Monday, May 31, 2004

Last Year

on this day, I woke up at 5 in the morning and could not get back to sleep.

This morning was the same thing, for a different reason. This morning, we were in KL and for some strange reason, there was a strange beeping sound that I kept mistaking for the phone.

One year ago today, I woke up at 5 because I just couldn't sleep anymore, despite having taken muscle relaxants 4 hours earlier.

Well, exactly 365 days ago or is it 366 (?), we got married!

So what has changed in the last year?

1) Dan and I officially can live together now.
2) Dan and I have real jobs
3) Dan's learnt to do the laundry
4) I've learnt to not want to throw his play station out the window.
5) We own a house, a car and a fridge with no real food
6) I no longer weigh 47 kgs and Dan doesn't weigh 80 kgs anymore

So what hasn't changed in the last year?
1) We're still broke
2) We still eat at the coffee table in front of the television
3) We still watch re runs of Friends
4) We still plan our lives round going away on holiday (hence the extreme brokeness)
5) We still haven't had kids (much to the chargrin of my mom-in-law)
Most importantly...
6) We're still nutty over one another.

This year's paper...here's to gold and platinum. :)

Ondine tossed this thought in at 22:41

3 thoughts...

Friday, May 28, 2004

Death Be Not Proud

I wanted to blog about this yesterday but I was in such a foul mood that I forgot about it this morning. It was only during lunch when I had time to sit down with my brother, the doctor one, not the one who is upset about his daughter's birthday party, that I remembered.

My eldest aunt is in hospital. She's very very very ill and is in ICU. My mom made me go see her yesterday and I am ashamed to say I was so freaked out by the tubes, the smells, her hysteria, the nurses, the machines and all that I ran all the way to the bathroom and threw up what was actually quite a nice breakfast.

I just couldn't reconcile it. Here was the aunt that we called the Matriarch of the Ng family because she is the eldest of my father's siblings and she always commanded respect from all in the family. Even my dad who can be a total brat at times listened to her and actually held her in some sort of reverence.

When I got married last year, we went to her for advice about what traditions we had to follow and what we could omit. She was meant to sit at the main table with us because she was to represent the head of the Ng family. It would also have been my greatest honour to serve her tea during the tea ceremony.

Unfortunately, she fell sick then and she's been sick since then. Recently, her lungs failed and she's been warded to treat the lung failure. But what has happened is that her other organs have failed too and she seems to be in a none too good state. According to my doctor brother, when he uses the phrase "all the organs are failing", it really means "things look really bleak". And there she was, lying there, small, with tubes and needles all over, a mask over her face and diapers.

It just wasn't the aunt that I knew. The strong, powerful aunt whom everyone revered. In front of me was a small tangled mess, whimpering and wailing because she was beyond uncomfortable, slurring because apparently she's had a minor stroke and hallucinating due to the inability to sleep and the strong medication that she was on.


------Update from 8 June 2004 round about 2000 hrs-----

Aunty Alice just passed away. Apparently she took a turn for the better in the morning but my mom did get to see her. Sad is hardly the word to use right now but I can find no other.

I won't be there for the funeral seeing that I'm 3 continents away but I did shed a tear for the dear aunt and wonderful person that she was and I said a prayer. I also thanked God that she wasn't suffering anymore and for the wonderful life that she led and for impact she had on all of us.



DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then;
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.


So, death be not proud. You didn't win with this one.


Ondine tossed this thought in at 16:06

0 thoughts...

The Last Day of School

Today being the last day of the semester should technically spell a long breakfast in the canteen followed by a whole lot of doing nothing for the rest of the morning till the lunch bell releases us into our holidays.

Fat hope.

Things that got thrown at me today.

1. Ring the top seeds of last year's JC debates to see if they were actually willing to debate a third time round seeing that we've got an uneven number of teams. This required a large amount of pandering to their egos and a whole lot of grovelling.

2. Answer 10 SMSs from the national coach who is running the workshop about very inconsequential details like whether there is going to be a tea break, whether student facilitators ought to be in uniforms, whether the workshop can be shortened to an hour and a half from 3 hours. All of which indicate a major plot of skivving going on.

3. List down all the schools that are appearing for the workshop this evening and upon doing that, realising that half the schools didn't even send a list of participants so it's a really skimpy list.

4. Organise a last minute birthday party for my god-daughter. My brother, Dan and I are making a road trip up to KL tomorrow- and tomorrow's her birthday. My elder bro, Beth's dad is none too happy that none of us can make it but still that's fine. But my dad gets wind of it and goes along the way of "if everyone is going there tonight, I'm going tonight too and not tomorrow"- which pisses my brother off. He takes things as personally as I take things and now he's upset. So, what do I have to do? I'm supposed to find a cake, and food and throw a party tonight for his daughter, which I'm fine with except, today's such a bad day to do these things.

And screw the damn expectations. My sis in law thinks I'm the most free person in the world and tells me to do this and I do it, not because of her, but out of love for my brother. I totally lost it with her and then other people along the way..First time I ever spoke my mind to her.

SMS conversation between us two
Her: Your brother's upset because he thinks no one gives a peep about him or his daughter's birthday tomorrow.

Me: What do you want me to do? I'm already going over tonight.

Her: But tonight's not her birthday and there's no food and cake.

Me: Fine. I'll get cake and food. But there's only so much I can do. I'm trying very hard to juggle all these roles and no one's cutting me slack. I have to be a good daughter, wife, sister, aunt, teacher, organiser all today and I have only so many hours in a day and I can only be at one place at one time. How much more do you expect me to do?

Her: But your brother is upset.

Me (Did not send msg but actually tapped it out on my phone): WHAT ELSE DO YOU WANT ME TO DO???????


So, what have I done?

1. Managed to get a school to offer a swing team...hopefully...these things tend to fall through last minute

2. Ordered a chocolate cake only to cancel it later in favour of an ice cream cake that hopefully will keep the kids up the entire night. (I'm being mean here)

3. Bought Bethany's presents- a whole lot of pink dresses and barbie underwear

4. Booked the lecture theatre for this afternoon and warned everyone that it's shorter than it's supposed to be

5. Helped fold flyers for the Temasek Academy's Open House tomorrow

6. Organise Thai food for tonight.

7. Scold my mother for making my brother feel unimportant

8. Hand in large amounts of money to the office for some donation drive the college had over the last two days where kids had to take part in a 200km overnight marathon

9. Had lunch

10. Try to change Singapore dollars to Ringgit for tomorrow without any success. All the lines at the vestibules were at least 10 deep. Not waiting that long. A girl's gotta go places.


Very very angsty me right now. I just barked at 3 students over the phone, scolding one for assuming that I was some other teacher and to another two for asking where their teachers were. I don't think they understood what the phrase "AM I HER KEEPER?" much less why they were being bellowed at. I think some of my colleagues are taking cover from me right now and not wanting to look me in eye for the fear that "looks could kill" today.

Really, how much more can I do? I'm stuck in school till 7 at least today and now, I'm trying to get my brother to have lunch with me so that he knows that we really do care about him and it's just my dad being insensitive.

Somedays I hate being me.

Today's one of them.

Fuck.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 11:41

0 thoughts...

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Warning Label

Informationi
Myplaypen is a restricted area. Authorised personel only

Username:

From Go-Quiz.com

Ondine tossed this thought in at 22:45

0 thoughts...

Using Elements of Debate in the GP/EL Classroom

Trained in Germany as an adjudicator for the World Debate series, the facilitator, who is also a trained GP tutor will share ideas on using elements of debate to enliven and make more meaningful the learning that takes place in a GP or EL classroom


...Apparently, that's me.
*hysterical desperation*...

Ondine tossed this thought in at 11:27

4 thoughts...

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Sleep Deprived and Carbo Loaded

Just back from College Day. God help me if I need to go through another 3 more of these. It was a long wait for us redundant stage crew. So much so, R and I started making up our own school anthem along the lines of "water---melon---, wa---ter---mel---on" to the tune of the anthem because we didn't know the words and we didn't have a copy of the programme to double check.

I have also come to the conclusion that our college dancers are all divas wannabes. They come in 20 minutes early and mill around backstage, totally oblivious to what the cold is doing to their hopefully warmed up muscles and feet. Knowing from experience, it's harsh dancing cold, I try to tell them and they give me absolutely stupid responses like
"But if we go outside and get warm and come back in, it'll be even worse for us..."
in the most diva-esque of tones.

That's fine by me, you little brats. Wait till your arch cramps in the middle of the performance. Don't say I didn't warn you. They probably think I have zero dance experience and therefore, I don't know what I'm saying. *shrug*

We're off to dinner in a little while even though I'm really really stuffed from eating pita bread and chicken and thai noodles and egg- too much carbo- must cut back on carbs. Dan's colleagues are having a gathering so we're going although I would much prefer to stay home. I need to finish the marking which is no where near complete. Last weekend's timetable for marking has not been followed at all and I am so so so behind.

I have also decided I am going to ban my kids from using the following words.

whereby
thereby
gossips (does not exist in the noun form)
impacts (ditto)

and teach them how to use

these and this appropriately,
part and parcel- I got parts and partials
the mass media - I got the mass and the media


Sigh...

Ondine tossed this thought in at 18:01

3 thoughts...

Test Run


Learning how to use photoblogger so that when we come back from Canada, I can put up pictures as well as blog. This was a shot Dan took on our honeymoon of a Gelato store in Sydney. We need more good gelato places in Singapore.  Posted by Hello

Ondine tossed this thought in at 17:55

0 thoughts...

Friday, May 21, 2004

The Return of the Killer Math Teachers

A while back, I bumped into my college math teacher that happened to be subbing in my college. This morning, I bump into my math tuition teacher who was also teaching in my college then. They all remember me and still treat me like I'm 17. We had a nice exchange about me not dropping math when I did.

I do openly admit that I should have stuck with it. It was a short sighted decision on my part. I had failed my math exam and I didn't want to be stuck during the December holidays studying for the supplementary exam, so I dropped it, much to the chagrin of my father. They should NEVER let 17 year olds make such decisions.

Strange how the past keeps creeping up on us.

Anyway, very blurry eyed this morning. We saw Troy last night and didn't get back till 1 last night. Troy was good, although influenced by YM's link to Troy in Fifteen Minutes I did really think that this really happened


Hut of Wanton Nudity, Some Village

BOY: OMG Achilles you're late you gotta get up Achilles OMG!

ACHILLES: Dude, I just nailed twins. Call me in the morning.

BOY: It IS morning.

ACHILLES: Oh... fuck.


and fully expected Brad Pitt to go "Oh...fuck."

But then again, Ithancans don't speak French so I guess not.

It was long, but it was fun. Yes, Brad Pitt was quite yummy even if he did have a "thigh double". Orlando Bloom, I suspect, will be typecast. Everytime some movie director requires a cute medieval sharp shooter that can shoot numerous arrows in succession, they're just going to call him. In fact, they could have him on speed dial under "cute archer typed guy". Even without the blond rebonded hair, he was Legolas, just messier and wimpier, but the look- I think, is already tradmarked.

Next movie, Shrek.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 08:46

0 thoughts...

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Spoilt Broth

It's been a while since I've actually thought of the saying "too many chefs spoil the broth". They sure got that right, although it does make me wonder, where in the world that saying came from...

Anyhow, Saturday is the college's College Day, in plain speak - our school's prize giving day and when our principal gives her college day report ala the State of the Union without the pomp, the circumstance and the stand in President that doesn't get to go to the party just in case everyone gets blown up. God, I miss the West Wing!

So, it's a big deal. The college smells of Jif today because there was the Official College Day Clean Up this afternoon and we spent the entire afternoon in an airless auditorium running through the programme. I was supposed to be assistant stage manager with R is the Chief. Unfortunately, there were several opinionated eager beavers around who insisted on commenting on every single thing that was happening and managing to step on every single person's toes. Even the Powers That Be seemed to realise this. My question then is- will these clueless people ever know that after a certain point, kissing ass and being visible works against you? Being the lowly assistant stage manager to a very ostentatious stage manager meant I didn't have to bear the brunt of it. All I had to do was look sympathetic toward R and try very hard to hide my amusement from the chefs who had all their fingers in the purple pie.

Saturday must come and go.... Saturday must come and go....

On other news, the class I swore at, apologised yesterday. Not before their civics tutor told them off and not before I laid the guilt trip on them for making their civics tutor so stressed that she got sick. Haha... it would be more fun to exploit/guilt-trip/blackmail them if I got pregnant. That's one reason to do so! Anyway, we'll see how long the behaviour actually lasts. I'm sick of telling people off.

Speaking of telling people off, I really wanted to give Singapore Tourism Board a piece of my mind this morning. The college had kindly volunteered to host a press pool from Vietnam wanting to do a story on the Singapore education system and these people were an hour late. And they were an hour late. The poor students missed a lecture that would have helped them greatly in the coming exam and no way of knowing how much attending that one lecture could have saved, not their lives perhaps, but their mid year grade. Sigh...

What irked me out more was the local tour guide who took them around kept stroking my arm in an act of chumminess. Eeek! Excuse Me! I don't know you, stop stroking my arm!!! After that, I stayed far far far away from them.

Now if any of us had access to Vietnamese TV, we might actually chance upon a news programme with footage of the Singapore education system and a quack of a teacher teaching a full class of very enthused students! By the time the media wanted to film that, the students were all out for lunch so we set up a mock class, with me as the quack teacher and pulled students in from the corridor. Our selling point? Their 5 minutes of fame on Vietnamese television. They had a ball of a time though, I had fun toothough it was slightly weird conducting a fake class with oft insipid students suddenly coming to life and being all bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to answer questions.

Anyway, it's been a long day and there's still marking not done, so I'm off.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 22:02

0 thoughts...

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Sunday Afternoon

It's hot and it's sleepy, so it must be Sunday afternoon. I'm no where near making a dent on my marking and I've been at it for the last 3 hours. That's how much marking I have to do. Plus I dropped my pen on the ground and now it's all scratchy.

I wish today was Saturday so that tomorrow would be Sunday. I never used to dread Mondays so much but now, since my Mondays stretch from 7 in the morning all the way to 9 in the evening, I dread them ALOT.

I just need to get past this week. Yesterday was too short because I spent the morning watching my debate team lose again. The consolation was that they're actually getting better at losing- they're not losing so badly now and they don't use stupid phrases like "we need to cut of the serpent's arm of human rights violations". And and and, to their credit, they actually managed to win the last debate and one of our boys was best speaker for that round! Yay! So they didn't lose all three debates, they just lost two! We have to be grateful for small things.

Last night, I was at my first college choir performance. It wasn't too bad. A colleague of mine refused to go because he was part of the top college choir in Singapore when he was at college so he claimed he couldn't watch anything that was not as good as that. Not a nice attitude to take, but well, to each his own. I had fun, possibly because I wasn't expecting much. It was held at the ACS (Barker)* auditorium and my colleague who is very enthusiastically 5 months pregnant announces that she would like to send her son, currently en-named "Hyman" to the school.

Dan doesn't think the kid would ever get through school alive with that name, especially in a boys school like ACS. The first boy who beats him up would be accused of "breaking Hyman" or "tearing Hyman up". Cannot make it. He'll be in therapy till he is 80.

It's scary how clueless and sheltered some people are. We've tried telling her time and again that "Hyman" despite meaning "life" in Hebrew is_just_not a name for a boy. But she thinks the meaning is more important than the kid being laughed at. She was also very confused when we told her that in order to get the yet to be born son into ACS, she would need to a) contribute a new wing to the school, b) do many many many hours of volunteer work at the school or c) become a member of the Methodist church. I mean, it is a very very popular school where every year, they have to ballot the number of vacanicies left with unlucky parents looking suicidal and hysterical and she doesn't get what understand the necessity of what we were saying? To her, as long as her son would like to go there, he'll get in.

Perhaps I'm being mean. Perhaps, I understand this better than she does because I still remember what it was like to almost not have a school to go to. My parents had disobeyed the "stop at two" policy the government had implemented, and is desperately regretting now, and had me. This meant I had to wait till all the other first and second child kids got into their chosen primary schools before my parents could think of which school to put me into. To make matters worse, my mother's first choice of a primary school for me, the one affliated to the church we went to, had GREEN POLKA DOTS on a white blouse and a green skirt to match! This aroused as much wrath as an already fashion conscious six year old could muster- meaning loud, ear shattering wailing of banshee and screeching of harpee that no parent could tolerate for long amounts of time and I had big lungs. So, where to send me? The only other school near enough and had a uniform agreeable to me had a wait list long enough to pave the road from the school all the way to my home and my parents had to just wait and hope. This only happened because we had absolutely no affliation whatsoever to the school and this was 22 years ago.

Things are much harsher now, there are popular primary schools with large banners that announce that "Parent Volunteer Applications Opening Soon!" and parents will do that to try to get half a foot into the door of the school. Property round top schools in Singapore cost an arm and a leg because parents will move near enough to the school in order to gain entry into the school based on proximity and my colleague was appalled when she thought we were trying to teach her to "buy" her way into ACS. Wake up and smell the roses, mommmy!

What a bourgeois society we live in! It's one step away from the exclusive prep schools in New York and Boston where you have to put your child's name on the wait list the minute he is born and you can't ever settle for second best or how will your son face the other kids in the sand pit!

Shrug. I hope for my colleague's son's sake that she becomes a little bit more clued in on how the world actually works because the poor kid's really going to have a hard time if she remains as naive as she is now.


*One of the oldest mission boys schools in Singapore with a long standing tradition of wealth.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 15:02

1 thoughts...

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Not a Virgin

In every teacher's life, there comes a time when you get so mad you storm out of class. Today, I lost my virginity.

I stormed out of class for the very first time. Not before I told them I was "fucking tired" of their nonsense and that if they didn't want to do the work and listen, then it was fine and dandy with me. Tossed their essays back, gathered my stuff and swept out of class. Plus, I had the perfect skirt to sweep out with.

So there. My first time. As I'd imagined it. It's been building for a while, and I've been toying with the idea for a long while. The only thing holding me back was the repercussions. Was I ready to face what would come after that? Would I expect them to call me after that and be really disappointed and upset if they didn't? Would I be able to look at myself in the mirror after that? I mean, what type of person would I be if I just lost it like that, on a whim?

But then, at 1420 hrs today, I knew. I just knew it was the right time and right place. Screw the consequences, I had to get it out of my system and they'd been fooling around with me for far too long. I was ready and God, it felt good.

Now, I just hope I don't get into trouble. Must not miss my next period.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 17:36

2 thoughts...

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Face Off

We went for dinner at a nearby food centre just now. I really needed to get out seeing that I'd been cooped up in the house for a day and a half and today, I was stuck in school for a good 11 hours. Anyway, we walked home and seeing that I haven't run, danced, done pilates or anything for the last week, I decided to take the ten flights of stairs up to our apartment even though the stairs were clearly on the OTHER side of the block from where we walked in from.

And then I meet my new mortal enemy. Not the lizard that stays in my kitchen, but a huge ass rat, right smack at the mouth of the stairway up to my apartment. Someone spilt soy bean milk* there and the rat's feasting on it. So, I stop shot because I sure as heck am not going for a tetanus/rabies/rat venom antedote jab so I'm not making any sudden movements. The rat, on the other hand, is in "Tao Huay"* heaven and obviously is unwilling to give up its vantage point. So who dares win.

The rat almost did because it ran a little bit towards me, another 2 rat feet forward and I would have turned tail and scuttled down the stairs and taken the lift up, not caring if I tripped down the stairs and broke my glasses, or if I got fat from not taking the stairs. But I seemed to have gotten the better of it, maybe because up closer, I looked enormous enough to squash it with my foot so it did a quick scoot around into the bushes beside me. Either that or it was lining me up in its sights from a better ankle. Whatever it was, I made a break for it and streaked right up ten flights of stairs only to feel that my lungs were going to collapse on me.

So, mortal enemy number 2.

Today was a so so day at work.

Highlight of my day- I find in my letter slot a box of strepsils from my civics class hoping that I get well soon.

Downers in my day- I scold 5 students during the first lesson of the day and I get pissed off last lesson of the day because during a mock comprehension exam, I step out to compose myself after a massive, tear effecting, coughing fit only to return to one student flipping through someone else's year book, another student on the phone and a third pinching the answers to the questions off another. On top of that, I have two basketball team groupies who blatantly cut school to wave pom poms at the boy's team. I would tell these girls off except they've missed so many of my classes, I wouldn't know if one of them slapped me in the face.

Although I would be extremely displeased if anyone did slap me.

My colleagues have been wonderfully vigilant about the fact that I'm sick. I've had a banana snatched away from me on account of it creating phlegm.I've had a bowl of cold desert eaten on my behalf because it was "heaty"* and would make me cough.

But even then, it's been an extremely long day. I've finally finished my essay marking. Tonight I rest and tomorrow, I start on comprehensions.

My aim is
Thursday and Friday- short comprehension marking
Friday- Prepare essay writing lessons for next week.
Saturday to Monday- mark long comprehensions
Tuesday on- mark next lot of essays and plan essay writing and comprehension skill lessons.

All this in quadriplicate if there is such a word.

So now, I shall go and read my West Wing script book for some moments of brevity before the shit hits the fan.

*heaty- Chinese local term for food that would more likely than not cause you to have a sore throat. In the case when you already have a sore throat like me, then it would help ease the sore throat and regain your voice, like I have! Well, a semlbance of me I have.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 22:18

2 thoughts...

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Coercion

There's nothing like a little coercion to get things working. Heh.

Update: Still hot but not going to Starbucks because Dan is coming back soon. Also, I tried saying herbal tea, and my limited use of vocal chords do not allow those words. They come out sounding like a mixture of a high pitch squeal and no sound at all. So, best not to frighten the nice barristers at Starbucks.

Essay Update: Marked 2 a million more to go.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 13:18

0 thoughts...

This new blog template really has loads of bugs in it.

It double posts

It doesn't delete

It takes a really long time to respond...

I guess that's why they call 'em bugs. They sure as heck bug the hell out of you.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 10:45

0 thoughts...

It's Back!

Well, a semblance of my voice is back and I've never been so happy to have it back. I'm a very chatty person and when I have no choice but to keep quiet because when I try to talk, only air comes out- not so fun. It's not completely back, but well, it's better than anything. Then again, anything is. When my phone rang yesterday, I had to shove it upon a very sleepy Dan to answer it because all the receiving end would hear is deep breathing that could be easily miscontrued.

I aim to finish my marking today and I am actually toying with the idea of actually going to some cafe to mark. My colleagues do it but more importantly, there's free airconditioning- well, the cost of the airconditioning is the cost of their drink. It's one step up from how, as a student, I used to study at the airport with my cousin. You got out of the house, there was company and airconditioning and you could sit there and fantasise about where we could go on holiday and check out pilots as they came through arrival. :) Sigh...those were the days, back when there was A&Ws at the arrival hall with the curly fries and the supersize root beer.

But just thinking about going to Starbucks to mark is giving me a little bit of the same thrill that studying at A&W's used to give me. I think it's just the getting out there and the change of environment. Much as I like my house, it's always nice to get out. Plus I need breakfast. I have no breakfast today and I need to take my assortment of medication.

Soon soon.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 09:13

1 thoughts...

Monday, May 10, 2004

Sent Home

Being a teacher without a voice means you might as well not be a teacher.

And that's me today. The best I can get at is a high pitch croak or a whisper if I really draw all my abdominal muscles and project from my diaphragm. My voice box is shot by the cough.

So, my boss sends me home, well, chased me more like it, brandishing a book at me and shooing me out of her office.

Now, I'm home again, in the middle of a sweltering afternoon, playing with the new tools that blogspot has put up.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 16:34

1 thoughts...

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Update

The world this student lives in is obviously not ours...

September 11 was a date that almost anyone would know. Terrorists attacked America in a way that no one even though was possible. The whole world was shaken. The US had been dealt a killer blow. The US did the only thing that was possible, it attacked Afghanistan. In a more violent world than ours, the whole of Afghanistan would have been just destroyed by a nuclear bomb. Blood for blood, vengeance for vengeance and everything would have been destroyed.

But no, nothing like that happened. The US only sent soldiers to find Osama, the leader of the terrorists. And on the way, the US also managed to taken down the Afghanistan government. But even this non aggressive move sparked protests from many countries. This shows how peaceful and civilized people have become. Even when the US decided to wage war against Iraq, there was strong protests. Although the Us were doing something noble, people do not wish for violence today.


Yup. That's why people protested. He is also of the opinion that our world is very peaceful today. I think someone ought to buy him a television set so that the truth shall set him free.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 18:16

0 thoughts...

Expectations

A paragraph out of an essay I just marked...

The responsibility of our youth's behaviour should be heavily shared bewteen parents and the education system. It is necessary for teachers to guide and reason, to educate and teach the young how to analzye between right and wrong. Therefore, it cannot be left solely up to the parents. The teachers, the society and the Ministry of Education must minismise the extreme sex and violent graphics they are exposed to and contextualise it the for youths.


Sigh.

Even our students expect us to parent them. And they keep asking me why I haven't had kids.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 17:28

0 thoughts...

Procrastinators of the World Unite

I'm supposed to have started marking half an hour ago. But it's too hot and I'm still disgruntled over not being able to taste a buffet lunch spread. I can tell you that most of the food was extremely salty and sweet. My gross taste buds work, it's the more refined ones that are failing me...except for the one that can taste prawn! For those who don't know... I despise the taste of prawn especially small dried prawns... and of all the things to be able to taste at lunch, I could taste the little prawns, fondly or unfondly known as "hei bee" (loosely translated- prawn babies) in the Mee Siam (Spicy/Sweet Malay vermicelli).

Anyway, found this on my cousin's website and was totally amused, so shall attempt it now.

EXOTIC FOREIGNER ALIAS = Favorite Spice + Last Foreign Vacation Spot : Oregano Stuttgart (Sounds like a platinum blonde secret agent)

SOCIALITE ALIAS = Silliest Childhood Nickname + Town Where You First Partied : A-jino-moto Ng Long Feet Singapore (Sounds like a really bad drink that tastes like weasel piss)

"FLY GIRL" ALIAS (a la J. Lo) = First Initial + First Two or Three Letters of your Last Name : S. Ng (That's how I sign off in school ANYWAY.. How exciting)

DIVA ALIAS = Something Sweet Within Sight + Any Liquid in Kitchen : Ricola Moutain Breath Frangelico ( Native American more like it...)

GIRL DETECTIVE ALIAS = Favorite Baby Animal + Where You Last Went to School : Polar Bear Monash

BARFLY ALIAS = Last Snack Food You Ate + Your Favorite Drink : Durian Puff Tea

SOAP OPERA ALIAS = First Pet's Name + Street Where You First Lived : April Garlick

PORN STAR ALIAS = Middle Name + Street You Grew Up On : Choong Bartley

ROCK STAR ALIAS = Any Liquid on the Bar + Last Name of Bad-Ass Celebrity : Whiskey Tu-Pac

...Serious Work time.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 16:29

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Saturday, May 08, 2004

Sick Marking

There should be a rule or rather a medical exemption for teachers who are ill, from marking. Although I've been ill since Wednesday, I've been forced to focus my wooly mind round marking essays. Every term, we're required to adminster 2 essays and 2 comprehensions on our poor gormless kids and us teachers are then tasked with the unpleasant job of marking it.

So, I have left, 2 piles of essays that I need to mark by Monday-which is NOT going to happen.

Anyway, my tonsil issue has become a full blown flu with the drip like a tap nose, the can't taste a damn thing taste buds and the crap, I'm going to lose my voice to this cough cough. But instead of resting, I go to a seminar this morning on biomedical ethics this morning. It's strange the moment people hear the word ethics and begin interoggations,in the form of questions to the distinguished speakers, worthy of the Mossad.

So because of my brief sojourn out of my home, I come back having lost my taste buds along the way and my head feels like it got filled with lead. Sleep would have helped, but noooo... I had marking to do which I obediently did.

But because of my sniffiness and ever dripping nose, plus a strong desire to fall asleep, I wasn't in the best of moods to mark at best mediocre essays.Like JNet said, it's much easier to be charitable when you don't feel like a truck's run over you and some pipes in your nose requires some serious plumbing work. And these essays were on the influence of the mass media. A fertile ground for horrendous causal leaps and gross over generalisations!

Here's a taste of what my muddle headed brain had to plough through this afternoon...

- Teenagers are exposed to such outrageous (read:MTV) culture at such a young and tender school going age, hence their minds are corrupted with sexual thoughts. It is not surprising as teenagers these days are living in a virutal sea of sexual imagery.

- Their defiance and disobedience can prove too much to handle for inexperienced parents.

- Innocent children who cannot differentiate right from wrong will be greatly polluted

- Pornography on the net is exploited by young teenagers to satisfy their thirst for lust

- The attempt at getting rid of the Second Amendment was frutile

- Grades may be important but to have good grades with a busy character and attitude is not glamourous at all.

- Unperceptive parents often fail to notice a change in their children's behaviour. THerefore, they do not take the necessary steps to prevent their children from falling into pornography.

- Underfunding of education causes juvenile deliquency because teachers are not committed to teach and impart their knowledge to the students as they are not paid enough. As a result, students do not have interests in attending thus they play truant and rather spend time with bad company. This is a problem because our literacy rate is a important statistic to gauge social development.


So yes. I tried very hard not to be too hard on them, but it was very hard not to fail them because their essays were so hard to read. Cool. I've committed one of my students' favourite sins... repetition. 2 more classes to go and in between that, I need to go for a Mothers' Day lunch and dinner tomorrow. Argh... more food.

And more food when I can't taste anything...is a travesty!!!! We had wings and ribs for dinner. I could taste sweet and I could sense texture but you could give me a frog to eat and I wouldn't have been able to taste the difference. And our friends were nice enough to bring me chocolate cake. Of which I could taste "mmmm... sweet....*silence*...nothing...absolutely nothing". A pure waste of good chocolate cake.

Well, I'm off now to get some eucalyptus oil into my nasal passages. Maybe then, I'll breathe a bit easier.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 23:28

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Thursday, May 06, 2004

Kudos to 'teachers of the future'
IT WAS heartening to read Ms Teo Juin Ee's letter, 'Joy of teaching - with dignity' (ST, May 1). She painted an encouraging picture of the qualities parents wished for in a teacher.

I agree with Ms Teo that the teacher who is 'motivated and high-spirited' can truly contribute to educating our children and play a part in moulding them.

As a parent of two teenagers, I am proud to share my encounters with two such teachers. Mr John Lee, a former teacher of my elder son, provided not only classroom instruction but also played a significant part in moulding him during his years in the school.

My second son's Secondary 2 form teacher last year was very patient and encouraging towards her students. I wonder if the Ms Teo who taught him is Ms Teo Juin Ee.

These are the teachers of the future, the ones with a 'heart' to teach children who are, in Ms Teo's words, faced with an 'external landscape fraught with sickening influences'. They understand why children behave in a certain way and do not see their job as done once the syllabus has been completed.

Children are able to discern between a caring teacher and one who just wants to do his/her job.

I would like to thank Ms Teo for sharing her positive experience as a teacher. She reminds parents that there are still very dedicated teachers around, though they are in the minority nowadays.



CHRISTINE WONG LAI KUAN (MDM)


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Not only am I ill from the flu, I'm ill from this- actually I am indignant.

Especially by that last line-" She reminds parents that there are still very dedicated teachers around, though they are in the minority nowadays.".

Dedicated teachers are the minority? What kind of deranged world does she live in? I think, if anything, most teachers are dedicated, to the bone. Why else would we put up with administrative crap, students who shoot their mouths off without thinking, down right unreasonable senior administration? The only reason, dedication- a belief in what we do.

Perhaps, many of us don't show it, in the self-sacrificing way that MS TEO shows it, but nevertheless, we're there, trying everyday. Like both Dan and JNet have said, the expectations that parents and society has on teachers are just ludicrous.

While I get and also firmly believe that a teacher's job extends beyond the classroom, we are not the childminders, the administrators, the psychologists, the disciplinarians, the punching bags for the students. Least of all, we are not the children's keepers. And that is what this Mdm Wong lady expects of us.

Dedication does not mean we have our entire lives revolved around the students. Dedication means we believe in what we are doing and we don't give up despite the mountains of crap we get put through. Dedication means we care for our students. But I draw the line when it requires me to be at the students' beck and call 24-7 and I draw the line when I have my personal space intruded upon and I really draw the line when it is expected of me to counsel recalcitrant students till I'm blue in the face when they don't want to listen in the first place.

We all need time and space away from it to recharge. Just because we don't spent 15 hours in school and have no lives outside school, it doesn't mean we are not dedicated. It just means that we know when to give and when to pull back so that we can give some more.

I suspect alot of parents out there, want us to be the pseudo parents of their kids so that they do not need to feel guilty when they fail at their own responsibilities. One of my students wrote in an essay about parental responsibility that "parents prefer to send their children to school instead of keeping them at home because it allows the parents to go out". The ironic thing is that while his sentence made no grammatical or semantical sense within the context of his essay and his facts were somewhat skewed, his sentiments ring true here. Many parents are happy for the school to take over what should be their responsibilities- child is rude, let the school wash his mouth out with soap, child is hanging out with bad company, let the school discipline him and send him to detention, child is failing, let the school do something about pulling up his grades.

And then, when the school lays a hand on the child, the parent comes running with accusations of "how dare you touch my child? You can cane someone else's. Just not mine!". Personally, I don't think dedication is about dealing with someone else's crap just because they don't want to and getting crap for it.

If I ever become a parent like her, please please please break my legs.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 12:36

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Home Sick

Yesterday's tonsils developed have developed into a head throbbing, nose congesting, tongue numbing, back aching flu. So I'm at home today. It's nice, because it's all rainy and cool. So I don't have to wrestle the clamminess of the heat and the claminess of the flu. I intend to stay non-sticky and dry today.

What struck me last night after waiting almost an hour at the doctor's was that I wanted macaroni and chicken soup. That in itself is not strange but seeing that I've tried religiously to stay away from carbohydrates, starch, sugars as much as possible, it was a great aberration. Stranger still, after picking up stuff to make the chicken soup, I put bread into the trolley- declaring it my breakfast this morning, yet another high carbohydrate food source.

So why the rapid turnaround? I think it's a comfort food thing. These are familiar foods that I associate with having while being sick and at home. It's one step away from ringing my mom to whine for her. Bizarre that when I lived at home, I didn't notice any of these things. Now that I'm on my own, I'm trying to replicate what I had, in a valiant effort to make myself feel better. I never really thought that I would miss home, but I think the familiarity is still comforting and when one is miserable, familiarity is good. So, the all out effort to replicate it.

Unfortunately, my chicken soup tasted nothing like my mom's. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't the same. I used to laugh at people who insisted on food tasting the way their mothers did it and here I was lamenting that I couldn't do it. Sigh. Note- Never diss people because one day you might become people.

Now, I'm off to eat soft bread that will not hurt my throat.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 09:43

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Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Return of the Tonsils

3 am this morning- I am awoken by this searing pain on the right part of my throat.

10 am this morning- I am sitting in school struggling to stay upright and alert enough to mark/do administration/generally not look like I've collapsed on the table.

Was very tempted to just stay home today but there's too much going on in school today for me to laze at home under the pretext of being ill, even though, I'm not far off from it. Teaching this morning was difficult, I felt like I was doing it with wool in my head and from very very far away. The good thing is that I'm not teaching for the rest of the day although I have an inter-college meeting that I need to look perky for at 3 this afternoon. Right now, I can't quite see how to get from now to then.

It's been a really long first few days of the week. On Sunday, my best friend found out that she was pregnant. Well, she peed on a stick (apparently, a phrase not many men are familiar with) and it had a big blue + on it so we're guessing she is. I'm pretty thrilled for her.

She was the first of my friends to get married and she's now the first to be pregnant. It's nice though, she's always the one to test the water first and I just watch and follow suit after. Plus, we've gone through so many phases in our lives together, and now, there's a new adventure for us to embark on now.

I'm going to stop here because holding on to one train of thought is very difficult right now.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 10:10

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Saturday, May 01, 2004

The Joy of Teaching

From the Straits Times Forum Page today

Joy of teaching - with dignity
I REFER to the letter, 'Preserve dignity of teachers' (ST, April 28), by Ms Chiu Mung Hing. For the past 10 years, I have been steering decisions about my education, career and personal development towards preparing myself for the teaching profession. I would like to affirm that teaching is a meaningful career that is worth pursuing.

To enjoy teaching, besides healthy intelligence and emotional quotients, a strong adversity quotient is also necessary and is the mark of true dignity and character.

It would be a sad day if the Ministry of Education takes action as suggested by Ms Chiu to 'preserve the dignity of teachers'. Dignity is an internal and personal quality which must be cultivated and strengthened by the individual. Dignity that can be threatened and needs to be preserved by external rank, policy or propaganda will never be respected by the discerning and questioning youths of today.

I agree that 'only motivated and high-spirited teachers' can truly contribute to educating our children. However, true motivation and passion, like dignity, are internal qualities that are founded on strong values and beliefs which no amount of external discouragement and disappointment can destroy.

I have not been slapped by any student but I have been snubbed, defied, ignored, made fun of, belittled and bad-mouthed in my earnest endeavours to teach. All of these I receive as a dignified adult who realises that not every action requires an emotional reaction. I certainly feel negative emotions in the face of such responses but I choose daily to step beyond that to explore the diseases behind these symptoms.

Ms Chiu paints a very pitiful picture of what teachers go through daily. As a result of this dismal external landscape, the conclusion appears to be that a teacher's internal landscape of dignity, motivation and passion must be damaged. Should what is external determine that which is internal?

I would like to encourage Ms Chiu to consider the power she has to affect the external with what is within her for that is the essence of why teaching is a meaningful job.

Do not blame our children for bad behaviour and poor moral character. This is a poor diagnosis of the problems we face in today's education landscape. I have learnt from conversations with medical professionals that diseases have multi-factorial causes. Children today behave in a certain way not because of any single cause. There are different people in various places fighting against causes of poor character development in today's youth. I do my part as an educator and seek above all to give my students a strong immune system of internal values, thinking habits and dignity which will help them navigate an external landscape fraught with sickening influences.

In his book The Courage To Teach, Parker J. Palmer exhorts teachers to apply inner strength to engage 'students from hell'. He shares an analogy about teachers who blame students for the difficulties they face; such teachers are like physicians who say 'Don't send us any more sick people - we don't know what to do with them. Send us healthy patients so we can look like good doctors.'

Any teacher who puts his or her heart into teaching will experience heartbreak. A good teacher knows how to heal and rise again stronger - armed with better classroom-management skills, knowledge and, most of all, experience.

I would like to share another gem from Palmer, who observes that cynicism against students and education comes not only from having high hopes for teaching dashed by experience but also because of 'the failure to interpret one's experience accurately'.

Ms Chiu's 'discouraging and disappointing' teaching experience compounded by the weight of evidence from conversations with 'trained and experienced teachers' has convinced her that she is wrong about teaching. If she had been in the company of many of the colleagues I work, eat and speak with daily, she might think differently. I teach with and among many dignified, outstanding and resilient individuals whose fire to teach - and sense of humour - grow stronger against the winds of opposition. Do join us for a canteen break sometime!

--------------------

This was in response to another forum letter a few days back about the disilluionment of teachers. Check out Kay's blog for the previous letter.

Our teacher friends all agree that this teacher is a somewhat deluded individual who has totally bought into the propaganda rolled out by the Powers That Be and it has become part of her teacher identity.

I have no qualms about the fact that there is meaning in teaching and there is joy in the interaction with students. I do strongly believe that we should "give our students a strong immune system of internal values, thinking habits and dignity which will help them navigate an external landscape fraught with sickening influences. ". That is indeed part of the unwritten job description we signed ourselves up for when we put our names on the bottom line.

But teachers are people too and we are if nothing else fallible especially when we face great pressure from every avenue in school. "As a result of this dismal external landscape, the conclusion appears to be that a teacher's internal landscape of dignity, motivation and passion must be damaged. Should what is external determine that which is internal?" Yes, that is true. We cannot help the external draining the internal. It's bound to happen. The thing is how we deal with it.

Teaching like any other committment is a struggle of choices everyday. It really sucks at times and somedays, I despise everything the system stands for and somedays, I am not far from slapping a kid for being insolent. But like in a committment, you are faced with doubts and temptation of something better. So what do you do? You choose. Everyday is a choice. You can either choose to just see these three years or however long the bond is by doing as little as possible and be immune to all the rubbish that the dump truck of administration leaves on your desk/pigeon hole/email/ SMS or you could try to make a difference on days when you can and struggle to keep your head above the swill on days that you can't. It's a choice that we make.

It's not an easy choice because it does get you down at times. But my point is that we have to be realistic and take the good with the bad. Ms Teo seems to be of the mindset that the minute we are negative or allow any bit of negativity to imbue us, we're dead and useless as teachers. She is somewhat dismissive of anyone who comes into school not filled with sunshiny goodness and ready to do perform a song and dance for the classes. In other words, she seems somewhat dismissive of anyone who is less than perfect and is not Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music.

On top of that, she goes on to "not blame our children for bad behaviour and poor moral character.". While it is true that there may be more than one reason for their behaviour, it is ludicrious to use those multi-faceted reasons to excuse them, let them get away with bloody murder and not discipline them. We do not allow a serial murderer to walk free just because he was abused as a child, much as the defence may try to plead that line of argument. So why should we let a child off the hook because he eats too much sugar and plays too many computer games since his parents aren't home to watch him? Why should we excuse him if he hits us or is rude to us? Isn't that just common courtesy?

I had a principal in college whom everyone hated because she used to take us in hand and discipline everyone who got out of line. Even though my college prided itself in not having a rule book, she had no qualms about enforcing rules of common sense. We hated her then. But recently, a former tutor of mine talked about the rationale behind her somewhat tyranical behaviour. She felt that many of us weren't getting enough discipline at home and she felt that the true mark of concern was to discipline the student so that he would know right from wrong. And she believed strongly in it. This was very Confucian of her but I have no issues with the way I turned out. But that may not go down well with people today.

Principals are forced to step down because they smacked a kid on the head with a book. Teachers get reprimanded for losing their cool and call students "cunning rats". Students are given run of the school. Punishment meted out in the forms of contracts with the school, detention times where you write a reflection of what you did wrong and counselling because you bit some other kid??? Most of the time, they don't work. I've seen kids with the gift of glib, write wonderful sob stories during detention, I've seen kids who sign letters of undertaking without batting an eye and already scheming for the next big adventure. But that's discipline today and when someone tries to resurrect old school styles of discipline, they encounter serious issues with the PTB.

And the message it sends out to the students? "WE ARE KING! NO ONE CAN TOUCH US!" Watch me...

Teachers, educators, we're all human and students too. Non are perfect. We shouldn't be expected to be joyous saints and students should never be seen as matyrs of the world we live in.

Having said all this, I do admire Ms Teo for believing in everything she wrote. I just hope she doesn't get a rude shock one day when her bubble bursts and she wonders why she's exhausted. We fight the battles as they come. We have no noble aspirations that can be ascribed on a plaque nor do we see ourselves as more than the sum of all our parts. We just do our jobs.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 12:27

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" Far in the stillness, a cat languishes loudly"