Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Wedding

Thirty years ago in 1981, Prince Charles married Lady Diana. Today, their son Prince William will marry Kate Middleton.

In 1981, I remember Malaysian tv broadcasting the royal wedding live. I was at my piano teacher's house for my weekly lesson. The teacher halted the lesson midway so that she could watch the wedding. I was 13 then and wondered what the hype was all about. Such events seemed so distant from my own little world in a small and relatively 'backward' town. The only 'overseas' country I had travelled to then was Singapore; unlike jetsetting kids and babies these days whose (rich) parents take them on overseas holidays every school holiday. To me at that time, it was more like 'so what if some famous prince is getting married'?

As Lady Diana walked down the aisle, my teacher told me that the music playing was the Trumpet Voluntary. That was the first time I heard it and it was the one thing I learnt and remembered of that particular day.

Now thanks to YouTube, I can watch the wedding again.


However, it's sad to note that such a grand and joyous event slowly evolved into one stormy saga which ended tragically.

May Prince William and Kate Middleton's marriage have a fairytale ending.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Teacher allergy -- yeah, right.

This week, C's been having some phlegm which I believe is from her sensitivity or allergy to certain elements in the environment.

Upon returning from school today, she said, "I keep coughing when teacher speaks. I think I'm allergic to the teacher."

And added, "I think I should stay at home, and be homeschooled."

Me: *cough, cough* *roll eyes*

Monday, April 18, 2011

Four years of blogging

This blog was created on 20 March 2007, my first baby in the blogosphere. It sure looks like I'm about one month late in commemorating my fourth year of blogging here. I had set up a few other blogs along the way, but I have been most active with this one.

Blogging has become part and parcel of my life and I quite enjoy it, especially when I have the time to ramble about anything that comes to mind.

Happy 4th Birthday, Stories of ACE!

How do you read books?

I know people differ in their ways when it comes to handling and reading books. I have my own peculiarities and so do C and E.

How do you read books?

Do you stick to reading just one book at a time or several?
Do you read from cover to cover, skip some pages or chapters, read the ending first or how?
How do you open the book - all the way, folded back or just enough to prevent creasing its spine?
Do you read every single page, including the contents list, glossary, acknowledgements, index, publisher and printing details, etc.?
If it is a hardcover book, do you read the inside flaps of the jacket if they contain text, do you remove the jacket for safekeeping while reading it?
Do you wrap the covers of your book with paper or plastic to keep them clean and in better condition?

Do you write notes in the white spaces or highlight words or sentences that you think are important?
Do you use a bookmark or post-it tabs or dog-ear the page, or simply leave it overturned and splayed open?
Where and when do you read - anywhere, anytime, everywhere, in bed, in the bathroom, in a car, bus, train?
Do you prefer to borrow or buy?
Do you read a book a second, third, fourth...time?
Do you prefer paperbacks, hardcovers, or e-books?


Do you stick to just one or a few favourite authors/genre or read anything that catches your eye?
If the book is made into a movie, would you read the book or watch the movie first?
If the book is a novelization of a movie, would you read it?
Do you judge a book by its cover?
Do you trust or rely on book reviews for your choice of reads?

These are just some questions of which the answers I think would be pretty fun to share and compare.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The ant and the grasshopper

I retold the story of the ant and the grasshopper to u-know-who.

Me: So what's the moral of the story?

C: You have to work hard or face the consequences.

Me: Do you want to be the ant or the grasshopper?

C: The grasshopper.

Me: Why?

C: Because I'm lazy.

Me: Why not the ant?

C: Because have to work hard.

Me: Then how when winter comes?

C: I'll go live with the ants.

Excuse me now, I have to take a deep, deep breath and say a prayer.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Educational success in Finland

Where is our education system going? A friend shared this article and I'm very impressed with how the Finns have developed theirs.

But Finland's sweeping success is largely due to one big, not-so-secret weapon: its teachers....In Finland, the teachers are the standard. That's one reason so many Finns want to become teachers, which provides a rich talent pool that Finland filters very selectively. In 2008, the latest year for which figures are available, 1,258 undergrads applied for training to become elementary-school teachers. Only 123, or 9.8% were accepted into the five-year teaching program. That's typical. There's another thing: in Finland, every teacher is required to have a master's degree. (The Finns call this a master's in kasvatus, which is the same word they use for a mother bringing up her child.)

In Malaysia? If you've been keeping up with and are concerned about how our education system has been going round and round in circles, you would know the answer to that question.

"Finland is a society based on equity," says Laukkanen. "Japan and Korea are highly competitive societies — if you're not better than your neighbor, your parents pay to send you to night school. In Finland, outperforming your neighbor isn't very important. Everybody is average, but you want that average to be very high."

This principle has gone far toward making Finland an educational overachiever. In the 2006 PISA science results, Finland's worst students did 80% better than the OECD average for the worst group; its brightest did only 50% better than the average for bright students. "Raising the average for the bottom rungs has had a profound effect on the overall result," says MacIsaac.

According to the last para in the article, Thailand has tried adopting their system, but has yet to succeed. Malaysia is a long way from this. Very sad indeed....

Monday, April 11, 2011

Juggling

A juggler requires strong concentration, focus, strength and dexterity, a good sense of balance to be able to perform well, keeping all those balls in the air all the time, so that at the end, he will receive applause. He cannot allow himself to be distracted, and needs to just focus on that one thing he is doing at that moment.

A SAHM is a juggler too. She also needs focus, balance and strength - the inner kind although the physical kind is required too - to carry loads of groceries, laundry, a sleeping child, heavy pots of plants in the garden, buckets of water.... But unlike a circus juggler who has just objects to juggle, a SAHM juggles responsibilities. Juggling responsibilities involves dealing with time, money, people, behaviours, emotions. So many variables to the responsibilities and so many variables to the variables. The right time, the wrong time, enough or not enough time, enough or not enough money, naughtiness, stubbornness, obedience, anger, frustration, patience, impatience, sadness, disappointment, excitement, happiness...you get what I mean by now.

For jugglers, be it five of the same balls or five totally different objects, they are just objects. If they make a mistake, they drop the balls and if the objects are breakable, they just fall to the ground and break. Then they can start over again. The broken objects can be thrown away and replaced with new ones.

For SAHMs, if they 'drop' the responsibilities, they sometimes cannot start over again. They often get distracted by the demands and needs of the various responsibilities and people and things around her. When they make mistakes, the time, the money, and people cannot be replaced. It's harder for SAHMs to focus, to find balance when juggling responsbilities. And the applause is seldom forthcoming too when they succeed. The rewards are never monetary (unless you make a pre-SAHM agreement that your 'employer' pays you a monthly salary!) and they certainly don't gain fame.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Cars

I got my first car in 1994 or 1995 after two years of working. Three months after enjoying the car, it got submerged in flash flood waters. It was parked in an open land behind my office building when one afternoon, a heavy downpour flooded the entire carpark and many cars were damaged. Luckily I managed to get it started, drove it home with water swishing around me. My younger brother was so kind to help me dismantle the interior to let it dry out for a number of days. Then I had to spend some money to get it cleaned inside out and the petrol tank drained to remove whatever water that got inside. Then it was almost as good as new. It was still running fine after nine years but by then, I had gotten married and had a kid. So I had to trade it for a larger one to accommodate a husband, maid, baby and all her paraphernalia. That was in 2003. That makes my present car eight years old, almost as old as the kid.

The car is definitely starting to show its age with all the various parts getting repaired and replaced over time. It would be nice to get a new car. But a new car is terribly expensive in this country, especially for a SAHM who has no income. Even a used car that runs reasonably well is still considered unaffordable. I'd rather keep the present one.

We named our car Elmo. That's because it's red in colour. I like driving Elmo and I like how the configuration of its seats allow versatility and extra seats and boot space. Elmo used to look nicer in his younger days. Now he's got some scratches, dinks and dents. And he does not get his bath as often as he used to. Poor thing.

Before E's present car, he had one which was a two-seater. It was nicknamed the Blue Monster @ Cookie Monster. And before Monster, he had another car. I don't think it had a name other than Honda. E had some fun with the Monster and it saw him through some memorable moments like kissing a traffic light post! That's just putting it mildly....hee hee.

I never really took to Cookie Monster because it was a noisy thing, it's aircon wasn't that great compared to what I'm used to, and the ride was uncomfortable in my opinion. I never ever drove it. With much reluctance, E sold it a few years ago and got a 'proper' car that is more comfy, drive-able (by me) and more suitable for city driving, in other words a more husbandly and fatherly car!

If I could afford a new car, I wonder what car I would buy. I think it could be a nice sporty one. It might be just the remedy for the mid-life blues that occasionally pay me a visit. Or it could be my childhood dream come true. According to my parents, when I was three or four years old, I had said that the car I wanted was an Alfa Romeo convertible. Those days, when airconditioning was only a luxury and not a necessity, I had loved putting the car window all the way down to feel the wind in my face and hair.

And one night when I was around 11 or 12 years old, when I did just that, I felt something cold and wet brush past my cheek. Upon reaching home and investigating, we discovered that it was a frog that touched my face.....It must have been stuck to the outside of the car and suddenly got blown into the car and my face! I'm not joking, although it's April Fool's Day today.

Ha haha ha...some events we just don't forget!