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So coffee beans that have been roasted is dead coffee and should be consumed within seven days to obtain whatever health benefits coffee is purported to give! Dead coffee indeed! So what if it's been dead for a while? Most of what we eat is dead anyway. So, in order to drink coffee "fresh", we would need to roast it, grind it and then brew it? Too much trouble. I really don't buy the idea that we drink coffee for any health benefit or that it gives any kick. There is really not much else to drink in the morning.
The school celebrated Founder's Day yesterday with a banquet at a hotel. Yesterday was Sunday! It was a 140 years ago our Founder started this school in a little shop-house that is now a famous landmark. The school was founded on strong Christian principles, and I do agree that those were good foundations. Over the years, we try to maintain that emphasis on moral character and service to the nation. In 140 years, we have turned out some illustrious alumni who had served the nation well. So, yes, we should commemorate Founder's Day, and yes, even if it's Sunday.
Most people equate happiness in life with success in the things we do. But that's not how things have turned out for me. Each time I have a certain measure of success, whether in school examinations or in my job, the elation is ephemeral. Every high point is followed by a low. Success does not always make me happy. In fact, it makes people around me rather unhappy sometimes. To be honest, most of us have difficulty celebrating other people's successes. Perhaps when we learn that we don't live for ourselves, we'll be happy when people we know are happy.
I don't want my dreams to come true. Most my dreams find me in various situations of anxiety. Usually I find myself not being able to get to my destination for one reason or another: my bags are lost; I am lost; the car breaks down; there is an accident and I am caught in a jam. I become later and later for an appointment, or further and further from my destination. Sometimes I am separated from my family, and I can't seem to be able to get home. So, yes, why would anyone want such dreams to come true?
What does it mean to be disciplined? To do the things you don't necessarily enjoy but that needed done? That's when you are in school, and there are tons of homework and studying for examinations that you need to pass so that you can get on in life. But when that is done, what then is discipline? It is about doing things you like, isn't it? Because even for things you enjoy, sometimes we don't take the trouble to get it done. So, it's about how we manage ourselves and our time then? To be disciplined means to be productive?
Why do I write?
Maybe it's a matter of preferences. I prefer writing to talking. When I write I choose words carefully and edit the essay to make sure it reads exactly how I want it read. The spoken word is quite different. Sometimes what I say may be misconstrued or may not come out the way I want it to. I am also very self-conscious when I speak. I think I have a funny accent.
I am more comfortable writing. I don't have to consider my audience just yet. I just need to get it right.
The city is an organism. The arteries of roads and rail carry the lifeblood of economic activity enabling the flow of goods and services and exchange of information from one part of the city to another.
The city feeds on resources, most of which come from the periphery, or its hinterland. It consumes energy and food and raw materials. In return, it produces waste, a huge amount of waste that needs to be assimilated daily.
The city is an organism. The people in the city are the cells that maintain this organism and keep it growing.
Writing as an act of courage, I understand. We fear that through our writing we may expose our weaknesses, our vulnerabilities and our ignorance. But writing as an act of faith? We continue to write even in the face of a digital onslaught on the printed word, and the constant distractions of electronic gadgets. We write believing that in the future, for which our writing is intended, there will still be people who appreciate the beauty of language, the thrill of a story and the artistry of a plot enough to stay on the page and to pour over words.
Forty years in teaching have taught me we can teach ourselves most things. The burst of fields and mountains that weren't there three months ago now adorn the walls of the upper floor of my home. They happened because at the start of school vacation last year, I loaded my brushes with colors and put paint to canvasses. I sat for hours working and reworking until I call it done. In the past I had attended sporadic short courses but there wasn't time to produce any piece worthy of display. I can't afford more classes, so now I taught myself.
I am picking up on March after reading through the February entries. There were a number of items entered in February that had to do with death and disease. What has March been like so far? My grouses have mainly been about work, especially with regard to the athletic meet. I am hanging in there until this thing is over and done with, which should be by the end of this week. Then I will take stock once again of what I'm doing in this job and what it's doing to me. I don't have that much time to waste.
This is how it might be if this were the future: waking up early in the morning, hitting the keys of this pc at my desk, and pouring words from my neuron circuitry into blank digital space. It's morning, and on most working mornings, I would be hitting the road a full thirty minutes earlier and be at the canteen in school by now. Then, classes would start. But in the future, I would be here at my desk, and I would have to create something that would put pennies in the jar. I would have to write, or something.
Am I the only one complaining? The school administrators wanted this year's finals for the Sports meet at night. The week before, we had heats in the afternoon everyday after lessons! Again, am I the only one complaining? Seems that way. On this day, the finals of the meet, instead of the afternoon, they wanted a Sports Night! So this afternoon, they wanted us to come down to the stadium after lessons by 2pm to prepare! The meet started at 5 and ended at 9! It's been a 14-hour day! Am I the only one complaining? Seems that way.
There are four cores of biodiversity in our country's biodiversity matrix: the western, the central, the north-eastern cores and the southern islands. The species move in and out of these areas, such that there is ecological connectivity. I found out today that we have birds like the Grey Heron and the Piped Hornbill. The Hornbill needs cavities in the trees to build nests. The trees here are so healthy they do not have cavities. So the researchers hang boxes on trees to encourage them to build nests, and the numbers have since increased. Nature can use a little help.
I've not been to the island for a decade. Nothing much has changed. This looks like a place that time forgot. The man that the National Parks Board put in charge of the eastern part of the island told us that the number of visitors peaks at 2,000 during weekends and drops to about 200 for the rest of the week. It is Saturday, and the start of the school break. We have already seen several bumboats full of students from the Boys' Brigade, National Police Cadet Corps and Outdoor Activities Club arriving on the island ahead of us.
I have given my visit to the island yesterday a little more thought. On hindsight, the island is not such a good place for field work after all. The mudflats, sandbar and other coastal habitats are off limits. We can only walk around the mangrove forests and above the mudflats on a raised boardwalk. This serves more for protection of the ecosystem than for our safety. Long stilts protruding from the water, looking very much like a kelong, stretch across much of the northern seafront a short distance from the shore. They form an impregnable fence keeping illegal immigrants out.
We have not bought a fresh loaf for breakfast this morning. As it is the first day of a week long term break, I thought why not go out for breakfast, something we have not done for more than fifteen years. We went first to a corner coffee shop in our old neighbourhood. We ordered local breakfast fare with coffee. i had steamed glutinous rice with peanut and dried shrimp. This used to be my favourite but I have not had it for more than a decade. What happened in the last fifteen years that made my life so different?
They say this Friday, 20 March, is a very unusual day. Three celestial events will collide on this day: the spring equinox, a Solar eclipse and a Supermoon. Apocalypse watchers and astrologers alike talk excitedly about what this may mean. Telecommunication providers anticipate some interference of communication systems from the geomagnetic storm.
As for me, this Friday is the last day of my term break. It means I have to start grading the assignments I have taken home.
But I will have dinner on the balcony, with the Blood Moon as a backdrop. Should make an interesting picture.
I saw her for the first time today at the Rehab Home when I went to visit Beth. She is 23, but looks barely out of her teens. She was sitting by the bed, reading a book. She was the Burmese maid my brother hired to look after Beth. She didn't seem to understand when we asked if the person in bed was Beth. Beth had lost all her hair, a result of four rounds of chemotherapy, and appeared to be sleeping. She sat up when she heard us. The maid got us chairs. This was her first week here.
We mostly keep to ourselves and despite having lived here for almost a quarter of a century, we don't even know our immediate neighbours. We only know they don't take in the free copy of TODAY newspaper left at their gate each morning. But there are times when I wish we had known our neighbours a little better. Take for instance, the family that live two floors down. I often hear a kid scream, and wish it would stop, not because it's disturbing my peace, but I worry that something bad is happening and I'm not doing anything to help.
This is supposed to be the day three celestial events converge? The solar eclipse did happen, but in our part of the world, we could only watch it on telly. This is also the day of the Spring Equinox, but to us here along the Equator it doesn't mean all that much. And then there was supposed to be this Supermoon. The moon is at its closest to the Earth, so that it is at least 15 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter. But alas, the haze is so bad tonight, I couldn't see any moon! And there's no apocalypse!
"China Tells Dalai Lama He Must Reincarnate" - NY Times International Weekly. Today.
The Communist Party, it says, is the proper guardian of the Dalai Lama's succession, through a process that "involves lamas visiting a sacred lake and divining dreams." They were not happy that the exiled Dalai Lama, aged 79, had "speculated" that he "might end his spiritual lineage and not reincarnate."
"The Dalai Lama has no say over whether he was reincarnated," said one Chinese official.
Am I missing something here? Sounds to me like they're arguing over who should reincarnate! Now, let's go back again...
It was Sunday afternoon, The sky was overcast with dark clouds swollen with moisture. CS was fast asleep. He had planned to go to the Eco Garden to fly the quadcopter after his siesta. That would not happen now. The angry clouds hung lower and rumbled and snarled. Flashes of light lit up the darkness, and bolts of lightning split the sky. The torrents came down unrelentingly, as thunder roared and lightning flashed, for a whole two hours. My friend KT would tell us the next day that this is a heavenly sign, announcing the passing of a great man.
I only found out when I got to the canteen for my morning coffee. At 3.18 this morning, the Founding Father of our nation, LKY, passed away in hospital. He was 91. He had been in ICU with pneumonia for a number of weeks already, so it didn't come as a surprise. When the school gathered for chapel at 7.30, we observed a minute's silence. The public announcement by the PM, his son, was streamed live in the auditorium at 8. As PM, he read a brief message in the three official languages. As son, he broke down.
I've learned not to fret about things I cannot do anything about. I'm in the happy position of lower-middle management so there're actually many things which are not my call to make. Take for instance this Geography teacher who has been away from work more often than he has been at work. I have half expected him not to show up for work after the one week break. He did not disappoint. He's taking another week "hospital leave". He has this mysterious ailment which requires him to stay in hospital stay for observation. What can we do? It's legit.
He was known to us as my sister's "Boss". She called him PM but we were too young to understand the full weight of that term. For forty years, she worked for him, first at City Hall and the rest of the time at the Istana. She said he was very kind.
My sister's Boss, LKY, passed away three days ago. Today his body is lying in state at Parliament House. Thousands queued up long hours to pay their last respects. My sister won't be there for the final farewell. She's in a rehab home, undergoing chemotherapy for Cancer.
The poorest countries have these things working against them: they are land-locked or small island states; they have no natural resources, and finally they are vulnerable to natural disasters, climatic or geological. Vanuatu seems to fit the bill here. It's a small island with no natural resources and has just been hit by Hurricane Pam. We can think of a number of landlocked countries which are poor. Laos is a good example. But what about us? We're a small island state with no natural resources, but we are rich. It's possible to beat the odds with the right leadership.
LKY once told his personal secretary:
"When you are with foreigners, always stand tall, and look them in the eye. We may be from a small island state, but when we meet world leaders, we are their equal, not their subordinates. Stand tall. Look them in the eye. Do not bow, do not apologise for your accent or your size. Represent your country with pride and dignity."
Yes, I will stand tall. I will not apologise for my race, my gender or the size of my country. I will look them in the eye. I am their equal.
Eric looked up from his laptop. "It's end March and it's still NE Monsoon. And we had dry days in Feb which should be wet!"
Jerry said, "You should know that, Madam. You are the Geography teacher."
"She knows what's normal for this time of the year, but this is not normal! We must have gotten the number of days in the year wrong. Maybe this isn't March. Maybe it should be February! Oh no. We got the calendar all messed up!"
Go on. Don't stop on my account. I'm only the teacher. What do I know?
The funeral is almost over. There have been five eulogies already in the past one and a half hours. There were many foreign dignitaries, many well-known leaders, many of whom were former presidents, prime ministers and statesmen.
We bid a final farewell to LKY after a week of mourning. The funeral procession began at 12.30 when the gun carriage left Parliament House. Together with police escort, armed forces and family and friends, the procession wound through places that marked his lifetime of achievement. It ended at the University Cultural Centre where the service is taking place now.
If I had known then what I know now, I would have loved my family more then. In my younger days, when the future seemed boundless and full of possibilities. I tend to think that having kids young sort of limited those possibilities. I could've enjoyed what I had then, instead of longing for something else. I would have been much happier with my children and taken better care of them. Now that I've a grand-daughter I regret not enjoying my own children the way I enjoy being with my grand-daughter now. I could have loved them more.
I,ve decided to make better use of my iPADmini, to take it by the horns, so to speak. They say there's a digital divide between man and woman, between young and old. I am a woman, and I am old, so guess which side of the divide I'm in? So, when I saw the prompt the MS Office suite for iPAD can be downloaded for free, I went about retrieving my Apple ID so that I can log in to download. It took me a while but now, it's downloading. I'm in. Nothing to it. I can do this.
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