Saturday, October 18, 2008

A spot of gardening

Today was dNYel's turn to perform a little Service Learning, representing our Level on campus.

The place: Labrador Adventure Centre.

Our task: to learn something about the abundant flora that grows all around us in this neck of the woods, then add to it by digging up a plot of earth and planting some shrubbery in it.

That kind of community service is fine with me. I'd sooner pick up a tool and try to make myself useful with it than attempt to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger with baggage in that other kind of community outreach. Heck, I'm awkward enough with my friends already, let alone chat up some troubled personality.

Have to say I'm very grateful to the Photog I handed my camera over to. She took a ton of excellent pix, some of which I've uploaded here. The rest, well, let's just say they're for dNYel records.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The House Bunny

"The House Bunny" is something like a mashup of Snow White and the Seven Cinderellas. Shelley, a Bunny suddenly evicted from the Playboy Mansion, takes refuge in a sorority house about to lose its Charter due to its serious lack of appeal on campus. Its female residents are social misfits, and definitely not the type the other students want to be associated with. But Shelley works her transformative magic on them, remodelling them in her own image and overnight, the formerly outcast Zetas become the belles of the ball.

Much of the humour comes from the skillful play on stereotypes as they interact with one another. These are the people we easily identify on any given college campus, the juvenile jocks, the popular girls, and the socially awkward Zetas. But they don't always conform to "type" as the Zeta girls discover once they learn to come out of their shells.

What's interesting is that from Shelley's perspective, dealing with rejection is a matter of excercising choice and knowledge as a means to overcome the temptation to succumb to circumstance.

With Shelley's help, her plain jane charges make a startling transformation with a change of clothes, hair, cosmetics and (as we observe in their "Armageddon" strut sequence) gait. It isn't that they become beautiful, but they become interesting. Everything about them in their makeover state is eye-catching: the bright colours, shapes and lines of their clothes and accessories, their hair artfully shaped with flashes of brilliant highlights, their poise which exudes confidence and control, and their smiles reflecting their positive energy and thus their welcome to others. The image makes the first impression, then they're ready for the second layer of social contact: connecting with others through conversation.

It's in this second layer that both Shelley and the Zetas are able to help each other. The Zetas learn that behaving shallow is not the same as being shallow, and Shelley learns that not all guys are attracted by sex appeal and bimbotic behaviour.

I havent caught a movie in a long while. This one was a nice, easy one to digest.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Caution: Detour

It's a bit nutz running something like two blogs simultaneously. Anyone interested in the progress of my reno, here's the link to my t-blog thread on It's kinda' fun sort-of chatting with fellow home-builders in a show me yours and I'll show you mine exchange.

Else, I'm up to my ears in Written Reports... and is it because I've lost all objectivity or is it that they are actually starting to look quite decent?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Great expectorations

It's PW season for the J1s on campus. The majority of their project deadlines coincide over the next couple of weeks and everyone's working feverishly (we hope) to impress their assessors with what they've been working on for the last 6-7 months.

The grading criteria go by the following premises: projects are either Approaching Expectations (AE), Meeting Expectations (ME), or Exceeding Expectations (EE). Of course, the EE grade is the most coveted, and every self-respecting staff supervisor will design such training as to prepare the students for that esteemed level of achievement.

Herein lies a conundrum I've discovered between balancing out the training with the grading criteria: no matter how much I teach and train, no matter how much I consult the project groups to help them raise their level of performance, my efforts will only help them attain a Meeting Expectations (ME) grade. That's because as long as the groups do what I tell them, as long as they doggedly follow my lead, they can only Meet the Expectations I have of them. I cannot teach them to Exceed Expectations because in order to do that, they have to do more than what I have taught them to do, and to do it better than I would have done myself. Think I'm asking too much? Go look up what 'exceed' means.

PW is one subject in which "teach more, score less" applies. That's because the more is taught, the fewer the opportunities for the students to exceed expectations because we keep raising the expectation bar higher and higher. If we didn't teach so much, everything the kids do right would look like a marvel. Instead, because we have taught them so much, every deviation from the way we think is 'right' becomes a disaster.

Yes, I agree that certain basics and standards have to be laid down as foundation. The kids need a launchpad that is solid and stable enough to support their explorations -- that's our job. But beyond that, the more reluctant we are to give up our remote control, the sooner we think our kids' projects are likely to crash and burn.

PW is designed as a subject to advantage students who can take charge of the given problem, and use their own ingenuity and resources to innovate and develop a reasonable solution. Not many students can do this, hence they stand out as Exceeding Expectations. For the rest of the pack, they have to be satisfied with Meeting Expectations because they can perform as reasonably well as they have been taught. And in the grand scheme of things, that should be quite enough.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

One sick puppy

Q-tip gave us a scare when we were walking her to the pet shop in Gardens this morning. According to June's report, Q-tip suddenly stopped walking and somehow ended up on her back, legs waving in the air... and spitting up blood.

Rushed her to Mt Pleasant where Dr Denise attended to her. Denise diagnosed a near heatstroke condition (it really was a rather hot day) and gave her a cool shower to bring her temperature down. What was more troubling was that her x-ray showed an enlarged heart caused by fluid retention and also fluid in her lungs. Denise explained that the heart was not working efficiently enough to pump out fluid from the internal organs like it's supposed to. (This actually sounds uncannily similar to my current state of health. Maybe I should go check it out?)

Rx: Q-tip is now on four tablets to be taken daily. Something for the heart and kidneys; a diuretic to help clear out excess fluids from her system; an antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory for her lungs.

Poor thing. On the outside she doesn't look like she's got problems, but under the hood... well, let's not panic yet. Hope the medication will do her good.