Thursday, July 31, 2008

You can't touch this

Adelle knows that some things are off-limits to her, such as power sockets, the computer, wires, spectacles, etc. But, sometimes she needs to be reminded. My wife and I are not always aware of the things she ends up doing especially on weekend mornings when Adelle would already be wide awake and active, and Mommy and Daddy would still be trying to squeeze some extra time to sleep. I usually sleep with my glasses by my side and one fine morning, when both my wife and I were sleeping, Adelle decided to take my glasses and play with it. I don’t know what she did but my specs didn’t look the same after that: the ‘leg’ (what do you call them, anyway?) of one side seemed to be jutting out from the frame a bit. But, apart from that I didn’t see any other damage so I didn’t bother to have a closer look.

It was only much later that I found out that the hinge of that particular leg had broken, held in place only by the screw. I’ve only had the glasses for over a year, so they’re fairly new and I was hoping that they’d last until at least next year. But come Monday morning this week, that leg suddenly decided to detach itself from the frame. Luckily I had a spare. Went to the optician the next day to get another frame (the lenses of my now demised glasses were good so I decided to reuse them) and I went to collect just this evening. The damage? RM130. Not too bad la, but we’ll have to train Adelle again concerning playing with spectacles. Can’t afford to keep replacing them every time she plays with them!

After the optician, we went for a spot of shopping at Parkson at Wawasan Plaza (there’s a Bonuslink member’s day sale today). The wife got some skin care products, Adelle got a t-shirt, and I got nothing, which is okay since I had nothing to buy anyway. We went for dinner at an Italian restaurant after that. We had never been there before. It’s called Grazie, and it’s in the same building as Parkson, but outside. I didn’t bring my camera, so no pictures to show. But the food was quite delicious! My wife ordered a pasta dish (don’t remember the name now) and I had lasagna. We also ordered a large pizza to share (my wife and I are quite big eaters!). Everything was just absolutely yummy and we finished off everything on our plates. After that we had dessert: chocolate pudding. It was heavenly! Melted chocolate lurking underneath a thin layer of soft pastry. Mmmmm…!

The price wasn’t too bad. The pasta dishes cost RM18.80 each, the large pizza was RM23.80, and the chocolate pudding, RM8.80. The place was cosy as well, though a bit dark, and despite the hot day today, the whole place was cool and airy (it’s al fresco dining all the way, absolutely no air-conditioning, well, except for the toilets). Everything was very clean, the toilets were spotless. They proudly show off the 4-star rating they received from DBKK for their toilets!

All in all, Grazie is highly recommended if you’re into Italian food. Too bad there are no pics of the food to share, but of course if you really want, I could throw up and…

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Mid-week blues

It’s Wednesday and it’s the middle of the week. I usually look forward to Wednesdays because it means that there are only two more days before the end of the working week and it’s also the time I get a thorough soaking of sweat through a few games of badminton with some church friends. But, this week’s slightly different…in a bad way, and a good way. The bad: I have to go to work this Saturday! And it’s the first Saturday of the month! While other people will be enjoying their elongated sleep time, I’ll have to wake up at 5.30 in the morning for that one extra day to get ready for school. *sigh* I just hope the schooling hours are not like the usual weekdays…

But, there’s a bright side to this coming Saturday as well. In the evening, there’ll be a gathering of Sabah bloggers at a hotel, and I’m going for free! Yippee! I’m looking forward to this event. It’ll be the first such event for me. From what I read in the blog for the event, there’ll be lucky draws and the like. There’ll even be prizes for the first 100 bloggers who attend the function on time, just to discourage late-comers! I like the idea! How many times have you attended a function or wedding dinner, and you come on time but then you ended up having to wait for an hour or even more, as there were hardly any people around! This phenomenon is so widespread that we’ve even got a name for it: Malaysian Time. Such tardiness gets on my nerves sometimes, even more when my tummy starts grumble. So, I’m hoping that everyone will come on time, and that the whole event will be a smash.

On a different note, Adelle has not been very well lately. She developed a cough about a week or two back, but we thought nothing of it because the cough hardly surfaced during the day, and she looked her normal self. We didn’t give her any medication as well. But on Saturday last week, the runny nose came, and from then on she her cough worsened. It got really bad on early Monday morning. She was coughing non-stop and she was wheezing whenever she breathed. We suspected that it could be due to the phlegm in her chest so we tried to encourage her to vomit to clear but she didn’t want to. In the end, her cough gradually subsided and my wife and I decided that Adelle slept with us, with me to be more exact, so that we could monitor her.

The next day on Tuesday, my wife brought her to the clinic to have a check, and the doctor said her condition was actually quite serious. There was a possibility that her condition could progress to asthma. Adelle was actually given Combivent, an inhalant administered through a mask, to provide some measure of relief. The whole thing took 5 minutes. The doctor was actually surprised that Adelle sat still throughout. She said that usually children would become restless and retaliate. My wife (I wasn’t at the clinic) was surprised, too!

The doctor then prescribed two kinds medication called, Singulair and Terbutaline. We checked it up on the Net and it said that both are used to treat and prevent asthma. Singulair is given once a day, but Terbutaline has to be given every 6 hours for the first 3 days. So, I’ve been given the duty to give Adelle the medicine at 1 am later. I find it easier to stay up than having to wake up again to give her the medicine, hence this extra long entry today.

Anyway, Adelle seems to be recovering well. The medication seems to be doing its work and my wife and I are thankful. Just hoping and praying that Adelle’s condition won’t turn into asthma.

I spy with my little eye

How observant are you? I guess on a scale of 1 to 10, I'd rate myself a 7. I tend to notice things, but I sometimes can't quite say what it is that's different until I think a little longer. But, that' s if it's something that doesn't occur very often . But, what about everyday things? Things that you see or do everyday? Here are a few examples:
  1. Without actually doing it, do you use your right hand or your left hand to button your shirt/blouse?
  2. Do you unbutton your shirt/blouse from the top or bottom?
  3. What numbers on the phone are not associated with any letters of the alphabet?
  4. If you had to change the tires on your car, which way would you turn the nuts on your wheels to unscrew them? Clockwise or anti-clockwise?
But, no matter how observant I am, I think we guys suffer from some kind of optical disease. I think it's common knowledge that men can be quite blind sometimes when it comes to looking for things. I read about it in books. I've even seen it in a comic strip once. Heck, I've had personal experiences of it myself. On a number of occasions, my wife asked me to find things and for the life of me, I just couldn't find them. And then she'd go look for it herself, and she'd be out 5 seconds later with the item in hand and a look that says 'look what I found'.

I say, why ask me if she can find the thing faster, right?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

What's love gotta do with it?

Love is patient, love is kind.

it does not envy,

it does not boast,

it is not proud.

it is not rude,

it is not self-seeking,

it is not easily angered,

it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil

but rejoices with the truth

it always protects,

always trusts,

always hopes,

always perseveres.

Love never fails.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

I’ve been thinking about this whole issue called ‘love’. Now, you may be thinking, boy, this guy’s either very late, or very early. Valentine’s not till February! Or maybe you may think I’m going to get all mushy with you, I’m not. Love is serious stuff. Really!

It’s a subject we guys don’t think enough of, I think – at least in the way it’s supposed to be. We guys are supposed to be tough, macho, and less ‘feeling-feeling’ than our counterpart of the opposite sex. Love and all its associations are to be consigned to the domain of women. And when we do think about it, it’s that bubbling feel-good emotion; the kind that we get when we first realise that we really, really, (I mean REALLY) like someone. Here’s how my wife described me when we first got together as boyfriend-girlfriend: like a lost puppy who suddenly sees his long-lost mother! Eyes all bright and happy! She had gone out, and I was waiting for her and when she got back, that was how (in her eyes at least) I looked like. I wouldn’t be surprised though. I still remember that feeling. And it was a very nice feeling. My wife has asked before me whatever happened to those puppy eyes. I said, gone with the wind. :-)

But, that’s just it, isn’t it? There lies the problem. We equate love with feelings. Don’t get me wrong. Having such feelings are great. I know it can make me feel over-the-moon, and if those feelings are reciprocated, boy, is there anything else better? But, the danger lies when we put everything about love behind those feelings. What happens when those feel-good feeling is gone? Does love go, too? It seems that way, at least from what I watch in movies, what I read in the papers, and what I see in the world. The rise of divorce, baby dumping, abuse, and on and on are perhaps the effects if this love-feeling culture. It seems that this kind of love is good, so long as I’m getting what I want.

But, there’s another different view of love. One which I think is infinitely more reliable and supersedes all others. It’s been said, but I think it can’t be overstated enough, especially when we are constantly bombarded with the popular (but erroneous, in my humble opinion) notion of love: love is an action, not a feeling. That’s from the Bible. I’ve read somewhere that feelings start you off; they are the passion, the spice in the relationship, but what’s supporting all this should be love, because when the feelings are gone, love should still be there. Love is all about the other person as we can read from the verses above; it's about doing acts that benefit the other fellow.

And love is a tough act to follow. There are times when I don’t like people very much, even those that are dear to me. But, I hope that I can still love them even when I don’t like them.

Love never fails.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Bouncy, bouncy

Adelle’s discovered something new. Well, she actually chanced upon it yesterday. She was looking through my wife’s pencil case and she found a rubber (or eraser, whichever you prefer), and kids being kids, she threw it. Lo and behold! It bounced when it hit the floor. She was so intrigued by it that she kept taking it and throwing it, giggling throughout the process. Of course, this was great amusement to both Mommy and Daddy as well.

And in the early part of today, and sometime in the afternoon as well, she continued her ‘scientific’ study of the bouncing properties of that piece of rubber. She’s even discovered that throwing from a higher place will result in more bounce! How’s that for a little scientist?

Experiment in progress

The rubber in question

From my earlier post about Adelle learning phonics, we try to reinforce what she’s learned by sticking letters to the fridge. Every time mommy or Daddy or she takes a letter, either my wife or I’ll say the sound of the letter then she’ll follow soon enough. We’re also trying to teacher her the numbers 1 to 10. So far, she’s doing quite well with this. She can count, “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 10!”.

It’s a start, isn’t it? :-)

"Now, is that a letter or a number...hmmm"

"Daddee!! Adelle clever girl!"

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Prelude to the weekend

This will be a very short post as my wife and I plan to watch a movie tonight. Not too sure yet what we’re going to put into the dvd player, but it’ll be one of the many movies my sis-in-law gave to us (last year!) which we haven’t got round to watching. Yes, we’ll be watching the movie in the guest room with the doors closed as Adelle is sleeping. And no, we have yet to finish tidying up the whole place yet. All the files are still on the floor, but at least we managed to clear up the guest room so that we can watch the movie in comfort. :-)

Talking about movies, I’ve been reading rave reviews on The Dark Knight. Maslight said it was superb, as has The Star on-line movie review. I even checked up IMDB and all the reviews of the movie were exceedingly positive. I know close to nil about the movie. I’ve only ever seen pictures of The Joker and boy, based on those pictures alone, The Joker this time looks really demented! I’ve watched Batman Begins and I thought that was a splendid, if a bit long, movie. And it seems this new installment is quite long as well, at over 2 hours!

I’m sure you can guess that I want to watch this movie very much. But, don’t know if my wife and I will get to watch it on the big screen as it's kind of hard for us to go out at night. Guess I’ll just have to wait for the movie to come out in dvd and watch it in the guest room, lying on the comfortable queen-size bed, hugging a nice fluffy pillow, and not even having to drive out, find a parking spot and wait in queue to get a ticket. Hmmmm…that sounds good!

p.s. As I’m doing this, the connection to blogger is dead slow! It’s has taken me more than 20 minutes just to post this!!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I've just gone blog-hopping and it seems like everyone's either very busy or their day was so uninteresting that there was nothing to say! Not one of the blogs in my blogroll has been updated. So, I'll have to content myself with my own writing...sigh.

Today’s, err pardon me...YESTERDAY was another tiring day. Extra tiring in fact and I should actually be in bed right now! But I thought I'd just drop a few words in. Why the extra tiredness? My wife and I decided to clear up my daughter's room a little bit. Well, that's how it initially started. We had a bookshelf in her room, and we decided to take it out as it attracted dust. Not very healthy for Adelle since it was so close to her cot.

So, we took out all the books and files and wiped the shelf clean (and it was sodusty!) and then we decided where to put it. The best place would be just outside her room, in the corner of the tv area, just beside the tv. But then, my wife got this "brilliant" idea to move the tv and everything else that was connected to it into the guest room. Reason? So that we could watch movies without waking Adelle up. I thought it was a splendid idea. So, I disconnected everything, and we lugged the tv, the hifi, the speakers, the dvd player, the tv bench...the whole lot into the guest room. And it was a back-breaking job! Imagine carrying this monstrous tv (it's only 29 inches...but it's the mammoth CRT kind!) that weighs over 50 kg! Phew! My wife commented wouldn't it be great if we had one of those LCD tvs which we could just hang on the wall. So much space saved...yeah, but that'd seriously put a hole in our piggy bank.

So, wishful thinking aside we cleaned up the ex-tv area (which was equally smothered in dust!) and we also had to rearrange the guest room a bit to accommodate the new additions. Hooked up everything, tested and all was okay. And it was already almost 7 pm. We started about 4. All this while Adelle was equally busy. She sometimes helped us (simple things like holding the shelf we were carrying and imagining she was doing the same!) but she mostly busied herself with all the wonderful new things that were lying all around the floor.

We still haven't finished (both my wife and I were so tired already) and this task would probably be continued tomorrow, I mean, later today. So, the next time we have guests, they can at least watch some movies on dvd rather than staring at the four walls.

Here's the funny bit. We have a tv, but you won't be able to see much of anything, unless you like watching busy ants. It's not connected to the aerial, so we can get none of the local tv stations. We also don't subscribe to Astro. So why the tv? Come to think of it, we're not sure ourselves.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Me tired

Today’s been another tiring day. Guess my body is still trying to get used to the idea of coming home from school at 3 pm and not taking my usual afternoon nap. But at least the morning was a slight departure from the usual.

The English Panel of my school organised a spelling competition for all students today. There were no limits to the number of participants so we were quite encouraged by the number of participants. The competition was slightly different from the usual. Instead of a list of random words to spell, the students were given texts in which words would be taken from. This was an idea my colleague, Susan Graham, borrowed from somewhere and I liked it. I found this a more meaningful approach to the spelling competition as at the very least students would require to read as well as memorise words – two in one!

But then, there was a problem. Though we often hear of English as being a second language in Malaysia, but among my students, it might as well be an alien language. Broadly speaking, it does not feature at all in any part of their lives, apart of course from the English lessons they get at school. So because of this, they have the tendency to come up with their versions in pronouncing some words. So, what did we do to overcome this? We made recordings of the text! I was ‘volunteered’ to handle this, and so the recording, the editing and the creation of the audio cds were my responsibility.

So, in our effort, we upped the value of the spelling competition again. The students not only read and memorized words, they also listened to how they are sounded which would invariably (I hope) help them in some way. I remember my parents used to buy my brother and myself a lot of these read-along-with-the-cassette books (Ladybird used to do them, but I’m not sure if they still do), and I think they helped me a great deal in becoming a good reader; not only in how to sound the words I came across, but also on how to read a piece of text expressively. I think reading with expression is an art not many have learned, not even among teachers of the language.

Anyway, back to the competition. Today, I was Master Speller (the judge) for the upper forms (that’s 3, 4 and 5). I was suitably impressed by ability of the contestants in spelling ability. By the end of the second round, we still had more than half still running (participants were eliminated when they couldn’t spell the word within 30 seconds), but this soon dwindled until only two were left: a Form 5 girl, and a Form 3 girl. And for some time, it was a head-to-head fight.

Guess who won?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

It's that time of day when...

What’s your favourite time of the day? No, not day in the week, but a certain period in the day, any day? For me, it’s when Adelle wakes up in the morning, and when she goes to sleep.

Here’s the normal scenario of Adelle waking up in the morning. My wife and I would be getting ready to go to work (this would be slightly past 6 am), and I’d usually be just about finished brushing my teeth. Then, you’ll hear a call: “Mommeee!” That’d be Adelle’s morning call. If there’s no response, she’d call again. Failing which she’d call, “Daddeee!” So, either my wife or I would then go into her room (Adelle sleeps alone in her own room) and we’ll exchange good mornings, and say hi, and we’d carry her, and give her a hug and a kiss. She’d want to get down quickly though, to say hi to whoever isn’t carrying her. And the smile that you get from her every morning is just priceless. I’d say, mornings right after waking up is when Adelle’s at her best. All happy!

That’s the morning. In the evening, when she goes to bed is also a close second. After dinner, I’d usually help her brush her teeth and then shower. Shower time is a time of playing for her though nothing too demanding. Usually, it’s just with the bottles of shower cream and shampoo. She can really be busy with those things. Such simple joys! After the shower, it’s dressing up for bedtime. Then, it’s combing her hair (the little that she has). By then, somehow she’d suddenly feel sleepy and say, “Adelle, oi, oi”. So, I bring her to room (and if mommy is available, she comes in together to give a final feed), and we’d pray. Then it’s good night to anything that she sees outside before the final kiss goodnight (from Daddy or Mommy to Adelle and vice versa) and then the lay down in her cot. Lastly, a final good night before turning on the baby monitor and closing the door. Then, it's sweet dreams for her.

The two precious times of the day for me and my wife.

On not blogging...

Three days of not blogging. That’s not a good sign for this blog. Mustn’t get into the habit of leaving the blog for too long or else this place will die an untimely, neglected death. But, I was going to write something last night when the power supply decided to fail. Anyway, the short time that I was able to surf the net was pointless. The connection was so slow! I was looking at the icons of the two tiny computers and I decided to see how much data was being transferred. And guess what, it was slower than the dial-up connection I had previously! This is ridiculous! I know I’ve already talked about this before in another post, but having speeds that can rival dial-up?

And since I’m on the subject of grievances, if I remember correctly, there has been at least two cases of power failures this week alone. Did you know that there’s a standing joke about Sabah's electricity supplier? Before it was privatised, the power company was known (in English) as SEB, or Sabah Electricity Board. The joke was it should actually be, Sabah Everywhere Blackout. After privatisation, it is now known as SESB, the final SB meaning Sendirian Berhad. But, some creative fella coined it, Sabah Everywhere Still Blackout! Although less frequent now (at least in the town area, but I still hear of irregular power supply out in the kampungs), there’s always the niggling feeling that whenever a blackout happens, it going to be for hours. In West Malaysia, there would have been a public outcry. But here, we hardly hear a whimper.

What else can I say? We Sabahans are a tolerant bunch.

p.s. I know I’ve been tagged by Charlene and Chegu Carol about my 10 most favourite photos, but I’m still scouring the recesses of my hard-drive to find those pics. I’ll post them up once I’m done. Bear with me, kay?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Happy Monthliversary to my blog!

I was just going through my older posts to look at the photos I've posted in my blog, and my, oh blog has just turned 1-month old! And the amazing bit is, I'm still at it. Well, that's an achievement for me. Never knew I could say so much things (I'm a naturally quiet person, you know...).

Anyway, the reason I was looking through my old posts was to see the kinds of photos I've put up. I'm trying to be second shooter for Anna-Rina for her assignments here in KK. If you've never heard of her, she's a pro Sabahan photographer, who now resides in KL. She shoots weddings and casual portraits among other things. And she's looking for a helper. And me being into photography, I relish the thought of working with someone who can show me a thing or two about this really expensive hobby I've got myself into.

Well, here's wishing myself more blogging times ahead!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Riddle me this

What goes up but never comes down? The usual answer to that riddle is age. But, nowadays, we can add more than a few answers to that question. Petrol prices for one. Food prices is another. This is probably old news by now, but have you noticed how the prices of food have gone by so much but the portion either remains the same or has even become smaller? A plate of my favourite watan ho now costs RM5 (up from RM4.00); a mug of teh tarik from my favourite local coffee shop now costs RM1.50 (previously RM1); even the so-called 'economy rice' isn't very economical anymore, what with prices now hovering at RM4.50 for white rice with two vegetable dishes and one meat dish (previously RM3.50). And these are prices of food at local coffee shops! Such prices were unheard of just 2 years ago! You'd think you'd be dining at some upmarket restaurant or something for that kind of money.

But, such is the situation now and apart from eating in more often to avoid spending the money, there's nothing much we can do about it. There's supposed to be an interesting debate going on tonight between Anwar Ibrahim and Information Minister, Ahmad Shabery concerning the fuel price hike, but without access to terrestrial tv broadcast (is there such a thing as extra-terrestrial broadcasts I wonder?), someone will have to tell me what it was all about. Either that or I just wait for tomorrow's papers. But, come to think of it, what's the use of the debate anyway? The reality is the current fuel prices won't drop, so it's all just a purely academic but totally fruitless exercise.

I prefer a reasonably-priced plate of watan ho over brain-busting, verbal gymnastics anytime.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Another man's poison...

What's creamy-coloured, thick, tastes really yucky and comes in a bottle? Give up? Cod-liver oil. You ever eaten it? I for one have, and I know many of my cousins have as well when we were still growing up. And I just couldn't stand the taste then, or now. I still remember that there used to be a similar thing called Haliborange. Any of you remember that? Now, that was so much more pleasant and palatable than this yucky gooey liquid. I read that it's supposed to be good; prevents all sorts of diseases. A friend even told me it cured her of her rash when she was small! Amazing stuff this. If only it tasted better...

But that's just my (and a lot of people, I think!) tastebuds doing the talking. But, it looks like someone in my family absolutely loves it! No, not my wife, but my daughter Adelle! She takes it after dinner everyday, and as far as she's concerned, it may as well be honey from heaven. Yup, to her, it's lip-smacking, spoon-licking, don't-waste-a-drop-of-it yummy. Every time it's time to take it, she becomes excited, and starts saying "emulsion". I then pour it into a spoon and she insists on feeding herself. After that, she proceeds to lick every trace of it...

My wife and I are just amazed that she's taken such a liking to such a foul-tasting thing. But, as good parents we encourage her, and we'll keep encouraging her to keep taking it till perhaps one day, she discovers what probably millions others have - that it's just plain urrrggh!

But till then, here's to a healthy dose of the creamy goo!

Mmmm...this tastes so good! Seconds, please!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Tag - You're it!

Well, what do you know. I've been tagged! Not that I'm sure about the whole thing, but I think I'm just supposed to do what I've been asked to do. So here's the tag I received from Chegu Carol, one-word answers. And my answers to the questions...

1.Where is your cell phone? table
2. Your significant other? wife
3. Your hair? beruban
4. Your mother? loving
5. Your father? funny
6. Your favorite thing? bed
7. Your dream last night? huh?
8 Your favorite drink? milo
9. Your dream/goal? fulfillment
10. The room you’re in? living
11. Your hobby? photography
12. Your fear? failure
13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? alive
14. What you’re not? rich
15. Muffins? mmmm...
16. One of your wish list items? 70-200 f/2.8
17. Where you grew up? kk
18. The last thing you did? scratched
19. What are you wearing? singlet
20. Favorite Gadget? K10d
21. Your pets? none
22. Your computer? clone
23. Your mood? tired
24. Missing someone? nope
25. Your car? iswara
26. Something you’re not wearing? shoes
27. Favorite store? none
28. Like someone? yes
29. Your favorite color? blue
30. When is the last time you laughed? just
31. Last time you cried? dunno

Show and tell

Friday is one of the best days of the week. It’s the last day of work before the weekend starts, and to top it all off, I get off work early! Why else do we have TGIF? I usually finish by 11.20 am, but today yesterday it was a bit different. It was report-card day. You know, the day when parents have to go to school to meet up with teachers and take their child’s progress report. I was assigned as assistant to a class teacher as I don’t hold any classes this year. We started a bit late, so ended late as well. Anyway, since it was going to be a day without any teaching, I decided to bring my camera to school to take a few photos.

I teach on an island. It’s called Pulau Gaya, and it’s not too far from Kota Kinabalu city, only about a 10-minute boat ride. Since the school’s on Pulau Gaya, the school is called, what else, SMK Pulau Gaya. The school is built entirely on water, and to the first-time visitor, would look more like resort than your normal school variety.

Here’s the main jetty. It’s about a 3-minute walk to the main building, so you can imagine the length of it (it’s got to be further into sea because the water level can be quite low during low tide).

Along the way, on either side of the walkway, you’ll see these huts where students usually go to get some air and chat.

The view of the mainland is quite beautiful, especially on a clear day like yesterday morning. Here are a couple of photos of the Kota Kinabalu taken from my school.

My school’s actually quite famous. We’ve received visits from many schools, universities, government agencies in Sabah and West Malaysia. In fact, we’re actually a hotbed for tourists. You can almost see foreign tourists almost every other day! The principal’s actually considering charging them an entrance fee for every tourist!

So, that’s a bit about my place of work. It’s not that bad, but it can get really hot!

The boat ride back to Kota Kinabalu

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

How am I tired? Let me count the ways...

Exhausted. Bushed. Whacked. Pooped. Knackered. Drained. Fatigued. Worn out. Done in. Dog-tired.

That's how I've been feeling since Monday. By the time I get home from school, it's 3 pm. Previously I'd be back by 2 pm and get an afternoon nap. But now, the possibility of getting one is closer to nil. I'm not sure whether once my sis-in-law and her children go back, everything will be back to normal, but I think not. By the time I get back it's probably too late to take a nap by the time I get back because Adelle would be up from her afternoon nap soon, and she usually wants some time with daddy.

But, maybe it has to do with me playing with the children as well. The children and I attempted to take an afternoon nap yesterday, but we ended up playing instead. Fen and Jin Jin (my sis-in law) were out shopping and it was just me and the kids. All three of them.

Each were distracting each other (Caleb-Tara, Tara-Caleb, Caleb-Adelle, Adelle-Tara, Adelle-Caleb) and so, none of us got any sleep (this daddy-uncle included). So, I became the Tickle Monster instead and closely guarded my territory (which was the bed) from any invaders (Caleb and Tara. Adelle was very happy just laughing watching throughout the game...of course, she was in the thick of the action as well). Anytime, any of them would get close, I'd bring out the big guns: my two fingers and launch a ferocious tickling attack on them. It was great fun...tiring, erm, very tiring, but great fun. Of course, the Tickle Monster was defeated in the end because he ran out of breath!

That was upstairs in the bedroom. We continued downstairs after that. Caleb and I played a simplified version of badminton outside (we score points by just hitting the shuttle, not nets, no rules except that one) while Tara and Adelle watered the plants. After three games together (I won 2, Caleb 1), we stopped and went inside the house and continued with other activities. I played the piano with Adelle first, then Caleb got interested with my guitar, so he played with it for a bit, then I played it and we all sang "Ol McDonald had a farm". Caleb and Tara were good in coming up with animals and their sounds!

Then it was time to feed Adelle her dinner while the other children busied themselves with their toys. Then the mommies came back (hallelujah!).

We went out for dinner at a seafood restaurant. Welcome - that's the name. Heard of it? If you know where Super Tanker is, and Man Tai is, then it's the row just behind theirs. It's a corner lot with a roof-extension to the side. The food's pretty good, and it was packed when we arrived. That was slightly past 8.

After a wonderful dinner (Jin's treat!), we headed home. Everyone was tired. So we all washed up and went straight to bed.

Today, I had time with the kids again. Fen took Jin to the dentist for a 4 o' clock appointment, so I manned the station when they were gone. It was less tiring this time, because I was eating a late lunch, so Caleb (who wanted to play badminton again) had to wait for me to finish. Tara was busy playing with Adelle's doll and pushchair. By the time I finished, it was almost 5 and I said I needed to rest for the food to settle a bit before playing. During that time the mommies came back (hallelujah, again!). But, I did play badminton with Caleb. This time, I won 3 to his 1. But, he seems to be hitting the shuttle more this time round.

Now, as I'm typing this, I'm alone with the kids again! But, it's all peace and quiet. They've all zonked out. Both mommies are out, probably checking out 1Borneo at this moment. So, before I myself fall asleep, thought I'd blog for a bit and go blog hopping first.

2 more days till the weekend! Phew...

Monday, July 7, 2008

Uncle Perry!

Just a short post; I’m tired after a full day and I need extra sleep.

Today’s the start of a new phase in the life of the school I teach in. Starting today, I officially finish at 2.30 pm. That’s an additional 1 hour 10 minutes to the previous time. What are my feelings? Bummer, man! But, I guess it gives us the reason (and extra time) to finish off whatever paper work we keep putting off. Oh well…

Fen’s sister’s visiting us at the moment. With her are her two lively children, Caleb and Tara. They’re quite the talker, especially Caleb. They seem to be imbibed with an ability to come up with endless topics to talk about – and sometimes it can be quite amusing. Just this afternoon, Caleb was commenting on how tall I was. He said that when I grew taller, I’d hit the fan in the living room. I told him that there’d be no possibility of that anymore. The only growing I’d be doing, I said, would be shorter – due to old age, of course. :-)

I find the two of them quite adorable. To them, I’m their “Uncle Perry” – I just love the way they say those words. It’s very, for lack of a better word, ‘cute’.

We went to Likas Park today, and the kids (Adelle included) were set loose on the playground. Caleb went for the monkey bars right away; Tara, the see-saw; Adelle stood watching the unfolding events for a bit, before going for the slides. And it was more or less, here a bit, there a bit after that – the seesaw, the swing, the monkey bars, the wall, running about (and this uncle even had to run himself, from getting hit by the ball in a game Caleb calls, Tiggy Ball or something like that).

Adelle meanwhile was contented playing on the bouncy saw. She’s got a real knack for bouncing on her own now and she’s quite happy about playing by herself.

After that, it was fish-feeding time. Fen bought a bag of bread bits from Fook Yuen (that famous roti kahwin shop in Damai) yesterday just for this occasion, and it was a feeding frenzy for the fish. There are some really huge fish in that lake! With the bag of bread emptied, we left the park and went to Damai to fill our tummies. Tara was already very tired then and she was dozing off while sitting on her chair while the rest of us were finishing dinner.

Then, we went home, tired but happy. End of the day.

Did I say this was supposed to be a short post and that I needed my beauty slee…..nggggzzzz

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Is God dead?

Wouldn’t you believe it? It has been proclaimed (quite some time back, in fact, in 1882!) that God is dead! Not physically dead, but dead in the consciousness of men. Well, that’s what German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, opined through the mouth of one of his characters, a madman of all people, in the book The Gay Science. While I’ve not read this book, it does give food for thought.

I first came across this slogan last year while doing some study for a sharing. This phrase became so popular that it even spurred people to form a movement(!). Time magazine reported on this in 1965 with this front cover.

But, looking at the events that are happening around the world today (and even in our country), it would be very easy to think that God really is dead; and if He isn’t, then He’s obviously not doing very much about it. War, genocide, famine, natural disasters, global warming, short of a cosmic disaster (like the one in the film Deep Impact), there isn’t much else that the present world hasn’t seen. And so the questions: where is God in all of this? If He’s all mighty and powerful and good, why doesn’t He do something and stop all of it? Why allow such things to continue?

Apparently, someone has asked a similar question a long time ago. Here’s what Epicurus (350-?270 BC) said:

Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not want to; or he cannot and does not want to. If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent. If he can, but does not want to, he is wicked. But, if God both can and wants to abolish evil, then how comes evil in the world?

What do you think?

The young adults at my church meet every Friday at my place for study. And this time, we’re doing a series on how God could allow suffering and evil, and it’s been an interesting journey so far. We’re still in the midst of it, so I’ll probably be coming back to this topic in the weeks to come.

But, coming back to the questions raised, what I found out was that it all boils down to how God created us: moral beings with the will to do as he or she pleases. This is called free will. It’s not that God created evil, He created the possibility for evil. Our own choices led the world to what it has become. While God could come in and take away all evil, there’d be a problem: the world would be empty? We’d all be gone! And while God could also step in and prevent all evil things from happening, what would happen to our freewill?

So, the thing is this. Would you have preferred God to have created us without the ability to choose evil in the first place?

For me, it’s a tough question. It would have been absolutely wonderful to not to have to worry about anything in the world; not getting robbed or mugged in the streets, not being killed by some natural disaster, and so forth, but I also feel there wouldn’t be much a point to living if I was just like a robot, unable to make decisions for myself – whether good or bad.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Life's a park!

Went to the Likas Complex park today. Here’s how the whole family ended up there. Recounted according to Fen:

Adelle: Monkey bar!
Mommy: Where do you find the monkey bar?
Adelle: Park!
Mommy: Do you want to go to the park?
Adelle: Yeshh!
Mommy: Ask Daddy.
Adelle (right to my face): Daddeee! Go park.

This daddy was actually still lying on the couch then, alternating between wakefulness and sleep. I mumbled a half reply in my grogginess, but mommy made sure that I woke up. At this point, Adelle was excited.

Adelle: Get way-dee (ready).

Blinking away my sleepiness, I got up, got ready, took my camera and we all went into the car and drove to the park. As usual, there were already a number of people there, but it was still pleasant enough for Adelle to play at the playground.

For those who’ve been there, have you noticed that the park’s actually quite beautiful? There are a few beautiful spots near the lake (which would be perfect for a ‘couple’ kinda photo) and the surrounding view is quite nice. I usually take photos of Adelle playing at the playground, but since mommy wanted to go for a walk I didn’t get to do so as Adelle was in my charge. But when Fen did rejoin us, I managed to get shots of the sun’s reflection on the lake which I had already been eyeing.

Adelle fed bread to the fish in the lake (courtesy of an ‘aunty’ who was also feeding them with her grandchild then. The fish were ravenous!) and after a short time at the monkey bars. (Adelle and I had already done this earlier as well soon after we arrived) it was time then off for a quick shop at Thai Seng supermarket before going home.

All in all, it was a pleasant time at the park. Oh, did you see the sunset today? I didn’t (had just finished shopping then) but just by the amazing colours I saw, I think it must have been spectacular!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Rolling in money!

Well, not quite. It’s not in the millions; neither is it in the thousands. It’s only a few hundred, but hey, how often do you get a substantial amount of money just by getting in a queue and waiting for 20 minutes without even having to lift a finger (okay, so you have to fill in a form, but that’s hardly work!)?

Six-hundred twenty-five, six-two-five, 625…that’s the amount I got at the post office today. I’m sure you all know what I’m referring to by now, and maybe some of you have even collected your surprise ‘bonus’ by now. It’s the rebate-subsidy-donation-whateveryouwanttocallit money the government is giving out to car owners.

I actually went to the Damai post office yesterday with my wife at about 4.40 pm thinking that we’d beat the queue. But, the post office was already closed! They close at 4.30 pm so we’d only been late by 10 minutes. Aren’t they supposed to be open till five or something? So, yesterday’s Mission: Get-the-money was aborted and we went to a friend’s house instead.

But, today…nothing would have kept me away. After hearing reports of conmen cashing in on the situation through false documents, Fen advised me to quickly get the money before these people had a chance. Better safe than sorry.

So went to the post office today at about 3.30 pm and the queue was not too bad. I was the last person but soon another man came up behind me holding on to a piece of paper. I asked him if there was a form to fill in, and he said yes, and to get it from the counter by telling the staff my registration number. The man even offered to save my place in the line so that I didn’t have to go right to the back again. How kind!

So I filled in the form, got back in line (saying my thank you to the kind man, of course), waited for a bit, then gave my form and IC to the staff manning the counter, signed the form, thumb-printed the form, and voila! The lady hands me the moolah! New, crisp RM100 bills – all six of them, and two RM10 notes and a single RM5 one. Nothing like the feel of virgin, untouched money.

Mission accomplished.

p.s. Too bad the money is not going to stay with me very long. My tires need replacing. Botak already…such short-lived happiness. *sigh*

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Running the race

Read the paper today? Anything that caught your fancy? There’s a kind of news that we see everyday in the paper that there’s a danger of us just glossing over it and hardly giving it a second thought. The kind of news? Crime news.

Every day we read of either a stabbing, a kidnapping, a rape, a robbery, a smuggling, a heist, a snatch theft, a shootout, a cheating, a corruption, a murder, a bribery, and so it goes. Has our society really gone so far down the moral ladder that we have come to accept such happenings as part of our life? Doesn’t it make you wonder where we have gone wrong?

Sure, we can put the blame on the usual suspects: the tv, music, the internet, bad company, yadda-yadda. But, have we looked closer to home? I personally feel that the family is largely to blame – rather the break-up of the family unit. Divorce rates are sky-rocketing, pre-marital sex is becoming more rampant (and with it unwanted pregnancies and unwanted children), and children are often left to their own devices while mommy and daddy work hard ‘for the family’. Marriage seems to have lost its lustre and meaning. Can children find stability in such an environment? Will such an environment enable children to face and shun the many enticing temptations that will come their way as they grow older?

I see the effects of growing up in such an environment in the lives of my students in school. They often skip school, and when they do come, they look scruffy, in un-ironed uniforms, uncombed hair, and without any motivation to study. Not all fit this bill though. Some look well groomed. But, always, always, they have problems with their attendance and they are far behind in their studies.

I shudder to think what the country will be like if more and more of these unguided children should grow up to be adults with similar dispositions.

Just last Sunday at church, a friend shared how important the family is. He said the family is the only place where the child must receive unconditional love, because the world at large is strictly conditional. Wise words, when I think about it. Home should be the primary source for values, and where the child can turn to for encouragement and love without hesitation.

I’m thinking about this because Adelle is picking up things so quickly! Anything that you say or do, she’ll mimic very quickly. And she has no capacity to filter the good from the bad! That’s the worry. So, we try to be careful of our speech and behaviour, and try to be consistent in both our training and disciplining of Adelle and pray that she'll move in the right direction.

So, to myself, my wife and all parents, let’s run with endurance the race that is set before us.

Adelle praying with daddy before dinner