Saturday, 25 September 2010

Same Job, Different Outcomes

Today, Coco told me something 'shocking' (I put the word in inverted commas because it is meant to be shocking but I am not shocked),"The Science teacher scolded us 'stupid idiots'."

The Science teacher is a newly graduated NIE-trained teacher.

We all know how zealous and passionate beginning teachers are. They love the children and are prepared to lay down their lives for them. I still remember I often stayed till 8pm or 9pm in school to mark books or prepare lessons or other resources for my students in the first two years of my teaching life.

So I was suspicious when Coco told me that the teacher used such harsh words on them.

'Suspicious' was actually an understatement.

In fact, I immediately redressed the teacher,"Your class must have been really trying for the teacher to say that!" This incident also jolted my memory about what Coco previously told me, that her Science teacher stormed out of the classroom five minutes before the time was up, splurting,"I can't take this anymore!"

Coco admitted that the class was very noisy and most of her classmates were not paying attention to what the teacher was saying or doing.

According to her, the teacher did not allow the children to have hands-on activities. By 'hands-on', we mean to let students try carrying out experiments in groups for a more personable experience.

Instead, the teacher usually carries out 'teacher-demo' activities, meaning the teacher will conduct the experiment while the class watches.

Coco claimed that the students had to crowd around the teacher to watch how the experiments were carried out. That sounded strange to me as it would mean the students would have to jostle for space since the standing space at the teacher's table would not be big enough to accommodate 42 students.

I suppose the teacher is too young to handle that many boys in a class. According to Coco, there are only 15 girls in the class, as opposed to 27 boisterous boys. They are boisterous even at the principal's standard.

I don't blame the teacher. Some people ask,"How does scolding children 'stupid idiots' help in their education?" Of course it does not. We all know too well that such spurts are simply manifestations of the teacher's anger, what education are you talking about? It has nothing to do with education. It has everything to do with the frustration and exasperation of a teacher not able to get the kids to listen to her, that's all.

Being a teacher has helped me to be a better parent in more ways than one. It makes me a very understanding parent towards my child's teachers. But of course, sometimes it does make me psychologically unbalanced, like if such words were ever heard in my neighbourhood school, the teacher concerned would have been asked to go for a kopi session with the first and second bosses. The ministry would receive an email about the matter the second day at its latest.

People have this misconception that parents in 'better' schools are more difficult and are ever ready to shoot emails to the ministry. How wrong they are! Parents in these schools, or at least my child's school, are generally more tolerant and forgiving of teachers' mistakes. The only time I heard parents complaining to the principal was the time when Coco's Chinese teacher said this to a few boys who talked incessantly,"You are stupid! Your parents should never have given birth to you!" Something tells me it was the second statement that broke the camel's back.

The Chinese teacher ended up apologising to the whole class about her use of inappropriate words with the principal looking on.

If it were some ordinary teacher in some neighbourhood school, we probably would have to consider handing in our resignation letter.

Buy buy buy

I have been reading up on strobe lights.

Ever since the workshop guy said that only 600w strobes can fill the entire 4 x 3ft softbox, I have been looking at the different brands that offer 600w lights.

I have 'narrowed' them down to 3: Jinbei, Elinchrome and Profoto.

Jinbei is a China make. But according to the workshop guy, the 600 series is top-of-the-range product and a good imitation of Profoto.

I was advised not to get Elinchrome D-Lite as it is made in India.

Profoto is a tad too pricey I thought. I am not sure if I want to plonk so much money on something that I am not so sure about, especially when I have not even mastered my camera or learnt how my flash works.

I find that once you start buying a DSLR, all of a sudden, your visual world starts to widen as well. You start to be critical of your pictures: want more sharpness, more light, better colours, faster shutter speed, nicer bokeh ... the list goes on. And it doesn't seem to have an end from where it starts.

I am also starting to think about more lens ie. 50mm and 24-70mm.

And a short-range lens like 24-70mm proves to be much more expensive than I thought! $2500 for a lens? That's even more expensive than my camera together with all its freebies and warranty and extended warranty!

Goodness! Now I understand what they mean by 'Buy buy buy' virus once you get into it. For a scrooge like me, spending hundreds on flash, lens and potential thousands on studio lighting equipment? Unthinkable!

The third visit

I went to visit my English Superior today again because it was sort of on the way - Coco was having her replacement enrichment class on the other side of the MRT station.

The husband was there. He went out so that I could have a private moment with her.

I prayed for her, and talked to her, telling her how much we are all praying for her to recover, and believing that she will recover.

This time, I saw her saliva dripping on the paper towel tugged beneath her neck. She jerked a little, involuntarily, from time to time. But I felt that she was making good progress. I just felt that she would get better really soon.

I must have stayed with her for at least 20 minutes. Just as I told my Superior that I had to pick up my kid and was about to leave, a nurse came in and I turned to see that four other colleagues were waiting outside the room. They must have seen me talking to her.

I felt embarrassed for having monopolised her for so long while they waited.

Facebook discoveries

I created a facebook account just for the students.

I have since made some discoveries. Some are pleasant and some are quite ugly.

Some students have told me that a seemingly nice boy in the other class have tagged me as an 'alien'. When I asked the boy nicely about it, he denied it and I told the class that he didn't do it.

But when I saw it on facebook, everything became clear. He was the one who started requesting for me to be tagged as an 'alien' and when some girls commented that I would be very hurt if I saw it, he said,"Who cares about her getting hurt?"

I am surprised that many nice kids are not as nice as they appear to be.

It's such an irony that I told teachers that I liked that class even though they didn't know.

It didn't matter to me that they gave me lousy rating during the idiotic survey.

I feel that kids are kids.

But sometimes I feel that it's scary that these kids are already hypocrites at such a young age. They smile at you, obey your instructions, ask their friends to 'shut up lah, Mrs x wants to talk!' when they hate you.

I guess this is what you get when you are in a lousy workplace. Even kids are lousy.

I have a boy who loses everything I give him ie. worksheets, files, workbooks.

I thought of buying him the workbooks so that he could do them in class as he is from a poor background.

But I remember how ungrateful these kids can be.

A colleague I spoke to told me,"Don't bother to buy for them. They won't appreciate it. I bought 3 books for this girl, and she screamed at me."

It started when the girl claimed that she had no money to buy the books. My colleague subsequently bought 3 books for her. But one day, she saw that the girl had the money to buy English and Science books. She asked her,"Didn't you tell me you don't have money to buy books? But you have the money to buy English and Science books, yet no money to buy Maths books?"

The girl answered,"I told my mother you bought the books for me already, so no need to buy."

When my colleague explained to her that she bought the books only because the girl had claimed that she didn't have money, the girl screamed at her. From that day on, the girl rebelled against my colleague, doing everything to irate her. During Meet-the-parents day, she got her mother to complain about my colleague.

I have come to realise that some people deserve to be poor indeed. Their attitude says alot about how they come to become or remain in such a wretched state.

You try to be kind to them, you are being stupid. You're treated like an idiot. They take you for granted and think that you OUGHT TO do everything for them.

That's why I have decided that in the event that I need to buy books for this boy, I will make him pay me back, bit by bit if need be. Oh, by the way, this boy is the one who got me into trouble for saying that I taught him to lie.

I had not been able to get hold of the mother. I thought it unusual for a parent to be that unconcerned about her children's performance in school - her elder child failed his PSLE last year and is not doing well this year, her younger child is failing just about everything in school. And she didn't turn up for Meet-the-parent session.

The boy gave me numbers that didn't go through or had auto messages that stated unavailability on the receiver's end. I had had enough and went to the McDonald's outlet to look for the mother. I didn't even know what her name was. I went in and approached the counter staff,"I am a teacher from x school. I want to look for a student's mother who works here. She is a filipino. Her children's names are x and x."

The counter staff kindly rendered all possible information about the mother: her name, what time she works till, and where she works at after McDonald's.

I had to hunt the childcare centre she works at down as the information was invariably vague ie. a childcare centre near x school.

I asked around and a kid told me about a nearby childcare centre. I entered the place and asked for the mother.

Unfortunately, the mother didn't seem too concerned. She was more concerned about how I managed to find her.

I am just glad that I am getting out of here by the end of this year. It's insane trying to be kind at this place.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

The Second Visit

I visited my English Superior on Tuesday, a few minutes before the visiting hour was up.

To my pleasant surprise, she looked so much better than when I first visited her.

Her bruise on the eye was gone. Her lips were normal. She was in a deep sleep, 'resting', the doctor said.

She looked like any other normal person sleeping, at night, minus the tubes in her mouth and nose.

She had a piece of paper towel under her right chin, but she was not dripping any saliva.

I went there, all powered up to say a prayer for her. But when I saw her, I lost the courage to pray for a moment. I was afraid that she was actually conscious but was sleeping. I didn't want her to hear me praying and wake up to tell me that it was not appropriate for me to say a Christian prayer for her. I was worried that I might wake her up from her rest. She needs all the rest that she can get now. I also didn't want her to see me at her bedside, to be in the knowledge that she was in such a state now.

Then I decided to walk to her bedside, and prayed for healing and recovery to come.

After the prayer, I looked at her. She appeared to be in a peaceful sleep. Occasionally, she stirred, like any other normal human beings.

I thought it a positive sign that she was looking so normal now. I heard from a colleague that she had 4 operations to date. The poor girl!

For the perfectionist and strong girl that she always has been, I almost could imagine her getting down the bed and walking normally after she woke up from her deep sleep.

I hope that happens soon. For some reason, I feel that she will recover well, and faster than an average person would. Perhaps it's her strong character when she was well and about. God, let it happen, soon!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

New Job

Today marks the first day my father returns to the work force.

He just informed me yesterday that it was his last day to take care of Coco for me. Usually, he waits for Coco's schoolbus to drop her at my place, afterwhich he keeps an eye on her, chants his mantra of asking her to complete her homework which almost always falls on deaf ear. Then he will watch the TV till he falls asleep or till I get home - sometimes I reach home at 7pm or even later.

I was worried that he might be bullied by his employer. The last time he worked as a driver for a furniture factory, he felt bullied when the employer asked him to work overtime a little too often, without reimbursing him. I don't want the same thing or something worse to happen.

My father came to Singapore to be a carpentry apprentice in his twenties. His diligence and hard work got him risen to the position of a supervisor, and eventually, he struck out on his own and became his own boss in his late twenties.

He owned a carpentry factory and had 20 to 30 employees helping him to make furniture for Courts and other retailers.

He had two furniture shops, both based in Tampines. I still remember fondly how he would tell us with joy and pride that he owned the first furniture shop in Tampines.

I remember how well my father did: he was a proud owner of two Mercs and two lorries. When I was born, he already had one Mercs, and I remember he took us on a test drive in the new Mercs. As a child, I abhored the smell of leather seats. I often vomited from the almost weekly routine of travelling to-and-fro my Malaysia home. I much preferred the lorries. I loved the natural air (like Sumiko Tan :) ). My sisters and I loved to sit at the back of the lorries and feel the strong wind in our faces.

One night, when we were all enclosed in our bedroom, he opened a briefcase to show us what I later saw on 80's Hong Kong movie shows - stacks of dollar notes. I remember how he animated the 'Wow ...' look: by raising his eyebrows and enlarging his already huge eyes. I was too young to understand the value of money then, but I did know that it was not common to see so many pieces of paper-with-$-sign-on-it. I said 'Wow ...' too because I was very happy to see my father wearing such a delightful look.

It all went downhill when the government created a new policy. I am not too sure which policy that was but it affected the number of Malaysian employees he could hire. He tried to hire Singaporeans to no avail. According to him, Singaporeans are not able to take hardship and are not willing to work hard.

Although the furniture orders continued to come in, he was no longer able to manufacture the furniture at the same rate and quantities.

Eventually, he had to close down the shops.

Today, he is a retired carpenter.

His new job is to ferry workers to different destinations for work. He assures me that it will be fine as he is not required to carry heavy furniture. For someone nearing 70, it would be a crime for anyone to expect him to lug something that causes him to go out of breath.

He is sure that he won't be bullied this time round as the employer used to be his employee when he was running the carpentry factory. They know each other and the ex-employee is not out to seek vengeance on his employer-turn-employee. My father also likes the fact that one of the perks is to be able to take leave 'anytime he wishes', since the prospective employer is kind to him.

Let's hope everything turn out well.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Studio Lighting Workshop

I went for a $55 Basic Studio Lightings Introduction Workshop today.

It was all the way at Geylang. Took me 1 h 15 min to get there in the morning. It struck me that I could hop on the Circle Line when the MRT voice-over announced,"Bishan". I got out of the train, had a quick glance at the clock and saw that it was about 9.05am. I thought I would be there at 9.30am. I was even picturing how early I was at the studio and feeling so pleased with myself for being an early bird.

However, when I reached Aljunied, I was shocked to read the time on the clock that it was already 9.40am! And I had just hit the platform!

I had to ask for the direction to the correct bus-stop from the MRT staff.

Then, I alighted a stop early, upon seeing a 7-eleven, since the workshop confirmation email mentioned that I should alight at the stop where there is a 7-eleven and Watson's store.

It turned out that there were quite a few 7-elevens at that stretch of road. So I had to walk in to the nearest 7-eleven to ask if there was a Watson's around.

The staff confirmed that it was 'further down', so I had to take another bus, panicking all the time while waiting for it.

When I finally alighted at my desired stop, I went round those shophouses trying to look for the studio.

My only consolation was I managed to find the studio on the dot!

It was quite a dingy studio, almost like an attic - it really had an attic roof structure, very high ceiling.

However, the session was rather fruitful although I must say I already knew some of the things the guy mentioned since I have been reading up on lighting stuff diligently. The 2 or 3 guys running the studio were very helpful. It was supposed to be a 3-hour workshop but they allowed us to stay back to make loads of enquiries ie. what kinda softbox to buy (the dimension, the brand), what kinda strobes to buy (how many watts for children photography, full-length portraiture, the reliable brands), whether Elinchrom D-Lite series is worth the bucks, what are the alternative cheaper strobes etc.

After all the talk, the studio guys are prepping the place for a practical session

The hair lights

The backlight

Trainees trying out the light meter and adjusting the strobe light knob to suit the metering

Adjusting the softbox - "The subject must stand in the centre of the softbox."

High key with pure white background

High key with played-down white background

Mid-key for a moody feel

Changing the set to a low key setting

"The suit blends into the background."

The problem was solved by using a honeycomb to light up the background

The softbox was shifted in such a way to light up the guy's face on one side only, supposedly for a 'Terminator' feel, but I didn't fancy it.
Overall, I thought the workshop was quite educational. I was glad I didn't buy any lightings without going for a workshop as the lighting kit I was eyeing was, according to the workshop guy, not as great as people make out to be.

At least now I know the dimension and brand of the softbox I want to get ie. 80 x 120cm Photoflex, and 600 watt strobe/s.

I feel that I still have some things to read up on and make comparisons on the product and prices before I make up my mind to invest in a set of system. Already, I am starting to wonder if Nikon had been a good choice after all. I notice that most professional photographers use a Canon, and 5D at that. However, I need to remind myself that the weight was the first thing that mattered to me, and it still matters to me now. D90 was THE camera for me because of its lightweight. Even if I want to change the system, I should wait till I really have a business up and running before I do just that.

I hope that my dream home studio will really come true soon.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Result for Grade One Exam

I was pleasantly informed by the piano school that Coco managed a Merit for her Grade One piano, although like all mothers, I had hoped that she could clinch a Distinction.

The conversation went like this:
Receptionist,"你的女儿考得很好嘞!" (Your daughter did very well for her piano exam!)
Me," ... ... (Is it a Distinction?)"
Receptionist,"她考到Merit." (She got a Merit.)
Me," ... ... (Huh ... like that is 'very well' ah?)"

But I have to give Coco the credit for indeed doing very well for her first piano exam, considering the limited time she had - she started learning her exam pieces way too late, compared to most people who had the luxury of spending just about a year to learn them.

Well done, Coco!


Coco was at the coffee table with me sometime this week, and she spoke,"Mummy, I would like to learn ballet."

I was surprised.

I reminded her that she had been in and out of ballet several times. The last time she quit it, she was very determined. I actually told her,"If you want to give up ballet, I am going to withdraw you from all the courses. No more Science camps, no more piano lessons." I wanted to know the extent of her hatred for ballet.

She went away to her room for a while and came to me who was busy in the kitchen,"Mummy, I have decided: I really don't want to go for ballet anymore. And I will not go for anymore courses."

I was very surprised at the extent she would go to stop going for ballet classes.

I figured it wouldn't do her any good if I continued to force her to learn it, so I allowed her drop it.

Now she tells me she wants to do ballet again.

However, she still does not want to go back to the 'strict' teacher. She wants to go back to the CC where she had little or nil progress. I told her she might as well not learn ballet again if she wants that school because it does her very little good.

I definitely welcome the idea of restarting her on ballet. I will talk to her about it again and see where it leads us.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

My Sister's Solemnisation

9th September, the auspicious date to marry.
The magazine-style invite
4.30pm - Doing her hair at a regular salon
5.30pm - Sticking the fake nails in the car

6pm - Doing the makeup
6.50pm - (Breathless) We reached the venue
The solemnisation table
Exchanging the vow
Their fate was sealed
(Some of) the food
The people

My mother and her long lost granddaughter

We are all happy for them. My brother-in-law has been very obliging to my parents and accommodating to his prospective sisters-in-law's requests in many ways. He appears to be rather mild-tempered and is the most 'promising' among the boyfriends my sister has. His academic qualification is a few notches above my sister's. While the pessimistic me can't help but worry a little that this might be an issue when the passion wears off, I sincerely hope that they will abide by their vows they had apparently customised on their own and live 'happily ever after' from this day forth.

On the technical side, I went out to get an external flash for the solemnisation. Alas! The hero got nowhere to show his talent (英雄无用武之地)- Firstly, the solemnisation started at 7pm and we only reached the poolside at 6.50pm. By then, it was quite dark and I did not fancy the relatively harsh turn-out of the pictures under a flash. Secondly, I was too busy with Baby to take proper pictures. Thirdly, I did not want to be in the way of the official photographer.

So the flash did not have much of a role to play at the actual ceremony, but it did live up to its good name at the reception. The lighting was dim for ambient purpose, so a flash helped alot.

The ring pillow that never was

I hand-sewed this ring pillow 5 years ago for my own use. For the clutz that I was, I was determined to sew the 'perfect' ring pillow since I could not find one that I really liked.

Alas! The photographer did not even take a picture of it.

I whipped it out for my youngest sister's recent solemnisation ceremony and asked if they would like to use it. My then-prospective brother-in-law graciously accepted the offer.

I immediately went about cleaning the ring pillow which was tainted with tiny yellow spots after being kept in the wardrobe for 5 years.

I googled for solutions without having to throw it into the washing machine and thereby destroying it, and I found one:

Wash it with lemon juice and hang it out in the sun.

I happened to have 'preserved' half a lemon in the fridge and took it out. I dapped the spots with freshly squeezed lemon juice.

When I brought it to my mother's place, to my utter horror, I saw that the lemon juice, when dried, had developed into patches of water marks! Not a pleasing sight.

In my desperation, I grabbed a piece of facial cotton, mixed some liquid detergent with water and dampened the cotton with the solution. After that, I wiped the ring pillow with the dampened cotton pad.

To my greatest relief, the water-marks disappeared.

I was so glad that my creation was restored back to its former glory.

Unfortunately, my brother-in-law did not use it, in the end.

They used this instead.

Well, I can only say that for all that I had meant it to be, my ring pillow never was.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Cloning - Removing the shine on faces

1) Go to 'File', 'Open' the desired picture
2) 'Unlock' the image by double clicking on the 'locked' layer on the right.
3) On the left tool column, click on the 'clone stamp tool' (that resembles a stamp)
4) On the 'above' horizontal tool column, adjust the settings ie. Brush to a 'soft brush' eg. 27 or 100, Mode: Normal, Opacity: 20 / 32%, Flow: 100%, Sample: Current layer
5) Enlarge the picture for easy editing by increasing the percentage on the bottom-left of the picture and clicking on the picture again
6) Press 'Alt' and click on the area you would like to clone.
For skin, pick the area closer to the shine so that it looks more natural.
7) Release 'Alt' and click on the area you would like to remove the shine.

After cropping and cloning

Cropping a picture

1) Go to 'File', 'Open' a picture
2) Click on 'Rectangular Marquee Tool'
3) Select the area desired for cropping
4) Go to 'Image', 'Crop'
5) Save the picture as JPEG




Boy, I feel pooped!

Coco is diagnosed with hand-foot-mouth disease and Baby, stomach flu.

Coco has five medicines to take while Baby, seven.

I can't even get Baby to take one. Whatever medicine you try to force it - not even come close to 'down her throat' - into her mouth, she spews it out if it ever gets past her lips.

And when a baby is sick, he or she would become super clingy, even for Baby. When she is in the pink, she rejects being carried. She loves to be on her toes, all about on her own. When she is sick, she cries the moment her feet touch the floor.

Just feeding her the fever medicine alone is enough to wear me out.

Friday, 10 September 2010

A Time So Grand

On the last day of the week, you would ask for a hot chocolate at Starbucks
A stone's throw from your school.
It will always go with a slice of chocolate cake
And after that, a peach and mango pudding for dessert.
I thought it grand we had tea every Friday evening
And I treasured the little time and space - the two little seats that were unofficially ours - between the two of us.
I enjoyed feeling relaxed listening to your stories about school that day
How you felt about who and what
And how much you loved your hot chocolate and cakes and all.
When can we have that time and space again?

Picasa Rocks. Photoshop Sucks.

I just want to create a simple collage. You know, four pictures placed together, that's all.

But Photoshop has a way of making simple things really complicated, so that you would give up in absolute frustration.

I googled "How to make a collage using Photoshop CS4" and the steps on Youtube were incredibly hard to follow. Perhaps those people who posted the 'tutorials' really had no intention of sharing, but were in desperate need to grab attention. So they created collages with missing instructions or steps so that technophobics like me had no way of following them.

From one step of making collage, I had to google for more: "How to copy and paste pictures in Photoshop", "How to scale pictures in Photoshop" because all these were the missing explanations from the tutorials in "How to create a collage".

And ... horror of horrors, the instructions given were impossible to follow, because they didn't, and don't, work!

Take for example, "How to copy and paste pictures":
Instructions were:
1) Double click to unlock the picture
2) Press 'Ctrl C' to copy
3) Press 'Ctrl V' to paste

I pressed 'Ctrl V' and all I got was the wrong picture.

Another example, "How to scale pictures":
1) Use 'Lasso' to circle the area you want to protect from being distorted when you scale a picture.
2) Then 'Select', 'Content aware scale' to scale the picture

I got a distorted image still - it was not protected.

Who the hell designed Photoshop?

Microsoft Word alone allows us to scale pictures without distortion, and we don't need to do any 'protection' at all!

Microsoft Word allows us to copy and paste images in just two clicks.

I am not sure if it's Photoshop that's backward or I am. But I find Photoshop a hassle to use. Totally user-UNfriendly.

I'll take Picasa any time for a collage. Easy as anything!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

A sad visit

I visited my English Superior yesterday.

It was a sad sight.

There she was, lying in an ICU ward. Her eyes closed, as if in a deep sleep. The only activities that were happening were the mechanical sound produced by the multiple machines hooked on her and her breathing.

Half her head was shaven to make way for the two surgeries she went through. Half of her lips was crooked and her right eye was badly bruised, black and swollen. Her feet were tight in bandages, in an odd shape, as if the feet were bound.

It was a cruel sight.

She was a pretty girl - a mix between Malay and Chinese. And she spoke very well. She has the gift of the gab. Each time she spoke, the whole assembly of children listened - you're talking about the whole school of restless children who can't be bothered with talks. They even take time to settle down before they listen to the principal.

I can't imagine how devastated she would feel if she ever wakes up. Her life is totally changed.

I can't help but wonder if my workplace is a cursed place as I recall the tragedy that befell my Science Superior's wife. But why do the tragedies happen to all the undeserving people? Of all the Superiors, these two must have worked the hardest and treated their subordinates in the best possible ways they could. Lots of work delegation no doubt, but they were workaholics themselves.


There is nothing I can do except to place my English Superior in Your hands.
Your name is Jehovah Rophe, our Healer. Bring recovery to the dear girl. She does not deserve to be in this sorry state. Your compassion is aplenty, so reach out to her and touch her. Only You can heal.

Comfort the family members, Lord. I saw some elderly family members outside another ICU ward tearing away. It must have been equally devastating for hers.
It's not easy, but God, instil in them, and us her colleagues, the faith that the dear girl will recover. One of these days, she will be able to sit up and talk, and even explain to them what exactly happened to her, which till now has remained a mystery to all.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Striking off texts in a blog

I learnt another thing about blogspot:

How to strike off /cancel texts on blogspot.

1) Click 'Edit Html'
2) Type (s) at the beginning and (/s)of the text you want cancelled (Replace ( ) with < >)
3) Click 'Compose'

Eg. how to striek off words
how to striek strike off words

Why didn't I google for it earlier?

Planning for an escape route

Ever since the thought about leaving teaching occurred to me, I have been thinking about what I can do besides teaching.

I made a mental list:

1) Teach at a tuition centre
2) Develop my photography skills, take lessons, hone the skills, and hopefully become a children photographer
3) Become a blogger, as reminded by Coco
What she meant was to make it really public. Monetise it, serve advertisements etc.
(but I'll have to first remove my posts on my marriage first, I think. Too much dirty laundry.)
4) Conduct private tuition

I am really more keen on No. 2 though.

For some strange reason, as much as a technophobic that I am, I get excited about acquiring new gear for photography. Just a few hours ago, I bought a Nikon external flash, SB900, for $650.

In all sanity, I ought to feel my heart ache when I parted with my money for an equipment I am not sure how to use to its fullest advantage, but I actually feel 'fulfilled' when I finally received it in my hands. I have this whimsical feeling about having it now, like I am about to explore the other side of photography ie. flash photography. Somehow, I know I will eventually know how to use it anyway. It's so unlike the 'what if it becomes a white elephant? I am a technophobic you know?' me.

I consider about setting up a home studio. We have the space to create one in the living room, thanks to our ingenuity in deciding to get an Executive Apartment when we first registered for a flat. Of course, William and I fought over whether we should sell the flat to get cash to settle his debts, but I was quite adamant about keeping it so that I could give studio photography a shot. So buying the flash is an essential first step. I wouldn't know what I can achieve if I never buy that flash.

I thought about the possibility of teaching at a tuition centre next January while honing my photography skills at my would-be home studio. I would need some stable income to fund the lightings and the backdrops. I am not sure if that will really happen. I am just brainstorming what I can possibly do if I lose my current job out of my reluctance to live with a miserable grade.

In the past, all these are but luxuries that I should stop at dreaming about. I never thought about quitting teaching no matter how tired I felt. I always thought that teaching was an iron rice bowl until the recent spate of events. I always thought that perhaps one day I might quit, but not in the near future. Suddenly, I find myself thinking about what I can do if I really quit, and how I can get my plans up as quickly as possible since time may be running out for me.

Life being Unpredictable

I received an sms yesterday about my English Superior getting a stroke and was admitted to Tan Tock Seng Hospital's ICU (Intensive Care Unit).

I was shocked. She is only 32, or 33, and she's just delivered a baby boy two months ago.

How could anyone so young suffer from a stroke?

To me, 'stroke' is synonymous with 'old age', so it was inconceivable to me that someone who works closely with me had a stroke.

I was updated by a colleague today that she went through her second surgery tonight.

I still get goosebumps when I think about it.

It freaks me out.

All of a sudden, the unfortunate incident that has happened to me doesn't seem to be so significant anymore. I am just so glad that I am absolutely healthy, jumping about and am able to earn an income to support my kids, even if I leave the service, even if it means settling for a lower pay.

Suddenly, the urge to do something I like, instead of something I detest, seems to be of a much greater importance now, as of that moment.

The Superior has always been a very driven girl. She works very hard. She is very creative. She gets an A grade wherever she is placed. She is excellent in her CCA - she would think of ways to get awards, even if those awards seemed to be of no importance. When she was a Social Studies Subject Superior, she would think of ways and activities for the whole school to do.

When she first ascended to the Superior position last December, after the departure of the previous Superior, she worked her P5 and 6 English reps almost as hard as herself. A big part of the reason for me wanting to leave the place is also because I feel highly pressured by the workload ever since we are under her. The thought of redoing everything next year freaks me out.

It was so bad that the three of us hoped unanimously that she would come back as late in the year as possible, so that we didn't have to come up with anymore packages this year.

I hope that her suffering has nothing to do with what we innocently hoped.

William had asked one of his students' parent about the stroke and she said that women after delivery are prone to strokes because of blood clotting issues.

It reminded me of the time when I often had giddy spells during my confinement. In particular, I remember the time when I resolved not to let the giddy spell get the better of me by grabbing the table edge tightly when it happened again. I felt as if the whole room was spinning - I finally could understand what that meant. I used to think that it was a metaphor. I really felt as if I was being tossed in a giant ball that gains speed as it rolls down a slope. When the giddy wave ended, I opened my eyes and saw myself sitting tightly on a chair, my hands grabbing the table edge tightly. I thought I looked so silly.

Thinking back, that could have been a prelude to a stroke, although the doctor attributed it to low blood pressure, which accounted for my giddy spells during my pregnancy.

What happens to my Superior strikes me how unpredictable life is, as cliche as it sounds. She was doing so well, had risen so fast at such a young age, had an adorable son and a loving husband. She is a pretty mix-blood, has the gift of the gab and yet never neglect the feelings of small fry, like me. She is accomplished, yet humble. Yet such a misfortune has befallen her.

It also jolts me to think about the more important things in life. I wonder if it had happened to me, what would I have wished for myself to have done? I think I would wish to have done something I like.

I was exploring the possibility of going into some form of photography, and if it works out, go into business. I asked Coco about it, and at the same time told her that I probably would not get back the same pay as I now have, and precociously, she said,"I'd rather you do something you like."

How much more can I ask for, when I have a daughter like this?

For all that life has to offer, I can only pray that the Superior recover from her infirmity so that she can be well and about for her son again.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Disheartened. Disgusted

A lot of thoughts run through my mind these few days after the sickening incident.

I couldn't sleep that very night I last blogged. I feel that I am being character-assassinated.

I thought, and am thinking, about the possibility of leaving the service.

I'll explore the possibilities in the next few months.