Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Think, but think positive.

I am not at all certain what it was, exactly, that brought about this particular epiphany, but I think I need to think more positively. Not only does this sound like a half-baked cliched New Year's Resolution of a problematic socially-awkward teen, but to make matters worse, its exactly the resolution I need.


How would one go about being a nicer, better, and more pleasant person to be around? Well, take a look at your current lifestyle, sez I to myself. Name the one thing about yourself that you find vaguely annoying and therefore most be largely more annoying to other people. Compare your attitude to that of someone much better off, socially, than you. I weighed everything out in my mind during the long journey up to the highlands. Appearance shouldn't cause any social boundaries, so that could be safely crossed out. I don't have any speech impediments, nor do I have trouble communicating. Therefore, since it wasn't something physical that you can see or hear, it had to be something else. Something not detectable by any kind of scientific analysis or implements. Something from the heart and mind. So that was it. Attitude. My attitude was all messed up.


Funny how things you say come back to bite you sometimes. I mean, just because its the internet, doesn't mean everything you mention will be taken for granted. Just look at my last post. How much negative attitude can be found in the first part of that post alone? Yikes. I frighten myself.


How would I even begin to think positive now? Fortunately, just a few days ago, I had read a recent edition of Reader's Digest Asia. The article was about marriage, which is relatively irrelevant to me, but it had an important paragraph on thinking positive. In a nutshell, it said that what is important is not what you remember, but how you remember it and express your feelings about it. In other words, instead of saying "I wish I could have spent my week of holidays bingeing out on video games, but all that homework from school ruined it," which is very much negative, I should have said "I was going to spend my whole holidays staring darkly at the TV with the video game controller in my numb hands, but thanks to the homework from school, I was able to spend my holidays productively." That is what positive thinking means.


***


Do you ever get a dull, bothering feeling in your chest when you realise you've been proudly doing something for all this time when it turns out you've been doing it exactly wrong from the start? Yeah, that feeling. I think I need to shorten my blogs. Tee hee.


Also, I'm going to stop being such a stick in the mud and I'm going to go ahead and put a picture of my face where my face should be. Besides, its not like I ever got Matthew Taranto's permission to use this picture on my website in the first place. However, to balance out, I'm going to have to diminish the presence of the About Me section. Wish me luck!
  

Sunday, January 22, 2012

No Rest for the Weary

This is a very long post, quite likely the longest one yet, and that's saying something. However, this is because its the only post I'll be able to get in for a while, due to reasons that will be explained. I personally suggest that you read this extraordinarily lengthy post over the spread of several days, as per the asterisks.

***

It is always important, in life, for a person to have a moment of respite once in a while; a time to lay back one's head and rid one's mind of all problems and crowdedness of life, and just... reflect.

Not that I'll be getting a moment of that oppurtunity these Chinese New Year's Holidays, nope, most probably not one bit.

What is it in the minds of teachers that make them want to get everything done so quickly? I mean, yes, its good to finish the syllabus early in the year, so that more revision can be done before the exams. But does giving a tonne of homework to the students really help accelarate the learning proccess, or is it just a waste of time?
Unfortunately, I suspect the former. But sometimes, enough is enough, you know? Tell you what, I'm sitting with my back to my wordesk right now, and I'm turning around and geting my "homework file", the place where I keep my homework separate from the rest of the books. Let's open it up and see what we have in store for the Chinese New Year, shall we?
Here's a few strips of paper, from cutting and pasting notes in my exercise book. These go in the bin. And here's my Buku Miscellaneous (that's actually what I wrote on the cover), used for miscellaneous purposes. Not really homework.

And underneath, yes, here's our homework. An English directed essay, which shouldn't be a problem once I stop trying to avoid it and actually put my pen to the paper. Underneath are a bunch of other English papers, and near the end, there is a Summary Writing section. Ah, summary writing - summarising in writing is my weakest point. I'm often too long winded, as you can see right now. But English is easy, and shouldn't prose a challenge; we'll put that aside for now.

But what's this purple book? Aha this would be our History homework. Oh yes, my greatest enemies are the things that happened in the past - i.e., history. Technically, this book is supposed to be a reference book, a neat summary of the whole syllabus. However, it is severely incomplete. Every line is riddled with blank spaces, begging to be filled. What do we have to do? We have to open up our text books and complete the lines of phrases with the exact same wording used in the text book. And yet, for the past two weekends our History teacher has given us no rest, but rather homework, of copying out the contents of yet another reference book into our notebooks. Come on, History teacher of mine, how many times do you think we have to go through the same chapter before we know enough to pass a simple exam?

And underneath that purple History book - oh! The sight of my next piece of homework is enough to put me off my entire holiday! And yet, on the front it appears to be such a simple piece of homework. A few sheets of writing, photocopied and stapled together, lie in the file before me. What do you suppose I've been told to do with it? Well, basically our homework with these pieces of paper can be divided into two parts. This thing in front of me, photocopied and stapled together, is a Malay essay written by a past student, which, while the essay was reputedly good to earn the writer a decent grade, still contained a number of grammatical errors. The first part of our homework was simple - detect, eradicate, and correct as many of those errors as we could find. That was reasonable enough - students sift through the essay, word by word, keeping their eyes peeled for the mistakes of their brethren scholars, and in the proccess, repair on their own usage of grammar while at the same time noting the writing style used in the essay, and gaining the wisdom that has been penned down on that paper. A perfectly reasonable way to educate students on the art of writing, to perfection. Then why do we also have to copy out the whole essay from beginning to end? What do we benefit from that? That's the second part of our homework. After eliminating all the mistakes, we have to copy out the perfect essay, just as it was written before, but without the errors. Does there not exist point, o revered Malay teacher of mine, where so an amount of a good thing becomes so great as to cease being useful and merely becomes a burden?

But the teachers reply, you've got a week of holidays in front of you, so why wouldn't you have enough time to do that much homework, which is relatively little when compared to the amount of work that could be done in that time? But think, teachers, of this: We students are humans too. As humans, we only have limited time on this world, and as much time as we have is precious to us. Every so often, during the trials and tribulations of a working life, we are given time to rest our bodies and minds of all the exhaust that has been laid upon it. So why is it, teachers, that during this time when we will be absent from your classes for a prolonged period, you choose to burden us with immense amounts of homework, so that we may bring school into our homes and learn during the holidays? Can such homework even be considered as learning? We have a week of holidays, and you want us to spend some of that time doing homework. Ask yourselves, would that time be time well spent? If any amount of knowledge is to be gained during that time, then all is well and good. But to expand a simple work into a difficult and time-consuming one simply because you are able to do so is not the right thing to do.

I am a secondary school student, and this has been my rant.

Oh, and there's also a bit of Mathematics homework in this file too, about Graphs of Functions, but Mathematics is always easy and I'll finish that in no time at all.

***


I remember reading a sort of parable once - not really a parable, in the normal sense, but something to that effect - about corns and potatoes. The corns scorned the potatoes for growing underground, and prided themselves on standing so tall. The potatoes, however, replied that they were growing nonetheless, even though it didn't show. Said the potatoes, they grew slowly in silence, while the corns held their heads high for all to see. However, when the delinquent passes the fence, he sees the ripe corn, and not the potatoes, so that is what he will steal.


It went something like that anyway. I never gave it any thought at the time, but it didn't seem like the parable made any sense, nor did it seem applicable in human life. Unless you were a farmer whose corn kept getting stolen. However, just a few days ago, something happened that somehow made me think of that parable.


I have often prided myself on my above-average Malaysian English. The one whose essays English teacher always complimented. The one who always gets the highest marks in the English exams. The one who took it into his head to create a blog. Oh yes, that was me, and my classmates knew it. So much so, in fact, that they unanimously named me the Head of English in the class committee. Well, not exactly unanimously. It was more like three or four certain students shouting candidates to the teacher for each respective post. But when it came to the AJK of the English subject, no other names were mentioned but mine. Aside from those three or four students, there were about twenty who didn't say a word, any one of which might have had some objection. But since they didn't speak up, well, looks like it was unanimous to me.


So I was now officially the Englishman of the class. How do you suppose it made me feel? It felt good! But then one day, something happened. It was just a few days ago. I was on prefect duty on the canteen, and prefect duty, especially in the canteen, basically means standing still in one spot and eyeing students warily, just daring them to do something wrong. Just then a fellow prefect came up to me and said that one of the teachers wanted to talk to me. I asked him why, and he replied that it was because he told the teacher that I was good at English. However, it she was in no hurry to meet me just this moment, and I could go whenever I was free. For the time being I had not an inkling of what was going to happen, but all would be revealed at reccess time.


Once the fifth period bell rang, signalling the start of reccess, I went with my fellow prefect to meet the teacher. He left me at her table and went to resume prefect duty. I had not identified the teacher by name when my friend told me she wanted to meet me, but now, standing in front of her, I recognised her as one of the teachers in charge of the school's drama team. Sure enough, the first thing she asked me was if I knew a lot about the school's drama team. I replied that, yes, I had indeed watched a number of their performances, and knew them to be award winners at district level. She smiled and went on talking about drama, and then she said that they needed someone to write the script for this years drama. I blinked, and everything from that point on was slightly blury and misty, as if it was a dream. She said that because my English was reputedly so good, she would like me to write the scipt for this years drama. Right now I can't remember a lot of what she said, but the one part of the conversation that I remember very clearly was the part where she told me about the prospects.


In drama competitions, aside from the grand prize and trophy for the best drama, there are also a few other small awards, kind of like the Grammys. The only two of these awards I remember are the Best Actor/Actress award, and - could you guess - the Best Script award. Of course, when a drama wins first title, the actors split the gold and the glory amongst themselves. But when a lucky fellow scores the Best Script award, all credit goes to him alone. As it so happens, from a sample drama script that she lent me, the writer's name at the end is practically part of the format. Whoever wrote the script that reached out to the judges the most and stood out among the rest, the writer of that script gets a certificate, and no small amount of pride.


Of course, as a teacher she put more emphasis on the certificate, and how good it would be for Co-curriclar and all that. However, I was not so concerned about the certificate. For me to get the award would be more than enough, even if it didn't come with anything to show for it. Being the young ambitious writer that I am, I felt that this would be a big step forward in my, well, hobby. Winning that award would assure me, on no uncertain terms, that I was a capable writer. Therefore, my mission was to write the best drama I could, and with hope, luck, and prayer, I might achieve that envied status of being the writer of the Best Script. The team might even go on to state level, or international level competitions, and if they do, it would be my script they used! That would be amazing beyond imagination!


It all depends, of course, on how much effort I put into my script.


It also means I've got one more major assignment to complete during the Chinese New Year's holidays. Wish me luck!


***


It's already past midnight, and I started typing one and one half hours ago. Tomorrow is Sunday, which means church as usual. But after church, what with having one week holiday, and sister having returned from Jeremiah School for a week, it's off to the cool Highlands for a vacation! This means that while I get to enjoy the cool atmosphere and relaxing vacation, I also have to put up with what it entails, namely, no internet! This time round I have no intention of pre-typing all my blog posts for a massive flood when I get back. Instead I'll be working on my drama script, and to be honest, I don't expect I'll be halfway done even by the time we get back. We return on Wednesday, so there's probably time for a post on Thursday.


Then again, maybe not. Following Saturday is the day I go for my Life-Saving Bronze Medallion test. What with my sister being gone for the past three weeks of school and all, and also school, I've had little more than zero practice. Now, with the Cameron Highlands trip ahead, we'll only have Thrusday, Friday, and possibly Wednesday if we get back early enough to get in the last of our training before the test on Saturday morning. How will we fare? Only time will tell. The examiner is a bit biased to our benefit though so it shouldn't be too hard.


Something unexplainable happened last Wednesday. There's some kind of volleyball competition going on between the schools, and our school's team is taking part, which accounts for more than one missing face in class. Even though our school had a volleyball court of its own, for this tournament our school team would be playing somewhere else. We all knew that much. So imagine our surprise on Wednesday morning when we looked out the window from class, and saw, in the volleyball court...


Meh, I'll tell the full story when I get back from the Highlands. Its much too late for so exciting a tale right now.


Wishing you a Happy and Prosperous Chinese New Year! Gong Xi Fa Cai! Stop asking me for ang pow, its really getting old and it never was funny.
  

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

We Apologise for the Inconvenience

So its been a week since I last updated. And I thought the four-day lapse was bad? Ha. My eyes roll at my own ignorance. What's worse is, I wish I could say that it was school that has been holding me back, but thats not the truth. The truth is, I've gotten addicted to video games all over again. Its just like those kinds of love songs all over the radio, where the girl says "I can't believe I want you back after all you've done to me!" Bleughhh...

***

I've struck upon something to think about. How beneficial exactly is Facebook? I've been avoiding creating a Facebook account for various reasons, but now I'm starting to wonder, are these fears founded on solid rock or sinking sand? Does the reward outweigh the risk? Recently our class received a piece of folded green paper each, which is supposed to be a newsletter apparently, and for half a page or so it alights upon the subject of the bad effects of Facebook, which is what I've been avoiding Facebook for all this time. But it also mentions some dozen good uses of Facebook. This and other recent events make me consider if having Facebook would be useful. I'll have to present the topic in English inside the month or so, so I'll find out once I actually get down to reading that green thing.

For those of you who have Facebook, here's an idea. People use Facebook to find people they know, right? Well, if you want to avoid having anyone recognising you, what you can do is, use for your display picture a photo of you and one or more of your friends. That way, when people look up your name on Facebook, then out of the hundreds of names that are bound to appear, they won't be able to find you for certain, especially if you use a group photo. After all, if a photo contained two or more people named John Smith in it, and all of them used that picture for their Facebook account... Well, you get the picture. <-(Hee hee hee, see what I did there)

***

Up to this point in this year, we have had to write two (2) essays at school. Two different essays for two different languages (Melayu and English). For some reason I expected plenty more essays than this. I had been bracing myself for a whole year of one-essay-per-week, but now, I'm dissapointed. We handed in our essays ages ago, and we haven't gotten them back yet? Do our teachers like to delay reading our essays as much as we students like to delay writing them? Sometime I just don't know. Its a funny old world, that's for sure.

***

Regular classes and tuition every week are finally getting into full swing, and students are finally picking up their rhythm after all that end-year holiday, when all of a sudden, BAM! we get what I've heard my mom refer to as a "brick wall". I don't deny that in exercising you need to have something called "momentum", which you pick up by doing an exercise for a prolonged time at a constant pace, and if you stop suddenly without slowing down you momentum first, then you get what my mom calls the "brick wall". Its kind of funny when I imagine someone jogging and then decides to stop suddenly when BAM! he runs into a brick wall. I'm positive that's where the term come from.

As I was saying, we've only been back to school for 14 days and we're just getting used to it all over again, when out of the blue comes this one-week holiday getting closer and closer, like a massive looming White Whale suddenly approaching from the horizon, charging the ship at full steam, head first and mouth open. Did I mention I've been reading Moby Dick? Anyway, I've just started enjoying school, so what do we need another holiday for? Well, for Chinese New Year of course. Chinese New Year is an important time for the Chinese, and as a multicultural community Malaysia has to look out for everyone's interest. No, I'm not being sarcastic, I'm just facing the truth. I didn't write this much to complain at the government's holiday system, nor am I complaining about the conflict of holiday seasons. I'm just yelling at the unavoidable forces of the universe. Its just something I do occasionally.

***

Looking at the way things are going, I might have to shift and reduce blogging to every Thrusday. We'll see how things go after Chinese New Year. Cross your fingers and hope! And pray too, but not in the Justin Beiber sense. That modern-day Pharisee-hypocrite gets under my skin.
  

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Days 6 and 7 - Concerning the Year Ahead and what it Entails

Ahh, and so we reach the end of the first 7 days of school in the new year. I wish I could have said that on a Friday or a Sunday, because that would be more... symbollic, or whatever, but because of New Year's Day falling on a Sunday, and the teachers not wanting to miss any holidays either, the first day of school was on a Wednesday. Becaue of this, my mind will for about another week or so be wired to think of Wednesday as the first school day of the week.


All things considered, I quite like how this year's school cycle started out. I have reason to believe that the year ahead is going to be exciting. From my constantly introspective view of life, it seems to me that each year, since I started taking count at about the age of 13, has been better than the last. I intend to keep up the streak, because I've heard I'm concientious too. However, even this early in the year, I'm starting to notice a few obstacles that might lead me to a decline in my personality.


Peer pressure seems to be peering up at me everywhere I go.


Okay, that's the best I can put it. Perhaps I'm not all that introspective after all. But, with any luck, this post and those preceding will remind me, when things are getting glum, that I promised myself I wouldn't let the vile influences of this world consume me, and stuff.
 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Days 3 through 5 - Concerning Blog

So I haven't updated for 3 days. Did you think I was dead?

After my mom read the little conversation extract I wrote in the last post, she won't accept "Fine" for an answer when she asks me "How was school today?" Looks like my big mouth finally got me in trouble.

But you mustn't listen to me complain. I would like to say that I have a perfectly reasonable excuse for not updating for 3 days when I was planning to do so every day for the first week of school. But the truth is, I have no excuses. I had perfectly enough time to update every day of the weekend, but I didn't. It was the first weekend of the school year, man! You've got to relax and appreciate it! So I played video games all day and barely got my homework done.

Anyway, during the weekend, I did a bit of snooping around the internet, and found rather a number of cool blogs to read. This is the first time, since I became a blogger, I have ever intentionally looked for blogs to read. Unfortunately, since I knew of no other blogs at the time, finding some was a bit of a difficulty. So I used the Next Blog button at the top of my own blog, and it took me around and showed me a number of interesting blogs. Mind you, the system has its flaws - at one point, by pressing the Next Blog button I was introduced to some dozen blogs that talked about nothing but knitting, quilts, and craft, all in a row. The Next Blog button on each of those blogs just lead to another blog about the same thing.

Eventually, I did find one or two actually good blogs with the Next Blog button, but after a while I switched over to Google to find me blogs. I couldn't risk another knitting marathon again. Anyway, it was a productive weekend, in a way, and I was able to pick up a lot about blogs.

But you know something? What do you think would be your idea for an ideal blog? Everyone has their own opinions, but apparently Blogger has something to say about good blogs too. Here is an extract from the Blogger helpfiles, found under Promoting Your Blog:

Keep your posts and paragraphs short. Strive for succinct posts that pump pertinent new information into the blogosphere and move on. Keep it short and sweet so visitors can pop in, read up, and click on.

I read this, and thought to myself "Oh... really? Is that how its supposed to be? Whoops." Because while I enjoy writing, the only part about my English exam that I truly fear is Summary Writing. In other words, I enjoy being long-winded about things I talk about. Some of my posts have been really, really looong. Apparently Blogger says that's not the right way to go about things. No wonder I only have 7 followers.

*****************************

Due to school-related nonsense, I feel I should add at this point that lapses in blog updates will begin happening more often. However, I'll try to last out this first week of school with frequent blog updates. I wonder why?
  

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Day Two - Of School and Scandal

"So how was school today, kiddo?"
"Oh, Teacher ranted a bit about that letter last year, and blamed the whole class for it. Also, we've got even more Additional Mathematics homework on top of yesterday's and we need to pass it up tomorrow. We have the same Physics teacher as last year, and his modus operandi hasn't changed a bit, which might mean a repeat in history, if you know what I mean. And speaking of History, we've got our same old teacher again, so he's started intensive teaching from day one. We also had to write an essay on our New Year's Resolution with absolutely no warning and to be passed up before the end of class. Basically we just got a lot going on."
"Yeah, I wasn't really interested. Just say 'fine' next time, will you, kiddo?"

*********************************

Everything mentioned by the boy in the above passage really did happen to me in school today.

We'll start with the rant.

I hope everyone remembers the Classroom Scandal episodes. They're in my handily-accesible archive, and the main core of the story is based on what really did happen at school last year. Some kid in Class 4Sc1 got in over his head and wrote an anonymous letter to the principal with complaints of the teachers' performance. The teachers concerned were Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Accounts.

That's the recap. I don't know how many of the students in the class even remember the whole affair, but one thing's for sure, the teachers don't. Except one of them. But we'll get to that later.
The first thing I noticed concerning the teachers was that surprisingly few of them were the same ones we had last year. I thought most of our teachers would be the same ones who thought us last year, but that isn't so. Out of nine subjects, only four of them are being taught by the teachers we had last year. These subjects are Additional Mathematics, Physics, History, and, I presume, Moral.
This... is slightly frightening. Why aren't our old teachers teaching us anymore? One possibility is that the anonymous letter that arrived to the principal, written by "4Sc1", scared them off. I can imagine the teachers, having heard about what happened to the four teachers who were scandalized in the letter, and subsequently avoided having to go near that year of students again. It makes me feel kind of bad. But, Suspect01, as I wrote of him, isn't in 5Sc1 this year, so if it really was him, at least we've got him off our backs.

Having my initial suspicions as to the disappearance of our teachers, I expected that our new teachers would have something to say about it. I was expecting something like "It's because of that letter! No one wants to teach your class anymore!" But it never came. All of them just came in, and went about their business as any teacher would at the beginning of a new school year. No accusations were thrown at our class, no one resurrected the horrible incident of last year, thought to be dead and buried.

Until late this morning. One of our teachers entered the class, and for a time she was telling us about what we would have to do later in the year. Projects and things like that. To be honest, it got quite dull, and I wasn't really paying attention to what she was saying. Then suddenly she was shouting. After listening for a while, I gathered that she must be talking about the indecent letter of yesteryear. A short inquiry with my friend confirmed this. She was ranting. She was going on about how teachers can accept criticism, and if you have any complaints you should speak them to their faces, instead of writing an anonymous letter like some inbred weasel (not really, I added then weasel bit myself). After I had confirmed what she was talking about, I lost interest all over again. But she really was mad. Indignant, I might even go so far to say. I guess she wasn't very well-informed about the incident, because a few of her words which I caught seemed to suggest that she thought the entire class had chipped in towards writing that letter to the principal. Well, nothing to be done about that.

Nothing else that happened today is worth mentioning, except possibly the essay. Our teacher made us write an essay titled "My New Year's Resolution". As you have probably gathered from reading my blog, I'm not the most concise of writers, and that's exactly how I wrote my essay. A load of drivel, so it was.
I think our teacher is trying to assess and analyze our abilities first. We all simply wrote a short essay in limited time on a simple subject. She was also going on about how we should use our own unique ideas in writing. I wonder what she'll think of me once she reads my essay.

I didn't have any tuition today, which is kind of a bummer.

I'm also too bushed to write anything interesting. If you scrolled to the bottom of this post and only read this line, I'm glad you did.
  

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Day One - Concerning Tuition

Ahem! Humm...

Begin your morning with a light cup of coffee;
For this morning, has ended your lifestyle so carefree;
Back to school we must go, for yet another year;
But it's a year for excitement! shed I not a tear.

Do not despair, my friend, to the sharpness of pre-dawn;
Nor the weight of your burden, do not once you scorn;
Don't worry, be happy, for the sun, she arrives;
Today is the first day for the rest of our lives.

*****************************

I don't know what came over me either, so there's no point in asking.

This came to me when I was having trouble sleeping last night. I don't know, the night before the first day of school, and I have trouble sleeping. Well, lying there all peaceful and quiet like that, a lot of things occured to me, all of which are not worth repeating. But somehow, in some way, the first line entered my head - probably because I thought I was going to drink coffee the next morning - and the rest of the poem, if you can call it that, just followed nice and smooth.
I might have done more than a second stanza, but I decided that if I spend all my time stringing fancy words together, I'll never get down to sleeping, so I dropped it right there.

All that aside, today was the first school day of the year! How did it go? Whenever someone asks me how school was, the primary answer is "Fine." I wonder why?

An uncle of mine once commented that the sun rises an hour late in Malaysia. Read up on it yourself. Only the first paragraph is important. Anyway, I don't have much to say about what actually happened in school itself, except for two things: One, I got all my text books for the rest of the year, and Two, I got homework on the first day. Additional Mathematics, so it was. Not cool. Fortunately, I'm an Add Maths average, and I'm already about halfway through with it at this time of night. I'll finish it by tomorrow, no probs!

Of course, upon receiving the text books, every year I assign one piece of homework to myself which preludes all the rest and always gets finished before the sun even sets.

Every year, once we get our text books, the first one I even begin to read is the literature study for the year. Yes, I'm a compulsive reader. Everyone tells me so, especially my cousins, but that's only because I read the instructions manual before I play any new board game. Anyway, its only literature study. In Malaysia, its not at all as bad as it sounds. Forget don Quixote and Alice in Wonderland and Moby Dick and Hamlet and Shakespear. The only real classic I've studied in school is Robinson Crusoe, and that version was too simplified. I can't really explain. Anyway, this year's literature is a book called Catch us if you Can, written by Catherine MacPhail, who can't be blamed; no one can choose their ancestors. Its about a boy, Rory, who lives with his Granda, and they would do anything to keep themselves from being separated. So when Granda starts getting old, and his friend's mom starts talking about "homes", things get difficult. When I say "difficult", I know what I mean.

But I'm rambling. On to the rest of my day. The first day of school was also, happily, the first day of tuition class. Today is Wednesday, which means Chemistry. Chemistry tuition was... very interesting in its own way. I will not hide that I was actually looking forward to it.

Right now, I'm speculating how much I should betray to you people, but I've decided that this is the internet and no one is supposed to take anything seriously.

There are... a couple of girls at the tuition who enjoy... disturbing me, in their girlish fashion. I was only mildly surprised when the first words spoken to me upon entering the class was by one of these girls, who greeted me in a way that made me stop for a while and wonder whether she was being nice or whether she had something nasty up her sleeve planned for me. I cautiosly returned the greeting, and threw in a free Happy New Year, which was received by an unsettling giggle from, it seemed, the entirety of the girls' table. 


One of the reasons they enjoy tormenting me so is because, I think, for the whole of last year I had displayed nothing but shyness and embarassment at every one of their teases. They probably enjoy watching me squirm in my seat. But the holidays had changed me. With so much time on my hands, some careful meditation helped me to reason to myself that I was approaching the snake from the wrong side of its mouth. Of course, I reckon that my time in front-and-center as Christmas Carol Conductor helped too, but that's just a possibility.


To cut to the point, I spent the rest of the day countering all their assaults with a certain amount of boldness, and I even daresay sassiness, that surprised myself as much as it must have surpirsed them. Something tells me that today has completely driven them off me. I think they were more interested in the big-little boy who blushed whenever a word was spoken to him. They've probably lost fascination in me now.


Oh well, no love lost there.


I feel good about having gotten that off my chest.




P.S. To those happily english-illiterate fellow Malaysian followers of mine, I urge you to look up the word "sassy" if you do not fully understand it, lest you have any misgivings of me.


Also, due to the recently introduced burden of school, things are looking uncertain for the activity of my blog updates. We'll see how things go.


I've dicovered that I actually can comment on my own blog, which makes reader communication much easier. If you have any questions or comments, I can reply them now!

Monday, January 2, 2012

I believe I mentioned, quite briefly, some gibberish about a vacation in Kuala Lumpur in my last post. I feel that it would be necessary to elaborate slightly on this point, for this was not exactly an ordinary vacation.


The bulk and purpose of this untimely vacation at New Year's was to bring my older sister to Port Dickson, where she would begin her six-week-long Christian training course at Jeremiah School.


Let's take things one at a time. First of all, I'll tell you about Jeremiah School.


Here in Malaysia, we have a kind of exam called Sijil Pelajaran Menengah, or SPM for short. Roughly translated, it means that its an exam for secondary school studies. Other countries might have SATs or Oh-Levels in its place, but around here we call it SPM. Any student who completes their SPM is said to be a "school-leaver". At this point they can choose to continue on to high-school, or go straight to college, or to stop studying right there and jump straight into the world of commerce and whatnot. However, before any of the first two options can be put into action, one generally has to get their SPM results first. The exam takes place around the beginning of December, and the results don't get announced until some 5 months time. During that interval, several smaller options are available for these students. One of them is called Jeremiah School.


Quite certainly for Christians only, Jeremiah School, as I understand it, is like a kind of boot camp for the soul. Rather than taking on part time jobs, or going into National Service to become a soldier, young school-leaving Christians can choose to enroll into Jeremiah School. I'm not well-informed on every instance of what they will be doing during their six weeks there, but its supposed to be very life-transforming.


This year, Jeremiah School is being held in Port Dickson. WE, on the other hand, live in Taiping. Open up Google maps and work out the distance. My older sister is enrolling in Jeremiah School this year, and my parents sort of decided, well, since we're travelling that distance, might as well stop here and there on the way and relax.


Today is Monday, the initiation day of Jeremiah School. On Saturday, we left our little town of Taiping and made straight for Kuala Lumpur, Pearl of Malaysia. That's what I call it at any rate. It was thanks to our little stop there that we were able to watch the fireworks show that I described in my last update. Next afternoon, we continued our journey to Port Dickson. Nothing much of interest happened there, except that upon arriving, my baby sister's diapers overflowed when I was carrying her, and she wet my shirt. It was not pleasant, and I did not take a picture of it.


We stayed at Port Dickson on Sunday night, and the next day we dropped of my older sister at the Methodist Centre campsite where Jeremiah School takes place.


Then we came home, and I wrote this blog.


I'm only saying all this to emphasise that, well, contrary to my whiny indications last post about how I go on too many vacations, this wasn't exactly a vacation. It was more of a family matter. This makes me feel better about what I'll have to say when people ask me why I wasn't at church on Sunday, although most likely no one really cares.


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I have now been reunited with my home and all the lovely technology it contains, and it is notat all likely I'll be leaving again any time soon. Within an hour of this post, I'll have all my holiday photos up and running in their respective blog posts! Although most likely no one really cares. After all, its practically cliched that your neighbours will bring all their vacation pictures over to your house and proceed to give a boring yet detailed acount of the whole week they were there. This has never actually happened to me or any I know, but it happens a lot in TV and stuff.


I know what you're thinking, or at least I think I know what you're thinking. I think you're thinking, This is the New Year, the first day for the rest of your life, the time for making resolutions and trying again. And yet, for me, the carefree blogger, nothing has changed. Am I not embracing the New Year with the proper New Year spirit? The answer is, I'm not a school leaver. I'm a lazy, rustic, school-bound teenager. My new year starts when school does, as in this case, school doesn't start until Wednesday. That gives me more time to put in my final twenty-four hours of lazing before I'm forced to go back to my daily routines of waking up before the sun does, and all that.


But you mustn't take my complaints seriously. I'm actually looking forward to this year. We'll see how things really are on Wednesday.
  

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!!!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Mmm hmm. Yup. It's new year!


I would like to take this moment to wish a very sincere and personal Happy New Year to all my supportive readers. Thank you for dropping by my blog every-so-often since the creation of my blog two months and eighteen days ago. Thank you, and Happy New Year.


...And that's it. Happy new year hype usually lasts for half an hour for me and then dies out quick. But, today's New Year switch-over was rather unique, because... well, where to begin?


Tonight, I happen to be in Kuala Lumpur, the pearl of Malaysian cities. Do I go on too many vacations? Yes, definitely. Anyway, because of this happy coincidence, we were able to enjoy the grand new year fireworks show at the KLCC Park! It went like this...


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There I was, in the throng of people gathered outside the famous KL twin towers. It was approaching midnight, but there was not a visible star in the sky - the glare of the light set up from the plaza canceled out the shine of the stars of space.


We were there, the five of us, together with my baby sister. It took a great effort to get anywhere near the grassy area of the park, for there were so many people. And it is a universal rule, in any universe, that 3 hours prior to New Year's at least, it is compulsary that where 10 or more people are gathered, one of them has something to make noise with. The newspaper, it would turn out the following day, said there were about 50,000 people there that night. Calculate the ratio of noisemakers yourself.




In short, yes, it was noisy. The fountains nearby were putting on a water show, slightly out of place at this time of night, but suitable with the occassion. I was watching this quietly, when all of a sudden the whole multitude, from end to end it seemed, gave rise to a united cheer. Looking around me, I noted that everyone was looking skyward.
I followed suit, but failed to see anything enlightening. Yes, there was the sky up there, which would at any moment be filled with the flash of a dozen-and-hundred fireworks, but for the time being it was relatively blank and unassuming. Looking up, there was also the famous KL Twin Towers, which were the highest in the world for some time long ago. For the first time in my sixteen-year existence, I realised how majestic the building looked at night.

 And then something caught my eye. What's that on the top of that building there? Is it a clock?

 Yes... Everyone was looking at the clock, cheering at each minute approaching New Year. The recent cheer, it appeared, marked the ticking of the clock into 11:59!

As is custom approaching the final seconds of New Year, some of the audience tried to assemble a shaggy countdown. But this wasn't the kind of clock that greeted second-by-second accuracy with a warm smile. In the end, the final seconds went something like: "Seven... six... five... four... threeWHOOOOHAPPYNEWYEAR!!!"

The clock was silent, but the ring of the figurative tower bell resonated in everyone's minds as we hit New Year's Day. And turning around, what should we see but a single stream of light sailing up into the heights of the sky, like the stalk of a rapidly sprouting plant, which bloomed beautifully when it reached the peak of its ascent. Punctuality is the courtesy of kings. Before long, the sky was filled with beautiful lights.

A standard, burst-type fireworks, to get the show started.

And look, an army of streamer fireworks, which leave long trails of light before silently winking out! These strangely remind me of missiles.

What's ironic is, the armageddon probably won't look a whole lot more different than this. I suppose that's a very glass-half-empty point of view, but it might be better than someone who looks at a nuclear explosion and is reminded of fireworks.
There was also this kind of firework which rose high into the sky, then erupted into these streamers which fell lightly back down. It was quite unique, and got a cheer or two from the audience.

And, of course, image-type fireworks. It doesn't matter if it isn't even a particular image, as long as its an image-type firework. In this case, it looks like one of those planets, which one is it now, the one with the rings around it.

Towards the end of the show, it occured to me that my handphone took videos too, and that a video of fireworks might work better than photos. I switched to video camera mode in time for the grand finale. My handphone can take about 12 seconds of video at a time, and this is that much of the grand finale.

video
Through all the explosions and cheering, my baby sister slept like a lamb. I'm not sure why I had to take a picture of it.



And look, the show lasted for nine minutes. I took a picture of the clock as we left, so that I would remember what the time was. Yes, I'm a bumpkin.



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This post glitched up when I was adding the photos. Happy new year to you too, glitch.

The inconsistency of the capital letters in the words "New Year" in this post unsettles me, but its midnight (duh) so I can't be bothered to reread everything. What's new?