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Famous Amos

May 4, 2012 1 comment

It’s weird how fame works. Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don’t. We all know some pretty famous people. Some become famous for all the right reasons, some for the wrong reasons.

We have people like Mandela, who fought against the apartheid rule in South Africa. Then we have the scientists, people whose contributions made a significant improvement (or deprovement) to the world at large. We think of people like Einstein and Newton. Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, the Wright brothers – all of whom have contributed something scientifically to the society. Then we have the celebrities – people who become famous because their faces are all over the big and small screen. Here, you’d think of the Brad Pitts and the Megan Foxes and the Meryl Streeps. The atheletes – people who become famous because they won honors by representing their respective countries in competitions and winning. Here we have the David Beckhams, the Michael Jordans and the Tiger Woods’. Then there are artists – people who, either by songs, poems, plays or paintings, become immortalized for the very work they do. In this field, you have people like Picasso, da Vinci, Shakespeare, and of course, the more modern Lady Gaga.

And finally last (and probably the least as well), the people who got famous because of all the wrong reasons. People like Saddam, Osama, O. J. Simpson and Hitler.

Question here is, what did these people do to get famous? I mean, sure they got famous for what they did, but why didn’t anyone else who did the same things get famous?

Take for instance, Lee Chong Wei. If I were to walk up to 10 people over here in the UK and ask if anyone knows this name, you probably get zero yes’es. Now you reading this may also be wondering who this guy is. Well in case you’re wondering, Dato’ Lee Chong Wei is a badminton player. But not just any badminton player, he is the world number 1. That means he’s the best in the world. The top man. The bee’s knees. Top dog. Cream of the crop. But no. Nobody knows him. Only people in Malaysia do. Even those in China can only recall him after several probings. WHY??!?!?!?!

Next you have Pua Khein-Seng. This is going to draw a lot more question marks in your head. Now he is Malaysian, but even some people from Malaysia don’t know him. So for those of you who don’t, have you heard of a USB flash-drive? Other names for it include thumbdrive, pendrive, USB stick, and many more! So yes. We’ve heard of it. We use it everyday. Well not everyday, but a commoner on the street would know what it is. Now my next question for you: Who was the first person to invent the flash drive? Yup, you guessed right – it’s that man. Or so he claims. Specifically, he claims to have incorporated the world’s first single chip USB flash controller. According to wiki though, the first people (or in this case, company) which patented this invention is an Israeli company. Stupid fella why didn’t he go patent it first before them?!?!

But yes, you get my point – there are certain people who happen to be famous because of what they do, but when similar people come along and achieve a similar thing, they never get the fame they deserve. Of course, this is not saying that these people were searching for it in the first place; in fact, probably most of these famous people did not even expect to be where they are today. The thing is, what makes people famous? Certainly part of it is the achievements they get, but surely there’s got to be more than that.

Every now and then, Westerners go to Singapore for various reasons – business trips, holidays, and some even just on connecting flights to somewhere else, perhaps Australia or New Zealand. Every single one of them has been there, come back and raved about how good their food is. As such, Singapore food becomes so famous over in this part of the world that we get Singapore noodles. Two problems with that – 1. Everyone thinks Singapore food is the bomb, but little did they know that there is a standard much higher that Singapore often fall short of time and time again – and that standard is Malaysian food! 2. What in the world is Singapore noodles?! I studied in Singapore for four whole years and I have never heard of nor seen Singapore noodles in my life.

So here we have it again – Malaysia has awesome food – even Grayson Chance can testify to that! (watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JiosPxt_5kw, starting from around 3:50) – but YET, not many people know about it!! WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY?!?!?!?!?!?!

Something is going here. I can sense it. I can feel it. Yes. Something needs to be done. Something. But what??

On a different note, here’s a song that I find very, very meaningful. And for people who make fun of this song, shame on you!

FALCON, OUT~

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Pre-A2,B2

April 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Alright, the final two papers of this course. You’re going into it with a great chance of getting a distinction. What will be going through your mind as you sit through the next four hours of exam?
We’ll try our very best. We’ve done the first two last term, so this will be a lot less surprising. We know what’s coming, and we’ll try to right the wrongs we did last time out. I think the key is to remain calm, not to panic, and give it our all, and hopefully it’ll be a great four hours.

Two of the people who have set these papers are those who have never set papers here before. What do you think will be on those papers?
It’s hard, definitely, to try to predict what’s in there, but it doesn’t really matter to us really. Maybe they would have tried to follow what’s been going on in the past years, maybe they’ll try to kill us with super hard questions. Either way, like I said it’s not going to make much of a difference. If it’s easy, it’ll be easy for all of us, if it’s difficult, it’ll be difficult for all of us.

And do you think that if it’s difficult that you can perform better relative to others?
I don’t know really. I don’t really like to speculate, let’s just wait and see.

Finally, coming toward the end of this term, rumors are going around regarding future plans. Can you comment on any of the DPhil and job offer rumors that have been going on recently with you?
As far as I’m concerned, nothing has been confirmed for us yet. We’re currently focused more on the exams and trying to score as high as we can. If we do that, offers will naturally come and we don’t have to worry about them.

The “Painter”

Recently, I’ve been browsing through some of the pictures I’ve taken or have been taken that happen to end up on my computer for some reason. Few minutes later I was wondering – why DO we actually take photos? Who was the first person to do it, and what was his/her intention back then?

If we ask the common man down the street why he takes pictures, you could probably guess the answers that you will get – apart from the weird look you will get, since after all you ARE coming up to a stranger and asking such a random question, the usual responses will be “for remembrance”, or “it looks beautiful”, and of course, the ever growing in popularity response, “why not!”

I did a quick search on google on why people actually take pictures. Two main answers sprang up – “to document life”, and “art”. The first reason – to document life – is another way of saying that these pictures people take, someday in the future, they are going to look at them and think about the times they spent at this or that place, how it felt back then, basically as they say, “to capture the moment”, because sometimes a mental picture is not good enough!

The latter, i.e. taking pictures for art, well… this is very profound. The mere mention of that three-letter-word can make hairs stand on end. Art. What is art? For years I’ve been trying to understand the meaning of this word. In the context of photography, one would look at a picture of something, say, a setting sun at dusk, or the photo of an eagle soaring through the clouds, or a group of penguins walking together on ice; or it could be something not so “nature” – like a room full of boxes, or a carton of milk toppled with its contents spilled on a table; one could look at these and say, “Oh that’s beautiful!” Well the saying goes, “Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder”, and people have said many times that art (and in essence, beauty) is subjective.  Superficially, one would believe such a statement, but as the years go by, I’ve been inclined to believe that art (and therefore beauty) is not as subjective as many people may think it is. One thing that influenced such a thought is the art of cooking. Yes, as some of you may already know, I enjoy cooking, although limited by time, I like to spend as much time trying to whip up something as I do enjoying the taste of culinary delights prepared by others. Ok, maybe more of the latter than the former, but yes, regarding food, or its preparation thereof, being an art, I’m pretty sure you will agree with me that if something is prepared well, it WILL be appreciated, by almost everyone. I say almost, because there will always be a small minority who would find some reasons to dislike a dish. Still, if a food is good, it is good. There is no such thing as, to you it tastes awesome, but to me I think it’s awful. No way! That’s ridiculous!! Sure, certain tastes are exquisite and acquired. I always enjoy mentally torturing white people when they come over to Malaysia and get their first taste of the heavenly fruit that is the durian. They would squirm and cringe and say things like, “God never intended for men to eat this!” Of course, to some, the smell is completely disgusting, but to me, it’s one of the sweetest thing one could ever experience in life.

So yes, some tastes are truly acquired, but majority of what we would consider good food is certainly good food as we know it. It takes a perfect blend of herbs, ingredients and sometimes proper technique to mix in and bring out the best of flavors and aroma of a good dish.

That is with food. The other example is in music. No sane man would look at me going up to a piano and playing random notes at an irregular tempo and at varying volumes and say that THAT piece of music that I played is beautiful. If you do not believe me, I dare you to sit beside me while I even attempt to play a “proper piece” of music. Trust me, you’ll be bored by the time I get to the next line. I was actually a lot better years ago though! Really, I was!! Anyway, my point is that in music, it takes effort to sit down and properly compose a piece of music that hopefully ends up as a timeless classic or is the first piece a music student would play when they enter the realms of the musical world. Why do some songs sell and some don’t? Because some are good and some are bad. Some are exciting and some are boring. Again, you can’t say that this is subjective. I’m beginning to think that such a statement is merely a lie we tell ourselves when we fail to produce something decent in a futile effort to console ourselves.

Hey wait. I’m supposed to be talking about photography. How did I digress to this thing about the subjectivity of art (or lack of it thereof)?! Right. Back to the topic. See, this is why I never actually got a good grade in my essays. Too bad, no one’s going to be grading this, so yeah, suck it!! Erm, back to photography. Yes. So. Now. It is one thing to take pictures. The next question is, what do you do with them?? I think it’s at this time that I bring to our attention something that we all do – we take a picture of people we love, whether it’s our entire family, or our husband/wife, our boyfriend/girlfriend, fiancee, our children, or even our dog, and we set it on our office desk, or in our bedroom, or we’ll just set it as our desktop and ipad wallpaper, or simply just stick it in our wallet. Again, the question is, why do we do these things? The obvious answer would be, to remind ourselves of that person. Maybe at work when our boss yells at us, or when the amount of papers just seem to keep piling up and we think our lives are miserable, we take a few moments to look at that particular picture, and we draw strength from them, or just to be reminded of that person from time to time and the sweet memories we had with them and will probably have in the near future.

Of course, that is one of the many things we do with our photos. With some, we keep them in a photo album, stored safely for about half a decade and when the time comes, we sweep the dust off them and open just to have a look at them to bring to our remembrance of the memories we had back then. Others, we choose to frame up and hang up around the house, and of course, with the photos we don’t like, we delete them.

I guess whatever the reason is, photography seems to remain more of an integral part of our lives than we think. So. Why do YOU take pictures?

Falcon, OUT!

Have no Fear

December 29, 2011 Leave a comment

When you feel as if you can’t get any lower, this theme is all the more inspiring!

The Story So Far

November 19, 2011 Leave a comment

So it’s been awhile since I last updated. Few months to be more exact. I guess everytime I’ve had the time to write I had nothing to write, and the time when I’ve had something to write I’ve had no time. Today, however, I need to make some time to pen down some stuff.Let’s start with Oxford. 6 weeks in, two more to go before we close up one term. I must say, it has been an enjoyable, fruitful, yet painful and labourous journey so far. Having 9-5/6 days is not the best for the soul, especially if you consider the fact that every night and day is spent on thinking and finishing up assignments and me11111111141eting deadlines. So definitely it hasn’t been easy. Nevertheless, the fact that new friends are being made, new things are being learned and new places are being discovered more than makes up for it. Lots can be said about Oxford and the UK culture.

For starters, people here are much friendlier than back home – drivers stop for you to cross, strangers smile when you make eye contact with them on the street, and everyone seems to love to give way. We shouldn’t, though, take things for granted. Two weeks ago one of my coursemates had his laptop stolen. Last week someone was murdered in East Oxford (News article: http://www.cherwell.org/news/town/2011/11/11/murder-in-east-oxford). So things aren’t all that happy winky hunky dory rosy posy over here.

Next, many people think that the tertiary education system over in this part of the world is a lot more laid back and easy going compared to Singapore, Malaysia and other Asian countries. I am here to tell you that this is true… to some extent. Let me elaborate. So back in Singapore, we had assignments that we have to hand in, on top of tutorial sheets, not to mention the fact that we had to catch up on our lecture material considering some lecturers are simply not good enough teachers. Over here, it’s no different. Well, it’s slightly different. Tutorial sheets and assignments are one in the same. Handing in our solutions are optional as they didn’t count toward our final grade, but of course if you don’t hand it in, I suppose it doesn’t reflect well on you. If you did, however, try to do every single problem in every single tutorial sheet, you will (as the Brits will say) lit’rally have no time to breathe. Of course, I believe the undergrads are not as burdened with this as the MSc students. Frankly, I truly think that people who have not been in this course do not really understand what we’re going through at the moment. My MCR Secretary has always told us to take some time off and visit places, enjoy Oxford while you’re here because there’s hardly any other place like it (well to be fair, there is only ONE other place like this, but you get my point). But she definitely has no idea what we’re going through. In fact, during Graduate Open Day this week we went up to our course booth to have a chat with our course organiser, and she, half-jokingly said, “I have no idea why people would like to sign up for a year of hell.” I say half-jokingly, because on one hand, it was a joke. On the other hand, it is true. Heh.

It hasn’t been all that bad though. The transition from pure to applied maths has been, surprisingly, a smoother experience than I thought, and I must say I have my lecturers and friends to thank for that. They have been really supportive for the past seven weeks and it has been tough and unfamiliar at times, but I’ve pulled through most of it so far. Having said that, I can’t wait for this term to end and the holidays to come because seriously, I think I speak on behalf of all of us when I say that we ALL deserve a nice long break, which, unfortunately won’t come even this winter. But a few days off is still alright though!

Many people have asked me where and what I’d do after all this is done. My straight and honest answer to them – I have absolutely no idea. But as Sue has said, “just go with da flow”. It doesn’t mean that I have no plans though. It’s just that they have been very general and non-specific, partially because no one can really tell what happens in the future. You make your plans, but whether it turns out or not is another thing. In the long term though, I know what I want to do (and I thank Tarantino for reminding me of this again) – teaching. Perhaps one of my motivations come from the fact that I think the education system back home is utter rubbish and a joke to the world. Teachers are not glorified, but viewed as last resorts when all else fails. As Jack Black once said, “those who can’t do, teach. Those that can’t teach, teach gym.” Sad to say, that is sort of the situation in Malaysia. Being a teacher isn’t encouraged, partly because the government doesn’t even pay you well enough.

Hence teachers here aren’t good. This leads to students who fail to realise their full potential, if they don’t seek external help. Seeing this somehow created the desire in me to want to be someone who can actually play a major role in the development of a person, not just intellectually, but in terms of character as well. Contrary to popular belief, the role of a teacher is not easy. Not only does a teacher teach and educate, a teacher also serves as a role model for one’s students – someone to look up to, someone to emulate, someone who leaves a significant impact on them at some point in their lives. In the future, I’d like to be that person, someone whom people can count on.

But that’s in the long term. Currently, I’d like to do something else, preferably in the industry, to gain some experience, especially in dealing with people, and to do things I enjoy. People ask if I’ll ever return to Singapore or Malaysia again, and my answer to them is, “We will see.” Of course, what happens depend on many things – if we know what they are, we won’t be thinking or worrying about it anymore, now will we? Until then.

Falcon, OUT~

Seek and Set Your Mind on Things Above

September 6, 2011 2 comments

Most of us go through life not knowing where we’re going. Yes, we know where we’re going, but we don’t know ultimately where we’re “going”.

Ask yourself, what is your purpose in life, if you have any.

If you have not found a purpose, we invite you to come to our Gospel Meeting with the Klang Church of Christ, and consider a things which are above, which can give you a true purpose in life. Come and listen, and learn how to seek and set your mind on things above.

Date: 23-25 Sept 2011
Venue: Klang Church of Christ Building
Theme: Seek and Set Your Mind on Things Above
Lessons:
1. 23rd, 8pm –  Set your mind on the power of God
2. 24th, 8pm – Set your mind and seek the promises of God
3. 25th, 9.15am – Christ – Our Life
4. 25th, 10.30am – Set your mind and seek the nature of God

For more information like directions to the place or more about the speaker, visit the website of the Klang Church of Christ here or drop an email at klangcocmy@gmail.com!

Categories: Happenings, Religion

Talented Attitudes

August 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Don’t you just hate it when people are good at what they do but their attitudes are completely rubbish?

Back at NUS there were so many people who were good, but so many refuse to share their knowledge nor help you with anything. Yeah they would be nice to you and all that, but that’s all superficial. Come on!

I remember watching Combat Missions that Scott Helvenston was a great great SEAL. Unfortunately he also had a big mouth. Terrible.

Lin Dan may be the best singles player in the world at the moment, but if you want to disrespect your coach by hitting him, then all that he has amounts to naught.

It is indeed sad. It is at this point that I like to say how much I admire F1 drivers. I don’t know how they are in real life, but in interviews and in public they never show any signs of cockiness. They’re humble, yet motivated and confident, never talk bad about their competitors, and in fact are friends with them. That to me shows the absolute top level of professionalism as well as great character that a person can ever have.

If only everyone was like that.

-Falcon, OUT~