Saturday, November 13, 2010

Launch day for Tab

I can't resist launch days. I hate crowds, especially excited crowds; and I hate lining up in long queues, but inevitably, I find myself there anyway.

Launch item in question is the Samsung Galaxy Tab -- big-assed brother to the 'S' launched earlier this year.

Much to my embarrassment, I found myself positioned #2 in line though I really didn't make an effort to arrive that early. Somehow as we slightly early birds were milling about, the organizers got their act together and herded us into line. By some strange accident, I found myself right in front.

Found out later that the very first four retail customers had already been identified and given VIP treatment, while I was #2 after them. Still, I was far ahead enough to be invited to view the launch concert in person. Some up and coming K-pop star, G.Na, was on hand to belt out a few English and Korean numbers and say some nice things about the Tab before we could rush over to the retail counters and collect ours.

So, without any further ado, presenting my very own Personal Non-Productivity Device, Mr Tabby.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Graduation bawl

With reference to 'Graduation: No gown, scroll or photo op': for crap's sake, lady, your kid has graduated... kindergarten! Perhaps that might have been a grand accomplishment for you -- could be still -- but your kid has lots more opportunities to wear the cutesy costume for your photographic pleasure when it actually means something to him.

You keep insisting the event will be an 'unhappy' one, but the only one who is unhappy is you. The organization is happy doing it that way; the kids are happy because they have no other frame of reference (besides you) to compare their celebration against; and the other parents are probably happy because they can quickly grab their bemused graduand, take him for a celebratory ice-cream sundae and pack him off to Chinese tuition straight after lunch.

You know what will be really unhappy? Forcing hundreds of pre-schoolers to sit still and quiet while hundreds of names are read out individually. Have you never experienced hell on earth before?

Your kid deserves to be happy on the day of his graduation, but he won't be happy because you won't be happy. Smile, please, for his sake. It's HIS party, you can't cry just because you want to.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The one question

Another GP year has come to a close. Today's final exam was, if not easy, then at least straightforward. Most essay questions looked do-able, and no nasty surprises. There was a head-scratcher over dying rich = dying 'disgraced', and a particular angle demanded by the tech question (tech has a negative effect on skill levels) which I hope the kids paid attention to. They do love the sci-tech subject so much, sometimes they forget to read the whole question. *shudder

But the compre paper totally vindicated what I had said about the application question all along. There is only ONE question to answer, no matter how many question marks appear. The main question is the one that asks if and/or how the one or two passages apply to the [new] given context from which perspective the candidate is required to consider. In other words, when we ask which author you agree with, or is more relevant, or otherwise presents a more convincing argument, these are just supporting questions that remind the candidate to make appropriate and relevant references to the passages in answer to the main question.

Trouble is, kids tend to spend too much energy answering the supporting questions (frankly, I don't care which author you agree with OR why), they have no time or forget to answer the main question. Instant fail.

This year, the application question went straight to the heart of the matter: how does the author's views on food apply to you and your society? It didn't even bother to ask the supporting questions, knowing how well we've drilled our kids to answer them. A single question mark sharpens the focus to a single key idea. That's the application question I understood right from the time they rolled it out. It didn't need to get any more complicated than that.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Attempting to make small talk

First, condolences to NBS who lost a Squeak. We pet owners share your grief as it is the same pain, regardless of their relative sizes. :'(

Second, while on duty this afternoon, I happened to overhear a conversation between a trio of fellow invigilators. It was all about tut tutting over some petty misdemeanour of a colleague of theirs before drifting on to discuss where they expect to be in five years' time. OMG, is this really the subject matter normal human beings raise when they make small talk? No wonder I have problems chatting people up. Small talk is just lost on me, who prefers to keep his own counsel over making such inconsequential matters sound so serious.

Which is why I am so thankful for my own colleagues. Our talk is anything but serious, nothing is too sacred to poke fun at -- not even ourselves -- and to anyone listening in on us we would probably make no sense at all.

We spent the evening celebrating another birthday. The a la carte buffet spread at Hibiki was very well done. We couldn't decide what to order so the staff presented our table for 10 a first round serving of everything on the menu. The ebi sashimi was so fresh it didn't remind me of fish bait for once. Even the unagi was palatable to my finicky standards. After the first round, we were only able to order another serving of assorted sashimi and teriyaki (for the non-raw food eaters) before calling it quits. Kind'a sad that this place that serves up such good food didn't have much business. We occupied the biggest table in the house, made the most noise and kept the staff most busy. They could certainly use more customers, so go!

Will end off this rather random entry with this clip featuring a totally audacious football play. Usually in [American] football, we can expect loads of violence, mayhem and broken bodies flung all over the pitch -- and that's just during the touchdown celebrations. In comparison, the following play must have been designed by Gandhi himself! Take a look...

And... that's all, folks!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Can you count to two?

End of year invigilation has started. Large exam venues are a pain as the candidature runs in the hundreds. Accounting for the papers collected takes some time as each one has to be tallied against the attendance sheet. So even after the paper has ended, we can still expect to remain behind for a while counting everything up. As with B-lo's nightmarish experience with her first duty last week, it could happen that counting could last up to an hour after the 'pens down' announcement.

As it turns out, my duty today was the best case scenario. It was a relatively small candidature, no doubt, but my assignment was to be responsible for the private candidates' column. Altogether there were a total of four names on my list, 50% of which were absent. It was a breeze to collect and count all the way up to 'two', and skedaddle while the others were still collecting theirs.

A good start to this year's duty, I think. Not likely to occur again; no one could be as lucky twice.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Evil makes good

This year, it's the villains who get the focus. For all their grandiose plans of world domination, they're only compensating for the one thing they have been deprived of: acceptance. That is, if 'Despicable Me' and the just opened 'Megamind' would have us believe.

Gru's three orphans grow on him, and his long-suppressed paternal instincts rise to the fore as he meets his new-found responsibilities like a man. Megamind gets afflicted with reverse Stockholm syndrome -- he kidnaps the same female reporter so often he eventually falls for her. When this pair of miscreants realize their human sides, they gain a purpose bigger than themselves and eventually make good.

If only real evil were so easy to identify. But it's the consequences of momentary idiocy; or blind, unquestioning faith; or misguided righteousness that are truly horrific. In fact, often the greatest evils are perpetrated by those who believe they are acting for the greatest good. Think about that for a bit.

Oh, and while we're on the topic of cartoon characters, alas, poor Sid. I knew him, Manfred. Sniff.