Monthly Archives: July 2009

Round the island

  1. Visited Tampines 1 for the first time recently. It seems almost sad that the typical ‘latest place’ to check out tends to be newly-opened malls, but I suppose that’s just the way it is in urban Singapore. It seemed nice enough, especially if you live in the area, but I guess the main attraction for me would be the UNIQLO outlet – I quite liked the label when I was in Japan, and the prices don’t seem to be marked up too much over here. There’ll be a new branch opening in a more central location soon, though, so I don’t think I’ll really be visiting Tampines 1 very much.
  2. The Singapore Food Festival has just recently passed, and on the last day I happened upon a stall near my house that was selling (apparently Tunisian) kebab. It looked decent enough – made of real chunks of chicken instead of just processed meat like they do in the UK – but unfortunately it didn’t match up to the memories of the wonderful gyros meals I had in Athens. There’s something about roasted pork slivers that chicken just can’t emulate, I think.
  3. The (not-so-)exciting Google conference room. I ended up going for the AdSense workshop in the end, and though it was really rather boring (going through tips that are mainly available on their websites), at least I’ve earned some geeky bragging rights. Their beverage bar in the conference room was amazingly well-stocked, though – they had Yakult and even Orangina, which I actually really enjoy but find to be rather rare and expensive these days.
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An atheist's prayer

laptop is saved! praise be to the flying spaghetti monster! may his noodliness bless this lowly hard drive that it might lose no data during recovery tonight. ramen.

Is it normal to be simultaneously offended and amused by this? On the one hand, it is clearly condescending towards theism with the invocation of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but on the other, you’ve got to hand it to the author for the clever play on words…

Tweet-bate Step #1

I’ve come up with a WordPress site that I’m planning to use for the first phase of my unit on debates (yes, we’re teaching that at my school, which is simultaneously cool and scary, considering that I actually know very little about them). The plan is to tap on their existing expository-writing skills and their love for things web-related to bring them through topical discussions, culminating in a mini-debate held conducted via Twitter.

I’ve no idea how successful this will be – in my head it could turn out awesomely well, or turn into an awesome failure.

p.s. Any ideas about the title for the site? I started with ‘Talking Point’ and that seemed somewhat blah. ‘In Focus’ isn’t much better, really.

Another year

Seems like for some reason, I only need to clear my army fitness test by October 2010, which is a year later than I’d initially thought – great news since I can currently only do one pull-up (versus the required six).

So now I’ve got another year to prepare, or perhaps deteriorate even further. Yay?

School days

  1. Flu season in Singapore leads to many teachers being out of action, and classes getting isolated (if a substantial percentage of the class is sick). I was asked to relieve a colleague for one of these isolated classes, and instructed to wear a mask while teaching them. I wonder if these masks will ever gain as widespread an acceptance as they do in Japan?
  2. I’d idly asked one of my Chinese students in my form class about the contents of his water bottle (greenish liquids with lumpy things really attract attention – I could easily guess what was inside, but I’d just never seen Chinese tea in a school water bottle before!), and a few days later he proceeded to give me a box of tea leaves. I don’t know if this is the norm in China, but I accepted it thinking maybe it’s a cultural thing to be so trigger-happy with gifts. Hope I’m not breaking any rules by doing so!
  3. It was Racial Harmony Day today, and the Parents’ Association set up some booths selling ethnic food. I got myself a Peranakan set meal which was really hearty and quite delicious – the stalls were starting to close by the time I got there, so the Indonesian stall just gave me a free piece of fried chicken as well. Mmm.

Going to Google

I wasn’t all too interested when I first read this, but I later thought it might be a great chance to check out Google’s Singapore office (I’m current not really that into optimising AdSense revenue, especially since mine is a rather small operation). Still, I was too lazy to apply, and so I missed the first deadline.

Today, though, a second chance revealed itself in my inbox, so I’ve decided that perhaps this was a sign for me to go down to look at the geeky paradise that is Google (woohoo!) and meet other money-minded geeks (err… woohoo?).

It should be an interesting experience, even if I’m currently not all that interested in the actual agenda.

Favourable exchange rate

So apparently the Straits Times is saying that the Euro is worth something like 0.2 Singapore cents. I guess this is the perfect time to head to Europe for a vacation.

Masks and tea

  1. This statue of the courtesy lion, converted to encourage the wearing of face masks, really had me tickled. I love how his arms are still stretching out towards a warm friendly embrace, despite his obvious fear of transmitting/contracting a virus.
  2. I’ve been buying quite a lot of teh-c, and I finally decided that the ingredients were pretty cheap and I should just make my own. It turned out to be pretty enjoyable, actually, and since I’m too lazy to add sugar, my version might actually be more healthful than what they have in the shops!

The shouting man

I was headed to the MRT station from school today when I heard a man shouting at a bunch of senior students from my school.  Curious as to what exactly he was spouting (perhaps he was complaining about certain inconsiderate actions the students were guilty of), I stopped for a moment to listen to what he had to say.

It soon became clear, however, that his grievances had little to do with the students themselves. The man was angrily telling them that the whole lot of them were born with silver spoons in their mouths, that these evil elite institutions had no right to exist, that the students’ powerful gahmen parents had screwed up the way the country was being run real bad. I’m not sure what I would have done in the past – I’m ashamed to admit that I’d probably have done the Singaporean thing and just walked on by – but now that I was an employee of the school, I decided to intervene.

“Excuse me sir, could you please stop shouting at the students?” I asked. Perhaps not the best start, but I managed to deflect his attention from them (whom I signalled to walk away quickly). He continued shouting at me for awhile, and although initially irritated with him, I gradually came to sympathise with him. Clearly, the man must have been under a tremendous amount of stress. I started trying to talk to him instead, to enquire about the source of his pain, as we started walking towards the train station.

I never did find out what was bothering him so deeply in the few minutes that ensued, but by the time we reached the station his volume had gone down noticeably. I wasn’t able to help him in any concrete way during this brief encounter, but I do hope that my (rather minimal) show of concern and willingness to hear his thoughts helped him in his troubled state.

Ramping up

It seems like I’ve got quite a bit on my plate this semester.

  • 4x Sec3 English classes
  • 2x Sec1 Oral Communication classes
  • 2x DMP modules to plan (basically coming up with my own electives)
  • 1x Research Education group (essentially a rebranded IRS/Project Work)
  • 1x (co-)Form class
  • 1x CCA

Happily, the workload hasn’t quite come full swing yet, since I’ve mainly been administering in-class assessments these 2 week (plus, the H1N1 issue has limited after-school activities).

Strangely enough, there’s a small (obviously insane) part of me that’s rather excited by it all. Let’s just hope that I’m up to the task and survive my first semester.