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..

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

operation suck it up

Am now halfway back from my latest too-short holiday. In several ways (e.g. professionally, linguistically, physically) it has certainly been more enriching than usual. Part of the reason for this though stems from the fact that since this was an abridged vacation, there was less time for idleness. That being said, i am glad that i did make pretty much the most of what i could get. Now awaits the dreaded transition back to reality..

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Just Another Manic May

No surprise, given the above title, that the token monthly post comes this late. May has always been one of the most draining months as far as the school calendar goes, and this time has not been an exception. As i've probably wondered before, is it that i tire more easily now as i get older, or that there genuinely seem to be more things to do as each year passes. Probably it's a combination of the two, though of course i can't help but think that it's more due to the latter.

Anyway, the good news, i guess, is that May is soon to be over. The work is never over though..

Monday, April 06, 2015

spells disaster

Not the best of days at school today - after making what i thought was very good use of most of my free time over the Good Friday / Easter weekend, there still was (and is) so much to do, and so i wasn't (and am not) in the best of moods. No better time to be dealt with a slew of (albeit tiny) problems that made the day that much more frustrating - losing the latest soft copy version of a lesson resource that i had been working on in the train (yes, there is that much work to do); having my laptop restart thrice (and hence losing all the working documents) after closing the screen (and you'd think i'd learn my lesson after restart #1, but no..); losing precious lesson time due to technical issues, and then not being able to carry out much of what i'd planned so hard for over the long weekend due to the same aforementioned technical issues; forgetting to bring up to class lesson materials that i'd carefully prepared just a short time earlier; being shown attitude from a difficult student (oh how i could go on regarding that one if i was able to); mistaking one student for another one and calling him by the wrong name - the list goes on.

I don't mean to rant though - the point of mentioning all of that was that in spite of it all, the thing that bugged me most was that i could not spell the word 'consolidate' properly. Seriously..

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

a bittersweet goodbye

After service ended last Sunday, i made my way out of the church preparing, as per usual, to head off to find a quiet place to sit down and get some urgent work done. Earlier in the day i had been pondering over whether to break my normal Sunday post-church routine by rushing home to watch the live telecast of the State Funeral once the service had ended. In the end, i decided to carry on with my usual routine, since if i didn't i risked not being fully prepared for the next day's worth of lessons, and i reasoned that i still would be honoring Mr Lee through working in the interests of improving the learning experience of the students (in retrospect this sounds a bit lame, but it made sense to me at the time).

Exiting the church, with the rain still heavy, i noticed a sizable crowd of people gathered about fifty metres away at the fence facing the Padang, with several hundreds more along the pavement, perched at SRC, and pretty much anywhere else there was space. The rain may have had passed its heaviest moment, but it was still not letting up. Yet, it did not matter to anyone, with everyone eagerly anticipating the 21-gun salute and the funeral cortege that was soon to pass. On the spur of the moment, i decided to join them, armed with a flimsy and leaky umbrella which did just enough to keep me from getting soaked through like how many of them were after braving through the heaviest of the rain while i had been safely inside the church. Thankfully, i was able to find a spot that had a decent enough view of St Andrew's Road.

It wasn't more than five minutes before the first of the guns fired, dramatically scattering the flock of mynahs that had gathered at the Padang, seemingly oblivious to what was about to happen (though befitting the occasion, they were suitably clad in black). Following a brief moment of shock at the sudden loud bang coming from the gun, the crowd erupted into loud cheers. A couple of equally loud bangs later, the escalation in volume of the cheers indicated that the cortege was on its way. That's when the chants of "Lee Kuan Yew! Lee Kuan Yew!" started to ring, refusing to be drowned out by the aerial flypast above us. Then the cortege passed us, and what a poignant moment it was to see Mr Lee's coffin draped in the flag of the country he loved so much and gave so much up for. I didn't exactly have any tears welling up in my eyes, but nevertheless there was much gratitude and respect mixed with grief welling up in my heart. And i'm sure everyone gathered there felt the same way.

And that was it. It couldn't have lasted more than ten to fifteen minutes in total, but it was time very meaningfully spent. I quickly headed off to get some work done, thankful that i had one last opportunity to say my personal goodbye to someone whom i never really appreciated until it was too late.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

good, but not equal

Exactly a week ago i was doing some work at a cafe when i couldn't help but notice that some of the young people nearby were getting really excited about something. It wasn't hard to figure out what was exciting them - at least one, and possibly more of them were wearing ACS clothes, and one was remarking that there were six hours left to Founder's Day.

That has gotten me thinking - why do i still love the school as much as i do (even though i don't think i ever was nor will ever be as excited as those young people were)? There were plenty of good times over those six years, but many things that i didn't (and still don't) like. Perhaps things have changed for the better in the thirteen years since i've left, but i'm pretty sure that a lot of things still haven't - they're part of the culture, after all. Yet, even as this year marks the year when the school i'm at now takes over from the others as the school i've spent the most time at, i can't help but make comparisons, and have concluded that the extra eighty or so years of history does, at the end of the day, have a net positive impact on the school experience for the average student. The culture - both its good and bad bits - isn't something that you can expect to flourish overnight - or for that matter, over a few years. Regardless of the amount of effort that you put in, it still needs its natural amount of time to come of age, something which we may take for granted at so-called established schools like my alma mater, and which many regretfully and impatiently ignore at less established ones. I'm not saying that we shouldn't try, but let's not expect miracles either.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Aidez-moi!

The highlight of this past week for me is very predictable, at least in what it wasn't (the Lunar New Year).

Ok, so maybe in a way it was, since it took place on an early Tuesday morning, and if it were not to be a short week due to the holiday, then perhaps i wouldn't have been in the mood to have bothered to offer my help to a middle-aged couple wondering if the early morning train that they had just boarded was actually heading in their desired direction (the airport).

It's not as simple as that, of course. So happens that this couple had boarded the train just after me, and i noticed that the man was closely scrutinizing the mrt map, while the wife kept on asking him if they were on the right train, which just made him scrutinize the map even more closely. Each of them had one big suitcase each, which made it easy for me to figure out where they were planning to head to. Otherwise, i might not have had a clue as to their desired destination, since they were speaking in French.

As always when i consider whether to start a conversation in any language other than English, i ran through the possible things that i would have to say in my head, and then assessed whether it was worth the risk (lest i ended up going "uh" a few times before scuttling off at the next stop in red-faced embarrassment).

Finally, when it seemed to me that the risk level was low enough, i almost ambushed them (they were hitherto pretty much unaware of my existence quietly sitting down with my marking in the next carriage), uttered a few things in rudimentary French, including an assurance, that yes, they were (literally and figuratively) on the right track. Then i plopped back on my seat and carried on with my marking, trusting that my timely intervention had been of help.

In retrospect, i probably could have helped them in English, as if they were not conversant in it, they probably would not have come here for a holiday on their own in the first place. It also might have come across as somewhat shocking for this random guy to pop up beside them at 5:50 in the morning to offer unsolicited directions to them while possibly butchering their Mother Tongue in the process.

But never mind all that - at least at that moment, and at least for me, it was as good as it's gotten this past week.

The latent dong dong qiangs prove my point.