An Eye-dropping Story

One of my senior colleagues told me this horror story, a real event.

One of her old friends, also a teacher, was conducting a lesson when, suddenly, both of her eyeballs popped out (my colleague used the word ‘dropped’). This poor lady was sent to hospital immediately and underwent a surgery. After recovering from the surgery, this teacher went back to school to teach. And… the same tragedy happened again.

That was quite recent, according to my colleague. Simply scary. I’m sure more and more horror stories will happen to school teachers…

GP Writing in JC

I scored B3 for my ‘O’ level English Language (EL) and B4 for ‘A’ level General Paper (GP). Judging from the grades, I learnt English better in secondary school than in junior college (JC).

But I like JC GP more than secondary EL, or to be more precise, I like GP essay writing more than I like EL compositions.

EL compositions are more confined, and your personal stand doesn’t matter. GP essays stimulate your thinking, and in the long run, build a balanced mind.

I used to debate with my GP tutor back then. Trying to win the debate, I read and wrote a lot. I had such a book titled ‘Pros and Cons’, a debators’ handbook (or something like that), in which both sides of arguments are listed under every topic. My routine exercise was to cover one side and try to give counter arguments to the other side, and then switch sides, then go on to the next topic. Sometimes I did feel myself with split personalities. But I really enjoyed such a process.

In JC I still used the vocabulary acquired in my secondary years, or even simpler words, in my writing. Vocabulary has been my weakness even till today. My strengths lie in good grammar, clear sentence structures, and rhetoric techniques borrowed from my Chinese writing training. My GP tutor saw it and encouraged me to further strengthen my strengths, saying that correct use of simple words in good grammar is more powerful than misuse of ‘big’ words or poor grammar. You would say having such a tutor is a blessing.

The power of simple words was again shown in the novel I read about three months before my ‘A’ level exam. It was ‘Gone with the Wind’. I did not need to look up many words when I read it. Considering my poor vocabulary, that showed the simplicity of the vocabulary in the book. And such simple words could be deployed to construct an engaging classic. I can now still recall the happy moments when I read in my mind, word by word from the book, and lost myself in the southern States of the 19th century.

The happiness of learning English writing was all gone when I entered university. The only English writing needed there was all kinds of technical reports.

How I wish I could undergo that process again!

Chicken crossing a road

The more times a chicken crosses a road, the higher the chance it is hit by a car.

This is something I learnt in my JC years and confirmed after I started working.

There is this kind of leaders who can always find wrongs and faults in whatever work you do and make you feel incompetent. The more hardworking you are, the higher chance you have to be scolded by the leader.

The unhealthy implication is obvious. To minimize the chance of being hit by a car, the chicken stops crossing the road. To avoid being accused, you start doing minimum work. You avoid all tasks if possible. You start wondering whether the way you have been doing your work all these years is right or wrong. You lose your passion and enthusiasm and would never take initiative again.

But who says staying on one side of the road is definitely safe? The chicken may still be hit by a car that banged into the road side because the driver has lost his direction. Even if you are not involved in some projects, somehow by conspiracy or by misfortune, you might get into trouble too.

It is a sad case that people have been doing hard work and yet are not recognised. It is even a sadder case that these people, despite having invested great amount of time and effort in a task, still get stabbed, from front on the face or from behind on the back.

Sometimes you are just desperate and feeling hopeless after witnessing all these dramas.

Family and school matters

A little boy at the age of 8 has been extremely naughty and restless since his first day in school. His classmates dislike him. He likes grinning to teachers, ear to ear, even when the teachers are angrily scolding him.

The teachers did try to find out the cause of his misbehaviours, and the only conclusion was ‘family problem’. The boy’s parents divorced one or two years ago, and he stayed with the father and the latter’s girlfriend, whom the boy calls mother. I would just call her his stepmother. This stepmother knows only one way of educating her new son: whacking.

The female form teacher tried to contact the father, but amusingly the stepmother controlled the communication channel out of jealousy. So the task of contacting his parents has been given to me, his male form teacher. Still, the stepmother did not allow me to get in contact with the father. Reasons unknown.

According to my colleagues, his father did come to school once last year. In my colleagues’ description, his father has tattoos all over his body and is not properly educated. I have seen his stepmother twice. She has heavy makeup, which does not beautify her but emphasises her ugliness, and a constantly stern face, as if the whole world is owing her some billions of dollars. A perfect match, I should say.

This boy, being mischievous and lying all the time, cannot possibly earn teachers’ trust. And he seems to be content with this image and even tries to get worse.

So this boy stole money from two of his classmates yesterday, before and during their recess. The victims and witnesses complained to me. Being questioned for some hours, and giving a couple of incoherent, self-contradicting accounts of what happened, he finally admitted to me and the discipline team that he did it.

We called the stepmother and asked her to come to school for further discussion. Then the stepmother told us a lengthy story of this family.

Some days ago, when the boy went home after playing downstairs, he saw the father bring home a lady. The father chased him out of the house, asking him to continue playing downstairs. So he did. Then the stepmother came home. The boy told her what happened. The stepmother understandably got furious, and the couple had a fight. Enraged, the stepmother went to stay in her friend’s house. The father was so furious with the boy that he did not only whack him but also locked him out of the house. It was around 8 at night, and the boy slept on the staircase till 2am. The same thing repeated once or twice.

When asked why the boy stole money and misbehaved, the Grade 2 kid answered that it was because he was too angry with the father. Anger with the father and stealing classmates’ money are apparently unlinked. But they might be linked if the kid was doing these to vent his anger. A Grade 2 kid does not know how to mange anger after all.

However we are not 100% sure that the stepmother’s and the boy’s story is true. It was from a parent who kept her two sons in boys’ home before she got married to this boy’s father. It was from a stepmother who abused this boy frequently. It was from a boy who kept misbehaving and lying. It was from a boy who cried with two fountains in his eyes when telling this story in the office and then grinned to me, ear to ear, 15 minutes later.

All these problems are family matters, and yet they become the school matters and the teachers’ problems.

The boy is now undergoing counselling, and I really doubt the effectiveness.

Blogs? Blogs.

Many years ago, I was once very active on many forums. I wrote many posts discussing a great range of topics. Then the passion died off.

And then came blogs. I found new passion in this then-still-new thing. I used to write nonsense on Livejournal. I didn’t decide on titles until I finished writing. I never needed to worry about the topics and whether I was off topic. (That’s exactly why I call those posts nonsense.) After Livejournal, I hopped from one blog service to another, getting to know different people who came and went in my cyber life.

And ultimately I paid for a domain and a server, and built my own blog with WordPress. At first I was quite ambitious. Setting up a blog was only a humble start. I planned to build a grand site, putting in all knowledge that I know and have interest in, like the complete works and detailed timeline of Su Dongpo, a systematic Chinese language course for foreign learners, my own version of Chinese history, etc.

Then came Facebook, and then Twitter. Statuses and tweets are short, instant, shallow. And I just got addicted to them. Eventually I lost my ability of writing beyond 140 characters. My blog posts were either sharing of resources or incoherent compilation of tweets. This directly led to the end of my own independent blog. And those grand plans were, after all the years, only plans.

No doubt Google+ allows much longer and deeper posts. But its similarity to Facebook statuses and even Twitter is a great factor contributing to the fact that I didn’t write much, although I did share a lot.

I just have become a very anti-social individual. Not only I talk very little in my offline life, but I also do not feel comfortable with social networks or social medias. I follow very few people on Twitter and Google+. I always see these social sites as crowded markets with high decibels. I can’t possibly settle down and write something in such a ‘loud’ environment. Even if I did, it would be like fast food: high calories, low nutritions, ordinary tastes.

I did keep a diary. First in handwritten Chinese, then in digital English. There were not so many secrets or privacy in my diary entries. I was actually writing daily blogs, focusing on my thoughts and feelings. But I couldn’t be committed to it as I was (am) not so self-disciplined.

So I decided to start a blog again. And anew.

So here I am.

Late comer (or not)

I find contemporary arts distant, while I definitely enjoy arts of previous eras. I like ancient Chinese literature and western classics, and even write in their ways. I like Chinese calligraphy with brushes instead of pens. I love traditional Chinese music and western classic music. I like ‘oldies’ from 60s to 80s, be it Chinese, Japanese or English. I understand traditional paintings more than the modern ones.

I often see myself as a late comer in history. It seems that I don’t belong to this age.

But that only applies to my taste of arts. I do belong to this age if we are talking about technology. I love gadgets. I love sciences. I like how scientific breakthroughs have been achieved during my life time. I like how technologies have changed people’s life. I like the ease and convenience that modern civilisation has brought to human beings. I am exciting about CERN and NASA projects.

I am an urban creature and a slave of technology. I can go for tours in the wild nature but I need my phone with me. I might be saying something like ‘technology makes me unhealthy’, but I can’t survive without the technology.

That is why I would not be willing to go back in time, although I love arts in the past more than contemporary ones. I am not a late comer in history. I am just a weirdo who has split personalities between left and right brains.

Religions and Gangs

What are the similarities between these two? Numerous. What are the differences? Few.

They are both organised and hierarchical.

Some with subgroups and sub-subgroups.

Some with fractions that share one origin but hold different views.

Some with warring divisions.

They try to recruit as many members as possible.

They have a system of hand signs and gestures, rites and ceremonies.

Betrayals and detachments are not encouraged, and sometimes death is the consequence.

Both of them brainwash members.

Both of them have strict rules and regulations.

They have powerful and charismatic leaders.

They are especially popular in rural areas and slums.

They empower members to commit ‘justifiable’ crimes.

They attack others.

Most of them carry dark histories, and try to cover the past.

The differences, as mentioned, are few.

One of them is mysteries and superstitions, which are essential in religions but not so in gangs.

Another is the philosophies. Religions are based on philosophical grounds, most of which are metaphysical, while gangs are formed because of interests and profits.

Religions try to get support from governments, if they can’t control or substitute the latter. Gangs try to fight against governments, if they can’t get rid of latter.


Religions were once gangs. Gangs might become religions. Cults are in between.

And, without religions and gangs and cults, this world will be a better place.

Patriotism

In fact I don’t really care about the friction between China and Japan. All these conflicts are pointless. Let the politicians of these two countries play what they want to play. It’s never been a matter for the public mass to get concerned about. And less a matter for a foreigner to get concerned about.

Becoming a foreigner to the country of your birth is not easy. I need to frequently remind myself that China is not my country any more, that I don’t need to care any more, and that I’d better forget about those stupid things happening in China.

And as a matter of fact, I do care less about China now, at least compared to Singapore.

And this whole process shows the stupidity of patriotism. You have to love a country in which you happened to be born and to accept that this country happens to be the best and superior country in the world. If you change your nationality, you are unpatriotic, or it may be seen as a betrayal.

Patriotism is basically a collective narcissism. Narcissism is different from self-respect or self-esteem. Narcissism is irrational and self-hypnotising. Narcissism is not based on facts but a distorted, modified, perceived reality. Distortion and modification to the reality are necessary and essential; without which you can’t hypnotise yourself.

Any modern, decent government should ensure that patriotism is not a duty but a right, and that unpatriotism should not be considered as a crime. You can be a patriot, and you can refuse to be one. But you do not need to be one.

Any civilised society should consider patriotism a personal choice, together with religious belief (and disbelief) and sexual orientation, rather than a measure of morality. I am sure George Washington was very unpatriotic to the British Empire, but that didn’t remove him from the list of commonly perceived moral figures.

‘I do not love this country’ doesn’t mean ‘I hate this country’. And even if someone really hates his country, he is not less moral than a patriot. Feelings and thoughts should be free. We are not living in nineteen eighty-four, under the watch of Big Brother. We shouldn’t have thoughtcrimes.

Skipping meals

Skipped breakfast again. It’s been a very long time since my ‘must-have-breakfast-or-can’t-start-working’ era. Unhealthy it is, but more often than not I can’t find time to eat. Sometimes I am too busy even to have lunch. And most of the lunches I have had so far are way below the standard of a ‘proper’ lunch.

What a work-life balance do I strike.

What’s worse, I don’t try to remediate this. I’m unmotivated on this matter.

And I’m still fat. Alas.