Monday, December 22, 2008

Things You Cannot Change

I learned two very important lessons a long time ago.

a)  Things happen and many times they will happen despite your best efforts.

The roof may fall, your friends may go away, you may lose some money in a bad deal...and there's nothing you can do about it.  Once it has happened, the best thing to do is decide how you're going to handle it.  It's not as if you can take an eraser out and rub the incident from the pages of your life.  Although I have seen many people try to do this.  They may reject their friends, toss their child out of the house (and family tree!) or just pretend it never happened.  However this almost always ends up hurting them more.

And one of the most infantile reactions would be to blame it on other people.  Hel-LO!  Grow up, will you?  It helps if you say (now repeat after me) : I am responsible for the things I do and the words I say and the stuff I eat. Then repeat every morning with a glass of water until you get it.

b) People's decisions are NOT your responsibility.

Whatever people may say or do, it is never your responsibility.  Unless they are 5 year old toddlers and you are their babysitter.  Even then, toddlers are famous as 'play back recorders' of whatever the adults around them say.  So blame their dads and moms for any 'spicy' words!

A good example would be someone who threatens to commit suicide if YOU don't do something.  Usually it would be a rejected suitor or a disappointed lover.  However, if you give in to such a demand, you will set yourself up for a lifetime of demands.
"I'll kill myself if you don't marry me..."
"I'll kill myself if you don't buy me a car..."
"I'll kill myself if you don't wear this dress..."

What a crazy existence that would be. 

After watching two university friends give in to such demands, I made sure I made it very clear to friends and acquaintances that I would never give in as I would only be setting up the stage for a miserable future.  So that would be a disservice to both myself and the other.  Besides, if that suicidal person really did go through with his or her threat, he or she will just have to bear the consequences of such a destructive action and prepare an explanation to the Almighty in the afterlife.  I doubt you will be required to stand witness.

Coldblooded?  No, I don't think so.  I think it's pragmatic.  Besides, life is messy.  Deal with it.

Friday, November 28, 2008

I Can Now Opt For Pension Scheme

Oh, great great great news!

40,000 Civil Servants Given Option Of Pension Scheme
November 27, 2008 18:17 PM

PUTRAJAYA, Nov 27 (Bernama) -- About 40,000 more civil servants will be in the pension scheme following the government's decision to grant back that option to all those who had earlier chosen the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) scheme.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the move was to enable these civil servants to enjoy the medical and other retirement benefits provided by the government.

"All this will be good for them in the long run," he said after presenting the Public Sector Quality Awards to the recipients at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre, here, Thursday.

When I was a young teacher (very wet behind the ears!) attending an induction course years ago, one of the course presenters told us about the EPF and pension options. But the gist of his presentation was that EPF was the better option of the two. This, plus the fact that I was thinking of leaving the service for greener horizons, influenced me to opt for the EPF scheme. But what I didn't know was that I would lose all medical benefits once I retired. And to top it off, there would be no gratuity for me.

As time went by, it became clear that I was not leaving the service and that I wanted wanted wanted to be in the pension scheme. Whatever happened, I liked the idea of being able to go to government hospitals and paying the minimum. Even if, judging by today's economic climate, this minimum would most probably be a scary sum. I was also worried about my ability to handle and organise for myself the EPF monies I would receive.

I used to think it would be a snap. But after watching several friends and relatives retire and fritter away their EPF, I felt worried.

One friend tried to be smart and put his money in unit trusts. In the past ten years, the money has transformed from a big green mountain into a dry brown hill. He's now had to give tuition to minimise the damage to his 'hill'.

Another friend was persuaded to go into the demolition derby world of business. Apparently it was a can't-lose situation. I won't detail his current circumstances. Use your imagination.

An aunt used her EPF monies to pay for favourite relatives' pilgrimages to the Middle East. Also pilgrimages to the altar of capitalism. We have a few altars in Kota Kinabalu: Centre Point, One Borneo, Karamunsing Complex, City Mall.... Now she worships at the altar of frugality. But frugality out of necessity. There is a BIG difference between being frugal because you want to and being frugal because you have no choice.

For your information, these three examples are of very reasonable and intelligent people. However, it looks like life has a way of going its own way...and not necessarily the way we need to have it go.

I suppose the point is, if you cannot manage your money, OPT FOR THE PENSION SCHEME! So I have been brave enough to admit this to myself and will fill in that form in January.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

DG44, DG48, DG52 Form Six Academic Teachers

First, a little background info for my friends not in the service.

In December 2007, we attended a briefing where we were asked to nominate teachers for DG44, DG48 and DG52 posts as Form Six teachers in school. As my school had four Form Six classes, we had one DG52 post, three DG48 and five DG44 form six academic teachers posts. These teachers were not going to do any admin. We also had one DG44 Form Six Senior Assistant post and one DG44 Form Six Cocurriculum Coordinator. This was a great thing for teachers in school...at last they had another avenue for promotions, other than going into administration (as a principal, senior assistant or dept heads) or becoming GCs (master teachers). Of course they had to teach Form Six students, which isn't exactly a walk in the park. However, the people in the briefing room weren't exactly happy. And I knew why.

Blow Number One was that the senior assistants in school (myself included) were to remain in the DG44 grade. I could foresee problems in overseeing a school with many people in higher job grades than myself. Some officers said it was not a problem as I had the 'jawatan' (pronounced in a stentorian tone). Well, my response to that is YEAH RIGHT (best said in a sarcastic manner).

Blow Number Two was that although I was in DG44, I couldn't apply for the post as I had not yet sat for my PTK3 DG44 exam. Well, I'd say 'Luck of the Irish..' but I'm not Irish! Haha... Anyway, Lilian Too had already predicted that 2008 was not to be a good year for me...so I suppose the drought was starting early.

My principal and I rushed back to school as we were given only three days to prepare our nominations. We did it but up till today, I'm still feeling the repercussions. We couldn't nominate ALL the Form Six teachers as some of them didn't fulfil all the criteria (they were too young or had not passed their PTK). And some teachers felt that we should have nominated the senior teachers who were due for promotion. But I kept explaining the criteria to them over and over again. I even photocopied the briefing notes (handouts) for them so they could see that one of the documents required was the 2007 teacher's timetable. So if the senior teacher was not a Form Six teacher, he or she could not be nominated. But it took till March before EVERYONE finally were satisfied and settled down. Well, at least as far as I know. At least I no longer had people coming to my room to ask sadly or despondently or disconsolately why why why the teachers in the list were chosen. They weren't senior, they weren't long-serving teachers of the school, they weren't excellent (with reference to the APC)...etc etc.

One would think that we didn't make things clear during the announcement in the first staff meeting. But we laid things out as given to us during the December briefing. The nominated teachers MUST be Form Six teachers. And they were nominated even if they had only served three years as a DG41 teacher. Perhaps some teachers heard the term 'DG44' and immediately lost track of the rest of the briefing. Some of the teachers in my school have worked for almost 20 years and they were still in DG41. This was perhaps their last perceived chance...

When I attended meetings with my other senior assistant comrades, I found out that the same (or almost the same) thing was happening in their own schools. And when I go online, I surf forums and blogs afire with the same issues. What can anyone say? I suppose the implementation of the promotional exercise could have been carried out better...but as they say, walk a mile in the person's shoes first before you judge him.

In October, a second Form Six promotional exercise was announced. This time, it was open to DG41 officers with at least five years in the job grade and with options available in the Form Six list of subjects. I waffled for a few weeks before I too filled in the form. A senior colleague's advice was to grab the opportunity for the DG48 job grade. Such opportunities didn't exactly litter the ground. When I dropped by the Education Office and met one of the officers in charge of the promotion exercise, he also asked me to make sure none of the teachers in my school falsified documents or details. I was thinking that anyone who did that had to be suicidal (career-wise) or not using his or her brain. But for the officer to say that to me, I suspect that perhaps he had come across suicidal or brainless people.

So what's in store for me in 2009? I'm not sure but I hope for better things.
Well, Lilian Too said 2009 was going to be a good year for me ;)

IAB Lecturer Offer!

Well, actually, it was an offer to attend an interview :)

Two days ago, I went to the office and was told by a colleague that I had an offer letter from IAB to attend an interview for a post in Genting Highlands. She was very amused because she had received one as well (along with three other teachers in my school) and not one of us applied for the posts offered. (The posts were the usual DG44, DG48, DG52 pemangkuan...)

Some would think..wow, a great opportunity! But I think not.

First, I've already applied for a DG48 post as a Form Six Academic Teacher (more on this in the next post). The possiblity of my getting it is pretty good (fingers crossed!).

Second, should I be successful in this IAB interview, I would have to move from comfortable familiar KK (and also home!) to the wild woolly highlands to work. I'd have to look for a place to stay, a new school for my son, my husband would have to re-establish himself all over again work-wise (he is not a civil servant easily transferred anywhere) and I suspect that the ensuing costs would far outstrip any possible extras I hope to get as a DG48 officer. I also still remember the four months I spent living in IAB (as part of my Masters course) and the thought of living in Bentong (or elsewhere) and driving everyday up to IAB doesn't exactly inspire exaltations of joy. Don't misunderstand me. I salivate over the IAB library and the highlands are b e a u t i f u l. But when the mists come down over the buildings and I can barely see my hand before my face, and worse, when I think of living in or around or near KL.... I begin to feel the atavistic instinct to fight or flee. The highlands and KL are great places to holiday in...but not to live in. Not for me, anyway. And the place is very scary at night. Very.

Third, I think I am more needed in my state than in Genting Highlands...and people who are needed will be better appreciated. Heh.

I called an old university mate Dr Ahmad Rafee Che Kassim who is currently serving in IAB and he told me that if I want a work environment that challenges me and supports my interest in research (and a future PhD qualification), then I should try my best to ace the interview. But if I want to put my family first (the dilemma of most working ladies!), then perhaps I'd better stay where I am. I also called my Master coursemates working in the Institut Perguruans to check whether they got the offers. No, they didn't. Most probably that's because they are already under BPG and not to be poached. Other people who I knew received the letter were a principal and PKHEM in Tambunan and a PK1 in Kota Marudu.

It looks like all those with Masters and PhDs were posted the same letter. Well, my interview's at 8.30 a.m. today and I won't be attending. I also sent an SMS to the officer in charge, informing him of my non-attendance. It is always politic to be courteous.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

First Real Day Of Holiday!

Today is the first real day of the year-end holiday!

Yesterday didn't count cos I was at work till 4 p.m., sitting in a data meeting at the KK District Education Office. I didn't really mind that much as the officers in charge of the meeting were funny and cheerful. As usual. Well, they have to be as they were asking the schools to fill up a database. Usually a finicky messy crazy job. I didn't have to do it as my data officer was there. My job was to carry the school chops, school letterheads and responsibility to approve.

Now what shall I do today?

I plan to start off with a good hearty breakfast. Keeping in mind my latest resolution to try and make my blood as alkaline as possible.

Next I may go to Karamunsing Complex to see what the Laptop Fair has to offer. Not that I want to buy a laptop. My Inspiron 700m is still serving me well.

Then I may check my ebook folders. I've been downloading so many ebooks that I probably have a few hundred that I haven't read yet.

Yes, that should make for a memorable Saturday.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Burn, baby, burn....!

Actually, the topic should be 'Burnout, baby, burnout...'

Burnout is every teacher's problem. Our work requires us to feel for our 'clients' (i.e. students) and in the process, treat them like our own children. The thing is, the emo can only be spread around so far...

January launches us straight into sports activities (nothing can bond teachers and students together like sweating out on the fields...) and before we can even take a breath, it's already March and that means TESTS! For the teacher, this means cranking out 'quality' test papers, watching the kids take it and then marking them. Then it's analysis time, headcounts, item analyses etc etc ad nauseam. Overlapping the tests will be other cocurricular activities like debates, spelling bees, quizzes, choir competitions ...more ad nauseam. And guess who will plan organise referee these activities? Teachers la...

I've run from debates in the morning to dramas in the afternoon and when I drag my exhausted body home, it will be to pick up a red pen to mark some 450 essays (5 classes of English x 50 students x 3 essays each). And in the mix will be some naughty kids, a stressed friend or two and a demanding boss.

One or two weeks' break would help to ease the strain some...if there are no school activities then.

June July August September will be a blur of lessons, meetings, exams and reports. Mid October will be what a literature teacher would call resolution time. Time to analyse, finalise and report everything. By the first week of November (like now!), most teachers would be feeling like a wet rag wrung out and hung out to dry. The right adjectives to use would be dried up, shriveled, shrunken, withered, dessicated WILTED...

Coincidentally, www.yourdictionary.com says the antonyms are fresh, blooming, alive....

Well, that's why the year end holidays are so important. We teachers need time to destress and to soak up lots of pampering, coddling, indulging...HEALING. It takes a lot of indulging for me to feel fresh, blooming and alive again. Speaking of indulging, I was at TecAsia this afternoon...hmmm, saw lots of tech things guaranteed to help me feel alive.

Sigh, can't wait for the holidays...

People and Their Conflicts

Doing admin at my place of work has made me realise how important people and their relationships with each other are in making sure the organisation functions well.

I also see that there is no such thing as black and white, as in Mrs A is wrong and Mr B is right. Usually the conflict will have its roots in something else and most often, it's a 'minor' thing. But like a burr under a saddle or the pea in the princess' bed (remember the fairytale?), the 'minor' thing festers and festers and in the end, something blows up.

So as an administrator, to ignore 'minor' things and to discount people's opinions and WORSE..to take sides, would be the beginning of major troubles in the organisation.

For example, one of my friends' troubles began when she asked a very very simple question: Are you divorced? But the one who was asked that question took such violent offense that ever since that 'minor' question, she took every opportunity to undermine the other. Even to the point of dragging in others into a protest. I almost ran myself ragged trying to smooth things over. In the end, both moved to other workplaces.

Another friend stood his ground in a conflict and chided another colleague over her unbecoming behaviour. In consequence, he earned her undying enmity. Both are still in the same organisation (my school la...what else?) and just today, he spent an hour just venting his grievances. He's more outraged over her latest shenanigans than anything else. Frankly I don't see how he could've avoided the problem. Sometimes you shouldn't run or avoid a conflict. Just wade in, with all guns blazing....if you have to, then agree to disagree.

I'm more of the peaceable sort myself. But people who underestimate my capacity for verbally loud or physically violent resolutions normally regret it. Got lots of training in my secondary school (good ol' Convent!) Heh heh...and it's also a bonus that after the 'bloodshed' is over, I feel really good. All detoxed, I guess.

Hmmm... doesn't sound very Christian, does it? But then again, I never did truly understand that turning-the-other-cheek bit. Personally, I've found that a tight roundhouse of a slap can be very useful in extreme situations. Or at the very least, the promise of it.

That's one of the things a teacher has to master: the ability to deliver messages through body language or facial expressions. It's very easy to control a classful of rowdy people just by using your eyes and your body language...if you know how. The principle works with adults too...:)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

PMR Madness

It's Wednesday and we're in the third day of the PMR exam. Left school at 4 pm just now and saw the PMR Exam Secretary sitting on a bench at the school door all alone. She looked limp. But still able to muster a smile...

So I had to say,"Hey Jen, still alive? Ha ha..."
She smiled........well, what else can you do when your mad PK says something like that. Especially after a memorable first day.

Monday
I roamed the Form Four classrooms, growling and threatening infanticide to anyone who dares to sing and shout out loud when the PMR exam is going on in the next block. Things didn't improve when three classes of Form Four entered their temporary classes and found out the fans were not working. So we had to do a quick reshuffle of classes. While the Form Four coordinator handled that, I walked over to where the Form Threes were assembled.

I boomed out,"Dah periksa dokumen? Semua bawa kad pengenalan dan slip peperiksaan?"
(Have you checked your documents? Did everyone bring their identification cards and exam slips?)
The kids chorused,"ADAAAAAA....." (WE DIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIID.........)

But knowing my young people pretty well, I said,"OKAY...sesiapa yang terlupa bawa kad pengenalan atau slip peperiksaan, sila berdiri di tepi." (OKAY...whoever forgot their documents, please stand at the side.) Almost forty students got up and moved to the side. I glared at them..."Tadi cakap ada..." (Just now you said you brought them.)

One smart aleck tried to defend himself,"Tapi cikgu, saya tidak tahu perlu dibawa." (But teacher, I didn't know I had to bring them.)
I shot back,"Then what have you been doing with your ears the times I, Mr Khairi, Pn Wong have been telling you all to bring them...and how are the invigilators going to know who you are if you don't have your docs? And weren't you the one who laughed the loudest when I told you all what your seniors did during PMR last year?????"

And so on and so forth.

But the icing on the cake came right in front of an Examinations officer visiting. He came to see our Special Ed kids take their exam papers and saw a pair of Form Fours casually walk down the corridor leading to the exams block, push aside the HUGE sign (bigger than four heads put together) that shouted KAWASAN LARANGAN (PROHIBITED AREA) and began a leisurely stroll past the exam classes towards the boys' washroom. The school exam secretary pounced on them. When she reported the incident to me, I almost expired from chagrin.

So Tuesday morning, I roamed the Form Four classrooms again, frothing at the mouth about people who do not or cannot read signboards and who do not listen to announcements made umpteen times.

In my 16 plus years of teaching in schools, I have heard almost everything there is to be heard...from the kid who filled in a government form with green ink ('But the instructions didn't say anything about ink colour!') to the one who signed his form 'Lotus Jack'. Lotus Jack...and he had a very dignified almost royal sounding string of names. Oh and there was another who bent the fan blades to resemble a swastika. And yet another who justified puncturing the teacher's tyres by saying that he didn't really mean any harm and if he was really really bad, he would've punctured both. Everyone's got one spare, right?

I think I should compile all these stories and make money from books based on the True Singapore Ghost Stories format.

True School Tales? Unbelievable School Stories?
How about..."School Tales That You Won't Forget!"

Promotional Exercise For Form Six Teachers

Been 'lost in PTK space' for the past three weeks... why oh why did I register myself for a repeat of the PTK? Must be those dollar signs in my eyes :)

Yesterday one teacher hesitantly asked me about the Form Six promotions. Immune to all the questions, and also rushing to a PPSMI meeting and lugging my unfinished PTK essay under my arm, I just said,"Don't worry don't worry...the dept will organise it."

Today, TWO approached me at different times. The first wanted to know when I would organise the next filling-in-forms session. Blur me just said...wait wait...
The second teacher was more specific. He said,"Have you checked the MOE website in the last two days? The letter and forms are THERE."

A light switched on in my head. I put the PTK essay, exam timetables, PMR madness etc etc... ALL OF IT aside... and checked the website. Since my last visit 2.5 days ago, there was one crucial update. IT'S TIME FOR FORM SIX TEACHERS' PROMOTION OPPORTUNITIES MADNESS AGAIN!

For those who have at least three years of experience teaching Form
Six students, this is your opportunity to be promoted. Check out the
info at http://www.moe.gov.my/tayang.php?laman=proborang&unit=utama&info=36&bhs=my&mod=baca

And English teachers, beware! In the list of subjects, there is only
Literature in English. I don't see MUET anywhere... In the nineties,
there used to be two English subjects; English Language (Listening,
Reading, Writing and Speaking) and English Literature. Wonder if MUET
is accepted.

Otherwise, dust off your Shakespeare ... and *ahem* the translated versions. And dig in for a long odyssey....

You know what I'm picturing? In the heat of promotional madness, some may just offer Literature in English in their schools even though the students are barely able to use basic English. Oh hey! and if only one student takes it up, you'll have fun teaching one-to-one...after all, the policy is never to close a form six class. I have a form six science class with only two students ;)

Monday, August 18, 2008

No Olympic Gold For Malaysia Yet

Lee didn't get the gold.... oh well, a silver isn't anything to scoff at.

That only means Malaysia needs to strive harder.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Cultural Night That Wasn't

It's 12.45 a.m. and I'm dead tired.

I've just returned from school.  The students participating in our Perkhemahan Perdana were supposed to have Cultural Night and I was looking forward to some interesting presentations.  Instead when I arrived, two students were down for the count...with hysteria.  One was screaming,"Stop the noise, stop the noise, why are you noisy?  Keep quiet, keep quiet, KEEP QUIET!"  Five men & boys were holding her down.  The other was already flat.  Then another student burst into tears and..well, you can picture the general degeneration.  The teachers and I went around, soothing the students and encouraging them.  I dispensed some blessed oil to the Christians.

The teachers valiantly tried to keep the activities going but in the end, we had to stop on S's advice.  She said the spirits in the area were getting agitated and angry and things were only going to become worse.  Max an ex-student began the evening, not believing in spirits...well, by now he's a total believer.

So everyone gathered in the canteen, leaving their campbeds on the field.  My admin colleague was very unhappy.  So much work and energy had gone into the planning.  But we know better now.  Next year, we'll be more prepared.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Silver Olympic Medal In Hand, Gold In Sight!

LEE CHONG WEI!
SILVER OLYMPIC MEDAL! 

GOLD IN SIGHT, GO GO GO.....!

*now just need to put medicine on all the fingers i was biting on*
That Korean Hyunil really put Lee through the wringer..

Last Day of School Is Turning Out BAD....

Today is the last day of school before a much-awaited one week break.  I should be happy, right?  Yes, I should be.  But I'm NOT!

My troubles started yesterday when one of my colleagues reported the finding of a campsite in the hills behind the school.  So we (principal, senior assistants all) hitched up our baju kurung and climbed the hill.  Yep, there was a campsite all right.  Three pretty sturdy shelters.   On the way up, we also noticed that the 'campers' had ripped out the iron fencing supports, flattened the fencing and made a hole in the water tank with a convenient attachment.  Something tells me we've been sponsoring some people's water needs.   We noticed a path through the trees behind the shelters so we continued on walking.  And wow, we hit a bigger jackpot!  This time we found three wooden structures clinging to the sides of the hill.  Zinc roofs and even one mattress!  From the rubbish found, it was clear that some people have been living there.

So a phone call to the police was made.

Then things worsened today.  Around 8.30 a.m., there was a sudden waterfall behind the Special Education rooms.  SOMEONE tore off the plate covering a pipe in the side of the black water tank (which was about the size of a single storey building) and let the water gush out.  Now we know who's been giving us problems with our water system. Those *&^*# good-for-nothing PARASITES!

I can deal with people who want to survive in other people's land...even if they are hiding from the current Ops Nyah.  But did they have to destroy school fencing, steal school water and NOW let the water go to waste??????????  There must have been thousands of litres gone to waste just like that.

Then I remembered the Chemistry Lab door that was half ripped off its hinges during the last weekend.  That Monday, I marvelled at the sheer strength involved in ripping the door off... as our suspects were naughty students.  Now I suspect that perhaps outsiders were in the school grounds trying to find easy pickings.

Now guess what I have to do?  I have to make sure everything's locked up tight and ready for the one-week break.  D

*&^*#@ !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Free Ebook Downloads

Of course in this world of many choices and many freedoms, there also exists the greyer side of the eb00k world where c0pyr1ghted books can be made available for d0wnl0ad.  The tech savvy people will know why some of my words are spelt strangely.

A friend I know ;) is a member of a f0rum where these books are 5hared.... just imagine a community where each member buys a book to be read and disalin semula.  This can be done through simple scann1ng (sounds unbelievable, I know) or painstaking typing.  But some members are able to salin an entire book within three hours.  Editing is done individually or shared with others.  Imagine such a community where the members may number in the hundreds...

Grey grey grey....

And may I remind you that this is a crime?

Free Ebook Downloads

Here are some sites where you can find free ebooks...but when your title is too highly technical, you might need to do some digging.  It is unbelievable how many people out there are willing to scan entire books just to get them into ebook form.  But hey, if it lights their fire, who's going to complain...

General Topics (Fiction and Non Fiction)
http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Main_Page
http://www.baen.com/library/
http://www.freebookspot.com/
http://www.onlinefreeebooks.net/  (categories : automotive, business, engineering, gadget, hardware, health & medical, hobbies, programming & technology, sport & martial arts)
http://knowfree.net/
http://www.memoware.com/
http://www.zillr.org/
http://www.free-ebooks.net/
http://www.ebooksread.com/
http://www.ebooksread.com/
http://www.asksam.com/ebooks/
http://www.planetpdf.com/free_pdf_ebooks.asp?CurrentPage=1
http://manybooks.net/
http://www.getfreeebooks.com/
http://www.globusz.com/ (an online publishing house that offers free ebooks)
http://www.snipfiles.com/
http://www.bookyards.com/
http://digital.library.upenn.edu/books/
http://www.ebooklobby.com/

Computer Science and Technical Books
http://www.freetechbooks.com/
http://4ebooks.org/
http://www.techbooksforfree.com/ (plus some science books)
http://freecomputerbooks.com/
http://www.onlinecomputerbooks.com/

Scribd.com is an online document sharing website. 
It's unbelievable to see the documents some ppl are willing to put up in this website. 
I have personally found PTK essays and strategic plans.
http://www.scribd.com/

Here's a link to an informative post about free ebooks, at Hongkiat.com.

Now, be prepared to be lost to the real world....

Monday, August 04, 2008

Strange Relationship

Hey, Luke, a song you may find interesting, considering your past and current 'adventures'...:)
Well, at least, life isn't boring.

"Strange Relationship"


Do you love me?
Or am I just another trip in this strange relationship?
You push and pull me
and I'm about to lose my mind
Is this just a waste of time
keep acting like you own me
I keep running, watch me walking out that door
I hear you behind me

Gimme that strange relationship
Never felt pleasure and pain like this
Something so right but it feels so terribly wrong
I keep holding on

Gimme that strange relationship
One of us gotta let go of this
I keep pushing and you keep holding on

I'm already gone

Do you love me?
We break up and back together
And I swore to myself never
Oh how you do me
You strip me of my honor
And I don't ever think I'm gonna
Break free of these mind games
All I'm trying to do is modify my plan
'Cause I can't contain you

Gimme that strange relationship
Never felt pleasure and pain like this
Something so right but it feels so terribly wrong
I keep holding on

Gimme that strange relationship
One of us gotta let go of this
I keep pushing and you keep holding on
I'm already gone
You keep acting like you own me
I can't control me
You said you never really wanted me back
Well maybe if that's a fact

May I suggest
A brand new plan of attack
And in defense of that you're hard to crack
You're way off track
I want you back, I want you gone
Maybe I'm sick of holding on

Do you love me?
Or am I just another trip in this strange relationship?
Gimme that strange relationship
Never felt pleasure and pain like this
Something so right but it feels so terribly wrong
I keep holding on

Gimme that strange relationship
One of us gotta let go of this
I keep pushing and you keep holding on
I'm already gone...


Friday, August 01, 2008

Michael Turner : Why?

I was surfing the net when I thought of one of my favourite comic book artists - Michael Turner, creator of Witchblade and Fathom.  Once upon a time, I was a rabid (and this isn't an exaggeration) comic book collector.  Started collecting in 1981 and most recently, focused mainly on Witchblade, the Darkness and other Top Cow titles.  Fathom had beautiful art but I liked Witchblade better.  I could sit for hours reading the books.... the artwork, the dialogue, the very arrangement of the panels awed me.  If I ever felt depressed, a few hours of Witchblade would chase the blues away.  I've stopped buying WB because it's not Michael Turner doing the artwork anymore... but I always keep myself up-to-date, surfing the Top Cow site.

Typed Michael Turner in Google and one of the first entries had this as the title : Remembering Michael Turner.

Aw, man...

I knew he'd been fighting bone cancer...but he wasn't supposed to lose.  He still had so many tales inside him to ink...so much more inspiration to dole out...

Michael Turner Tributes

Why does God always take the good people too quickly?

:(

SSPN (Skim Simpanan Pendidikan Nasional)

Today I went to the bank to apply for an SSPN (Skim Simpanan Pendidikan Nasional) account for Dylan.  The scheme was launched on 6 August 2004 but somehow I wasn't interested then.  Can't remember why....maybe because I was already saving money in ASB.  But just last week, I took a good look at it once again.  The magic phrase 'RM3000 tax relief' reeled me in.  Plus the free insurance (conditional, of course).  I don't think I can get the matching grant.

As usual, I asked the bank officer many questions...some of which she couldn't answer.  So she picked up the phone and dialed the SSPN number.  Ten redials later and we gave up.  I even tried calling on my mobile phone.  Not that it made much difference.  Then she said,"Government bah kan..?" and looked at me and giggled. 

Hmmm....

I looked at my watch and it was only 3.45 pm.  Well, nuts to them anyway. 

------------------

Update :

It's been two years since I began investing in SSPN and I'm glad to have it as one of the tax reliefs I can get.  The interest isn't much but boleh lah...  The investing is also fuss-free as I just use Maybank2U.com to transfer the money. 



Hope I get the SSPN card soon.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Woman Power

What does woman power mean? I believe that it refers to a woman's courage and endurance, no matter what happens.

A woman who has power is a woman who fights for what she wants.
She is...
... the schoolgirl speaking up for a place on the debate team.
... the sweeper lady who is fighting to put food on the table for her children.
... the housewife who is battling to keep hearth and house together.
... the bank officer struggling to balance accounts in time for her to rush home and have dinner with her family
... every woman who has ever hungered for something and fought for it no matter how many times she gets beaten down.

And all of a sudden, I thought of Jessica Rabbit.

Jessica Rabbit, the quintessential sex-on-legs who KNEW what she looked like and yet accepted it and still got on with her life with her darling Roger. AND she was willing to fight for that life.
I really liked that about her...

And the part in the film when she's revealed for the first time can still produce total silence among first-time viewers even now.

Cry Her A River, Why Don't You?

For the past few weeks, a girlfriend of mine has been in agony over a loved one. But the way I hear it, she's better off without him. Heard a song on the radio that I'd love to hear her dedicate to him...

Cry Me A River


Now you say you're lonely
You cry the long night through
Well, you can cry me a river
Cry me a river
I cried a river over you

Now you say you're sorry
For being so untrue
Well, you can cry me a river
Cry me a river
I cried a river over you

You drove me, nearly drove me, out of my head
While you never shed a tear
Remember, I remember, all that you said
You told me love was too plebeian
Told me you were through with me and

Now you say you love me
Well, just to prove that you do
Come on and cry me a river
Cry me a river
I cried a river over you
I cried a river over you
I cried a river...over you...

And Barbra Streisand gives a killer version of this song.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Royal Commonwealth Essay Competition 2009

Another great opportunity for our young people to show what they can do!

The Royal Commonwealth Essay Competition has four different age bands, 'Classes'. Each Class offers five topics, plus the Commonwealth Question and the Charlton Athletic Community Trust Question. As we hope to reach a diverse student body across the Commonwealth, there are options for both academic and creative minds. 

The Competition deadline is 1st March 2009 

CLASS A - Born 1990-1992 

1400-1750 words 

All questions can be answered by writing an essay or a story which explores the topic in an interesting and relevant way.  

  1. Can I help you? 
  2. Bullying is an issue which concerns young people throughout the Commonwealth. Why does it matter and what can be done about it?  
  3. It is 200 years since Charles Darwin was born and 150 years since the publication of "On the origin of Species". In your view, what evolutionary developments are needed to ensure the continuing survival and well-being of humanity? 
  4. EITHER Unlikely friends OR An unexpected friendship. 
  5. The match.  
  6. EITHER the Commonwealth Question OR Charlton Athletic Community Trust Question.


CLASS B - Born 1993-1994 

1200-1500 words 

All questions can be answered by writing an essay or a story which explores the topic in an interesting and relevant way.  

  1. Tracks. 
  2. What makes a good teacher?  
  3. Who's the boss in your family?  
  4. Sport ~ love it or loathe it?  
  5. The long way home… 
  6. EITHER the Commonwealth Question OR Charlton Athletic Community Trust Question.


CLASS C - Born 1995-1996 

500-700 words  

  1. Your assignment is to interview an animal for your local newspaper or radio station. Send us the transcript of your interview! 
  2. What three plants or trees are most important for life in your country? Why? 
  3. What I don't want to do when I'm grown up.  
  4. A distant cousin who lives in a very different Commonwealth country is coming to visit for the first time. Write a letter introducing yourself and your home. 
  5. Write a story about the sea or a mountain or both. 
  6. EITHER the Commonwealth Question OR Charlton Athletic Community Trust Question. 


CLASS D - Born 1997 or later
 

300-600 words  

  1. There is a fuel shortage in your area. How does your family cope? 
  2. You have decided to stand for leader of your community. Write a short speech stating what you will do to improve where you live. 
  3. The day was perfect for a swim … 
  4. The most exciting day of my life.  
  5. Write about what your life would have been like if you had been born a hundred years ago.  
  6. EITHER the Commonwealth Question OR Charlton Athletic Community Trust Question. 


Commonwealth Question
 

The Commonwealth Question is open to all candidates and entries will be judged according to the relevant criteria used in the four Classes (A to D). 

If you choose to answer the Commonwealth Question please DO NOT submit another essay and keep to your Class word count. 

The value of the prize is equivalent to that of the 4th prize in the relevant class. Any entrant selecting the Commonwealth Question as their topic will also have their essay considered for a main prize. 

Over half of the 1.8 billion people in the Commonwealth are aged 25 or under. What changes in your country would enhance the lives of young people?  


Charlton Athletic Community Trust Question 

  'The Beautiful Game': Why does football inspire such passion around the world?  

Monday, July 21, 2008

One Sign of Economic Downturn - More Con Jobs!

I'm a member of an online forum and one topic came up about an elaborate con job just to steal a mobile gadget.  But a very expensive gadget.  Read and be wary...there are people who are willing to go to all lengths for illicit profit.

The post in MyPDACafe

And if you're too lazy to click, here's the gist of it, spelling mistakes and all.  But you have to remember that this was written by a guy in mourning.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Well... before i start my ramblings...

Data on the PDA Phone that was 'given away'

HTC TYTNII
Hw Serial ht548dv07365

I had a phone call to the office in the morning about 1030am asking for the sales person. This guy called Liew, introduced himself as a CFO of SJ resources. He says that his Director, Patricia is looking for purchasing some equipments as their company is going listed and has new product research & development... I did a google search, and this company did many things from food stuff, manufacturing, some biotech stuff (don't know whether related but it had that SJ xxx Resources name)

I tried to ask more but he says he is not so technical and have to ask Patricia... he chatted that like information is very confidential as they are going to be listed and how another media company cheated them where they sold some information to another competitor, etc...

In short, these stories are so real and I myself have heard of these...

So he asked me whether I'm free to meet up with them today... He said he would bring more info about the company and products that they are interested. I asked him how he knows us, he said last year, our customer gave him our contact but at that time did not call us...

So believing as I had a number of calls within this 2 weeks that new prospects and customers call up... and we also had referrals like this before...

So the appointment was set at 2.30pm...

I called up my boss and told him about this appointment and told him I got a very funny feeling and they are too friendly and something was not right... I told him, that if I got kidnap or suddenly missing, at least he knows where I am... At that point, I was joking...

So driving to Ampang Park, I receive a call for Liew, he says his hp is out of battery... and he has to call from a public phone.... he told me to meet him at Guardian at the main entrance...

So I waited at there but not really exactly at that spot, then i received another call asking where was I and ask me to go up the escalator and meet him at the open food court area...

So I went up and waited for a little while... I believe he was checking me out...

Then he came and shook his filthy hands... and he brought me to Pizza hut... as we sat down a few seconds later... my phone rang and it was lo and behold Patricia... asking me whether her partner belanja me makan and whether I have eaten and had a small talk with her...

Then she asked whether she could speak to Liew... so they had they small chat, saying that waiting for her, my name is Sam for this company and that, etc... Then the waiter came and ask us for drinks and ask me to order a small pan pizza as he was on the phone... He even mentioned my boss name, with Patricia and whether I can pass some items for him.

Then suddenly he said "you don't know the way ah" in their conversation. "There at ampang park, pizza hut" it was so natural and the story line was so clean, as he introduce themselves from Singapore... so he was directing her and suddenly he stood up as if she was near and showing her where we are...

So he went downstairs to lead her... As he left the table, there was this CD with "Company Profile" and also 2 envelopes attention to Patricia, sealed and stapled...

See the whole modus operandi? So planned out... the food ordering to hold me back, the items on the table... the date on the CD also so believable... dated in like end of 2007... so detailed....

I waited like 10min and was anxious, where are these ppl... so i when downstairs to call my mobile on the public phone... He picked up and said he is nearby at OSK, as Patricia is familiar with the place... so i went up again and sat down. I took his CD and saw it was empty, nothing burned, inserted into my notebook, nothing... The first thought is maybe he brought the wrong CD, it happens right?

I went online to check with our admin in Melaka and check whether my boss knows any Patricia, she checked and she said none that he can remember... I told Jo, if I get conned, this is one of the best in my history...

Then another 15min, I called again... He said they are on the way to Malaysian Tobacco and ask me whether can go there and meet them... I told him I want my phone back and I am waiting for him at Pizza Hut before my coins ran out...

At the point, this is really something wrong, I open up the envelopes that are sealed slowly, so that if I'm wrong, I still can put it back, I even ask the staff for a stapler to stapled it back if mistaken... !@$#!!! empty paper!!! The next envelope, I just ripp it apart! Newspaper! !@#!@#!!!!

start calling my number but goes into message... I called our KL admin up and ask her to cancel my handphone....

I'm done... I just gave my precious pda phone to this old forty plus chinese man! Which looks so polite and mannered with a neck tie!

Called my beloved and told her that I got conned... suppose to bring her out at night for 'jalan jalan' but plans all gone...

Wanted to go home already... but thought for a little while, maybe can see this guy on CCTV... I asked for the manager to see whether can catch the video, she says need police report and necessary authorization from HQ.

So I went to the Police station across the road and made a report... it seems that some of the police know this modus operandi... and told me exactly... even the manager of Pizza Hut told me this happened also last month...

Finished my report, dashed through the rain to Pizza Hut again... and pass the letter... now waiting for Pizza Hut to release at least a photo or video footage of the incident...

What I lost or spent:
My PDA... RM3200
PDA Cover RM40
My Parking Ticket... RM8.80
Pizza... RM17.70
Petrol... RM20
Thumbdrive... RM60
Micro SDs... RM450
My missed plan time with my beloved... Priceless

Friday, July 11, 2008

Rattled By Life! Where's My Security Blanket!

Sometimes things happen that rattle me. They aren't earthshaking or life-endangering or stuff like that. But when they happen in a combination, I get rattled.

So when that happens, I look for my security blanket.

For some people, security blankets may mean an old teddy bear, a favourite rocking-chair or whatever. My security blankets are human beings who let me vent and they even go,"Uh-huh..." very patiently when I spout nonsense.

My husband is one (obviously!) and I also have one in Johor, one and a half in KL and two in KK.
But after pouring out all my fears and worries onto them, I feel so relieved.

In case anyone wonders, this particular kind of security blanket takes about ten years to develop.

Monday, June 30, 2008

What Happens When You Don't Have A Thesaurus

I'm sitting at my table, checking my email while keeping an eye on my five-year-old who is wrenching the life out of his PS2's joystick.  He insists on calling it a remote...well, whatever.

This particular game he's playing is both entertaining and horrifying me. 
The warthogs trying to flatten a panda are entertaining. 
The lines scrolling across the screen at the beginning of every episode horrify me.

Long ago, in a time of ancient timeless time....

(Huh?)

Legend tells of a legendary warrior whose skills are the stuff of legend...

(OMG.)

Haven't the game writers heard of a thesaurus???? 
Now I'm not only worried about the violence level...I'm worried about the dearth of creative vocabulary on offer!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

What Are Luxuries?

Some more info I got during my surfing...

It's amazing how many of us take objects & services for granted (and some even dare to call it a NECESSITY!). The list below is of LUXURIES which, according to the dictionary means

–noun
1.a material object, service, etc., conducive to sumptuous living, usually a delicacy, elegance, or refinement of living rather than a necessity: Gold cufflinks were a luxury not allowed for in his budget.
2.free or habitual indulgence in or enjoyment of comforts and pleasures in addition to those necessary for a reasonable standard of well-being: a life of luxury on the French Riviera.
3.a means of ministering to such indulgence or enjoyment: This travel plan gives you the luxury of choosing which countries you can visit.
4.a pleasure out of the ordinary allowed to oneself: the luxury of an extra piece of the cake.
5.a foolish or worthless form of self-indulgence: the luxury of self-pity.
6.Archaic. lust; lasciviousness; lechery.
–adjective
7. of, pertaining to, or affording luxury: a luxury hotel.

The Luxuries List
  1. Alcohol (drowning your sorrows is not a necessity!)
  2. Beeper/Mobile Phone(s) (do you know there's a cute Nokia phone available for RM120?)
  3. Techie accessories (e.g. leather case for the PDA, phone, camera etc)
  4. Cable TV (Astro...)
  5. Club Dues (country club, gym etc.)
  6. Magazine Subscriptions
  7. Internet Service
  8. Smoking
  9. Impulse Shopping
  10. Eating Out
  11. Long Distance Calls
  12. Babysitters
  13. Branded baby or toddler paraphernalia (how long can the kid wear the Guess t-shirt anyway?)
  14. Landscaper/Gardener
  15. Regular facials and massages
  16. Junk food (e.g. crisps, cola, chocolate, peanuts)
  17. Manicures and pedicures
  18. Branded name facial products
  19. Branded name coffee, tea, donuts
Dee Westman has a succinct way of noting down what her needs are:

Food

Breakfast: Cereal (not bacon and eggs!)
Lunch: a sandwich (not a meal at a restaurant)
Supper: meat, vegetables and starch being either rice or potato (not a meal at a restaurant)

Clothes and shoes to wear (forget the name brands)

Shelter : A warm bed to sleep in. A roof over your head and a car to get to work.

Fuel Price Rise Begins Lifestyle Change

Didn't join in the mad hustle for fuel two days ago. Wouldn't have made it before midnight anyway. The crowds were unbelievable.

So yesterday I went to the fuel station. Filled the tank up and for 43 litres, I had to pay about RM117. Wowch...
Before I would have had to pay only RM85 (plus minus). 43 litres would only last me about a week and a half.

But this has been coming for a long time... The Malaysian government couldn't have maintained the subsidies forever.
So what does it mean for an ordinary civil servant like me?

Less of everything I want and moderate amounts of everything I need.

I surfed the net for strategies on achieving the above and here are some pointers I found:

a) Buy less books. You can download thousands of free ebooks from :
and most online ebook sellers offer free ebooks (google and find out for yourself.)

b) Read at the library. Newspapers, magazines aaaaaaand books.

c) Eat out less. Try bringing sandwiches from home and make use of the pantry at the office. A friend of mine brings Nescafe sachets and only asks for hot water at the coffeeshops (though this takes nerve!)

d) Carpool. If you cannot do this every day, why not try it twice a week?

e) Cut your Astro packages. It's humanly impossible to watch all the channels all the time, anyway.

f) Shop only during sales (and only for NECESSARY stuff). You won't die if you don't buy that pashmina shawl.

g) Cut down on bank fees. Not all banks charge savings account fees and you don't need all your credit cards. One credit card is quite sufficient (and if it isn't, you should know that it's a danger signal)

h) Downsize. Thinking of buying that double storey bungalow? Maybe a smaller house or apartment would be better. Always grabbing a latte at Starbucks? What's wrong with the coffee at home or the kopitiam? Dreaming of a New Zealand holiday? Why not go to Kundasang and stay at Kinabalu Pine Resort? Beautiful place, by the way...

i) Make extra cash. Yes, it means extra work...DUH. But it would really help, especially if you're not willing to give up a lot of stuff.

I think if I do only half of the above, I'd still be able to save a lot of money.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

We Are The Champions..!

I've paid my dues -
Time after time -
I've done my sentence
But committed no crime -
And bad mistakes
I've made a few
I've had my share of sand kicked in my face -
But I've come through

We are the champions - my friends
And we'll keep on fighting - till the end -
We are the champions -
We are the champions
No time for losers
'Cause we are the champions - of the world -

I've taken my bows
And my curtain calls -
You brought me fame and fortuen and everything that goes with it
-
I thank you all -

But it's been no bed of roses
No pleasure cruise -
I consider it a challenge before the whole human race -
And I ain't gonna lose -

We are the champions - my friends
And we'll keep on fighting - till the end -
We are the champions -
We are the champions
No time for losers
'Cause we are the champions - of the world -

Yeah... I know... overkill.
But niiiiice overkill...

English Teachers' Debate 2008 NATIONAL CHAMPS!

SABAH WON!

We won we won we won we won we won....!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Malaysian English Teachers' Debate 2008

No matter how many times I've been involved (directly or indirectly) in a debate competition, I always get them butterflies in my stomach. Right now, I'm developing a butterfly colony. Complete with flyovers and helipads.

The Sabah teachers' debate team are sitting in a Malaccan hotel right now, doing mock debates and trying to outwit each other. Sometimes these sessions frighten those who've never seen such a gathering. Sometimes the wounded storm off in a fury. That usually means it's time for coach to have a coffee break with said wounded. But managed very well, such a team can produce such beautiful verbal pyrotechnics onstage.

Malaysian teacher debates are usually formal and rational ones. So everyone dresses accordingly in dark suits, strongly supported points and coolly sarcastic tongues. Unlike the Malay debate, the English debate relies more on verbal sleight of hand. Some would say verbal diarrhea. But personally I like what one friend said...verbal twitchery. I think she was aiming for 'witchery' but twitch will do pretty fine. Hee hee hee...

But the most memorable twitch I'd ever heard was a politically incorrect one, when the La Salle boys went up against the St. Francis girls and after a long winded lambasting of the boys with statistics, one of the boys got up and said,"Ah but statistics are like a bikini. What they reveal is suggestive but what they conceal is vital." During practice, that was the very quotation I'd pulled out to entertain them and which I said they MUSTN'T use. But I suppose the overabundance of statistics tempted the poor boy beyond endurance. Sitting in the audience, I tried to hide as I was fully aware of St Francis girls' homicidal tendencies (being one myself).

The girls' outrage lasted for at least a year...

How Do I Write A Speech?

Someone asked me how I wrote a speech.

We-ell, it's no big secret...you write it just like you'd write an essay. Basic structure: point+explanation+elaboration.

Of course, you'd need to pay attention to a few basic rules.
1. Keep your sentences short. Listening and reading are different skills. You can read long sentences because the sentence doesn't disappear. However, if your sentence is too long, by the time you reach the end, the listener would have forgotten the beginning.
2. Begin with a bang. You want people to listen to you...so you better grab their attention at the start. People normally decide within the first 30 seconds whether they want to continue listening to you or maybe it's better for them to flip open their phone and sms their fish.
3. Have a logical sequence. It's like a mind map... A connects to B which connects to C. But if you jump all over the place, you'll only befuddle people who will then open their phone to sms their fish.
4. Use anecdotes. People looooove stories...
5. Drop in a joke or two. People looooove jokes... most politicians have mastered this particular aspect.
6. Get to your point FAST. People have things to do and places to go...
7. End with finesse. The worst thing you could do is to fall silent. Then when people start to shift in their seats, you say,"Uh, okay, that's all." Ouch. At the very least, say,'Thank you for listening.' Otherwise end with a suitable poem, dirge or whatever...

And that's only how to write a speech. I haven't started on how to deliver a speech... :)

Talking about speeches...everyone should learn how to give a speech because this is something everyone gets to do. Whether as the best man at a wedding or as team leader of a gotong-royong clean-up gang. You HAVE to say thank you for coming to all these people, you know. And although it may be a simple one, it impresses the heck out of people if you can deliver one without swallowing your tongue or boring them.

The Words That Bring People To My Blog

Took a look at my counter...and found out the top ten keywords that search engines respond to with my blog address.
1. Fail Meja
2. PTK
3. Manual Prosedur Kerja
4. PTK3 DG44
5. PTK DG44
6. Oxymoron Lesson Plans
7. Oxymoron Lesson Plan
8. Oxymoron Worksheet
9. Kursus PTK DG 44
10. PTK DG 44

and among the strangest were 'wishabi', 'oxymoron for bill gates' and 'riding a dead horse solutions'.

???

Maybe I should set up databases for PTK and oxymoron lesson plans. What do you guys think? And this post will probably increase the probability of the above list being maintained...heh heh heh.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

DG44 PTK3 Results for Cohort 1/2008 is OUT!

I was just about to tuck into a plate of sweet and sour fish with rice when my phone rang. It was Choo...and he said,"PTK results are out..check the website." Never has a plate of food disappeared so fast!

Next stop was http://apps.emoe.gov.my/bppk/!

I got...ARAS 3! Not sure what to kiss yet...the computer monitor or my husband! Never mind, hubby's at work.
Yep, it's not Aras 4 but I'm satisfied with that. Now I can look forward to the next step....whatever it may be.

Yes yes yes...!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Drive-Through ATM ....

A word of warning : The following is utterly sexist but because it made me laugh, I just had to put it into my blog.

A new sign in the Bank Lobby reads:
"Please note that this Bank is installing new Drive-through ATM machines enabling customers to withdraw cash without leaving their vehicles. Customers using this new facility are requested to use the procedures outlined below when accessing their accounts. After months of careful research, MALE & FEMALE Procedures have been developed. Please follow the appropriate steps for your gender."


*******************************

MALE PROCEDURE:
1. Drive up to the cash machine.
2. Put down your car window.
3. Insert card into machine and enter PIN.
4. Enter amount of cash required and withdraw.
5. Retrieve card, cash and receipt.
6. Put window up.
7. Drive off.


*******************************


FEMALE PROCEDURE: (Unfortunately, most of this part is the Truth!!!!)
1. Drive up to cash machine.
2. Reverse and back up the required amount to align car window with the machine.
3. Set parking brake, put the window down.
4. Find handbag, remove all contents on to passenger seat to locate card.
5. Tell person on cell phone you will call them back and hang up.
6. Attempt to insert card into machine.
7. Open car door to allow easier access to machine due to its excessive distance from the car.
8. Insert card.
9. Re-insert card the right way.
10. Dig through handbag to find diary with your PIN written on the inside back page.
11. Enter PIN.
12. Press cancel and re-enter correct PIN.
13. Enter amount of cash required.
14. Check makeup in rear view mirror.
15. Retrieve cash and receipt.
16. Empty handbag again to locate wallet and place cash inside.
17. Write debit amount in check register and place receipt in back of checkbook.
18. Re-check makeup.
19. Drive forward 2 feet.
20. Reverse back to cash machine.
21. Retrieve card.
22. Re-empty hand bag, locate card holder, and place card into the slot provided!
23. Give dirty look to irate male driver waiting behind you.
24. Restart stalled engine and pull off.
25. Redial person on cell phone.
26. Drive for 2 to 3 miles.
27. Release Parking Brake.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Income Tax Deadline Trauma Once Again!

The dreaded deadline looms once again... and I haven't learnt my lesson!

But I'm going to do it a bit better this year (fingers crossed). I'm gonna do it today.

I hope.

What kids say : WHY GOD MADE MUMS

Answers given by 2nd grade school children to the following questions:

Why did God make mothers?
1. She's the only one who knows where the sticky tape is.
2. Mostly to clean the house.
3. To help us out of there when we were getting born.

How did God make mothers?
1. He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.
2. Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring.
3. God made my Mum just the same like he made me. He just used bigger parts.

What ingredients are mothers made of ?
1. God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean.
2. They had to get their start from men's bones. Then they mostly use string, I think.

Why did God give you your mother and not some other Mum?
1. We're related.
2. God knew she likes me a lot more than other people's Mums like me.

What kind of little girl was your Mum?
1. My Mum has always been my Mum and none of that other stuff
2. I don't know because I wasn't there, but my guess would be pretty bossy.
3. They say she used to be nice.

What did Mum need to know about Dad before she married him?
1. His last name.
2. She had to know his background. Like is he a crook? Does he get drunk on beer?
3. Does he make at least $800 a year? Did he say NO to drugs and YES to chores?

Why did your Mum marry your Dad?
1. My Dad makes the best spaghetti in the world. And my Mum eats a lot.
2. She got too old to do anything else with him.
3. My Grandma says that Mum didn't have her thinking cap on.

Who's the boss at your house?
1. Mum doesn't want to be boss, but she has to because dad's such a goof ball.
2. Mum. You can tell by room inspection. She sees the stuff under the bed.
3. I guess Mum is, but only because she has a lot more to do than Dad.

What's the difference between Mums & Dads?
1. Mums work at work and work at home and Dads just go to work at work.
2. Mums know how to talk to teachers without scaring them.
3. Dads are taller & stronger, but Mums have all the real power 'cause that's who you got to ask if you want to sleep over at your friend's.
4. Mums have magic, they make you feel better without medicine.

What does your Mum do in her spare time?
1. Mothers don't do spare time.
2. To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long.

What would it take to make your Mum perfect?
1. On the inside she's already perfect. Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery.
2. Diet. You know, her hair. I'd diet, maybe blue.

If you could change one thing about your Mum, what would it be?
1. She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean. I'd get rid of that.
2. I'd make my Mum smarter. Then she would know it was my sister who did it and not me.
3. I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes on the back of her head.

I used to read this kind of thing when I was younger...but now that I'm a mum, I find I laugh louder!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Work Work Work...

It's almost the middle of April and I'm huffing and puffing and trying not to get my 'house' blown down...

School tests just over and we're gearing up for first term exams.
I find myself sitting at my table looking helplessly at exam analyses piled 6 cms thick
and the discipline master's just sent me an sms telling me some interesting things about the creativity of kids in my school.
Yeah, and also in the other millions of schools all over the world...

It's also time for school debates, choral speaking contests, forum remaja etc etc ad-absolutely-nauseam.
I'm also the absolutely insensitive administrator pushing painful stuff like debate competitions at my English teachers. Not only do I make them sit with kids and teach 'em how to debate ... I also hound them to take part in TEACHER debate competitions.

Yup, I'm absolutely mean.

But don't get me started about debates. I can go on and on about how good debates are at helping people build up confidence and becoming a more visible individual and how you can help people (not just kids) become BETTER at being leaders and worthwhile citizens of the country. Hmm, I can feel the steam building up so I better stop.

But I've never been one to let clueless people do things (especially if I have clues about it). So, in addition to normal work load, I'm also creating debate worksheets, powerpoints...stuff they can bring into class and TEACH debate. Sure hope they don't begin filling in transfer forms.

And in the midst of this mayhem, letters arrive inviting me to become a judge at Action Song competitions (say what???). I almost called the organizers up to reject but saw the fateful letters (MSSGKK) at the end of the letter. That means the competition is under the purview of our local education division. So I reluctantly decided to sacrifice one day. Not a simple matter, that. I had to 'buy and sell' my teaching periods, which meant that I 'bought' another teacher's periods and 'sold' her mine so the students don't lose out on any precious teaching time. I'm pretty much reaching the point that I'm in class from 6.50 am to 10.20 am just catching up.

But anyway in the midst of my mad mad working days, I sometimes find sparkling gems that really cleanse and refresh my soul. Like the Action Song competition. I went for it yesterday and saw absolutely sweet little kids run about onstage singing and doing their thang. By the end of the day, I was singing,"Climb up, climb down..." (original by Felix Samunting) and also the perennial "Row row row your boat...".

Aren't kids sweet...? Sigh.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Malaysian Elections 2008

I'm sitting in front of TV and computer... I'd have the radio on but afraid I'd miss out on important details in the cacophony.

Malaysian Elections 2008 is BURNING HOT!
And the fact that Sungai Petani, Kedah is won by PKR (opposition) just screams out '#@$#%^' to me. I don't believe things in that town don't move without the big M's fingers in it somewhere.... Apparently Kedah's gone to the opposition and Selangor might go that way too....


I won't be able to s l e e p!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Wonders of Government

According to ancient wisdom, "When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount."

However, in modern government more advanced strategies are often employed, such as:
1. Buying a stronger whip.
2. Changing riders.
3. Appointing a committee to study the horse.
4. Arranging to visit other countries to see how other cultures ride dead horses.
5. Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included.
6. Reclassifying the dead horse as living-impaired.
7. Hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse.
8. Harnessing several dead horses together to increase speed.
9. Providing additional funding and/or training to increase dead horse's performance.
10. Doing a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse's performance.
11. Declaring that as the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overhead and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line of the economy than do some other horses.
12. Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses.

And of course...

13. Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

I've Survived the PTK3 DG44 Course!

I've just returned from my PTK3 DG44 course and my first priority was sleep. But now I'm okay and ready to share info.

First off, whoever tells you you don't need to memorize info for the PTK3 level of exam either has never sat for the exam or has photographic memory. I had to memorize the Twelve Pillars (Tonggak12), 16 moral values (nilai2 murni), civil servant ethics code, education ministry ethics code, steps in TQM, and ALL the govt vision aims objectives policies ... (hint: acronyms help). I only wish I'd done this BEFORE I went for the exam course.

Second, the key word for this course is APPLICATION. They don't want to hear about the latest discoveries, theories or how long your bibliography pages are. They want to know how you translate govt policy into a plan of action.

Third, don't take the assignment (15-25 pages) lightly. First thing to do is understand the question. Next is prepare an answer that fulfils all requirements. I'd advise you to have more than four points.

Fourth, practise your public speaking skills in both English and Malay before you go for the course. Otherwise, you'll r e g r e t it.

Fifth, if you don't have a regular diet of vitamin pills or whatever, start a month before. This doesn't apply to those disgustingly super healthy ones. Personally, I took a cocktail of vitamin C, spirulina and memory pills. The old brain doesn't remember things like it used to. But I didn't fall sick at all and actually had to dispense some vit C to a friend.

Sixth, practise your best handwriting... the examiners complained about unreadable writing.
Personally, I discovered that my hand was more used to keyboards than pens. And you'll find yourself writing about 15 pages during the exam. And I'd put that as a minimum.

Seventh. Never used a notebook before? Don't know what's powerpoint? Better find out...

Eighth, when you go for the course, think corporate. They will evaluate you from check-in to check-out on your ketrampilan which I take to mean behaviour and dressing that befits middle managers.

Ninth, KNOW the mark scheme for all evaluations and GIVE THEM WHAT THEY WANT. Even if you disagree.

Tenth, work with friends and coursemates. Sharing can only boost the knowledge you have but if you're selfish with what you know and you keep it to yourself, others will not share with you either.

Now the most difficult part...waiting for the results.