Thursday, May 31, 2012

How I'm gonna spend my weekend

The first week of school holidays is coming close to an end. And what have I accomplished so far?
Practically nothing! Except I studied ahead one chapter of History, and half a chapter of Biology and Physics, both of which are negligible.

So does that mean I'll be spending my weekend studying more to put myself ahead of the game when school reopens?
Absolutely not!

In my post a few days ago, I mentioned that I was going to an Orang Asli village for a camp. We leave tomorrow morning, and return on Friday

The trip, organised by the Methodist Youth Fellowship (MYF) at my church, is actually the MYF camp for 2012. Most years, we go to cool highlands or sunny seasides where we listen to Christian messages and enjoy ourselves as well. But this year, we're going to a village instead.
Example of a typical Malaysian Orang Asli village.
I think the English word for Orang Asli is "Natives"? Basically, they're populations of people living in the woody mountainy areas of Malaysia, and live a very simple lifestyle, without worrying about electricity and cars and televisions.

This is a big change from our usual relaxed annual camps, but most of us, including me, are looking forward to it. We shall learn to live like the Natives live! We shall throw off our iPhones and video games, and be off to the roots of the land, amidst the wildlife and the trees! We shall bathe in the rivers clad in old clothes and towels, and eat wild boars and lizards! As long as they're not endangered, of course. These days even natives have to watch what they kill.

Activities will mostly include sharing messages with the native churches, helping out with children's ministry, and, on the last day, painting one of the new churches! Other than that, I don't really know what to expect out of it, this being the first time a camp was held at an Orang Asli village.

Tonight has been a flurry of preparations, and I'm a bit nervous about tomorrow, because being of of the oldest remaining members of the MYF, I've been elected as the Camp Commandant. I've always been vaguely aware of the existence of a Camp Commandant during previous MYF camps, but I've never found out what it is they actually do, and whatever it is, I'm going to have to do it.

That's about all I can think of to say right now. I shall return with pictures and stories aplenty, all courtesy of my ever-trusty, not-so-new-but-still-shiny handphone! But for now, I must retire, so as to awaken in the morning afresh! Tallyho, and adventure awaits!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Poem - Sleep

To sleep is to dream
And to dream, to sleep

Sleep is like money
Some find it hard to come by
Some have far too much of it
And some can find it anywhere
In the bus, or in the classroom
But not in their wallets
Although some may dream
of sleeping in wallets.

To dream is to forget
And to forget, to dream
Until you wake up
And remember your misfortunes
But those who remember their blessings
Can live the dream.

"He felt frightened at first, for the wind moaned dismally over the empty fields: and he was cold and hungry, and more alone than he had ever felt before. Being very tired with his walk, however, he soon fell asleep and forgot his troubles." ~~ Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens


I like abstract poetry, but sometimes I'm afraid mine strays rather far from "abstract" and leans considerably towards "incomprehensible".

Monday, May 28, 2012

Good Morning!

Ahh, a plate of fluffy pancakes and a glass of fresh milk! The breakfast of dreams!

I love the holidays, mounds of homework notwithstanding!

Breakfast during the holidays tastes better early in the morning.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Back in Business

Yeehaw, Kawabunga, L.O.L, and all the rest! Exam season is OVER!
Hats a plenty, better than confetti
Everybody put your hats in the air, and wave them around like you just don't care! Not that I'm likely to do that on my real graduation day though. I'm willing to bet that more than 50% of the hats in the picture were stolen when they reached the ground again. No, I'd rather just shout hurrah and hold on to my own hat, thanks.

So, exams are over! The clouds are cleared! The shadows are gone! I now have ample reason to throw everything off, kick all my books, scream my hair off, slump down into a chair in a posture that absolutely punishes the backbone, matchmake my eyes with the television screen, and not get any sleep at all!

Then why do I feel like studying?

Its supposed to be holiday times! Full of sun and surf and scabs! Time to eat, drink, make merry, and watch television! But this year, things have to be different.

Perhaps the words that I have often repeated to my friends are starting to sink in to myself: "SPM this year, no play-play!" Even during my preparation for the mid-term exam, I found myself for want of time, between homework, tuition and studying. I almost frightened myself when the first thought that entered my head when I remembered the holidays was "Oh, good, I'll have plenty of time to read up." Shock of my life, indeed!

Oh, but I wasn't planning to blog today just to tell you guys about my oh-so-boring holidays plans (unless you like History, which will be the main subject of my studying, but nevertheless seems inapprorpiately dull blogging material). As a matter of fact, I've actually got something quite interesting going on during the holidays. I'm offskiing to the woods in the highlands, to live with the "Orang Asli" (literal translation from Malay: "Original People") in their villages among the trees! Returning to my roots and all that. No, not really. I'm a pasty city Chinese kid. If anything, my roots would be inside the boundaries of the Great Wall. The trip to the Orang Asli village is a bit of a missionary trip arranged by my church. It's going to be an experience for me, especially since I'm the Camp Commandant. Panic? Yes. More on that as the date approaches.

Also, now that holidays are here, I will be able to spend much more time behind the keyboard. That means I'll have plenty of time to amuse and entertain you guys with my witty anecdotes and abstract poetry! Oh, don't look so sad, they're not that bad, really.

"Come, woo me, woo me, for now I am in a holiday humor, and like enough to consent." ~~~
William Shakespeare

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Difference between Intelligence and Wisdom (my understanding of)

Without a doubt, the words "intelligence" and "wisdom" carry two separate meanings; at least, to the literate. As for the common Malaysian student in the street, their only indentification of the dissimilarities between the two words is the one they got from video games: that Intelligence affects Magic Power, and that Wisdom affects Magic Defense. Of course, the real application of the words are actually much more deep and contextual than that.

Consider the monks in their monastery, chanting throughout the day and meditating on the important things in life; or even the hermit sage who lives on the mountaintop, as so often depicted by TV. One would say that they are seeking for worldly or cosmic wisdom. The word "intelligence" doesn't really fit anywhere into the picture.

On the other hand, consider the student, who spends all his time in the library, leafing through archives and text books; or hooded, shadowy figures, moving from pile to pile of books, in a dark, vast room filled with bookshelves, discovering and discussing how the world works, as often depicted by the darker regions of the mind. It is possible that, on some level, these people may be considered to be searching for wisdom - as much of it as can be imparted from aged scraps of paper - but perhaps intelligence would be a better word.

Wikipedia and Wiktionary both display slight differences between the definitions of the two words. According to Wiktionary, "intelligence" refers to the capacity of the mind, especially to understand principles and apply it to practice - whereas "wisdom" refers to the ability to make a decision based on experience, knowledge, and intuitive understanding.
Both are fairly incomplete definitions. Wikipedia provides a wider explanation. "Wisdom" is an understanding and realization of people, events, or situations, resulting in the ability to make judgements. "Intelligence" is the possesion of the abilities abstract thought, reasoning, problem solving, etc.
The Wikipedia page on "wisdom" featured a considerable amount of philosophy, whereas the "intelligence" page cited the word "psychometrics" more than once.

From all of this, even the common Malaysian student in the street can form a vague understanding of the difference between wisdom and intelligence. However, some people find it necessary to pit different forms of knowledge against each other to find out which one is the greatest. Many would go on about the differences between "head knowledge" and "heart knowledge", and how intelligence would be useless without wisdom; but in truth, intelligence plays a much bigger role in modern life.

As King Solomon was a very religious man, the Lord gave him a choice of any one thing he wished for. He could have wished for money or long life, but instead, King Solomon asked for wisdom - a decision which showed that he had a sizeable amount of it to begin with. It is with the wisdom that he received, that we hear the myriad number of tales about how he solved problems: the two mothers' child, the queen's ten children, etc. But he was evidently rather intelligent as well, as was required of a king.

Albert Einstein is largely regarded as one of the greatest minds in history. The theory of relativity and E-equals-M-C-square are only two of his many world-changing theories. Some may joke about his electrifying hairdo, but under all that frizzle was an intelligent cranium. He didn't obtain his intellect through meditation or sitting on a mountain; no, he received a proper education. However, those who knew him often regard him as a man of great wisdom as well.

The top spot falls to neither wisdom, nor intelligence. Both are needed in perfect balance to be considered a truly knowledgeable being. With intelligence, one can solve the more complex and challenging problems in life - and with wisdom, the metaphysical ones.

Unfortunately, humans still insist on placing price tags on the younger members of their species - namely, through exams and grades. Perhaps one would not be so bothered about it, if these tests did not focus so much on conventional intelligence - in fact, even of true intelligence are these examinations sadly lacking. This is where the term "head knowledge" comes in. This is especially true in Malaysia, as any common Malaysian student in the street can tell you. I am generally non-partisan, and shall refrain from delving too deeply into the subject, but when even the Sunday newspapers comment on the country's system of education, you know something's not right somewhere. Many claim that the Malaysian system of education focuses a lot on head knowledge, and that students with large memory capacities, and not the truly intelligent ones, are the ones who excel. In Malaysia, students are not given oppurtunities to express their excellence in the arts, such as music and, ahem, writing, to the extent that some students leave the country in order to pursue these arts without being boxed in by Malaysia's narrow-mindedness. And yet we complain about the flow of money out of the country, eh?

To that end, it is for one such an examination that I will be sitting for in the coming week, and must therefore study tediously for it. With any luck, perhaps I may be able to glean some amounts of wisdom and intelligence from these books; but head knowledge seems more likely. And so, I bid farewell to my kind readers, as I take a few weeks of hiatus from internet for studying. Was this post just a superfluous way of saying that I'll be away for a while? Well, don't ask, don't tell. Adieu.