Saturday, 27 February 2010

Blogging and Commenting

Recently, I've been blogging like mad.

I am in every capacity to limit my blog to invited readers. So why don't I?

I think blogging, like online chatting, is an outlet of frustration for me. I sound like I've a lot of pent-up frustration huh. I suppose to a great extent, I'm quite a restrained person, outwardly. Already, I'm reading on a thread in a forum I frequent that people born in my zodiac years are 'weird' or 'mad' (mostly 'weird'), probably due to our restraint or inaptness at expressing ourselves. So blogging does help to relieve the inability or disallowance of expression.

I have very low readership. That doesn't bother me because I like the privacy that the blogging world offers. It sounds like an oxymoron: private blogging world, but it's precisely I'm sharing with strangers that I'm open with my life.

Perhaps there are some truth in saying that we're, or I'm, weird. I don't share my blog with my family or friends. One or two friends know that I have a blog and had asked me to share it. I eluded that request because I am a firm believer of 'Familiarity breeds contempt'. Just like in a chatroom, I am able to tell strangers everything about myself, excluding the lurid details, but I don't do that with my friends or family in the real world.

With high readership, you tend to get nasty or rude people who remain anonymous saying unpleasant things in the chatbox or comment section. I just find it stupid to battle with those nasties - "Don't fight with the pigs. You get dirty and they enjoy it."

It's my blog. I write what I feel, even if it's plain whining. As long as I don't hurt anybody intentionally, maliciously with false accusations. I don't see why I can't blog my point of view.

If the pigs don't like what's on the blog, they don't have to read it. It's downright despicable to hit and run - say something nasty or stupid on the chatbox or in the comment section anonymously and run away cowardly.

Ever since I came across this statement decades ago - "If you don't have anything edifying to say, keep it to yourself." I try to abide by it. What's the point in attacking someone maliciously or being underhanded just to hurt the other party? It's worse when the other party has done nothing to hurt you. That's human nature at its worst, I always believe - to seek to destroy when it doesn't benefit you a bit. We call it '损人不利己' in Chinese.

It's immature to leave a comment attacking or hostile in nature when it's uncalled for.

If you don't agree with the writer, just say so and state your point of view, not give some retarded comment. Better yet, share your blog to show how mature your point of view are, if they are so share-worthy.

And I do believe that most statements can be worded in a civilised way without calling another person names, which just shows how low down and 小人 (simply can't resist the use of this term) these pigs are.

I've read blogs literally venting out loud, using tons of exclamation mark as punctuation for just about every sentence typed. I've read blogs that sounded petty and childish, or simply rubbish. Do I go to the Comment section and start to tell the blogger "Stop being childish!"? It's not my perogative to attack someone on his or her blog just because I am a reader, and can remain anonymous in the virtual world. It's not a fair fight and it just goes to show a lack of maturity, integrity and empathy in me. We all know too well that nasty comments affect the writer but make the nasty commenter happy - doesn't that sound like a sicko and loser mentality?

Human nature is such that we are easily antagonised. It takes a high EQ person to take nasty comments in his stride or to ignore it. It's just like people casting stones at you and you try to keep your head up and continue to walk like nothing's happened.

I've always tried to maintain a grateful heart, although I don't say the grateful words, and be kind. It doesn't take alot for me to be kind, but it means alot to the person I'm showing kindness to. I don't need or want the person to be grateful to me eternally. My rewards will come from above. That said, I am not an angel and don't pretend to be one. I struggle to be kind sometimes as most selfish human beings do.

Friday, 26 February 2010

An Honest Cab Driver

Last night, after having our dinner at Swensen's (yes, we love the salmon and mushroom baked rice), I hailed a cab home.

However, the cab driver was not able to change lanes as there were other vehicles blocking his way and he was forced to turn towards Khatib.

I was quick to judge. I thought, with a grudge,"Typical of cab drivers. Want to take the long route home." But before I dwelt too much into it, the cab driver uncle said,"I'll not press the meter."

I was 'HUH?' I haven't met an honest cab driver for a long time. I had an unpleasant experience of a cab driver taking the long route to the zoo. It was obvious to even a non-driver like me because he went back to almost the same starting point before he really started driving to the zoo.

And true to his word, he made a U-turn at a traffic light after driving till he nearly reached Khatib, and didn't press the meter till he went past the place we hailed the cab at.

I am impressed. I was in a state of disbelief till I got down the cab, and forgot to check out his car plate number and name or take note of the cab company.

Like most customers, we only bother to lodge complaints, but when we do get good service, we seldom compliment.

Cutting and Pasting to and from blogs

All it took was hitting a few keys and clicking a few links and I realised that it is possible to cut and paste to and from Microsoft Word onto the blog. I had stupidly typed laboriously some long posts on the blog thinking that there is no solution to it.

If anyone is facing the same problem, just press ctrl+c to copy and ctrl+v to paste onto Microsoft Word document.

To cut and paste from Microsoft Word document onto the blog, right-click 'Copy' and hit the above button 'Edit Html' before you right-click 'Paste'.

It's so easy. Why didn't I think of that?

I call them Chatfriends

It didn't strike me that 'chatfriend' is a term I coined myself until one of the chatters repeated it seemingly thoughtfully and commented that it was an interesting term.

I must admit that chatting for hours is not exactly healthy, like blogging, simply because it is not exactly reality.

I used to have a chatter that I chatted 7 hours straight with every Friday and Saturday. I was in love with him, without myself knowing. We didn't tell each other outright that we love each other seriously. We didn't have the courage I guess. The relationship was too perfect to be broken.

We didn't have an awkward moment of pause. We just kept on chatting as if we were in real world. He made me laugh out loud in front of the computer, often. He gave me good advice and listened to my grouse. Sometimes, he was like my inner voice, telling me what I should do.

It ended after I entered into a relationship with William. It was after that that we admitted, over emails, that we liked each other very much, but both of us also admitted that it would be a tough fight, given the distance. We were not able to promise each other anything.

He did warn me that William was a jerk because of some things that he observed, from what I told him. But I dismissed it as jealousy.

About one year after I married, so did he.

I didn't mention that he was an Indian because I don't see this as pertinent. I mentioned his race so as not to create the illusion that you can meet your perfect partner on the net. I'm a Chinese inside out. Honestly, if not for the fact that he was an Indian, I really might have waited for him if he did ask. His being indian, as a culture, was tied up with his religion which his mother so advocated that made me feel that it wasn't possible between us.

I've had numerous pleasant experiences meeting up chatters.

At first, I was reluctant to meet up after reading so many horror stories about date-rape or molest.

Another reason I didn't want to meet up was because I was worried that the chatter might find me ugly and walk away after seeing my real person. I've always been plagued by complexion problem and am incredibly self-conscious about it, although now I am aware that it's not an exactly a big issue.

A few male friends had told me how they abandoned the date upon knowing that their potential date was not what they had imagined. I didn't want that to happen to me as I deemed it as most insulting.

A few meetups later, a female friend told me how her chat date met her driving a Mercs and gave a lousy excuse of having another appointment and dropping her off just a short distance after. That only meant one thing: that he didn't find her attractive.

I didn't want to suffer the same fate, no matter how old I get, although I don't mind being the dumper.

But most meetups have been pleasant.

I usually make a disclaimer before I meet them: I am not interested in sex, so no touching.

Most of the time, they are polite in their approach or on the first date.

I had met chatfriends for:
- dinner at restaurants
- a drink at a Club
- lunch at a restaurant

However, after a meetup, usually, if the relationship doesn't proceed to the next level, the chat normally diminishes. And men do take not wanting to advance to another level as being uninterested quite quickly.

But it doesn't really matter to me as usually I would have prepared myself not to take these virtual relationships too hard or seriously, although there were at least two of them who made me hope that I could have been more responsive. I haven't fallen in love with any of them and I hope I won't.

Reasons I Love Chatrooms

I never see chatting as a skeleton in the cupboard.

If people were to ask, I would freely admit that I chat in chatrooms. In fact, to use the word 'admit' seems to suggest that online chatting is a dubious or dishonourable activity.

I'm aware that many men go into chatrooms to search for their preys. Actually, they want free sex. But they will not admit it. They will say,"Must have chemistry."

I always feel like laughing whenever they say that. Real cheapskates will not admit that they are cheapskates. They don't want to pay for sex, but they are desperate for it, so they go online to find it, hoping that some girl would be bluffed into becoming their 'girlfriend', which is just another name for 'free-sex partner'.

I have met my share of chatters who look for free sex, and I tell them straight in the chatbox that I am not keen and bye.

To me, people who go online to look for sex are plain desperate, ugly and/or fat, and most likely poor.

Oh, someone did say that he did not mind paying for sex. I said,"One million dollars." and he left, asking,"Diamond laced cun?"

He stated clearly that even an air-stewardess was paid just $300.

In a Singapore chatroom, you get lots of indian nationals pming (private messaging) you, simply because they flood the chatrooms. I'm not sure why indian nationals want to chat in Singapore chatrooms. Perhaps they exist in just about every possible chatroom, not just the Singapore ones, going by the sheer number of Indians in India.

So why do I chat?

Firstly, I don't have any other hobbies besides chatting.

Being a teacher doesn't allow you to have any hobby, really. After working for 10 hours straight in the school, the only thing you want to do when you finally get out of it is to lay sprawled on the bed, if not sit down on a couch to take a breather, before you embark on another bout of work again, at home.

You might wonder, how about weekends?

If we have work to do at home on weekday nights, what makes you think we don't have work on weekends?

I no longer believe in time management. Time management only applies when you don't have so many things that require your immediate attention to complete at the same time. In teaching, just about everything is needed immediately, tomorrow, by the end of this week. Time management applies when you are given decent timelines to complete your work, and give you time so that you have time to manage.

Whatever time we really have, we just want to spend it with our family, especially on coaching our own kid if we have one. We spend so much time churning out worksheets, lesson plans for others' kids that our own kids are not performing in school due to a lack of coaching. It's ironical that teachers' kids are being called out in class for not bringing homework, not completing homework, not bringing stationery, not bringing the test papers back, or not getting the Spelling book signed.

In what position am I to scold my students for not completing their work?

Alright, I digress, which usually happens in my posts.

I chat as an avenue for relieving boredom, adult exchanges mainly. It is something I would call a 'hobby', shameful as it might sound.

Secondly, as an escapism from the reality.

In real life, I'm a boring boring teacher. A married woman with two kids. No man will ever come near me for reasons other than work.

In a chatroom, I still assume the same identity. But because I enter a chatroom, it tags me as 'available', and that opens the conversations to other possibilities. We chat as perfect strangers, yet as virtual hi-bye friends.

Thirdly, as a frustration outlet.

I get to complain and grouse about my job to strangers. I can't complain to friends and family because it annoys them that I'm complaining all the time. And I know how it feels like to get annoyed by sheer complaints because William's complaints get to me too. Although I switch the subject of complaints most of the time, but it still evolves around my job, so it may not be a very pleasant thing to listen to someone grousing about her job all the time.

I also like the fact that I am able to enlighten people about what teaching is all about. Most people are still stuck in the era in which teachers just teach and mark and go home.

Thirdly, it makes me laugh.

Sometimes, I meet humorous and intelligent chatters in the chatroom, usually the more educated ones, such as a doctor and an engineer.

That sort of lighten the reality burden.

They make me laugh, not all the time, which makes it all the more hunt-worthy.

However, these 'humorours and intelligent' chatters usually do not orginate from Singapore. They hail mainly from India, Malaysia and other countries.

Singapore chatters are usually boring, to tell the truth.

They are incapable of starting with a witty line to spark your interest ie. 'hi', 'hi' and 'hi'.

Fourthly, as mad as it sounds, it gives me an avenue to express myself.

In reality, I'm painfully shy. I fumble at speech. I can't express myself or talk well. But I type fast (which comes with practice), and somehow, I express myself better in written form.

There are probably just too many to bother about in speaking ie. body language, facial expression, tone, intonation, psychological battle - I'm just thinking about how it is going to be like if I were to storm into that Photopress shop in Causeway Point to argue about my case - the 210 pictures I printed there were too dark or overexposed - versus my email to Fujifilm.

You take your time to craft what you want to say and create the tone in an unsuspecting way to let the person at the receiving end know how you feel. I will never be able to tell the salesperson,"I am very unhappy about ..." while I can do that in an email effortlessly eg. ''I'm very disappointed with the kind of quality delivered".

I'm sure there are other reasons I am not able to think of off-hand and these are probably just a few of the reasons that I chat.

Homecooked Dinner Makes Me Happy

After a 10-hour day at work, when I came home yesterday, I still felt quite energetic. And my mother was around. I was inspired to do some cooking with the help of my mother when I saw I still had the white button mushrooms I bought from NTUC over the weekend. To persuade her to help me out, I told her Coco and I missed her cooking. :)

I took my mother to the nearest NTUC and did our marketing. I'm amazed that she could cook up dishes using just ginger! No garlic or shallots!

We had threadfin fillet with ginger and button mushroom, soy sauce chicken mid joints (with sliced button mushroom) and chye sim with oyster sauce. All homecooked!


But I got tired right after I put the fish to steam: I went to the room to look in on Baby and lie down on the bed involuntarily! I didn't even realise I was tired. My body did!

After finishing the dinner, and playing with Baby till William came home at 9.30pm, I knocked out while I was helping Coco with her homework!


Wednesday, 24 February 2010

My birthday

This is something that's really late.

My birthday falls on November, but as I looked through the pics, I couldn't resist posting them up.

I had always wanted to comment on Pine Garden's cakes but tend to forget about it amidst my busyness.

Last birthday, I asked William to buy me a Pine Garden's Lychee Martini that morning because I missed the aroma and taste of it after tasting it a few times, which occurred after I read so much reviews about it.

Towards the evening, my youngest sister asked me if I have any preference for the flavour as she was on her way to buy a cake for me. I asked her to buy a Pulut Hitam cake from Pine Garden. I gave her the address and told her to look out for the signature red lanterns hung outside the cake shop for ease of finding the shop.

I got two cakes because Lychee Martini is supposed to have lychees 'soaked in martini' and is thus not suitable for kids. I haven't really tried Pulut Hitam at its full glory yet, but it has received numerous good reviews on the internet, so I opted for it - for myself and the kids.

Lychee Martini

It has a soft, sweet frangrant of lychees - I feel my mouth watering as I type this. The cream is fresh and mildly sweet and the sponge is just nice. The lychees in the layers add to the eating pleasure.

Pulut Hitam

It has a rich layer of pulut hitam on the top of the cake. I had thought it could be too dry to be on a cake but it's not at all. It's moist and rich. Not under- or overdone. Sigh ... everything's just nice. If I had a big enough stomach, I would finish it all up. But a few slices down and I realised that it's filling up fast. I seldom eat two slices of the same cake - in fact, I can't recall a time that I had asked for another slice after the first pathetic slice - but I couldn't resist this cake!
If I didn't know better, I would have thought it's something out of a hotel.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Being a CT

Today, I was assigned a trainee. A pretty, fresh young girl of 23.

She was eager to please. The moment she saw me, she offered a few times to help carry my stuff. She seemed to be 'seasoned' in pleasing CTs (Cooperating Teachers). As a trainee about 8 years ago, I remember how I had asked my NIE friends for advice on how to please CTs as I was, and still am, very dense when it comes to being a man-pleaser.

I remember the well-meaning friend told me the 'tactics':

1) Ask your CT for advice on how to manage a class
Eg. "I am not good at classroom management. I see that you are very good at it. Your class listens to you when you speak. How do you do that? Can you teach me?"

2) Thank your CT for her advice. Whether it works or not, doesn't matter. Insist that it has worked.
Eg. "Thank you so much for your advice. It was very effective!"
I asked, like an ignorant child,"What if it doesn't work?"
He said,"Nevermind. Thank her and tell her that it works."

And one more that seems to be a common practice and taught by my more worldly elder sister:
3) Give your CT a present before you leave the school

But I don't need trainees to please me. No, it's not because I've a higher level of integrity than those superficial CTs.

But I had trodden the same path and know how much it takes just to pass the practicum.

I had a slave-driver CT who made me work like hell just to obtain a pass.

She gave me a D for classroom management when the students' Chinese teacher wanted to see them and they rushed to the door towards the end of the lesson.

She gave me a D for time management when I ended my lesson 5 minutes later. A friend doing practicum with me at the same school, with a different CT, ended her lesson 20 minutes later and wasn't penalised at all.

When I asked to observe her lessons beyond the Observation Week (usually, the first week is the Observation Week during which we get to follow our CTs and observe how they conduct lessons) to learn more from her, she said that she would want to observe me for the number of times I observe her.

She threatened to report me to the principal and vice principal when I casually mentioned that I didn't recite the pledge since I was not a citizen.

I conveyed my worries to a fellow trainee friend and she gave me her advice,"Don't let her have a hold on you over this. Most people will not make a big fuss over such a small matter, but since she is like that, don't let her do this to you. You can always treat reciting the pledge as singing a song. Go and tell her now, before she goes to the p and vp, that you've realised that what she said was right, and you will recite the pledge and sing the national anthem from now on."

I went to her and told her exactly what my friend taught me.

She looked at me with suspicions in her eyes,"Are you saying this because I said that I'm going to tell the p and vp about it?"

I gritted my teeth and replied,"No, but because I think that you are right after I think about it." That must have been the first lie I ever told in my life, just so that I could save my grade in a practicum. I'm sure if I had not told her that, she would have used this incident against me and flunk me then.

By failing a practicum, it would mean that I have to wait for another 6 months to do the next practicum, and pay the semestral fees through my nose, and have my graduation deferred.

It was the most torturous 6 weeks in my entire teaching life.

I don't know why a teacher, who is supposedly patient and kind, would do this to a trainee who has only the last lap to clear. Does it make her feel happy to see a trainee under you doing badly, or fail because of what you say?

I tell myself since then that I will never torture another fellow colleague-to-be if I ever have the chance to be a CT. It doesn't cost me anything to treat another human being nicely, or give her a Credit at least. Why must you make her work her ass off just so that she gets a Pass? I think you must be somewhat sick in the mind to do something so lowly to a trainee.

I'm all ready to give any trainee under me a grade better than Pass, even a Distinction if any other teacher would want to push for it, as long as they don't make serious mistakes during their practicum. I'm keenly aware that their practicum grades has a substantial impact on their Honours grading. I understand that to get at least a 2nd Upper Honours, they will need to get at least a Credit for their practicum.

I had another fellow NIE trainee who was also doing the Practicum with us. I don't label her as a 'friend' not because I treat her with disdain but because we were never close. She lied to the school (according to the supervisor), was late for school a few times, stood the supervisor up for her lesson observation, and didn't conduct a lesson fit for a formal observation.

Yeah, that I have to concede, that she probably deserved to fail. But sometimes I can't help but wonder if things could have been better if someone had talked to her to find out why she did the things she did and gave her good advice.

I just want to be a developmental and mentoring CT who doesn't stress a trainee out. I had been there once and didn't want another person to go through the hell that I did.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

What's inside a piano?

The interior of the piano never fails to amaze me. Every time the tuner comes in for the half-yearly tuning, I would stand by to stare at him doing his job. A piano looks so sleek and simple, yet the interior is so complex. I read that a piano is made up of ... 100 parts?

Surprisingly, a white key looks like this - the whole chunk of it. I always imagined that it's just the white portion.

Setting up the Christmas tree

Due to my lack of spatial awareness and numeracy skills, I had overestimated the space in my flat. I bought a 7-feet Kodiak tree, thinking that it would look really grand. I had always wanted a grand-looking Christmas tree and didn't want a mere 5-feet which just about every flat-dweller asks for. Shortly after it arrived, I realised that there is a good reason why most people opted for a 5-feet tree.

I also learnt that there is a difference between the make of trees of different height. A smaller one usually has just 3 parts ie. top, body and bottom stand. But for mine, it has a stand which is broken into 2 parts due to its length, the top bushel and the branches that come with hooks, which we have to hook them onto the stand one by one. It's very tedious and not much fun really. Most of the time, I have to do it by myself because others quickly give up due to the need for great tenacity to endeavour in setting up the tree.

The branches, sorted out by their colour codes, according to their length
The botak stand
Coco fitting in the branches

Okay, the tree's done

Standing on a chair to decorate the Christmas tree

The final product

I've also learnt that the best-looking colour on a Christmas tree is probably gold. A reno forum held a Christmas tree competition a few years back and most people had a gold- or silver-themed Christmas tree. And the gold ones stood out alot better than the silver ones. Silver ones looked, at best, greyish. Gold ones, at best, looked stunning and glamorous. So now my purchase of ornaments leans towards gold coloured ones and so far, they are beautiful and look great on my Christmas tree, especially when on pictures.

When I first bought the ornaments for a purple-themed Christmas tree the first year we had it, upon knowing that ornaments were not cheap, I chose bigger ornaments to cover more surface area of the tree, and I ended up with a lot of bollies. Kinda boring if you ask me. Last year, I decided to buy a variety of designs for the ornaments and tried as far as possible not to repeat the designs. The product was more satisfying than its former version.

The price of a Christmas tree is just the icing on the cake. Everytime I buy the ornaments, I would limit my budget to about $100 so as not to overspend without realising it. And the thrift in me feels stupid to spend a few times more on the ornaments than on the Christmas tree at one go. Buying the ornaments also tells me one thing: it is better to have a smaller Christmas tree.

Adding on the chasing lights will make the tree look fuller if the ornaments are not many.

Last year, I decided to be clever. We hung ornaments on the parts of the tree that were meant to be seen. However, last year, I came across a rotating Christmas tree which I thought was cool. It was a 6-feet tree if I remember it correctly. If I ever buy that, then the strategy of decorating the seen parts of a Christmas tree will not apply.

Christmas 2009

As usual, we celebrated Christmas last year with food and presents. I took the pains to set up the Christmas tree for that added flavour. The kids loved the tree!

The spread. I resolve to be early in deciding on the date for the gathering next Christmas. And we shall have roast lamb.
My mother's beehoon gets better every year
Our dessert
"I also want to play!"

Arranging the presents

The ridiculous-looking Christmas tree

They look so happy

"Wah hahahaha!!!"

The brothers

"I want a picture with my presents!"

I like the 'milkgirl' look of Baby

She's going elsewhere ...
Her grandmother is not to be monopolised by her cousin

The little boy with his presents

"Yours is better"

My Christmas present - a watch from my sister!

Actually, I NEEDED a watch, but I could never make up my mind which watch to pick. I always thought watches are better when given by someone else.

Christmas 2008

I was just browsing through the labels of my blog when I realised I hadn't updated Christmas.

It stopped at 2007.

Must have been too busy. So here goes:

We celebrated Christmas 2008 with food and presents! I remember I was too lazy to put up the Christmas tree. Mine is a 7 feet Kodiak Christmas tree. It takes quite a lot of effort to put it up, and we get pricked by the thistles (or are they leaves?) whenever we put it up. And the taking it down is quite alot of hassle too.

Since I called for a last-minute gathering in 2006, it has become our tradition to celebrate Christmas with a food gathering.

Our all-time favourite, our mother's fried bee hoon