Thursday, March 29, 2007

Taking it to a NEw level

I gasped when I saw this.


I know I teach in an educational institution. I know that we are told to infuse National Education into our teaching. I know that Singapore prides itself in being an IT hub and all that jazz. I know that Creative is Singapore's pride and joy.

But seriously, isn't this taking things a little bit too far? Is Sim Wong Hoo trying to win some National Day Gold Medallion thingyinmagig? Or was he put up to it? Or was this a mouse for special edition mouse for some perhaps the 40th National Day? Or was it a National Day gift to all Creative employees? Or part of the doggie bag for this year's parade? The cynical part of me hopes that it was a dare on the part of the Board of Directors but I'm not sure why and how it could be construed as funny since we are a society that doesn't really have that big a sense of humour.

So many questions. None answered.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 17:47

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The fine art of subtlety

It has recently come to my attention that Singaporeans aren't the most subtle of people. And it's not that they're straight shooting people. It's more the issue that they are unaware as to the impact their remark causes. Subtlety is important. It says you have some sort of social awareness of what might or might not be kosher. It shows that there is also some sort of filter between the raw, unmitigated thoughts that appear in one's head and what is actually said out loud.

I would have thought that this was a given as a social skill. But apparently, it's not. Sometimes the intent may be good but the tone just leaves much to be desired. Sometimes, it's blatant stupidity and ignorance that is obvious and there's nothing you can do about it except fantasise about throwing a brick at that person. And you sigh and are resigned that there are people like that out there. Often they are also the ones that are the first to get defensive when they are at the end of blunt comments, not realising that they are basically getting a taste of their own unsubtle medicine.

My conclusion is that there is no way of dealing with such people, you laugh and you smile as if you don't think much about it, with giant thought bubbles forming with phrases that have to be acronym-ised in order to keep that thought bubble from bursting forth into a torrent of phrases that would even make a sailor cringe.

There is a great amount of unsubtlety in society. You see it everywhere. In architecture, in the way people dress, the way they eat, in the choice of cars, everything. So I shouldn't be so surprised that people are also unsubtle in the ways in which they communicate with one another. I think that is the true mark of a civilised society. Understated class, rather than over the top vulgarity which is the pinnacle of unsubtlety. And despite what the government claims, we are closer one end of the spectrum than the other.

Which end?

It would be unsubtle for me to spell it out, wouldn't it?

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 17:30

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Monday, March 26, 2007

One with mother earth

I have a hate-hate relationship with the weather now. It's not really a fair weathered relationship because I hate it the most when it's fair. In Singapore, fair weather is a euphemism for "it's going to be bloody hot and sticky". Right now, I think very fondly of those -22 degree days in Calgary where I was bundled up in fleece and wore Thinsulate boots to keep my toesies warm.

And through last night, everytime I woke to go to the bathroom, I would curse at how humid it was at 2,3,4,5 am and wonder if I should attempt to go to work in a tank top, a pair of shorts and flip flops. Then at 6 in the morning, when I'm just getting breakfast ready, I hear this strange sound akin to a loud crack. There is suddenly a smell which is familiar but something I hardly associate with 6 in the morning. It was the smell of rain hitting warm bitumen ground. Unmistakable.

Cynic that I am, believed that the rain was a passing shower. Afterall, it'd been scorching hot with not one shred of evidence that it was going to let up. So, I get dressed in what I had planned to wear anyway. Unfortunately, for once, the weather forecast was right. It was going to be a heavy downpour. The kind that doesn't allow you visibility beyond like 10m, the kinds that make you wonder why people are high beaming you to get you out of their way since it's dangerous to drive beyond 70kmh.

I took a good hour almost to get into work and when I got there, I felt like I'd driven through an ordeal and was mentally exhausted from the effort. And at that point, I hadn't even gotten out of the car yet. When I opened the car door, I realised the water in the carpark was at a level where flippers were probably more useful than the pretty heels I had on.

I had already destroyed the other pair of pretty heels that I owned and had no desire to retire yet another pair of shoes from the very quickly dwindling numbers of shoes I could actually stick my boat size feet into. So the only solution? Take off my shoes, take them in hand, wade through the rainwater till I hit dry land. I must say, it was an extremely liberating and cooling experience and I enjoyed every single step I took. I felt like a child again and if I was loopy enough and earth-mother-y enough, I would say, I was one with the earth. Had I not been late, I would have spent some more time, just walking up and down in shin high rain water with the rain rat-tat-tating on my umbrella. And the only thing that would have sent me scurrying for shelter would be lightning. I like rain, but not its appendages.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 22:07

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Because I am a teacher.

Because I teach a language.

Because my mind does not work in scientific ways.

Because I am too exhausted to actually blog.

Because I dreamed of doing this as a student and as a teacher, I came close and it thrilled me to bits.

Because this made me laugh so hard my belly hurt.






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Ondine tossed this thought in at 17:35

2 thoughts...

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Resume regular programming, unfortunately

The week and a half of silence wasn't due to any emotional upset or work stress. It was due to a much happier reason. We were away! Even though we could ill afford it, we'd decided that we really had to take a break and get the heck out of the country, even if it was just for a few days. And we did. Back to Melbourne. It's always easy going to Melbourne. We know the place, we know where to go eat. In short, nothing really changes in Melbourne, so it's always a little trip down memory lane there.

But then again, it wouldn't be totally fair to say that nothing's changed. We've changed, we've grown a little and we see more things. Some good, some bad, some that act as wake up calls. Being swaddled in Singapore by an efficient government, it's hard to not take things for granted. Even the simplest things. Yes, we have great issues with sand and water and all sorts of resources here in Singapore, but the average person here doesn't really see its impact. In Melbourne however, we noticed straight out that there was water shortage and water restriction. How? There wasn't a blade of green grass in sight. Public and private lawns were not allowed to be watered unless the water used was recycled, like washing machine water or bath water or something. So no sprinkler systems to alleviate the impact of the harsh southern hemispheral sun unfiltered by that darn hole in the ozone layer. Then we come back to Singapore, where the weather's equally intolerably hot and humid and I gaze in wonder at how green the grass of home is and realise that I've been spoilt.

Then there were the activists. On our last day there, we decided that it was high time to sign the socialist (hahah!) petition against George W. Bush's war effort. Heck, even if it was the Neo-Nazi, pro communist, Green Party (Please pol-sci people reading this, don't take this seriously!) petition, we'd still have signed it. After that, I commented to Packrat that it was strange that in Singapore, I wouldn't bat an eyelid swatting away people who came up to me to support causes that ranged from schizophrenia (I was once waylaid with a pretzel in my mouth though and had no way of swatting him off so that cause I donated to) to the elderly with Parkinsons. But there, I felt extremely guilty walking away from the make poverty history people and even more so when it came to the child labour people, so much so that I think I gave the child labour people all the change in my wallet and mind you, change there translates to quite a lot since coins come in both $1 and $2.

His reason was this. In Singapore, we've grown up with the mentality that we need to get ahead and look out for ourselves. And if we have the time and the resource, the more needy in our community. There, possibly one of the few good offshoots of the welfare system, it is the mentality that everyone had to look out for everyone else and they genuinely care for other people. This makes their committment to causes more heartfelt and sincere and makes it a whole lot more difficult to dismiss them without feeling like one has committed the ultimate sin and will burn in hell.

These realizations are not unrelated and neither are they new. So with the trip down memory lane also comes a refresher lesson in civic consciousness, the real way, not the farce that's taught in schools and public education campaigns here. And that's why it's important for us to get away everytime we can, to remind us that we live in a bubble, albeit a comfortable bubble, but a bubble nonetheless and there is a real world out there and we don't want it to go away even if we're too busy ignoring it most of the time here.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 08:14

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Lynchable offences

Apparently, in prison, child molesters get really bad treatment because even in prison, there is a code. There is some comfort in knowing that, but not much. And it's one of my pet peeves, right up there with the drowning of the polar bears, any sort of animal abuse and a bunch of other injustices in the world.

So when we left CNN on last night for white noise and I happened to tune my ears into what was being reported, I was left hissy and wanting to throw bricks at the perpetrators. 2 kids, I call them kids because they're about the same age as the kids I teach, were teaching their toddler nephews how to smoke pot. And they videoed it and laughed about it. When arrested, their defence was "well, the kids are going to grow up smoking pot anyway". WTF? Of course they're growing up to smoke pot, it's been introduced into their system at 2 years of age! And the poor toddlers had obviously been given the pot before since they actually knew how to hold the cigar but ran off coughing and yelling "no more!" Reports also indicated that the toddlers were disoriented and seemed unable to keep themselves steady and on their feet. No shit.

It reminds me of how a friend regaled how she no longer wanted her child baby sat by her grandparents because the granddad had no qualms watching porn with the 3 year old in the same room. His defence, the child's too young to know what's going on anyway. Perhaps not at a conscious level that the child can articulate but children remember more than they're able to express.

And the greatest injustice? Because they are minors, they will be prosecuted as minors. Times like that, I wish there wasn't as much opposition as there is for corporal punishment because I'd really like to whip these kids. Strange though, I'm not a big proponent of using the cane on my own kids, but I have absolutely no qualms about using it on people like that. And oh, also people like the guy who tied up the husky to the fence and beat the crap out of the husky, fracturing its paw.


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Ondine tossed this thought in at 10:25

1 thoughts...

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Rory? Charlotte?

No, I'm not trying to figure out names here. That's a struggle and we're not seeing the end of the tunnel yet on that count.

Anyway, some pictures I took over the week that I thought reflected the fact that I watched far too much television and store too much useless information in my brain.

This was a picture I took because it was absolutely Rory from Gilmore Girls. The lone figure oblivious to all the hullaballoo around here, engrossed in her reading.


It reminded me of this scene. I wanted to find the picture of it but I couldn't. Who says Google has everything???

Dean: So, how are you liking Moby Dick?
Rory: Oh, it's really good.
Dean: Yeah?
Rory: Yeah, it's my first Melville.
Dean: Cool.
Rory: I mean, I know it's kind of cliché to pick Moby Dick as your first Melville but… hey, how did you know I was reading Moby Dick?
Dean: Uh, well, I've been watching you.
Rory: Watching me?
Dean: I mean, not in a creepy, like, "I'm watching you" sort of way. I just - I've noticed you.
Rory: Me?
Dean: Yeah.
Rory: When?
Dean: Every day. After school you come out and you sit under that tree there and you read. Last week it was Madame Bovary. This week it's Moby Dick.
Rory: But why would you
Dean: Because you're nice to look at, and because you've got unbelievable concentration.
Rory: What?
Dean: Last Friday these two guys were tossing around a ball and one guy nailed the other right in the face. I mean, it was a mess, blood everywhere, the nurse came out, the place was in chaos, his girlfriend was all freaking out, and you just sat there and read. I mean, you never even looked up. I thought, "I have never seen anyone read so intensely before in my entire life. I have to meet that girl."
Rory: Maybe I just didn't look up because I'm unbelievably self-centered.
Dean: Maybe, but I doubt it.

Gilmore Girls "Pilot"

And then there was this one.


Times like that when I'm thankful for my 3 mega pixel auto focus phone camera. I even managed to capture some of the web. Amazing because the spider was huge and it was basically lounging around across an extremely busy four lane or eight lane (if you take into consideration the road going the opposite direction) road and totally oblivious to the concrete and human jungle around it, reminding me of how Charlotte in Charlotte's Web taught Wilbur the word languishing although this spider was obviously not languishing. I hope no one dares disturb it although I'm guessing few would dare seeing it is a rather large spider.

Little discoveries like that make me happy. :)

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 19:19

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So there I was, lying down, trying to take a nap, in this heat that's quickly replaced the cool, glorious wet weather when all of a sudden, I was taken back to the times when I had spent nights on fishing boats and felt the ground under my feet move, even when I was on land. I opened my eyes in alarm, thinking mayhaps it was in my dreams that this swaying was happening.

But even with my eyes opened, my bed continued to sway, as if a giant was rocking it. A most bizarre sensation. Then I remembered reading on a ticker tape just before I switched off the tv announcing the occurence of a 6.6 earthquake in Padang, Indonesia. It still puzzled me somewhat because that was before noon and why would my bed sway just before 2 pm? So what does a bewildered person do in the face of confusion in this digital age? Switch on the tv and find out why the heck my bed felt like it got tossed into the high seas.

And I found my answer. Aftershocks. That had hit round about the same time when I was wondering if I was going to involuntarily be tossed off my bed. For the sake of my offspring, I hoped not and thankfully, the swaying stopped. I did wonder about the wisdom of being some many many metres above the ground with these aftershocks. I also wondered about the civil engineering feat that built my apartment block and thought about how sound that engineer's physics and what not was.

That's my excitement for today.

I must add, however that watching CNA to find out what's going on kills the brain. The news gets repeated ad nauseum and I can rattle off the names of the buildings that were evacuated and I could even tell you that there was one on Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5 even though I hardly have a clue where that is. How do people leave CNA on the whole day? It really won't make one smarter, in fact, I think it dulls the brain, kills brain cells all the while deluding the gullible into thinking that they're smarter just by theory of osmosis.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 14:37

2 thoughts...

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Results fever

Once again, the day's come and gone without much hullabaloo. Well, I think there was some, but I think it was overrated. What I'm talking about here is the GCE A Level results, one of the milestones of a typical Singaporean student, one of the little things that they won't have much use for ten years from now.

And as always, there were some that deserved what they got and there were some that didn't. Sometimes it's fair and sometimes it isn't. What does bug me is that such a great deal is made out of it. Yes, it's an important exam but sometimes I wonder if we've blown it out of proportion and have become sucked up in this chase for the elusive perfect grade. The days running up to it, we were running ourselves haggard preparing press stories that would basically reflect on our students and the school's effort in a good way. On the day itself, there was the senseless and childish need to compare pass rates and distinction rates with other institutions, almost to the point where it felt like we were taunting the institutions that did not perform as well.

It seems like it is one day when we all revert to children and our childish competitive desires to outdo one another shine at its brightest. If we looked at it very objectively, how is blowing our own trumpet (or whatever that phrase is) and comparing numbers different from the child who boasts very loudly that she's got the best and most expensive sticker book around and it's filled with the prettiest and the most number of stickers?

And when we end up faced with a comparison that seems unfavourable from our point of view, we say snide things, we're bitter, we become bitchy rather than magnanimous. I'm guilty of it too. I just wish it didn't have to be this way. And I suspect if we didn't, as a society, made such a big deal out of it, our kids wouldn't as well. That would mean, they wouldn't think that the world around them has crumbled if in the event that they did not get that perfect score that they were expecting.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 17:11

2 thoughts...

" Far in the stillness, a cat languishes loudly"