Thursday, March 29, 2007

On Racial Integration

At the blink of an eye and the week is finally over again! Wow, it's nearing the weekends again! This always got me excited... not tat uni is not fun.. juz yesterday they have a cooking demo rite in the uni! It was exciting!

Today I read a very interesting piece of article on The Star concerning racial integration in Malaysia. At last they got it that Malaysian children are not integrating at all. To quote verbatim from the article:" Only 52% of the teenagers (in a survey of 4400 F4 students) said they had a friend of a different race." Worse still, only 12.8% felt that mixing with other races was something to be concerned about. Their apathy is simply shocking.

And true to the Malaysian spirit, the relevant authorities start to disseminate and tackle the problem by, guess what: Finding something/someone to blame! As can be seen in this article. The guy who is the National Unity and Integration Department director-general said “I attribute the findings to the current education system, which has resulted in lack of interaction among students of different racial backgrounds."

Sad. But I still have hope and faith that there's someone out there who is able to right the wrong someday.

In retrospect, what the guy said hold a grain of truth too. As I had gone through the Malaysian education system myself, I tend to agree with him that the education system is part of the problem. There is a dinstict lack of integration even in National school, nevermind vernacular school. In my class throughout my secondary school years, the majority of my classmates are Chinese. It is not that we don't want to make friends with kids of other colour, but we have virtually no chance to do it. Now the only way we can see Ali, Ah Kau and Mutu play together is on television commercials, for example the NST commercial. How pathetic.

I am sure a lot of people will have a lot of opinions on this issue and react to it diffrently. Some may see it in a more aggresive/violent manner, some may read it with ambivalence, some may just scour over it with a sigh of dejection. No matter how you all react, a reaction is good coz it means that deep down, you still love and care for the country. However, I guess now it's just not worth the energy to criticise the government on what they should had done or give opinions on how to tackle the problem, since we can't control that anyway. I think we just need to focus on what we can do individually. For example, maybe make a resolution to go out there today or tomorrow and make a friend from a different race or religion. Learn more about them. Appreciate them. Tell a friend to do the same. And tell a friend to tell friend to do the same. Pass it on. Let the ripple effect roll!

Guess thats my two-cents worth on that issue.

P/s: can someone advise me on how to save myself from someone that is doing his best to ensure that I contact the common cold that is unfortunately bogging him down now? Help! I dont want to be pulled down by a drowning guy!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Me, myself and my vices

Sometimes I read my friends' blogs and wonder with a tint of envy on where they got all the inspiration to write all the wonderful stuffs. Are their lives more interesting than mine? Are their life experiences more rich and their ability to see the world differently better? Sometimes I felt that compared to theirs, my life is quite bland, which is quite depressing. Or it is that I failed to look at the interesting-ness of an event?

Today I spent a fair amount of time watching TV. First I watch Dr Phil. Dr Phil is like your Aunt Agony or Dear Thelma on newspapers where they advise you on life matters. Today's featured patient is a self-confessed 'bitch'. Yeah she called herself a bitch and knew that she act like a bitch. And yet she continued living as a bitch, thinking that it is the only way to keep her station in life is simply being a bitch. Even if she had only a single friend. Quite interesting to see how someone justifies their behaviour, even though he/she knows and we know that being a bitch is undesirable. It is indeed a main facet of human fallacies: the thought that one is always right and others wrong.

After that I watched Oprah. She had a panel speaking on ageing gracefully or how to look young even when you are physically old. As I had suspected, it is all in the mind. If you think you are young, you are young. I had a beautiful essay by a Samual Ullman who wrote about Youth right in front of my study desk. The first paragraph reads "Youth is not a time of life, it is a state of mind: it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life." I like being young at heart, and be able to laugh aloud, scream whenever I want and squeal in delight like a child without getting disapproving looks from my peers.

Then I watched a cooking show. It always marvels me how the chefs can magically turn mundane, uninspiring everyday ingredients into scrumptious gastronomic delights. I always have a soft spot for cooking shows, with my favorite being Iron Chef.

At night, I watch a game show called 'The Rich List.' Basically it is a game where contestants need to list a certain number of items under a list. For example, name 18 capitals starting with the alphabet A,B or C. I like this kind of game show because it always makes me realise how shallow my level of knowledge is. It can motivate me to learn more about the big big world out there. There's an interesting question today that sounds like this: name Maria's favorite things as sung in the song Maria - My Favorite Things in the movie Sound of Music. Even though I watched the movie 3 times before and can hum the music.. guess it, I just can't remember the lyrics at all! However, the contestants managed to do it. Amazing!

If you are interested, the answer can be found below:

Maria: My Favorite Things Lyrics

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

Cream colored ponies and crisp apple streudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favorite things

Now I guess you are wondering where I wrote these seemingly innocuous and mundane TV shows. Well, I don't know. Perhaps just wanna share with you all what are important to me or what things interest me. I was inspired to write this post after reading the blogs of Chang Yang and See Hua, where Chang Yang wrote about his love for maths and med, and See Hua on reading about Physics and Politics and Computers et al. Guess after reading this post you might realise that I kinda like social stuffs like psychology and the wonders of our human brain. And yes I definitely like cooking and reading. The stuffs I read are usually fiction, unless it has to do with self-motivation or personal development. Dry books are a big no-no. For examples of good dry books, see See Hua's blog.

Currently I am very interested in sampling the feeling of being chased by the opposite sex. Personally I felt that guys are unlucky in that they are often the initiator in looking for a girlfriend, thus really depriving them of the excitment of being pursued. The fluttering of hearts, the increase in adrenaline pumping, the heightened state of anticipation - I read tons of it in book but in reality how does it really feel like? Even though it seems remotely impossible, I still haven't lost hope that some girl out there will fulfill my interest. The horoscope reading this week seems to indicate that it may happen:

gemini: may 21 to june 21
A couple of things you were hoping for finally happen [me: wow...] (...) Jupiter in your angle of marriage and intimate relationships means you have wonderful vibes for your love life [me: put two and two together.. aha!] (now keeping fingers crossed) =P

Hope this blog manage to throw some light on who I really is. Actually I don't even really understand myself. I felt that I am full of paradoxes.

Yeah by the way, I also enjoy dancing (juz tried Bollywood dance laz week n hip hop laz yr) and I do play popular guy-ish computer games like DotA and Counter Strike and Football Manager. Someone said its hard to picture me playing comp games juz now. Hmm.. do I look like a serious no fun guy?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

One week to go

There's one week to go before my 15.2km run. Really anticipating that day...

This is my run number. It came by post on Friday. I intended to finish the distance by 1 1/2 hours. Thats equals to roughly 1 km every 6 mins. Did another practice run today, and managed to get 6 km under 40mins. Hopefully a few more days of training will do the trick.

After writing my previous post on smoking, I got an inspiration to look into the benefits of smoking. And like a true professional scientific minded person, I looked it up in a myriad of medical journals in my uni library. After half and hour of hardwork shifting through a ton of jun, I finally found one that is worth mentioning:

"Smoking cigarette can significantly reduce the probability of you contacting inflammatory acne."

How's that for an excuse to smoke?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Of Bollywood, shoes and marrying a walking chimney

I leanrt Bollywood dancing today! At last I know how to dance like Shah Rukh Khan. It is fun, exciting and amazingly simple. And I think a great way to lose weight too. Like hip-hop last year, a 1-hour session is enough to make me sweat and feeling tired. And best of all, its free! I wonder why all those ppl in uni never bother to go to these few activities where you can have free entertainment, free lessons and free food. For me, it is always good to learn something new... and speaking of food.. all the specially prepared Indian food are simply delicious. I'm hopeless in naming them.. but there are morukku, roti-naan, tandoori chicken and a whole range of finger foods and sauces. Not to mention the apple-pineapple-orange fizzly drink punch! Really out of the world!

Been busy the whole week. Spent 4 hours at Melb Uni on Sat for a photography workshop. Then on Sunday, been to a practice run along the Yarra river. I managed to run more than 10 kms! So happy.. and speaking of running, my fren Wee Loon brought pair of new shoes for the run. For me, I could only be contented with an old pair of shoes thats so bad it requires bandages to keep it from falling off all together. Anyone wants to sponsor me a new pair of shoes? =P

My poor shoes.

Today, someone ask me a peculiar question: would you accept a girl who smokes as your galfriend?

I answered yes.

And I got a long, hard lecture in return. Seems that people thinks gals who smokes are inconsiderate, will give rise to defective babies, have short lives and is a 'black widow'.

I know smoking is bad, but that does not equal that people who smokes are bad. Sometimes I think we as human have the fallacy of setting our mindset too narrowly. We have what we considered a good behaviour code and frowned upon those who does not behave in a way that fits in the code. We always think that we are right and therefore others must also believe what we think as right being right. So convinced that we are of our mindset that we sometimes somehow missed the whole big picture. Open-mindedness. We need to be open-minded...right? Well, actually I dunno why I answered yes. I know I wanted to answer yes but I dunno the reason behind it. mind's so complicated...

So anyone has any opinion on this? =)

P/s: Damn I juz discovered See Hua had tagged me a total of 3 times in a day. That guy muz be too love-sick to think properly..

P/s2: Am currently reading a fabulously long and entertaining book: The secrets of Jin-Shei by Alma Alexander. Highly recommended that you read it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Of SPM and certs

The news in The Star today left me a little bit disturbed.

First there's the story of this super-girl who was allegedly reported to achieve 19A1 in SPM by Utusan Malaysia last week but instead got only 14A1.

Then there is the story of a undergrade who lost an astounding number of 300 certs extolling his achievements in a bus.

Then there's the report that a total of 4311 students got straight As in SPM.

Then there's the collective news about the students achieving 16A1s and 14A1s etc etc.

There is completely no news about the normal you and me who study hard and get the normal range of 8-10As. It seems a long time ago that getting 10As is a big thing. It makes me feel stupid that I felt it was so hard to get all the A1s a mere 5 years back. Wonder what our parents are thinking? It was an achievement for them to get just a A in their years.

About the certs. I was like wow! 300 man... that's no mean feat. I have trouble getting 50.

I hate to say this but seems that Malaysian students are being subconciously trained by the government towards being record breakers. It's always about As and As and more As. I knew, because I was a product of this system and I always feel like wanting to be the best. I lived and thrived in competition. In school, they only award you for being good in exams. They only reward you for being good in co-curriculum activities, provided you also did well in exams. They only praise you when you managed to get 1st or break records for the school. If you didn't win, it's not your fault. It's a conspiracy theory. Like a dog, you are trained to fetch, to sit, to jump and fed with a piece of meat when you do them. They train you until you only feel successful and happy when you got the first prize in school and being the president of a club.

Only when you grew up then you realised how much you had missed in life. 'Opportunity cost' is what the economist name them. Instead of spending the time making friends, you used it to study. Instead of spending time learning the soft skills needed to improve your quality of life, you used it to show why you merited the post of president in a small, dysfunctional club (and of course, it comes with a cert). Reality will only kick in in the later part of life when you are alone in the world, with no idea how to cook or wash your clothes, and no friends to turn to for help. Hopefully by then, it is not too late.

What I wanted to share is that breaking records and earning certs is not everything in life. In fact, even if you managed to be a record holder, you are more likely not to be the best. The best usually don't like to compete with fools. They live in caves. For example the beauty queens contest. I always look at the gals at the contest and ask where did all the beautiful ladies go. Then I go to the supermarket and they are there, on the streets.

And yeah to put the nail in the coffin for those of you who still think that good results = intelligence.. there's apparently this anecdote shared by Chang Yang and Xuan Ni: When asked what she is going to do after getting this excellent results, the supposed-to-get-19A1a-gal apparently said she wanted to go to study pharmacy in Cambridge. But there seems to be a problem. Cambridge doesn't offer a pure Pharmacy course.

So much for good results = resourcefulness and intelligence and general knowledge and... but fair enuf, I didn't know Cambridge didn't offer Pharmacy also...but she is THE GAL - the gal who is supposed to super clever, the one supposed to score 19A1s and who wrote a book on how to get it. If she didn't know, will us lesser mortal know? (of course some of us did).

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Never felt so lucky

It seems that every time I intend to blog something, some dark forces out there will conspire to cut the internet connection and reduced me to a seething rage and fustrated no-more-mood-to-blog guy. I had even vowed not to blog anymore but this event is too significant not to let the world know.

Last nite, me and a bunch of frens went to the Moomba festival, which is one of the most exciting event in Melbourne. There's a fun fair there, with lots of games with lots of stuffed toys as prizes. Well, usually my luck is very bad when it comes to fun fair, I had spent a lot of money without winning anything. But eveything changed yesterday. I was at the booth where you fish duckling out of a pond and underneath the duckling there's a color that signify the prize you will win. So I duly fish out a duckling and hey pesto! I won a huge stuffed toy!

I put it next to my guitar so you know how big it is. It is at least 1m high.

I was so happy that I don't know how to react. It was the first try of the very first game I played that day and I had already won a big prize! Make me feel sooooo lucky! =)

Okay enough of that.. updates of my life. Now I'm in Melbourne, continuing my studies as a Pharmacy student. Now I'm in 3rd Year, and I feel so proud. Coz when you meet someone in the pharmacy college and they ask you what year level you are in and you answer third year, they will go "wow"..

I still live in College Square, and my big aim now is to compete in the Run for the Kids marathon, a total distance of 15.7km. We had assembled a team and have some organised training. Last week, we managed to jog to St Kilda beach from Melb Uni, which according to Chang Yang, is 7.7km long. Not bad...

P/s: Can you believe it? The crappy internet was disconnected again just before I wanted to post out this blog. How come this never happen to OWL? We shared the same internet connection and yet he can manage to post blogs up everyday...