another year past, a new year to look forward to.

A week to spin up to full operational capacity, then it's showtime once again! Omg.

Monday, December 24, 2007

I've been watching "Samantha Who?" over the 'net. So far, only the first three episodes are available to us in this region. It's quite coincidental I started tuning into Sam during this Christmas period because while being an obviously secular TV sit-com, SW is quite an apt parable about the experience of being "saved" in the Christian sense.

Sam wakes up in hospital an amnesiac. As the pieces of her life fall back in place for her with the help of her family and friends, she realizes that the life she lived before her accident was... let's just say disreputable. A terror and a bi*ch, once before, her new tabula rasa personality cannot believe how nastily she had once treated people. Now that her memories have to begin all over again, she's thankful that she has the opportunity to make better choices for her new life, and so put her past behind her.

It isn't like her past has ceased to exist, though. Her coma has only been for a week, so people haven't forgotten her yet. It's like being born fresh and innocent, then realizing that actually she's far from innocent. She still has to deal with the consequences of her misdeeds, and in fact, her past is an important, integral part of her identity which she is trying to re-establish, though with her new perspective of life she's a lot more idealistic and less selfish.

For the forgiven, the world doesn't go away. It's still a part of who we are and where we live. The person is still the same person, save for a new, different way of looking at life. And perhaps, one is less automatic, becoming instead a little more concerned about the consequences of the decisions one makes in one's daily life.

To top it off, SW is very funny. Because she has estranged so many people in the past, Sam has to heal the relationships of even those closest to her. Sam becomes so very earnest in making amends for her past, she sometimes makes quite terrible mistakes, making the situation worse than before. Regardless, she doesn't lose sight of her "second chance" but uses it as the foundation upon which to build a new life for herself.

Actually, just watch "Samantha Who?", and interpret for yourselves. Even if you don't extrapolate as much as I did, it's great for a laugh or lots. No link, 'cos I'm not about to get myself involved in some illegal copyright issue, so I'll just direct you to where you can do a search for Samantha Who. And that's my Christmas pressie to you (hope you have broadband)!

Merry/happy/blessed Christmas!