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July 27, 2004

Time for Time Management

FYI, I had used up to 2 hours to draft out each of my past entries, one and a half to pen it down on paper and one half to type it out. This is too time-consuming and definitely not very feasible. (perhaps I can only blame my tardiness for this) Chop chop, time to manage time. From this entry onwards, I'm limiting myself to half an hour's writing. It'll be something like TOEFL writing test, in which candidates have to produce an essay based on a compulsory topic given in half hour's time. So basically it's 'type in what you have in your mind non-stop or else hand in an empty paper' situation. And to think my class have to do at least 1 practice every week. Cool.

Last Friday had second round of SAT prep test. Same frigid atmosphere in the hall, same table and chair, same restiveness ('why we are the only program that has to stay back until 6pm every Friday?'). The difference? This time it's tougher. More mind-boggling questions keep looming from pages to pages. I count myself lucky I was able to maintain my score. Hooi Ju managed an impressing 200 points boost compare to last prep test. Kavind gained some improvements too. Reason? He wasted a lot of time visiting the restroom 3 times during the previous test to, erm, revive his troubling gastronomical tract.

What?! half an hour already? and this is all i can manage to write.. alamak!!

Posted by peixin at 01:07 PM | Comments (5)

July 20, 2004

Questions? Just shoot'em

Have you ever felt that sometimes you tend to strive to be more superior or cleverer than everybody else and at the same time dwell in the thoughts of loftiness and disdain towards others? However, more often than not, you will find that your mindset is narrowed down to the extent that you start undermining your competitors. In the end, you will realise that you are not as competent as you thought you are, and that other people are actually far better than you. No? I've learnt through the hard way that my worse enemy is my own ego. After studying in Singapore for 6 months, I realise that there's invariably a higher 'mountain' than mine out there.

Now that I know the pivotal value of being humble, I'm emulating the virtues set by the late Mr. Ronald Reagan(1911-2004). In one article that I read from the TIME magazine (commemorative issue for the Great Communicator), Mr. Reagan is portrayed as the epitome of American Dreams. Born and educated as a commonner, Mr. Reagan had tasted hardships which later became the foundation of his hard will and humbility. On becoming the 40th President of USA, Mr. Reagan said that he's just one same American who wants to be the 'Dreamer in-chief' to lead his people to their own aspirations and achievements. Had I been born a few decades earlier, I would certainly wish to meet this great man.

'Give him the benefit of the doubt,' said Pn. Sundari to one of my classmates in Critical Thinking session yesterday. It means, if I'm not mistaken, let him have the choice to question a certain issue and generate his own ideas. Truthfully, our Asian culture which accentuates respect to elders has its own setbacks. We always deem that anybody older than us are wiser and cleverer (which is still true to a certain extent). We were told since young that retorting elders meant disrespect, and the habit of questioning is stagnated. Thus, we inadvertantly have this mindset during our studies, resulting in a passive education system in our country. Most of the students here will blindly accept any facts and figures thrown to them without rising any doubts. That's why Asian students are regarded as good regurgitators, not learners. Something must be done to rectify this problem at hand. I'm sure Malaysia needs outspoken and critical thinkers of the future, not mere certificate holders.

Posted by peixin at 12:11 PM | Comments (2)

July 17, 2004

Dish and (S)platter

The dark sky seemed rather ominous, I thought. Anxiously glancing at my watch ticking the time away, I peered down the road for the twelveth time. Suddenly, at the corner of the road, a red 'City-liner' inched into view. Ah! 63 is here after an agonising one hour wait. I hopped on board, paid RM 1.80 and took a seat beside a Bangladeshi worker. Unexpectedly, I found a familiar face out of the corner of my eye. He's Y. Teck, a bespectacled guy from Miri, currently doing Korean Program in INTEC. We clicked instantly and I found out he has a blog too. Click here to find out more about it.

While we were talking nonchalantly, suddenly the bus engine gave a loud bang followed by a groan before it stopped entirely in the middle of the road. The driver opened the bonnet and thick black smoke came bellowing out. The smell was acrid and unbearable. Now I was stucked on a bus with an overheated engine and nowhere near Mid Valley. Bad timing. Y. Teck, however, happily alighted the bus and strolled to his aunt's house nearby. I was left with other passengers, contemplating whether to wait for the driver's distress signal to be answered or take another bus. Finally, I chose the latter. 15 minutes and another RM 1.20 spent later, I was reunited with my brother.(I couldn't even remember when was the last time we hang out together.Sounds dramatic? That's exactly how I felt at that time.) Somehow he looked skinnier, but nevertheless the aura exerted from his looks and speech (and his ipod of course) indicated that he is still as tech-savvy and trendy as before. Credit for managing this blog goes to him. I'm glad that my brother made this blog possible. Merci beaucoup!(thank you very much!)

After lunch, we went for Kill Bill Vol.2 which was smashing. My first encounter with Kill Bill fanfare was with Benjamin Lo aka BenLo aka AJC Student Councillor aka the great imitator aka food gourmet aka my good friend in ASEAN. His intrinsic description of several scenes in Kill Bill Vol.1 tempted me to 'savour' them with my own eyes. And for the second time, Quentin Tarantino and Uma Thurman delivered a complete movie packed with lots of punches. The most unforgettable part that I find was Beatrix's training under Pai Mei's tutelage. The filmatography technique (zooming in and out of Pai mei's face), Pai Mei's ancient and formidable master look, speeches in cantonese and the kung-fu fighting scenes blended so well that at times I thought I was watching a very old Hong Kong movie. It was so amusing to look at Pai Mei and antics with his long white beard were bone-tickling. There aren't much blood splattering scenes in Vol.2 compare to its predecessor, which is a little bit disappointing.(am evaluating my inclination towards violence in this case)Bottomline: If you want to learn 'Five-point-palm heart exploding' technique from Uma, don't miss it.

After my brother left(see his side of story here), I thought that I might as well have my dinner at Annalakshmi while waiting for the torrent rain to abate. In Tamil, 'Anna' means meals and 'Lakhsmi' means mother. Again, the first time I had my ears upon Annalakshmi was through Benjamin Lo aka BenLo aka AJC Student Councillor aka the great imitator aka food gourmet aka my good friend in ASEAN. The visit to S'pore's outlet with LX, Jon, axe_why, silly and whiny girl was an unforgettable one. Naan and chapati served on banana leaf, with a variety of curry and daal to choose from. And how can I forget that glass of mango lassi... thick and sweet mango juice with a tinge of yogurt and milk so perfectly mixed together. Heavenly! And the 'eat as much as you want, pay as much as you can' policy makes Annalakshmi even more tantalising! Here I come, Annalakshmi!

Posted by peixin at 03:18 PM | Comments (3)

July 15, 2004

3R

Nah! I am not referring to the legendary Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Roberto Carlos (the 3Rs of Brazil if I am not mistaken). Nor am I referring to Ranvir, Rohan and Rahul, the SIA scholars/hearthrobs of ASEAN girls in Oldham Hall, for that matter. The 3R stands for Reuse, Reduce, and Recycle.

Obviously this abbreviation sounds familiar to most of us as we are exposed to the concept since young as an effort to reduce garbage and save the envirionment. I can still remember a TV ad where a young boy played with a crushed aluminium can lying by the roadside as adroitly as any professional soccer player with a ball. He ultimately kicked the can and sent it straight into a recycling bin. I believe that the ad was made in a bid to instill civic-consciousnes towards our environment among citizens and to encourage them to recycle. So, how have we fared so far? Recycling had certainly become a nationwide fever during the initial stage of the campaigns instigated by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (KPKT) but after 4 years the hype gradually ends in the doldrums. Of course, there are still people fervently participating with full vigor but the number is dwindling. Just ask yourself from the bottom of your heart: When was the last time you recycle? Yesterday? 3 months ago? A year? 5 years? Or worse, never before?

Now it's never too late to start recycling. You can do your bit by recycling your old handphones.

Last Sunday, Alvin gave me a tour around his secondary school(SMJK Katholik or Catholic High School). As we were walking around, I couldn't help but notice the articles and materials on every club's and society's board. They were all about issues on recycling. I learned that the school is still running its own internal campaign initiated by the principal. The students collect newspapers and other recyclable items every day before sending them to a recycling center nearby. It is comforting to know that this bunch of students are still a conscious lot.

Even if, for any reason, recycling doen't seem to be your cup of tea, at least try to reduce the usage of plastic bags. Made from non-biodegradable materials, plastic bags cannot decompose and thus become a hazard to the environment. So, at your next visit to 7-eleven, please don't take plastic bags for small items like a Mentos bar or a cup of instant noodles which you can easily carry in your hands. Actually, this is a reminder from Gailene, a nature-loving friend of mine. Once she told me, "We cannot live without plants and animals (nature) but they can live without us." How simple and yet profound the truth is!

Posted by peixin at 09:15 AM | Comments (3)

July 13, 2004

Of Spiderman and Policeman

Pardon me for this late entry. That the only Internet access I have is in the INTEC UiTM computer lab which closes at 4.30 every weekday prevents me to post entries in a frequent basis. I am well aware that this problem might lead to adverse conditions. Yeah, why having a blog that does not really depict my everyday life? I think I need a laptop or something..*hint, hint*:)

Well, last weekend Alvin invited me to stay overnight at his house in PJ. I was to meet him at Mid Valley to catch 'Spiderman 2' before going to his home. However, the crowd at GSC was so overwhelming that all ticket counters were congested and EVERY SINGLE show until 8pm was fully booked! My god! And I thought that 18 cinemas were enough to cater to everybody. Apparently not. In the end, we made our way to Amcorp Mall and managed to catch Spidey in action.

'Spiderman 2' sure lives up to all the hypes and expectations imposed. The plot, the new costume, the action... everything is superb. Sam Raimi sure did his homework diligently before making the movie. I really pity Peter Parker at the beginning part of the movie where he had to struggle to balance his job as a pizza-boy and a photographer, his obligations as a student and of course, his responsibility to save the world. Such a heroic yet sympathetic guy. Half way through, he buckled under pressure and stopped being the hero ('I'm Spiderman no more!'). Life suddenly turned better for Peter but his conscience bugged him..well, I think everyone in the whole world knows the story by now. But I was really shocked that MJ found out Spidey's identity so soon (not to mention Harry Osbourne and the people on the train). I think that spoils Spiderman's enigmity which was kept intact in comics and TV cartoon series.

On the way back home, Alvin told me a story that I want to highlight here. The story goes like this:

Some time last year, Alvin made an illegal U-turn while driving in downtown. Two policemen stopped him.

Policeman 1: Adik, IC dan lesen..
(IC and licence handed over)

Policeman 1: Adik buat U-turn di tempat larangan U-turn tadi. Dah langgar undang-undang lalulintas ni! Kesalahan ni kena denda RM250 tau? Nanti kena demerit jugak, lesen P ditarik balik!

Alvin: (panicking) Yakah...?

Policeman 1: Jadi... adik mau bayar berapa?

Alvin: (confused) Huh? Nanti saya panggil ayah langsaikan RM 250 itu.

Policeman 1: Tak payah... Adik mau bayar berapa?

Alvin: (understood) Encik, saya hanya pelajar biasa sahaja.. tak ada banyak wang..(taking out his wallet and showing the policeman the contents)

Policeman 1: (startled)Jangan! Adik jangan tunjukkan dompet.. Saya tak suruh pun!(looking up and down the road attentively)Sila tunggu sebentar!

Policeman 1 went back to his car where he talked to policeman 2. Then he came back with a log book. He looked at Alvin's car registration no. and scribbled something on the book. He went to the back and scribbled more. Then he passed the book to Alvin.

Policeman 1: Letak kat dalam.

The book was empty. Bewildered, Alvin placed RM20 in it and handed the book back .

Policeman 1: Apa? begitu sikit?

Alvin: Maaf lah, saya cuma ada begitu banyak sahaja..

Policeman 1: (contemplating for a while) Ok, Ok.(Walked away)

I believe this is just one example of the bribery cases that are proliferating among our police force. I don't dare to say that most of the cases are initiated by the respectable policemen themselves but my friend's case is. I didn't mean to denigrate my friend Alvin for giving the bribe. My point is why did the law enforcers instigate such deplorable acts? The credibility and accountability of the whole police force is at stake here. I gathered that police constables get RM690 for their monthly salary. Is meagre pay one of the reason?

Posted by peixin at 12:47 PM | Comments (2)

July 10, 2004

Salut!

"The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn"

~Alvin Toffler, renowned futurist and author of 'Future Shock', 'The Third Wave', among others.


I came across this thought-provoking quote during my 6 months' stint studying in Singapore. It was highlighted in one of my General Paper lecture notes regarding issues on education. I liked it straight away and made it my current mantra. In the norm of mankind, there are many people who adhere to some sort of 'principles of life' as a guiding light through ominous encounters and doubtful hours. Sources of principles vary from religions to famous quotes by great men and women of the century. On a lighter note, even Stan Lee came up with the prominent maxim 'with great power comes great responsibility' for our web-spinning hero. So, is there anyone with interesting mantras? I would be most delighted to see them in the 'Comments' section below :)

'Salut'(i wonder if it is correctly spelled) means hello in French. It came by as a chance that I had the opportunity to snip some basic french words from my friends doing French Program in INTEC(International Education Center), UiTM Shah Alam. Max, my buddy since kindergarten is attending the 3-month preparatory course to further his study in France. He's taking Engineering. Honestly, it's fun learning a new language eventhough one has to painstakingly start from the basic like pronunciating 'beaucoup' as 'be-Koo' and 'au revoir' as 'Ar-Vuah'. To my surprise I learnt that the French language refers things according to gender, ie feminine and masculine. And different genders have different pronunciations. I heard that the same goes for German and Russian languages. Is it true? How different they are from English!(in awe)

Talk about English, yesterday I just had my first SAT I prep test. Imagine yourself walking into a chilly hall, sitting on a chair facing a stack of 40-something pages of questions, and then enduring 3 HOURS of mind-throbbing tough Qs ranging from maths, anologies, sentence completions and comprehension passages! And what the heck is 'precocious'(among other bombastic, low-frequency words)? Argh, to cut long story short, it's a nightmare. Can't believe that the teachers made us to sit for more prep tests every Friday afternoons since.. :<

p.s. Fyi, 'precocious' means 'manifesting or characterized by unusually early development or maturity, especially in mental aptitude'. Darn!

Posted by peixin at 12:14 PM | Comments (3)