Monday, December 31, 2012

Farewell Old Year

Hello, new one!

Honestly, I never really thought a new year is a big deal... (except getting a day off work!) I never care much for celebrations nor countdowns, and the only memory I have of celebrating a new year was from my teen years. My friends and I decided to gather at one of our homes and do the countdown.

We prepared our own food, had our usual party fun until about an hour to midnight, and went outside across the street. We sat, all in a row, on a wall - or something, I can no longer remember exactly - and shouted "Happy new year!" to every passing vehicle. At one point, firemen from the station nearby hollered at us. It just as well might have been a reprimand as much as a greeting, but we took it positively and returned the favour gleefully.

At 10 seconds before midnight, we started our countdown, as countdowns are usually done, and by the end, were overcome with joy and excitement, for which in the ignorance of youth, no reasons are necessary. We hugged, we laughed, we repeated the wishes and the cheers. In a couple of minutes, we heard a lot of noise coming from a (obviously significantly larger) party at the neighbourhood clubhouse a street or two away. The (more accurate?) countdown had just begun. That set us off on another lengthy fit of laughter, plus some forehead-smacking. Ah, the follies of my youth! =P

By my computer clock, which time may or may not be precise, I have 5 minutes to wrap this up before 2013 sets in. Here's wishing you, Reader, a splendid, wonderful and productive new year. Be in good spirits and stay in excellent health! =)

(4 minutes!)

(3 minutes!)

Right, that's enough. Happy New Year!

Friday, December 21, 2012

The End Of The World

So people say the Mayan calendar implies.

True, the Maya were very clever with numbers and all. They said the world is currently in its "fifth age" - there were four previous "ages", each destroyed before the next started - and will now be similarly destroyed. But they also said that someone or something must be sacrificed to ensure the sun rises every day.

Good night, world.

See you all in the morning! =P

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mid-Term Assessment

It is no secret to anyone who's read a bit of what I write here, that I tend to complain about badly behaving students. I checked my posts - twice I had written about poor attitude regarding/during tests/exams (read about them here and here). Although those posts were written years back when I was teaching at a place different from where I do now, the truth is, I've never really stopped being irritated by similar behaviours I observed... until last week.

I cannot put my finger on what I'm doing differently this term - my teaching style, my interaction with my class, my attitude towards everyone in general - so I'm attributing it all to the students themselves. I have the good fortune of teaching, what I think, must be one of the best-behaved groups I've had in as long as I remember, perhaps, ever! They are attentive, obedient and never unruly. They actively participate in class and answer all the questions I throw at them. To a certain extent, I can tell that they strive to take responsibility for their own learning like I want them to.

On top of that, for their mid-term test which I conducted last week, no one was absent. Not a single person. Reader, if you think I'm being irrationally elated over full attendance for a test, for you think that is how it should be, let me say this - in all my years of teaching, with the exception of very small classes (of less than 5 students), this is the first time I've had no absentees in a test.

Some may shake their heads, thinking that I've simply been so continually disappointed that I should feel such wave of wonder and gladness at what should be normalcy. Perhaps. Nevertheless, I am very happy. =)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Today is the day I stood in front of a panel of experts and attempted to convince them that the research I'm proposing to undertake is valid and worthy, and that I know what I'm doing and it's not crap.

First, I went on for about half an hour on background stories, what had been done, what still needs to be done and what I shall do about all that. Then, I let them question me left, right, center, up and down.

After that, I had planned to conclude:

I mean, most research do in fact aim to make this world a better place in their own unique manner. *Ahem* You see, Reader, even if my proposed work does not amount to anything useful (which I hope not!), I would have at least shown that this particular approach likely leads to failure, so future grad students will know to avoid it! Right? The world will be a better place either way!

However, I was told beforehand that a conclusion isn't necessary for this defense. Oh, well... it's fine.

And now, I'd like to extend my deepest gratitude (publicly, for fun) to all who supported me through this, especially those who physically showed up! I cannot even begin to describe how much I appreciate your efforts. =)

This is, however, only the beginning, so I'll need everyone to work harder to keep all that support coming my way! (I'm actually joking, but if it isn't too much of an inconvenience, please please please do...) I'm fortunate I have a great supervisor, so I'm hopeful (I mean, I'm hopeful that she won't give up on me!) =P

Happy 12.12.12 to anyone whimsically gleeful about these "special" numbers!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


For life to seem interesting, every task, no matter how mundane, should be perceived as an adventure. Really. If one can't live in in pursuit of constant exciting outings, one should try to view routine ones as somewhat exciting. Once in a while, at least.

So, here it is. I had to make a payment of EUR500 and I couldn't use my credit card because the payee did not reply my email about their pay-by-credit-card link on their website being broken. The only other way is to make a bank transfer, which, unfortunately, I was informed I couldn't accomplish via online banking, probably because the recipient account is of a foreign bank. Long story short (I say this a lot, but it never really is short, is it?), I had to physically go to the bank.

I should add that I don't go to the bank, ever, unless I really have to, which adds up to maybe once in a year or two.

It was early because if I were late, I'd never get a parking spot in this crazy town I'm proud to call mine. The bank would not open for at least another 15 minutes or so by the time I reached it's front doors. I stood outside of the building, waiting for the doors to open. A minute or so passed and a man came. He pushed the doors opened and walked right in... it dawned to me that although the bank hadn't opened for business, the main doors were actually never locked, so customers can have access to the ATMs inside at all times. A metal gate separates the ATMs area and the inside (actual counters) of the bank. That gate was still locked, indicating what I already knew... I had to wait several more minutes for the bank to open.

I felt foolish, abashed, but I entered the building holding my head up high all the same. An old man stood near the entrance. He looked at me. I thought it odd that this bank likes hiring old men for security guards... I remember the other one I'd seen for several years prior, a man probably in his 70s, who always greeted customers in friendly manners and helped direct us to the right counters. Anyway, since this old man was looking at me, in what I think must be a friendly manner, I took the initiative to greet him.

He replied in Hakka, a Chinese dialect I can understand rather well, but haven't spoken since I was a little girl. He told me the bank isn't opened yet. I replied what I hoped was "I shall wait then".

An obscure side-door was unlocked a little while later and a uniformed employee beckoned the waiting customers in. I walked towards it. The old man did likewise, along with a few others. He was no security personnel - just a fellow customer like me. I wanted to crawl into a hole.

I was in the bank. It was, or wasn't, quite as I remembered it - I could't even tell. I stood still a moment and looked around, just reveling in the strangeness that was me in a bank. The old man, right behind me, tapped me gently on my shoulder and pointed out the counter from which I was to take a number. Obviously, he thought I was at a loss. I could see in his eyes he saw in me a silly little (as always, I'm referring to my size, not age) girl who'd probably never done any banking in her life. I wanted to bang my head on a wall then crawl into a hole.

There was a lady making inquiries at the queuing-number counter when I got to it. I stood in line and waited, keeping a courteous distance between myself and that lady. Before I knew it, an old woman pushed past me and got into the "line" right in front of me. She was followed by another. Then, by an old man. By the time I realised there was really no "line", four or five senior citizens had gotten ahead of me. In hindsight, I do think there usually would be a line... but not for the old folks. *Ahem* The serving staff at the counter saw it all, but I think she shared my sentiment - they were all grey and bent... if they actually waited in line behind me, I would have gladly, willingly let them go ahead of me anyway. Still, it's rather amusing that the elderly take for granted courtesy that they cannot be sure is granted.

I got my number, I filled up the forms and when it was my turn, went to the teller counter. The bit of paperwork was completed, signed, counter-signed and when it was all about done, the nice lady teller gave me a concerned look.

"What are you transferring this money for?"

There was caution, and some suspicion mixed in with the concern in her voice. I shouldn't wonder. A silly little girl who didn't seem to know her way in a bank would be dumb enough to fall into the scam artist's trap. For all she knew, I was giving away my life savings, in secret and/or against the advise of family and friends, to a foreign "lover" I'd never met. I appreciate her diligence... really, I do.

"Conference registration fee."

Satisfied by my answer, the transaction was then quickly completed.

So much for a half-hour errand on a bright weekday morning.