Monday, October 24, 2016

The Highlight of 2016

Early this year, I visited my sister in Adelaide. She's been there for over ten years and I've never once gone. Seriously. It was about time. It was long past time, in fact. I love the place, for sure, in spite of the scorching summer sun. Adelaide is beautiful.


The highlight of this highlight of 2016 is the three-day, thousand-kilometer, road trip that we took from Adelaide to Melbourne, along the Great Ocean Road.

The Road Trip, reconstructed on Google Maps

My sister and I took turns driving and it was a great experience for us. I've never enjoyed myself more driving a car so much in disproportion to myself!

 
Our rental car and me

I intend to share some of the photos I took on this trip, on a platform slightly more contemporary *ahem* than a blog. Do follow me, dear Reader, on my relatively-new Instagram account, to view them. I'd also be posting (hopefully more regularly than what I've been doing here!) random photos that I deem pleasant to behold.

Enjoy!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Tales From The Gym

This is the first post of 2016 and I really didn't want it to be a rant. This is a rant.

A while ago, my gym served some finger food in conjunction with an event they were holding. I'd just come out of a Fitball class and the ladies (my "classmates") headed straight for the buffet table. I wasn't about to walk away from "free" food, even though I had dinner waiting for me at home. So, I took some fruits *ahem!* and a curry puff. (The curry puff was sooo good, but I refrained from having more than one, because, obviously, it makes no sense to undo the whole hour of crunching and lunging!)

A few of the ladies sat near me and started conversing. I don't know why it is a necessity to talk when one could just focus on eating. Anyway, they started talking, and casually remarked that it was "so nice" to be me. Yes, me. They don't know me by name, yet they were sure it was good to be me.

"She's thin... she can eat what she wants without ever gaining weight!"

If I wasn't enjoying my food so much, and could speak in Cantonese well enough for people to understand me, I would've rebuked them so hard they'd never talk with food in their mouth, ever again.

Firstly, although I am not fat, I am far from being thin. Thin is when one's BMI is equal or less than 18. Mine is a healthy 21.5. Secondly, how dare they! *Ahem* I strive to maintain a more or less constant weight by watching carefully what (and how much) I eat, and counting the number of hours I workout every week (hours are so much easier to count compared to calories). I worked hard to make this my lifestyle because I am not, and never had been, one of the lucky ones who can "eat without gaining weight". Anyway, it wasn't a big deal. I just wanted to tell the story.

Yesterday, in yoga class, we did a succession of inversion poses (with the support of the wall). One of the last ones was the Scorpion. Most of them were either too tired by then or too afraid to try. I, on the other hand, obstinately fighting fatigue and pain, swung my lower body up without a grunt.

"Of course she can do it," I heard a lady say to the one beside her, "she's so thin!"

Were I not half-inverted and fighting the increasingly excruciating cramp in my shoulders, back and butt, I would've told her off. It's the strength, not the thinness! Of course, in building or conditioning the muscles, one naturally loses some fat, but in the end, it is strength that gets one up there, not the lack of rolls. Speaking of rolls, I have quite ample. When I get into twisting poses, sometimes, they pinch each other so hard, it positively hurts.

Oh, well. I'm not really that bothered. Once again, I suppose I just wanted to write it out.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Pig

A while ago, I came across this "poster" someone made and put on social media.


It asserts that self-centered individuals behaving badly are referred to as pigs. Of course, this doesn't come as a surprise, as many people regularly use "pig" in name-calling those who are overweight and lazy, often extending to the unpleasant, mean, hateful etc.

I've always felt that it is a great insult to the pig. They're highly intelligent animals - just as, if not more than, dogs, so much so that they are one of the very few non-human species that understand mirrors and reflection, and can use that knowledge to locate food (click herehere). They likely are capable of complex emotions (here), make great pets to worthy people (here), and are almost always unbearably cute -


In short, I think it is a great insult to the pigs, to call selfish, mean, useless, horrible etc., people "pigs". It is, in fact, an insult to whatever animals anyone decides to call them as. There is a perfectly fitting term for such people - sampah masyarakat - translated, the scums of society. Use that! Stop associating the adorable piggies with despicable humans!

Calling someone a pig should be a term of endearment. Like -

Sweetheart, you are my pig. I want to hold you in my arms and protect you from the big bad hungry wolf! 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Missing

Whenever the issue of class attendance is raised, we hear groans. The students hate it that the university forces them to go for classes. We, the academics, hate it that we have to keep track of each students' presence in our classes. We don't like babysitting. Yes - we've all heard, and agreed with, the reasons: they're old enough to know what's best for them; good attendance does not correlate with achievement (and if it does, there's that correlation does not equal causation); we'd rather not have any who are there begrudgingly, therefore likely disrupting the lecture by idle chatter and other mischief. I'm not a fan of attendance-taking. However, I admit that I am relatively less reluctant than many I know.

Story time.

Where I began my teaching career, missing classes was an "offence" taken very seriously. If a student skipped 3 classes (not necessarily consecutively), a warning letter will be issued and mailed directly to his / her parents. A second warning will be issued if the student missed 3 more. Being absent for 9 classes in a semester without valid reasons will get the student barred from taking the final exam. This effectively means failing the subject. I never cared much about barring the kids - most of them didn't go that far (because of the warning letters sent to their parents, obviously) - but I diligently and gleefully kept track of their attendance (once again, because of the warning letters to their parents, which I get to send!)

It is due to this careful tracking that, once, very early in my teaching career, I noticed that three of the naughtiest boys in class stopped coming for lectures. At first, I was simply counting the days till I could submit their names to the faculty for the preparation of warning letters, but after three whole weeks of absence, I started having a nagging feeling that something more might be up. At the next lecture, I asked if anyone knew them or knew the reason they were not attending classes. One boy, fellow member of the naughty gang, then dropped the bomb - the 3 of them were in a road accident and were severely injured. They were probably not coming back at all for the rest of the semester. Being a young, inexperienced first-timer, I didn't know how to react, nor what to do.

For a good few years, I obsessed over students' consecutive absences. It wouldn't have made a difference whether or not I know the reason for their being missing, but somehow, I could no longer be apathetic. The case of the three boys reminded me of the tragic, heart-breaking, case of my friend and classmate who died in a hit-and-run accident in the middle of a semester, when we were students ourselves. The police contacted the university (they found his student ID on him) and the university contacted his parents. However, oddly enough, the faculty and lecturers were not informed. In the week before the final exams, our lecturer published the coursework marks as was the usual practice. In the columns of the row that was my friend's name, there were, but of course, many zeros... and a note that said "COME AND SEE ME". Nobody wants that.

So, when a fellow colleague told me that a kid from his class hadn't been seen in weeks, I was concerned. He did not respond to our emails and could not be reached via the contact number we had in our records. He was missing for the rest of the trimester and did not show up for his final exams. I spent weeks trying to reach him. Finally, one day, after the new semester had begun, I got him on the phone. He got a good reprimand from me (absolutely a must, don't you think?) I made him promise to meet me to talk about his future, as he is just one subject short of completing his course. He came and in spite of my questioning, had no justification for his disappearing stunt. He could not explain why he didn't read the emails we sent, or why his mobile number couldn't be reached for weeks. He acted as if it didn't matter that he had been stuck more than two years in a one-year course, as if he didn't care that he'd only one subject left to clear. Nevertheless, I advised him on what to do to get out of the pickle he was in, and how to move on. This was about two months ago, and... I never saw nor heard from him again since. I am not surprised.

And I am reminded of why I completely understand academics that are determined to not waste their time tracking their class's attendance.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Hello (Again), World!

1. I am alive!
2. I am very occupied.
3. I am using a sleep-tracking app that is telling me that I have accumulated a 3-plus-hour deficit since Monday, and it's half an hour past my "bedtime".


Sleep tight, World!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Inversion

My yoga teacher insists that inversion poses have youth-preserving and brain-enhancing powers. I can't say for sure, but logic dictates that they are very unlikely. If blood rushing to my head really does improve my cognitive abilities, I would have gained several IQ points by now, having been inverting myself into wall-supported handstands nearly every single night.

I don't remember the exact number of years I've been doing yoga - granted, never intensely - but it must be at least 6 or 7. I remember I never managed to go into a headstand away from the assuring protection of a wall for the first 4 years or so. Yoga was not a series of challenging poses to master; it was my weekly physical activity, amounting (almost) to exercise that I fondly hoped would help keep my weight in check (yikes!). I was too comfortable and complacent in the class that was just me and my friend, and never had the motivation to take that leap. It came in form of a reprimand-like observation by a rock-climbing yogi who I met when I first took up climbing. Long story short, he was rather aghast that after 4 years of yoga, I hadn't learned how to do the handstand.

It took a while, a lot of courage and several falls to stand on my head (and elbows) in the middle of the room. The tripod quickly followed. I found that once I figured the key to stabilizing my body while being upside down, everything just works.

Handstands, however, are still a long way off. While I've been able to hold myself in position against the wall for a some time (years, in fact), I haven't been able to grasp the mental and physical key configurations to break away. That is why I hop up against the wall every night. If anything would work, it would be ceaseless, relentless determination.

Yoga is no longer just another physical activity amounting to exercise. It is so much more to me now, although I'm not (yet) at the level where I take an interest in the philosophical and spiritual aspects. Conquering the handstand is my current goal. Next, perhaps the Scorpion.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Kota Kinabalu


I returned from the capital of Sabah, Land Beneath the Wind, two weeks ago. It's taken me long enough to write a few words. A few. There should be more to come, I hope.

While it is, one one hand, disadvantageous to travel alone - safety concerns and no one to share yummy seafood dinners / taxi fares / hearty laughter / silly vacation photography with - it is, on the other hand, very liberating. I wasn't obliged to plan perfectly my limited days there, or ensure I see all the must-sees, do all the must-dos and eat all the must-eats, or compromise on anything at all.

Oh, it was great. Any vacation, after years being without, is definitely great.