Monthly Archives: November 2012

glad to be alive (and breakfast)

in the midst of general gloom and doom and bluesy-ness and exams and yada yada, something interesting happened today

i was queuing for my usual portion of hall food (yeah, hall food) and i was scooping my rice and lo, i bumped into a jaystine. who, upon looking at me, said, ‘eh, why you look so glum’

to which i replied, life is tough

and she said ‘why sad? you’re a cheerful guy’

and then she smiled and walked off.

what words of wisdom! indeed there are many things to be happy for, things that put things into perspective. i am overusing the word thing here but yeah you get the idea. i hope. so i sat down with my plate of hall food, and then i looked out into the world at pgp through the windows of the dining hall. sitting there and wondering about stuff in general. which translates into staring blankly into space

and i guess life is good eh? you don’t have to have to be having good things all the time.

over dinner shuchin borray and i were gushing about the Hullett Memorial Library, that most hallowed repository of information and goodness that is the library of my dear alma mater. and yes i realised that truly, it is good to have experienced the HML. to have walked through those portals is a blessing. i have now realised that the ‘feel’ of the HML is something i want to re-create in my house next time. one of my dreams is to have a library/study room in my house. two or three wall-to-wall bookshelves filled with good stuff and things that i have read… warm lighting, snug sofa, a nice carpet, wooden furniture… whoa! the mini-HML. wonderful.

also it is good to simply be alive and walking. it is great to walk. if you have never enjoyed walking before… i suggest you enjoy it. having been injured before and unable to walk i have come to appreciate how great it is simply to be able to move on your own two feet and not require any other assistance. great stuff.

it’s just good to be alive. alive and typing, alive and doing something. alive and being able to experience stuff. some people talk about the depth of human experience. the extremes of emotion that people go to, etc etc. sadness and joy and grief and pain and fun in the sun, et cetera. count it a blessing to experience all these eh? there is no basis for comparison. it simply just is.

perhaps that is the point. there is no need for a point in the first place, one can just simply live? nah. i take that back. man is created to live for something bigger than self. but in that living, it’s not all about purpose… well yes it is, but i guess don’t just stop to smell the flowers on the wayside and say hey flower, you look pretty good today. stop and talk to the flower and take time to look at all the other flowers! somehow this analogy is kind of insufficient. the road should be amongst the flowers, and always coloured by the sky. rain or shine doesn’t matter because no matter what you have the weather. you have to weather the weather, whether you like it or not. ah, wordplay! how fun. see. wordplay is one of those things that exists for the sake of existing… because it is delightful. ah! that is the word. delight. delight in life! in simply delighting in delight. a chocolate moment… ah! i like how eating chocolate is always for the sake of eating chocolate.

being alive means you can eat the Breakfast of Champions, which is what i have started to concoct recently. for some reason nobody agrees with it. but i shall detail how it is done and you can judge for yourself. perhaps you can suggest some additions to it.

first, start off with granola. pour a generous helping into plate.

second, add grapes.

third, add nuts. the more varied the better. i have been pouring Nature’s Wonders THE ROYAL MIX into my bowl… almonds cashews pistachios macadamias walnuts. mega.

fourth, add some chopped dark chocolate. been using cadbury old gold.

fifth, break up some digestive biscuits (also dark chocolate) and add them in.

mix all the dry stuff evenly so it is nicely spread.

now pour yoghurt generously over everything.

we’re not done yet! for it to truly become the breakfast of champions, something extra is required… known as MILO POWDER.

what you do now is put as much milo powder as you want onto your yoghurt. i use about three tablespoons. heaped tablespoons. milo is great.

then you have chocolate flavoured everything! woohoo!

a glass of milo + milk on the side is great.

can’t go wrong with a breakfast like that… wash it down with a persimmon and a plum and then a bottle of water. wonderful.

 

is it not great to be alive! having fun concocting all this by looking at my food shelf and throwing in everything i can find. somehow it all fits together. things are designed to do so. and then eating all of it.

yeah. reading and enjoying reading and being able to see and think and such.

so many things! yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

 

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language policy

you know, i wonder if this post might get me into trouble. i don’t think it will. after all, its education.

been reading my nation-building notes. basically its a module examining how the Singaporean state has strove to establish a national identity and itself as a nation… not just a state. and this is achieved through many different ways. education being one of the tools.

and you know, singapore’s english + mother tongue thing has become such a part of singaporean society. since the 1990s, which means my whole life i’ve lived with that educational environment. mother tongue is meant to help in transmission of cultural values and such.

however!!!!! i fail to see how speaking a language aids in providing cultural ballast, or cementing any sort of ethnic identity within an individual. if the chinese community is meant to be more unified by speaking chinese, and the same goes for the indian and malay communities, won’t all of us be unified in certain cultural values because of the fact that we all speak english? now i know that yes, english does bind us together, but decadent western values are not what we seek to foster yada yada…

the point is that simply learning and speaking a language does not inculcate cultural values. perhaps if the textbooks do endorse certain messages (which they do i guess) then yes there is some effectiveness to it. but that message is as ‘soft’ as anything else: it’s like choosing what kind of literature texts to use, and what examples and case studies to examine in social studies and history. it doesn’t become anything more special because it is taught in chinese. or other mother tongues. i cannot comment on malay or tamil or any other languages because i am effectively monolingual, despite what the education system has designed for (yes, i escaped with a D7 in higher mother tongue and refused the cajoling of the school to take my A level Chinese).

oh, sidetrack. the great gatsby movie that is coming out? i have had my doubts on the value of a hollywood blockbuster-ish kind of imposition on a text like Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby… but i just watched the trailer and on first impression, it does seem to do the text justice. the soundtrack is eerily appropriate.

anyway, back to language policy. what good does it do? i am honestly not sure. if i’m not wrong, the general feeling of students is that mother tongue is just another topic – there is no real subscription to the idea of mother tongue carrying any cultural weight. yes, there is an intellectual acknowledgement (perhaps), but there is no real embracing of that fact. heck, if i were a mother tongue teacher, i don’t think i would be. is this the point where we cry out and criticize the system as inherently flawed? after all, you don’t use classical chinese idioms and such to communicate on a daily basis. at least i don’t. yes i’m limited by an extremely poor grasp of the language, but from what i know of language studies, day to day communication does not require that great of a grasp of the classics. in a sense. referential qualities exist to be sure, but knowing obscure stuff doesn’t really help in anything except showing off. when you talk to people on the street or in a shop or in a hawker center or wherever… what you speak is certainly singlish. it is broken and flawed and coloured by a wonderfully unique mishmash of culture, and accented by a million different voices, but everything is still mutually intelligible and you don’t require classroom mother tongue to understand it. heck, i picked up malay words and phrases from the void deck, not any mother tongue classes.

despite all this, i guess there IS still a time and place for mother tongue. i just don’t see how it applies to me now. granted i am not a good example of the intended result of the system… my Chinese is poor. but would it be different even if my Chinese were A1 standard? i don’t think so. doesn’t look like it, especially from what i can see. your grades in mother tongue and cultural ballast and being singaporean: grades in mother tongue don’t have any bearing on that. especially if mother tongue is deliberately and artificially inserted into the curriculum for a rather organic purpose, for the lack of a better term. it’s like plugging a nuclear reactor into a shark and expecting it to become a nuclear powered hunter… it doesn’t work that way. you need some bio-mechanical apparatus for interfacing. and i guess that’s what’s lacking? not that i have a solution to the problem – i don’t pretend to. but there’s a need for some degree (or a greater degree) of interfacing between intention of Higher Up, and results on the ground. there needs to be common understanding. which, of course, is not something easily achieved. and that’s why its worth working towards in the end

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a rare study-rage post

I don’t normally do this. I don’t normally let myself get to this point. But I am getting increasingly irritated and annoyed at having to do work.

How come Luke Skywalker didn’t have exams? How come he could just use the force? How come Aragorn didn’t have term papers to submit? How come Peter Parker aced everything without doing any work?

Life is just kinda tough eh

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bah

sometimes i don’t know why i go play sports when i know i am not going to enjoy it anyway. i go play to relax and unwind but when i hit the court i tell myself i have to do this, do that, play like this, play like that, then in the end i end up stressing myself because i couldn’t do what i wanted to do. just played floorball and feeling pretty crappy about it. make a play, beat the guy, lose the ball, miss the passing window, turnover, run back, lose the man, concede a goal. freaking frustrating and disappointing. one step forward two steps back.

its day two of reading week… and i’ve started studying.

been reading my pre-modern japanese history notes and i am totally lost. no idea how to start revision. its just content and content and i don’t know how to frame it… it’s all fuzzy. it’s even worse for european lit. i’m just stuck foaming at the texts trying to get a handle on them. doesn’t help that i didn’t do well for the essays. man. i hate this feeling. it’s like doing math and chinese all over again. wanting to be able to do it but unable to achieve any sort of victory at all.

been staying in hall and somehow hall seems… more dead. people go to the library to mug. return at mad hours of the day. people stay up late. crazy. but during the course of the day, everything is just silent. the sun beats down and the air is still and people are… studying? i don’t get it. do people really study the whole day? isn’t it boring? i know it is necessary and people want to do well – i have nothing against that at all. heck, i want to do well too. but to study the whole day. i cannot understand it. i did it during A level prep. 8am in the library, break at 12 for lunch, start again at 1, study till 7, dinner till 8, study till 9, go home, sleep by 10.30, repeat. every day.

and now, in uni, after the army break, i just can’t do it. i have no more mega study stamina (not that i had a lot to begin with). i cannot sit down and whack. because i don’t want to. because it is so boring!!! and dreadful. and trudge-inducing. it makes me feel like i’m slogging through a swamp. and there’s so many better things to do. i’m doing it because i have no choice. it is foamy. and okay i study, but i cannot study so many hours a day. how does one do it? isn’t studying a fair amount enough? let me say again that i have nothing against people who can study 12 hours a day. in fact, i respect them for a sheer determination that i do not possess. a will to succeed and to complete things. it is incredible. but it is simply that i cannot comprehend it. it is beyond me. i do not understand how one can sit in the library, unmoving, for three hours, reading notes and cramming stuff. i sit at my table for an hour and i already get super restless. i have to walk up and down the corridor, eat some food, fill my water bottle, go to the toilet, let out a primal roar or two. well. that’s studying for you. i don’t like it. not at all.

note: haven’t watched skyfall. sad case.

watched Ah Boys To Men. If you don’t mind me saying, its a pretty slick piece of soft propaganda championing NS. maybe propaganda isn’t the right word… but definitely. it is a pretty good way of saying ‘hey boy, take a positive outlook to NS’, in a very self-deprecatory Singaporean way. i think it’s going to be something that says something to people.a

after i came out of the show, i was talking to nic and kinshun about who would get the jokes. of course all the NSmen and people who are serving and have served will get it. i found certain parts absolutely hilarious. very very Singaporean humour. but then i thought about what effect this film would have on boys who haven’t enlisted yet. i wonder. will they be pumped? will they be afraid? will the over-sibei-on recruits who declare to everyone that they want to go to OCS on the first day of BMT recognize themselves as such? will those who plan to chao keng recognize that a chao keng life is a lousy one? nation-building classes have stressed the importance of national service as a national institution, something core to the Singaporean identity. definitely man. watching the movie… i felt like i wish i had a chance to be a BMT PC, and maybe shape the lives of one or two recruits here and there: push them towards hopefully the right choices, make sure people do the right thing. i think i would have enjoyed it. it would be like being a teacher. a bit.

oh well. i had seriously considered a career in the armed forces but i guess it didn’t pan out. not that i regret. it’s just not what i wanted to do the most in the end. and even though army might not be enjoyable… there are enjoyable moments, and it is definitely a learning experience. i wonder what reservist is going to be like. i hope i don’t forget all the stuff that i have learnt. hopefully still can use and i won’t be just another dude trying to finish his two weeks of obligatory duty.

note: my favourite oppa gangnam style parody here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yr7FW1S5e0

have planned my holiday training schedule and it is, well, exciting. daily trainings? here’s hoping my body doesn’t break down and my ankles don’t fail me and nothing happens to my knees. i have training days from 9-12, 12-3, 3-5, 6-8, 9-11. oh my. looks like i won’t be doing all those trainings. oh dear. oh my. the problem also is eating properly… i need a nutrition plan that WORKS. so that i can pop stuff into my mouth that doesn’t slow down recovery. eat more veggies? raw veg? apple a day? i think going to need more than apple a day. yoghurt? more nutritious stuff. but i like yummy stuff too. i predict much suppers.

and christmas season food! oh my. feast feast.

in some way i am dreading the holiday training period. overtraining is definitely a risk and gotta make sure that i learn to say no to trainings. because if i go… injury is a real risk. man. life is tough. at least all the sleep that i get will be good sleep. sheer exhaustion. ah well. holidays are always great, some are just greater than others.

note: i need new music. anyone got some music to share? i keep listening to the same things over and over again.

okay starting to sneeze i guess i’m allergic to studying

 

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