Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Away Message

I’m going to be away from the comfort of my house and the pleasure of internet until March next year. National Service, here I come!!!

So, there will be no posts from me until next year. Sorry for any inconvenience. But, please stay tune. I do hope to have visitors when I came back.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

I Don't Wanna Grow Up

There is this old photograph of me standing in front of our previous house in JB, which my parents absolutely adored. In this particular photo, I was holding a pink umbrella on one hand, and one of my favorite cuddly toy on my other hand. This cuddly toy previously belonged to my older sister. When she grew up (she’s 10 years older than me), she gave it to my other older sister (who is 5 years older than me). And by the time this photo was taken, the cuddly toy finally belongs to me. From the looks of my expressions in the photo, I seemed very happy and probably of the fact that my mom was holding the camera, focusing on me. I had this smile across my face that shined with personality and gave the picture a bit of innocence.

What innocence and decent times those were; I was yet unaware of the cruel realities of life. Everything was care free and easy. I pretty much do my own thing. This includes spending almost every minute of my early days in front of the television. Power Rangers, Ultraman, and Kampung Boy are my favorites. I sure miss the days with countless hours doing absolutely nothing stressful; I would give anything to be a child again.

As a little kid, I used to be happy and active. I have countless scars on almost every part of my body due to my mischievous act. I didn’t mind when people laugh at me since all I care is having fun.

Thirteen years later, my parents took another photo that they absolutely cherish. It was the same star, it’s me but this time I’ve become taller, and gained extra weight too. The cuddly toy that used to be my buddy is nowhere to be found since I don’t have any younger sister to pass it on.

I’m no longer interested in Power Rangers or any other action-figure. I get headaches whenever my little brothers or my nephews get their hands on the remote control. I lead an inactive lifestyle since I am too busy trying to improve my grades and to impress people. I rarely do what I really want to do since I am scared of what other people might think of me.

Nowadays, whenever I look at my old photographs or watch my nephews and little brothers, I think back at how great those times were when I was a kid. It’s quite sarcastic that as a kid you always want to grow up fast so that people treat you differently and hear your voice. However, when you grow up you wish you could turn back the time.

Life is full of misery, loneliness, and suffering- and it’s all over much too soon. –Woody Allen-

Teacher and Student Relationship

There is a unique ‘thing’ between the teacher, educator, tutor, governess, lecturer, guru, mentor- whatever their name is, with their student, pupil, learner, apprentice- whoever we call ourselves. There’s a saying that sounds like this: Do not judge a book by its cover. But still, we can’t resist the fact that we all do that, don’t we?

When it comes to teachers, some of them can’t escape the fact that they are being judged by their students. Some students will grow a love/hate or a friendship/enemy relationship with their teachers. At first encounter it seems easy to judge teachers, but eventually you always learn something.

This is a story from someone whom I know, about her relationship with her teacher, which I think, is worth to display here.

My math teacher has transferred to another school. She is always loving but at the same time disciplining, smart and one word best describe her is extraordinary.

My greatest regret was that I got a C for Additional Mathematics in the final exam. It was one shocking result for me. I couldn’t give that to her. Even I didn’t like that fact, but a C was one last impression 
about me that I left her. On her last day, she even asked what happened to me. I was feeling so down that I couldn't answer  such a simple question.

Anyhow, a new year begins. A new math teacher, replacing her is reporting to our school real soon. Rumor spreads out that it is going to be a male teacher. A young one. Freshly graduated from a top university. All my girl classmates are looking forward to meet him. Yeah, right. I still think that it will never be the same. I miss my previous teacher.

The day finally comes. He enters our class, introduces himself, and starts teaching. As usual, I judge people. His voice is shaky. His explanations don't make any sense. He refers to the textbook a lot. This guy is either lack of confidence, or lack of preparation. And I’m practically not interested. So, I surrender to my tiredness. I sleep in his math class!

This is going on and on. I’m not sure when will I stop. If I do not sleep, I’ll do my own work. Things become even worse when I feel that his teaching is consuming too much time. I prefer that we spend more time on exercises rather than listening to his babbling about math in our daily life. The truth is, I grow my extreme dislike of this new teacher because I felt being underestimated by him. Why? The answer is simple. He did not recommend my name to a try out for Mathematics Olympiad. I still can’t believe it. I entered the Olympiad last year, and he didn't give me a chance just because of one lousy C compared to many other A’s I've got before.

One other thing is I felt quite embarrassed due to one incident. I was asleep while he is teaching in front. I wasn’t so deep in sleep. I still hear everyone around me. Suddenly, I feel like there’s someone at my side. There he is. My new math teacher is looking patiently at me. He is holding a piece of paper, and he asks me to answer one question about something that he has just taught when I was not paying attention to him. Even though I managed to answer his question (thank God), but still I got every eye in the classroom looking at me in disgust.

My ego should be praised in this case. I work harder than ever, I did a lot of math exercises and I never got anything but an A in every single test and exam. My new teacher is no longer complaining about me not paying attention in class. I knew this because once, he summoned my best friend to the Math Department. He asks her whether she got any problem with him. My friend is angry, instead of answering; she asks him why didn't he summon me too. The answer is simple and pleasant to me. He didn’t summon me because my performance in every test and exam is satisfying.

Trough my best friend, I finally understand the fact that this new teacher should not be blamed of. He made us copy notes (we never take notes in math class before) because the head of department insisted on it. He is teaching the way he is right now because he can’t leave the slow-learners to learn math on their own.

Only after that day did I realized that this new teacher is trying really hard to make us learn something. It is not just about getting best grades (although this is the school’s main priority), but it is also about relating math to our daily life and to applying it in problem solving. And that day, he finally gains my respect. I still do my own work while he’s teaching. But, we have discussed about it and he allows me as the fast-learner to move to another level. He’ll help me whenever I have difficulties. And I’m thankful that this new teacher did not report me to my parents or something.

However, I still didn’t tell him about me feeling quite sad being underestimated by him. Let’s just keep it as our secret, shall we? After all, I have proved that the C is just a stepping stone that push me to strive for my success.

From this story, we can conclude that nowadays the teachers, to some degree, need to demonstrate that they are worthy of the students' respect. Proving to us that they are not just another stereotypical teacher, trying to impress their students, but instead that they truly deserve the title of teacher.

Unlike stereotypical teacher, the teachers should be more creative in their teaching approach. I mean, if you’re teaching at 12 noon when the atmosphere is too hot, you can’t be using monotone voice. Students will fall asleep easily. Be more creative. Change your approach; don’t just explode your anger to students. It’s not entirely their fault.

In my friend’s case, the teacher solve his problem with students by communicating with them. It is clear that some student is hiding their own reasons. Teachers should just dig that problem out and together work out to find a solution that is acceptable by everyone.

No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars or sailed an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit. –Helen Keller

Friday, December 21, 2007

A Call for Humanity

About a year ago, I wrote this entry in my journal.

The title attracted me to read this inspiring story of Yvonne Fong, a neurofibromatosis (NF) patient. Instead of giving up and hoping for some miracle to happen, the 19-year old initiated various ways to raise funds needed for her to seek appropriate treatment in the United States.

She started with raising awareness through her blog, so people can get to know about NF. The, she initiated HEART4HOPE- a t-shirt fundraiser. Besides that, she is in the process of publishing a book titled 'I’m not sick, just a bit unwell’, which details her battle with NF.

Yvonne has to deal with people around her along this journey. People like supplier, customers and the community itself. I was drawn to her quote, “Instead of indulging in self pity, why not think of what we can do?”

In my opinion, her spirit is important to keep her hope alive. She is eager to live a healthy life once again. I did learn of the importance of integrity through her story.

I remembered reading the article about Yvonne in The Star newspaper So, I tried to retrieve that same article via the archive at The Star Online. Unfortunately, the archive lasts for 365 days only. Luckily, I managed to find Yvonne Fong’s website. And I’m glad that I can finally get the latest news of Yvonne. It seems that she has gone through consistent medical check-up (MRI scans to monitor her brain and some other stuff). She also managed to get several successful surgeries to remove the tumors in the past years. But still, she needs our support to help her fight this disease.

~Her story still touched my heart even for years.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

crouching LIGER hidden TIGON

While some people first came across the name of ligers through the 2004 released movie-- Napoleon Dynamite, I got my first exposure on this magnificent beast by watching a documentary. I’m not sure whether it was played on National Geography or Animal Planet or Discovery Channel (I love them all), I can’t really remember.

Since I only got the chance to watch the last 10-minutes of the documentary, I think that the information was not enough. So, I surf the internet, and I found about tigons. And so does about liguars, jaglions, leopons, and lots of other Panthera hybrid. And If I were to describe my feelings in one word, I would say I feel fascinated.

But, let’s just say that that is so not me. I love writing. This is why I wrote this article. For those who have no idea of both liger and tigon, here is a summary for you. Liger is the offspring produced by male lion and female tigress. On the other hand, tigon is the offspring produced by male tiger and female lioness.

The accredited zoos under American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) would never mix two different species. However, some zoos which own ligers claimed that it happened accidentally. Pity the lion; I think it must have felt really lonely that it is willing to mate with a tigress. Unlike ligers, tigons are much rarer since it is unlikely that a male tiger is able to mate with female lioness. Besides, a lot of tigon will die before they can make it into this world. Premature birth is also likely to occur due to some reasons.

Even though it was an accident, but, like any other scientific mayhem such as cloning, the existence of liger and tigon is also being questioned. It is the matter of etiquette. This is my personal opinion:

I think that liger and tigon should be given opportunities to live like any other protected animal since they are innocent. It was their parents’ fault right? Funny. Or maybe we should blame some people who breed them to gain money from their popularity as exotic animals.

Come to think of it, I can’t imagine if these humongous ligers (which stands ten feet tall on its hind legs), does live in the wild (but this can’t happen due to their habitats do not overlap). I mean, to survive an attack of a lion is considered really lucky, and to die of being attacked by a lion is considered as horrible, what would we say if we encounter liger (which can weigh up to 1000 pounds) looking at us as its prey? Oh no, this can give me nightmares!

And I pity the zoos, or any other centre that take care of them. Ligers obviously eat more. And that costs more money. Who says it is an easy job?
External Links

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Why I chose boarding school

In my very own house, we have certain policies that everyone should obey. These policies are not some sort of written laws, they are just some stuff that everyone just understand as something that we should do. And one of it is that everyone should get out of the house and study in any boarding school at the age of 16. Whatever that school may be, all we have to do is get ourselves a place in boarding school.

This may be the excuse I used in my favor to cover my enjoyment to experience new life, being away from my family. The thing is this was my dream.

So, for any of you out there who is still not determined whether or not to study in boarding schools or maybe parents who wants the best for your children or maybe even considerate grandparents about their beloved’s future, whoever you are, let’s share an insight about this matter.

First of all, we need to bear in mind that if you were to choose to attend a boarding school, you'll need to adjust to a new environment. What about the money spent there? Is it worth it? Couldn't the same education and experience be offered by any other type of school?

Being a boarding school alumni- - even though it has only been for a month at this moment, I have to say that attending a boarding school is worth it. You’ll need reasons right? My reasons are quite simple. My attendance to boarding school allows me to:

1. take responsibility
Living on your own, especially at young age is not an easy task to do. Of course you’ll get some assistance from everyone around you- it depends on how you socialize with people. But still, you’ll need to take care of yourself. This varies from simple things like doing your own laundry until some of the toughest tests like facing bullies. Not being under your parents’ supervision somehow influences some of you to try out new things, breaking the rules for example. Whatever that may be, in the end, you’ll learn to take responsibility for your own actions.

2. be in a healthy environment
Students who attended boarding schools had undergone some sort of screening first. They must be qualified enough and suits the criteria which have been preferred by the boarding school authorities. Not only that, the facilities and the teachers, and stuffs are tip top too. This is to ensure that the students have got whatever the need to achieve success and brings honor to the school.

Well, this depends on the type of boarding school. As in the case of in Malaysia, some boarding school doesn’t put their effort in this aspect. I suggest you to have a visit at that particular school first before you make that important decision.

3. have a lot of fun
Living in dormitories is fun. Imagine living in a house full of your best friends. Seriously, well, as long as you get along with your dorm mates. Here is my little advice: if you are not really the type of person who enjoys making new friends, you need to at least build a network of acquaintances. They will become handy, especially to provide you with some important information like the drama club is running interview sessions, or there is scholarship being offered right now and the due date is in 3 days.

Do not isolate yourself as you’ll end up empty and you will never be able to enjoy boarding school life. Face the facts that someday in your future; you’ll have to socialize with your office mates and get along with them to move you up the ladder.

4. learn more about peers pressure
Students are from all walks of life from a wide range of geographical background. Some of them are way different from you are. For all of these differences, you might consider to change yourself a bit to suit your pals better. Guess what. This will destroy your identity, you’ll be lying to yourself and every minute you experiences, you feel that you are pathetic. Therefore, build up your self-esteem first before you put yourself in any boarding school. Be confident of who you are.

If you are a jerk, everyone said so, including your very best friends, then you need to change a bit. Even if you don’t think so because you are just being honest and outspoken, you need to take action. Seriously, if that’s the case, try to learn some communication skills.

5. prepare for college life
The majority of boarding schools are geared for motivated students who are looking to explore new opportunities. They are often ideal choices for students who are already doing generally well at school and at home, but would simply like to find new challenges. Some of the top boarding schools are being trusted by big names in scholarship, foundation and special program for high-achievers.

6. save my money
The fees include the cost of food at the dining hall. As in my case, the food served by the dining hall 6 times a day is enough for me. Plus, the school is located so near to the hostel, I can walk. Compared to if I were attending public school which are located far away from my house, I’ll need to spend money on transportation.

7. realize how important my family is to me
As the old sayings goes: jauh di mata, dekat di hati - -it means if they are far that we can’t see them, they’ll be closer to our heart. Being away from just taught me that my family is irreplaceable.

8. discipline myself
Boarding schools usually have tighter rules. No TV, no cell phones, no staying up late at nights, and stuffs like that. Well, it depends on the school authorities but they usually have their own terms and conditions if that stuffs are allowed at their school. Of course the teachers are not supervising the students 24-7, this is why I said it taught me about self-discipline. This quality is something that will be desired by employers once these students enter the job world.

9. learn about time management
Good time management is crucial. The activities in boarding schools are packed, and they are designed that way on one purpose. That is, to encourage students to plan the amount of time they spent in particular aspects.

10. be a part of a unique community
Boarding schools have their own identity, their own tradition that has been shared among the students of many generations. This will lead to a sense of proud of their school and their status.

One last thing, i need to remind you that life is not easy. it is just the matter of how we deal with it. Tests, accidents, being hurt is a part of ingredients that colours our daily life.
These past 2 years in boarding school hasn't been the easiest for me, with this I learnt to appreciate and value my life and in many ways it made me who I am today and with that change has come, that change, for the best.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Why Play Chess?

The game of chess is one of the most popular games around the world. I’m not going to talk about the history of where the game begins (which is quite useless, because no one really knows for sure). I’m not going to talk about the boring stuffs like the rules and how to play this magnificent game either. You can check it out at wikipedia or any other sites later on.

Instead, what I’m trying to stress on this post is that we can learn a lot of things and gain a lot of advantage by playing chess.

1. Chess enhanced problem solving and abstract reasoning.
The main problem that the players should bear in mind is “How can I make it a checkmate?”. Therefore they will work their way throughout the game. In their effort to do this, they are calculating probabilities in each step. This is one of the reasons why some people associate this game to mathematics.

2. Chess trained us to stay focus
Based on my personal experience, you won’t win unless you are completely focusing on the game. Living in this new world with television and many other interactive electronic applications can cause lack of concentration. This may affect students and workers in their performance in their field. Therefore chess is a good start to fix this problem.

3. Chess trained us to work under pressure
Every player has their own personality. Some will act like some sort of bully—usually they are really good at chess and find excitement in their own way when facing players who are not at the same level. Facing these kind of opponent which will attack our king in every single step, or trick us to take away their valuable pieces but in turn, we’ll lose our queen, is very depressing. Besides this, there are many other factors that can cause pressure, for example, playing in tournaments.

4. Chess opens up the world for the players
Players can join any open tournament no matter whether they are beginners, intermediate or even the grand masters. There is no limit. You’ll meet a lot of players from different backgrounds—some attended international school of chess, some received training from professional player, and some are just ordinary people with extraordinary interest.

5. Chess doesn’t cost that much
Even if you can’t afford chess board, or not willing to purchase the game, you can always play it online, for FREE!!!!

6. Chess teaches us to take risks
Sometimes we need to take risks whatever it takes in order to save our king and to meet victory. After all, this is life all about, right?

Well, there are many other reasons why you should enjoy chess as much as I do. If you think that chess is only for smart people, well, guess it again. You are totally wrong! You don’t have to be smart. All you need is to learn the basic principles of how to move the pieces and the remainder will just come naturally. However, you need to be smart if you want to be good in the game. Of course you have to, it is like you have to be as good as a manager—who decides which piece should be sacrificed, and as good as an artist—because the steps and strategies are a form of art. Lessons from your own experience will somehow help you, so no need to worry.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Shopaholic Series

I’m not really into shopping, really. Yup, I’m a girl and I’m growing up, but still I didn’t have this urge to go shopping unless I really need to or if my parents happen to be asking me to buy something. I don’t know what I’ve missed out, maybe I’ll be lacking of crucial skills. I think that shopping requires a lot of skills, don’t you think so? You have to know the time of the year when sales are going on. You have to know which brand is the best and worth the money. You have to know how to choose the right clothes. And I don’t really master these things because whenever I go shopping, all I care is that I got everything on my list and get out of the store as quickly as I can. Every time I set a new record, I’ll be proud and I determined to set a new one next time. If you know any other person who does this, please inform me. ;p

Anyway, I’m actually going to write about the Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella. Have you ever read any of them? Some of my friends prefer Harry Potter series but I have to say that I have no interest on them. Hey, no offense. It’s just that I like to watch the movies rather than spending my time trying to imagining what’s written by J.K Rowling in the books. After all, it’s easier to watch movies right?

Alright, alright. Let’s go back into the main topic- the Shopaholic series. My first novel in the series is the ‘Shopaholic & Baby’, so I’m going to be specific about it throughout this entry. I read about Rebecca Bloomwood (now Brandon) because my friend suggested me to and I’m quite bored with homework. So, I spend some time reading again and I’m really impressed because usually I won’t read novels where the main characters don’t suit my taste or lifestyle. Even if I have to read, I’ll spend my time cursing that character. But Becky is an exception. Even if she is worst in managing her own finance (as a financial journalist, this is weird, how can she survive?), I think that we should give her a standing ovation for her creativity and her bravery too. Oh, I think that she is brave enough to fight against Venetia. Their rivalry is so classical.

When I look into novels, it’s not just the characters that count. If I’m going to judge a book, I’ll judge based on the conflicts that the author comes out with and how the characters react with the conflict. And Sophie did gain my respect, just like I respect R.L Stine because she manage to make my heart pounding so hard and made me laugh too at certain point.

It seems that I’ve ran out of ideas of what’s more to write about the novels. I guess it’s indescribable. You have to read it and you’ll know what I am talking about.

If you want to read an excerpt of the latest novels, you can always visit this site You know, before you decide whether or not to buy it at the bookstore. (Am I good at convincing people to buy things? Coz I don’t think that I’ve done a great job.)