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dimanche, décembre 31, 2006

 Wigs for Kids

When my hair grows out again, I'm going to make sure that I send it to this project: Wigs For Kids. It's a project that collects money/hair in order to make wigs for children who have lost their hair for medical reasons. Minimum length: 12 inches.

[Wigs for Kids]
Sngs Alumni @ 31.12.06 { 0 comments }

mercredi, décembre 27, 2006

 Arctic Edge 2006: Day 3 & 4 (of 4)

Children's Enrichment Camp Day 3: 30 Nov 2006: Day 3 goes by in a blur of action - I'm still not used to the crazy amount of preparation that the food requires, but it's even more crazy since we're headed out for the outing in the morning at 10am today! The foodstuffs: milo drink tetrapacks and muffins.

The great thing: the muffins are very soft and yummy!

The bad thing: the muffins are very soft and squishy, which makes box-stacking impossible, or the children would eat squashed muffins! And you know how kids are - if a muffin looks at one wrongly, they'll simply refuse to eat it and go hungry the entire time.

The outing to the museum chapel (the music team was tasked with returning to the previous day's scene of the crime) was the same as before, except that this time, I was ready - I had gone out the previous day to get those cheap, red plastic tablecloths (70cents each from Cold Storage!) as groundsheets, so at least the (pampered, fussy) children didn't have to sit on the grass without coverings.

Personally, I rather like sitting on the grass because we do it so rarely in Singapore - I remember a delightful afternoon where I fell asleep on the grass while reading in Cambridge's botanical gardens (free admission on Tuesdays I think; it cost a whopping £2 (S$6!) to enter on other days!), which felt heavenly, but then again I'm often called wierd when I express such sentiments, and most people can't really understand that while the grass may not necessarily be greener on the other side, it can often be softer, spongier, more comfortable, and quite often, of a completely different variety.

Perhaps now would be a good time to relate the amusing events that occurred, its hilarity stemming from Puden korkor's popularity with the little boys and girls. (Puden can be seen on the right picture, playing chee-koh-pah with some of the boys.)

The previous day, we served sausage buns and water, which were delicious, but the water was heavy. I didn't want to waste the food, and the children needed to be fed, but most of all, I didn't want us to be carrying more than half of the meal items back when they were supposed to be consumed by the children themselves.

The breaktime was almost over, and I despaired of getting these kids to eat their snacks: many of them having rejected them, saying "I'm not hungry,". In exasperation, I half-jokingly devised a very simple means of getting the children to eat the food: I announced to the children that anyone who ate 10 buns would get to kiss Puden korkor, and whoever ate 20 buns or drank 10 cups of water (they were distributed in sealed plastic cups) could bring Puden korkor home.

I was foolish and did not expect Puden korkor's popularity; I did not anticipate the sudden rush of children at the food. There was one boy (who was of portly disposition) who ate 6 buns and drank quite a number of glasses of water; I was worried enough to ban him from eating anymore. There were many girls who also did try their best to procure a kiss from Puden korkor, but to no avail. I was VERY VERY worried that someone might fall ill from the binge-eating, and declared the contest over, but some (such as SX and Hyunn; SX can be seen on the left smiling like the mischievious monkey she is) found it extremely amusing to put a dollar-value - or should it be a bun-value on each of the music team teachers.

I was rather dismayed to find out that I was only worth a biscuit.

We had to leave the chapel early as the sky was threatening to rain, and there was another huge mess/mass. Day 3's crowd was larger than Day 2's crowd, and it was tough coordinating the headcount between 4 buses. Thank God for modern technology - one bus left too early without giving us a head count, but we managed to get the count through one of the bus drivers, who had a walkie-talkie with him. Isn't that cool? I want an island-wide-range walkie-talkie too. Without being in the army.

We finally left the chapel without further mishap, although Puden might dispute that: he was almost torn to shreds as the little girls fought to have him sit by their side. I wish I was exaggerating, but I'm not - those primary 2 girls are relentless!

We had a little bit of a break between that outing and the next class, as lunch fell in between them. Remembering lull periods between sessions, I brought movies like I did the previous year, so we were in the middle of watching Titan A.E. to pass the time. The games team had also discovered that we had our own little private movie studio in the form of the music station, so they joined us to watch the movie. Titan A.E. was a hit with everyone - the youth couldn't believe that this "cool movie" was shown during "my time" - my elderly status being a source of constant ribbing among them. Puden elected to show Atlantis after that, which also enthralled them all - but we didn't manage to finish the last 15 minutes of it, which was quite a shame.

The rest of the day passed by without much incident - Day 3 of the camp always feels very routine, as the teachers have already gotten used to their children and everything seems to fall into place.

Children's Enrichment Camp Day 4: 1 Dec 2006:
There was a tangible air of excitement that day - perhaps it was the excitement that arose from the children over having to perform for their parents that night, or the almost tangible sigh of relief that the workers were storing up in anticipation of the camp ending.

Whatever the case, Day 4 is always D-Day for me. Between making sure that the kids know their actions, know their standing positions for their performance, sticking down placement lines in the sanctuary to get them to stand in position, ensuring that the powerpoint slides for both parents and children are ready, briefing the teachers and helpers on the sequence of events, helping to coordinate between the entrance and exit of the children during the performance itself, it's always chaotic and a beautiful disaster.

This year was not much different, except that I think I had more fun because I was more relaxed about it. There was a distinct lack of urgency about getting it right (as I was slightly obsessed about with the previous year) and more a sense of making sure that everyone had fun and wasn't stressed out over it, which I think was more important. There's no point in burning/stressing/pissing everyone off/out and forgetting the ultimate goal of this camp: the children's spiritual education, which often comes in the form of the feelings and emotions that the camp evokes when they remember the time that they spent with us. This includes teachers and pre-teen/teen helpers as well!

I think that was the day that Jacob joined us, uplifting everyone's spirits by performing a rather NC-16 version of the Arctic Edge theme song:

Everything went well that day - it was chaotic, but there were no major injuries nor crying fits nor anything. The concert started off slightly off due to a technical fault with the slideshow, but that allowed me to tell very bad artic-related jokes (How do you put a polar bear into a refrigerator? How do you put a walrus into a refrigerator?), and after that it all ran like clockwork. The carpark was clogged though - see the photo where cars are triple/quadruple-parked in the church compound in the picture below!

After the concert, many kids wanted to take pictures with (who else) Puden korkor, which embarassed him to no end - but hey, he was the celebrity of the camp! :-) Mainly due to my advice about the little kids: on stage, smile a lot, and if they don't smile back, just keep looking at them personally, and smile at them until they smile back! I suppose this made his charm simply irresistable to a generation which is starved of good, solid, male role models.

The concert ended half an hour later than expected at 8pm, cleanup took slightly over an hour, and people were already leaving by 9pm! This was highly unexpected, especially since I was waiting for the debrief, but there was some miscommunication and sadly, the debrief did not occur (it had to be done remotely via email, which isn't as effective as it could be.)

The ungodly early hour at which the camp terminated was a shock for the youth, and we headed out to United Square to have our own little dinner at the newly-opened Jalan Kayu Prata Shop, joking to Puden that he wouldn't be able to show his face in United Square for a while, or he would be mobbed by his screaming legions of fans (United Square being, of course, a shopping mall completely devoted to children, and where a lot of the kids at our camp hung out with their parents.) It was there that X decided to have Hyunn's penguin perform the Arctic Edge theme song, which will forever be immortalized in a YouTube video:

Nothing untoward happened to him at JKPS, but as we left for the bus stop, there was kids in the next door Swensens that waved frantically at him and ran out to say goodbye to him. After they returned to their parents in Swensens, Puden shook his head in rueful despair and admitted that it looked like United Square really was going to be off-limits to him for a while.

And on that cheerful note, we closed the chapter on CEC2006, departing for a good scrub and rest at home.

Libellés : ,

[Arctic Edge 2006: Day 3 & 4 (of 4)]
Sngs Alumni @ 27.12.06 { 0 comments }

mardi, décembre 19, 2006

 My boss's Christmas present

My boss loves tea, and I was planning on giving him two large boxes of two types of tea, but then I suddenly had a brainwave at midnight.

What you see on the left is the eventual outcome - his gift. I'm also planning on giving him the two books, of course.

Thankfully, the book art is the blocky, simple style of picture, or this might have taken me more than the one hour I spent doing it. I'm not planning on writing anything in the blank space because I think the layout of the Iron Man and the human is aesthetically pleasing. (My iron man, however, is stockier than the original pink iron man.)

Qn: What's the significance of this present?
Ans: My boss and his two sons (he has four kids) train and run for the iron man, no sweat, every year.

[My boss's Christmas present]
Sngs Alumni @ 19.12.06 { 0 comments }

jeudi, décembre 14, 2006

 Eragon: Tale of a Giant, Blue Tic-Tac

Logic puzzle:
(Statement 1) The book is better than the movie.
(Statement 2) The book is not really THAT great.

So where does that leave the movie? Kind of between the rock and a hard place. It's hard to rank something which is neither here nor there, but SX and I loved it because of it's dragons - which is (in all honesty) what Eragon is all about.

The usual epic hero storyline ensues after a farmboy accidentally picks up a gigantic blue tic-tac a giant blue egg, which hatches into a gorgeous dragon called Saphira. Eragon, who, with blond hair and blue eyes, looks like the movie version of Prince William*, has been chosen by Saphira to be the next generation of Dragon Riders, whose complete history Christopher Paolini (the author of both Eragon and Eldest) has yet to figure out himself.

His uncle, who brought him up, is killed as the evil King Galbatorix (whose name suggests that he belongs more in Asterix and Obelix comics), searches for this new Dragon Rider. Magic, arrows, swords, and Africans dressed in Mongolian dress march towards a final showdown between the Varden (freedom fighters) and the Empire, and lots of fire, blood and magic ensue.

Good wins out in the end (as usual), and the book is better than the movie (as usual). What I found most lacking in the movie was the bond that forms between Rider and Mount - the use of telepathy, the concept of Oneness with your dragon, the notion that your dragon can help with the casting of the spells, the first time Saphira breathed fire... lost. Which is the movie's loss - so much more could have been done, although I did love the hug between Eragon and Saphira at the end.

The treatment of various relationships also fell by the wayside as the movie rushed to finish the storytelling. The relationships between Eragon and Brom, Arya, Saphira, Murtagh, Ajihan, Hrothgar, Roran and Garrow were not shown - which is a great pity, as the later comments about Eragon's character changing/growing would sound less jarring if we had seen him coming into his own.

However, despite the numerous sins of omission, the movie is still watchable, and SX enjoyed the dragons even more than I did (which is saying a lot.) I think it's worth a weekend watch.

SX and I finished the evening by shopping at Carrefour, and eating prata at Thomson. All movie-related expenses paid, including travel? Approximately $15 for the night per person. Good, clean, cheap fun - although she did insult me the whole way and call me names and kept saying evil things about biscuits. :)

* SX agrees, but we both think Harry looks better than William

[Eragon: Tale of a Giant, Blue Tic-Tac]
Sngs Alumni @ 14.12.06 { 0 comments }

lundi, décembre 11, 2006

 Merry Christmas!

The long period of crazy working hours is over, and this is a season of fallowing for me; rest, respite, recuperate, regenerate, new resolves and resolutions, restitutions to make, and other words beginning with the letter 'R'.

If anyone wants a Christmas postcard from Singapore, and a chance to win some really cool prizes from the Singapore Tourism Board, send me an email with your name and address (or any address like your work address which you can receive mail by, but don't want to reveal your home address). I've got a ton of free global postcards (courtesy of visitsingapore.com/projectpostcard) which offer prizes like return tickets to Singapore, free hotel stays with spas etc. My email's purebristles AT gmail DOT com.

Happy holidays, and Merry Christmas!

[Merry Christmas!]
Sngs Alumni @ 11.12.06 { 0 comments }

samedi, décembre 09, 2006

 Dear, did it drop off or tear?

While this might be a rather amusing read, its implications for the containment and halting of HIV/AIDS transmission in India are far-reaching.

It's so typical of development solutions that occur in the world - you have the message developed with proper research, proper channels to broadcast the message, people are receiving the message with little to no distortion, change their attitudes and behaviours in alignment with your socially-responsible message, and then... condom sizes are too big, leading to a high failure rate (due to the condom falling off, or tearing.)

There's always something more to be done.

[Dear, did it drop off or tear?]
Sngs Alumni @ 9.12.06 { 0 comments }

mardi, décembre 05, 2006

 Standard Chartered Run 2006: 10km

ETA: Rank=3053
finishing at chip time 1:29:56!

One of the happy troubles of a busy life is going for a billion events and having to recover from them, leaving you with no time to write about anything that you've done or seen or experienced.

After (1) finishing an exam on Monday night, (2) handling a children's camp from Tuesday to Friday, (3) attending a wedding plus social events after that (all of which I will blog about! Soon...), I (4) went for the 2006 Standard Chartered Marathon 2006. Not the 42km (I am not that ambitious), but the quarter marathon, i.e. the 10km run.

The day started out very prettily - not too hot, not too cold, sun up but not blazing, lots of lovely wind. I met up with Priscilla who had my tag and number, pinned the number on, and then... bumped into my cousin, his wife and daughter (who refused to let me carry her, but then again I've only met her twice, and the other time was 2 years ago! No, we're not a close family.)

The start time for the 42km was 6am, 21km at 630am, 10km men's at 7am, and finally my race, the women's 10km at 730am. Prior to the starting gun, the DJs made the usual ra-ra grrrrl power jokes, and played all sorts of girl-related tunes like Aqua's "Barbie Girl" - can you believe that the DJ actually told the crowd: "THAT'S RIGHT LADIES! ALL OF YOU ARE BARBIE GIRLS! LET ME HEAR ALL YOU BARBIES GO WOOOOO!"

I, of course, rolled my eyes and wished that the gun would misfire and accidentally shoot him. (What?! I'm just sayin'...)

The gun indeed went off on the dot at at 7:30am, and we were off! And we ran and we ran and we ran. Or rather, I jogged and jogged and tried my best not to stop (hey, that rhymes!)

With a quick prayer, the first km went by quite fast, but for some strange reason whose reason eludes my logic, the 2nd km was really looong, and the first drink station at the 3rd km mark could not come quick enough. And boy, was it a mess! But it's always like this at marathons - the mess is easy enough to clean up because the cups are large objects and can be easily raked up. They're biodegradable anyway, so the many cups which were mashed and mushed underfoot will wash away with the rain and ... uh, become one with mother nature quick enough.

The 4th and 5th km went by with me asking myself "Why am I killing myself with this crazy idea?!" After that, I kind of got into a zone where I was just going forward. So praying while running (and stopping, and running, and stopping, and running, and stopping), I got to the 7km mark, which was the fringe of the CBD. And I kept going forward, forward, forward. Until the 9km mark, which was the cue for the final gasp towards the finish line.

So at 92mins or thereabouts, I completed my first ever 10km run. I've learned a few things along the way:
1) Isotonic drinks Really Work. I always thought they were fake products manufactured to meet a fake need, but the 100 Plus did the job a whole lot better than Ice Mountain.
2) Music really helps. The next time I run, I'm making sure I have a good mix of rock and slow jams - alt rock for the hard bits, and slow jams for rests. And some mid-tempo stuff for cruising.
3) Praying while jogging, looking at the city skyline with the sun's rays creeping up on you and the sea breeze blowing in your hair is an awesome way to start the morning.
4) Random people cheering you along the way to the finish line really, really helps. You don't know them and they don't know you, but it really helps. Really. So whoever that bunch of people standing outside the Singapore Cricket Club holding StanChart air clappers - thank you very much.

To people like Stan who wanted to be jio-ed for this event: I'm sorry, I'll jio next time around. I didn't think anyone would want to do it, but apparently 3 other people in my church did it, plus Mokster, J.Tao-E and Lijie also did it. With Tao-E doing the 21km! To xuan-xuan - I promise that I will eat bananas next year. Promise.

[Standard Chartered Run 2006: 10km]
Sngs Alumni @ 5.12.06 { 0 comments }

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