Friday, January 29, 2016

The first four

It has once again been an incredibly hectic start to the new school year, and truth be told, after all these years, it has still not gotten any easier to cope with it in spite of the increasing years of experience under my belt. This is partially due to there always seeming to be more things to do, some of it out of sheer necessity (e.g. marking), but others at best falling into the "good to have" category. Hasn't helped that i find myself remaining as distracted as ever, and that i probably take as hard a line on myself to deal with this as i (by nature) do on my students, which is to say, not a hard line at all.

The experience has made me more aware of my own strengths and shortcomings as a teacher though, which has really helped me better come to terms with what i am suited to and what i should avoid like the plague. Thankfully, in many circumstances i've had the opportunity to ease away from those duties that i could never see myself doing well, which is a marked improvement from how things were in the past (which at least from the eternal optimist's perspective has helped shaped how things are like today for me). However, i've still had to deal with a lot of negative or at least unhelpful sentiments that run through my head from time to time, which i think will remain as something to keep a watch out for in the year ahead.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Goodbye to Hols

Every year i try to get myself more psychologically and physically prepared for the eventual reopening of school, but it never really pans out. This year, of course, is no exception. Even with trying to give myself a bit more time between arriving back and the start of the new school year, i've barely made much decent use of the extra days, at least as far as work-related matters are concerned. Truly, work is work and holidays are holidays, and seldom ('never' would, thankfully, be an overstatement) the twain shall meet.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Mes larmes pour tous

Happened to be in the vicinity of the French Embassy just now, so i stopped by for a moment. I'd like to think that if i were near the Lebanese Embassy, or for that matter, any embassy of any country afflicted by such a senseless mass loss of innocent lives as France has just been, i'd feel compelled to do the same, but i can't yet truthfully say that i would. Am not trying to be preachy here (for i still fall short myself), but still, as we mourn the Paris tragedy, perhaps it's also timely to remember that no one single life, regardless of religious belief, ethnicity, nationality, social status or any other distinguishing factor, is any less precious and valued than that of any other.
The context behind the following quote may be rather different from the current situation, but i think it rings true nevertheless.
"Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God."
- Bob Pierce

Sunday, October 18, 2015

All (Tropical) Things Bright and Beautiful

During service today, we sang "All Things Bright and Beautiful", very apt given that today's Harvest Sunday. Anyway, i thought i knew all the lyrics to this hymn by heart, but then towards the end the screen brought up these two verses:

The sea bejewelled with islands
And fishes formed by him,
The palm fringed sandy beaches
He made for us to swim

The dark and steamy jungle,
The pouring monsoon rain,
The jade green of the padi
Beneath the sun's bright flame

I must admit that i was trying to avoid chuckling ever-so-slightly when these verses came up as my initial reaction was one of somewhat cynical amusement. I also had a sense that i was not the only one. The lyrics just seemed a bit contrived and didn't fit in with the original ones.

However, upon some thought, i guess it's certainly admirable that someone in the region had thought of contextualising these Western hymns so that churchgoers who may otherwise have had no idea what exactly is a purple-headed mountain or the cold wind in the winter (before the advent of more affordable air travel and the internet) had they stuck to the original verses. In fact, upon doing a quick internet search, i realised that there are even more verses:

And in any case, it's not as though i could have done a better job :)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Inedible Ink

I was polishing off a red velvet muffin when i noticed some crumbs on one of my fingers, so i licked them off. However, there were a couple of stubborn crumbs that refused to budge, in spite of me having licked my finger repeatedly. Upon closer inspection though, i realised why - those were not red velvet crumbs but rather red ink stains from the marking that i had done earlier. Eating ink - yet another sad marking milestone accomplished.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Jubilee Jubilation (or the lack thereof)

I've never been a National Day enthusiast. While growing up i do recall attending a few parades (specifically remembering one in the 80s at the old National Stadium when they gave out giant green and orange enlarged hand thingies, as well as the Silver Jubilee one held at the Padang in 1990) but i was never really enthralled by it all. As i grew older i also grew more disinterested in the celebrations, in part due to having become more cynical in general (another story for another day), but also due to (wholly coincidentally) also having developed an aversion to both crowds and loud noises, both of which are hardly in short supply at any parade. No surprise then that my favourite National Day so far hands-down is the one in 2006, for the simple reason that it's the only National Day i've spent out of the country; being a whole ocean away meant i didn't have to go out of my way to avoid what i considered to be a big fuss.

This year's festivities certainly didn't help change my mind. The whole SG50 thing was too much for me even from early this year, let alone as August finally came, and some of the painfully contrived ways in which it has been shamelessly used (and abused) have been plain cringe-worthy for me. I've never been a fan of overt displays of (sometimes so-called) patriotism, so having SG50 figuratively shoved down my nose and throat was hardly helpful in doing this. At the same time, try as i might, i cannot understand how some (or perhaps more accurately, the majority) of those i'm acquainted with still seemed to have been so excited about the whole thing. Certainly too, i cannot agree with the sheer costs involved for this year's celebrations in particular.

To each one's own, of course. I most certainly respect my fellow Singaporeans' right to celebrate (and indeed there is a lot to celebrate). I just wish that i had more breathing space to stay away from it all. I shall just take it as yet another thing i'd just have to deal with. Better that than to try to force myself to fit in.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Don't Stop Me Now!

Of late i've not been having much success when it comes to my main exercise activity (which is running, btw). Having been busy for much of the first half of the June holidays, traveling and sick for the rest of it, and recuperating from the aforementioned sickness for the first week or so into the new term, i didn't run at all for jsut over a month, before finally starting again a couple of weeks ago, and pretty much starting from near scratch as far as fitness levels and stamina are concerned. Furthermore, there have been quite a few events going on at my usual running spot (ECP) at my usual running slot (early Saturday morning), which led to me being chased out once due to the SEA Games and diverted another time due to some other event.

Hence i was pretty happy with myself last Sat, when i actually felt a semblance of the fitness and stamina levels that i once had, and even though there was a route cordoned off for some triathlon, it was only on the bike path, so i thought i was good to go on the running path.

However, i soon encountered a roadblock, in the form of a pathway stretching right across the running path for triathletes to use when transitioning from the sea to their bikes. I had to wait around a minute (which to me is enough to cut your momentum) for the pathway to be free for me to cross it. Of course, this is a public place, so they have every right to do this. What i could have done without was the organiser's adding insult to injury by blasting Queen's Don't Stop Me Now out loud, presumably as a fitting motivational soundtrack for the exhausted triathletes. Ironically though, now i (along with several others) was the one who ended up being stopped thanks to them.. Certainly not a good time (good time) for me..