Monday, September 29, 2008

The tenacity of a shopaholic

As Phua Chu Kang would say, "Don't play play ar..."

In my carefully laid out plans, I saw myself buying a pair of army trousers before heading to church to work. Murphy struck today, having being weighed down by other issues namely getting obese during the festive season.

Just as I exited the train station closest to my destination, the sky opened and poured down its contents on poor passers-by without umbrellas including yours truly. I paced up and down under a concrete bridge which held up the train tracks, gazing longingly in the direction of my army apparel. In the end, I chose to brave the patter and walked purposefully towards the little shop.

Given the picture I had in my mind about what I wanted to look like, there really was only ONE pair of slacks I could have gone for (as the little tent-shop was out of stock) but the shopper in me toyed around whilst hoping for inspiration which would allow me to pick up another pair justifiably. As I was browsing, the tent began to flood.

No way. I thought. I was dripping wet as it was and as if that weren't enough, now my shoes and socks would be sodden as well. I tried nipping here and there to avoid the water but Moses wasn't around to part it so I stood ankle deep in drain water looking through the wares. Finally, I decided that I would just go for it and asked for the price. Obstacle number 2.

The vendor put down his price of RM89 which was about RM60 more than what I wanted to hear. So I haggled.

I begged.

I looked at him beseechingly through my wet locks and dripping scarf.

I told him that I had run in the rain just to buy from his shop and that if he gave me a good deal I would return and buy more.

I said that I had been eyeing my army gear for a month and stopped short of wailing my woes to him.

We bargained.

I now have a pair of army trousers for RM38. Now I have to go home and hope they fit!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

For old time's sake

Treats of the early 90s. Inside, one will find a toy of some sort and a few miserly nuggets of unqualified chocolate or jelly; a child's epitome of cheap thrills. As a child I thought like a child indeed! These days, when I opened the packets and peer at their dismal contents, I now understand why my mother shook her head in disbelief as I squealed like an injured pig on the days when she refused to buy me a box of Tora. Perhaps one day, these boxes will bring me a small fortune as artifacts representing social history. A child's epitome of cheap thrills.

These were the 'treasures' Ding Dang had to offer. Surprisingly, although it falls under the cheapest of the lowest category of cheap thrills, its little blue box, offers more, dime for dime, than its more popular competitor, Tora.


On the left is Tora's version of those neon plastic bangles some wear, made famous by the ironic "Make Poverty History" campaigns. I call them ironic because in the process of making history poverty, the capitalists have garnered attention for themselves and the products the go on to sell and reap at a profit that can only be described by the truly poor, as stifling. Maggie Thatcher should be so proud.

On the right is Jojo's plastic toy car that can change into half a robot (the other half has to be bought in another Jojo box). Jojo was for the 'rich kids on the block.' Those whose parents could affod them the luxury of the large purple box as other kds looked on enviously. Or maybe they just screamed louder in the shops and their parents had more face to loose.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

SMACC Blog!!!!

SMACC (my church) now has a new blog! Visit us at Hall of SMACC.

He's trying to kill me

I don't necessarily believe in karma.

I don't think I've ever been nasty to a nerd.

Last night I dreamt that the epitome of nerd was trying to kill me by squashing an elephant through the door of a spaceship with me trapped inside.

His name was Steve Urkel (see insert).

As a result, I am guarding against developing nerd-phobia.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Riding high

Whats better than passing the Bar? Yes, BETTER than passing the Bar...

Finding 7 books at a jumble sale totaling RM16.50. I nearly went into hysterics. Thank goodness there wasn't anyone to see me turn into a psychotic mess.

Picture of Dorian Grey - RM2.50 (I actually have another one in Kuching but one can never have too many copies of anything worth reading).

Anne of Ingleside (from the Anne of Green Gables series) - RM2.50

Bill Bryson; Notes from a Small Island - RM2.50

The Memory Keeper's Daughter - RM3.00

Quiver Full of Arrows - Jeffery Archer - RM2.00 (I have Jeffery Archer's entire work of short stories in one very thick book (several collections in all) but I also collect the collections themselves; 12 Red Herrings, A Twist in the Tale and To Cut a Long Story Short.

Kiss the Girls - James Patterson - RM2.00. From JP I also have Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, When the Wind Blows and Pop goes the Whistle.

Finally,the BIGGEST steal of the day was.....

Wild Swans by Jung Chang. Classic book - every person who calls himself or herself an avid reader must own it. The only copy I had before technically belongs to my mum so now I can say that I do own my own copy and for a mere RM2 (I believe it's selling in shops for at least RM40.00 minimum) it ended my book buying on a high.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I passed :)

Thank you God. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

There's nothing else I can say.

There's nothing left to say.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Results

I'll know on Monday. Or so they tell me.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

What Debbie/ Debby/ Debs/ Debster/ Debibo Likes...

I like giving presents and I like receiving presents (very much). Few things cheer me up the way an unexpected present does. So to all of you who have ever given me random presents, you really made a part of my day twinkle.

I try not to be overly possessive about my presents but casualties could arise...

Maybe one day someone will give me a car...

Or a horse...

But if you're completely stumped over what to get me and don't want to give me:

  • Bath products
  • Chocolate
  • Anything with horses on it
  • Books - I dont mind second, third or even fiftieth editions
  • CDs
  • DVDs
  • Carrot-walnut cake with butterscotch frosting
  • Clothes
  • Shoes
  • Heirlooms
  • Flowers
  • Perfume - tricky this is
  • Eyeliner
  • Hong iu, tiger balm, athlete's rub, cap dua singa, cap tiga kaki or tokusen heat pads

A bowl of noodles from any corner shop will do.

Ruminating

If I had been born 9 months earlier, I would have been born a pig; 9 months later and I would have been a cow, at least in zodiac terms... or maybe not, given that the zodiac starts on the first day of Chinese New Year which in turn, is as predictable as whether your pizza will arrive with the unwanted add-on of hair stuck in the cheese. Bon apetit.

If I had drunk that extra (million) pint(s) of milk, I might have been taller and less sarcastic, not that tall people aren't sarcastic.

If I had scored higher at school, I might still be in London watching Australian soaps with Elena and Sarah, accompanied by a cup of marsala tea (with one sugar), whilst hugging a hot water bottle instead of gobbling roti tissue and apam balik and riding horseback in Mongolia. I can't choose; they're both fantastic options.

When I left London, I didn't want to leave. When I think of what God has given me here, I'm glad I didn't stay. That isn't to say I don't miss my friends.

How strange that my going away equipped me with skills, not needed in the place from where I learnt them but for a future I did not want.

If I had known that, it wouldn't have made coming here any easier - goes to show that knowing the future doesn't really help.

If I had not left London, I may not have known what it feels like to lack. Or what it feels like to give. Or to heal. Or to care for others going through the same cycle.

If I did not love horses, Mongolia would just be a cool name on the map.

If I had stayed at my old job, I might have lost my zeal for work.

If I never had my old job, I would not understand or sympathise with the full impact of the corporate sector on lives, life and lifestyle, Christian and otherwise.

If I had passed the first time round, I would not have had the time or opportunity to do what I'm doing now and I cannot imagine not doing what I'm doing now although at a point in time back, doing what I'm doing now would have been for someone else. Not me.

If I were born a boy, I would have cycled to China instead of sitting for my exam but, if I were a boy, I would not have met the people who got me thinking of cycling to China or the person who motivated my cycling there in the first place.

If I were a boy, little things that bring me happiness like chocolate and searching for an orange poncho to match my purple tights would not appeal to me. I have purple tights??

If God hadn't created the world, I wouldn't be here.

If God didn't choose me, Jesus didn't died for me.

If Jesus hadn't died for me, I would still be lost.

If I were still lost, I would not have written this entry.

If I understood the length and breadth of everything God has done for me, my face would not leave the floor. Unfortunately, I can hardly claim to know everything so if you can see my face, it means I don't know everything and am quite happy to admit that. There's no shame in not knowing everything. However, there is shame in knowing something and not doing anything about it, especially when you should be doing something about it.

Are you still not doing anything??

The 'ifs' in life will always happen. I'm not worried about the ifs anymore. It's how one handles the 'if.'

I'm concerned about the hows and to be prayerful about them.

You are not a 'what if' waiting to happen. You are and are, "Beautiful dah-ling!!" *hug & kiss* no matter how under-the-weather, out-of-luck or off-the-rails you feel.

Better is one day in [God's] courts than a thousand elsewhere. I will rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked; Psalms 84:10.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ticked off

Introduction: Oxpeckers are birds that 'peck' at the skin of cattle, removing (and eating) ticks and parasites and as a result are also commonly known as "tick birds" (imagine being named after your favourite dish - the chocolate lady...). However they are not adverse to pecking at other animals which includes rhinos, hippos and antelope, just to name a few. Their bird-fellow, the plover, actually takes this madness one step further and will hop into a crocodile's mouth to 'clean' it of rotting flesh which could otherwise damage the reptile's dental hygiene. This odd relationship is called a symbiosis, where both animals benefit; the animals get their daily grooming sessions and are free of pests that could cause skin irritation and the birds get fed.


Unfortunately, some of these birds become over zealous in their symbiotic task. Ticks which bury themselves in the animal's hide are attacked vehemently as if the bird is avenging itself for the humiliation of having let a parasite escape in the first place. As it is with nagging, the bird picks frantically at the issue and leaves open, torrid wounds on it's host's back who has to silently bear the brunt of its fanatic hitch hiker.

Now, for the moral story behind this fantastic exploration of the lives of parasite lovers.

An online journal I visit often enough one day decided to sport gravatars next to commentators' names. Sadly, my preset gravatar was not one which depicted my person and so I asked the host to at least change my aforementioned gravatar to a decent colour; it was a milky green colour (if it had been forest green, I might not even have embarked on my mission to eliminate it). I was told that I had to change the gravatar on my own so I went ahead and opened an account, selected a gravatar and presto, now I have a gravatar which, although may not be the next Picasso, Warhol or Saatchi, is still better than a generic pattern that says nothing about me.

Like the tick bird, I was determined to have a gravatar after my own heart and like the hippos, rhinos and cape buffaloes that have gone before him, my host now suffers from random comments on his journal, hardly linked to his post. You can see the effects of my semi-madness if you click here.

Contrary to what some might think, I am not angry and although the post title might suggest otherwise, remember that puns were made to be intended.

Pictures were obtained from guy-sports.org, scienceclarified.com and tc-pls.org

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Moving along

In the midst of waiting for results, drowning in uncertainty over which job I should apply for and the current political funfair complete with performing monkeys and chess pawns, today is a day worth celebrating - no, PKR has not taken over power yet...


Happy Birthday Ma.

There. Nice and understated. Just the way mum likes it.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Round the clock

Results will be churned out by the end of the month.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

*Jeng* *Jeng* *Jeng*

Exam results. Exam results. Exam results. Exam results.
Exam results. Exam results. Exam results. Exam results.
Exam results. Exam results. Exam results. Exam results.
Exam results. Exam results. Exam results. Exam results.
Exam results. Exam results. Exam results. Exam results.
Exam results. Exam results. Exam results. Exam results.
Exam results. Exam results. Exam results. Exam results.
Exam results. Exam results. Exam results. Exam results.
Exam results. Exam results. Exam results. Exam results.
Exam results. Exam results. Exam results. Exam results.
Exam results. Exam results. Exam results. Exam results.
Exam results. Exam results. Exam results. Exam results.
Exam results. Exam results. Exam results. Exam results.
Exam results. Exam results. Exam results. Exam results.
Exam results. Exam results. Exam results. Exam results.
Exam results. Exam results. Exam results. Exam results.
Exam results. Exam results. Exam results. Exam results.
Exam results. Exam results. Exam results. Exam results.
Exam results. Exam results. Exam results. Exam results.
Exam results. Exam results. Exam results. Exam results.

Exam results shall be revealed on Monday.

Unless Malaysia stays true to her time-keeping skills.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Tips from Archie

This (paraphrased) list was aimed at people 'in ministry,' defined here as people in full-time paid ministry but I think it can speak to Christians in general as well.

  • You are a Christian first; it is ok to leave ministry* if you have to, remaining a Christian is the most important thing.

  • Ministry is a privilege.

  • All ministry is personal.

  • Tell your spouse you love her/him. Often.

  • Don't be afraid of failing. If we are always consumed with the possibility of failing, we will never try anything new. Failure is the beginning of growth not the beginning of the end (italics my own).

  • Be generous with your money.

  • Have a hobby.

  • Give yourself personal projects. Work on 3 issues a year - one biblical, one ethical and one cultural. Sink your teeth into it. Take a big bite. Digest it.

  • Plan holidays. Take all your allocated holidays. Even if you don't need the time-out, your spouse might. Your children will.

  • Let your children serve alongside you when they can, if they want. Don't force them.

  • Not all shortcuts are bad! Learn how to make best use of resources and the Internet to help with sermon preparation.

  • Family appointments go in first.

  • Watch out for Unmet Expectations and learn how to deal with them.

  • Guilt is big; to overcome the guilt of non-evangelism, just do it.

  • Don't say to people that you are busy. You make yourself unapproachable.

  • Hospitality should be the norm, not an exception to the rule.

  • Be quick to apologize, in person and with sincerity.

  • Ministry is about getting alongside people.

  • Ministry takes time.

Keep your fridge stocked, linen clean and hinges well-oiled. If preparing a meal, enquire after food allergies and make notes for future reference. A spare toothbrush is always handy.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Public Examination

NB: This is in no way a suggestion that one should not study for exams or that results completely do not matter. However, consider that even the brightest minds this world has seen were considered dunces at school.

Tomorrow my brother will sit for his first public exam - UPSR. I've just given him advice the way my parents advised me TWELVE years ago for the same exam. However, being away from home, my advice tends to be more practical, "Remember to bring enough pens, pencils, eraser, extra paper.." etc) rather than "Have you studied this and that yet?"

I believe that if you don't know something by the day before, just let it be and concentrate on what you do know. Of course there are the odd 'freak accidents' where the question you read just before entering the exam all appears, breaking smiles of jubilation on the blessed soul. Public exams seem like such menaces; they have a tendency to show one up as being less smart than society perceived the individual to be before the damning results are shown and intelligence is frustratingly rated according to how many As one can score.

Like everything else, public exams must be given their right place. Worship it and you potentially risk becoming either a self-righteous, narrow-minded bigot (if you score well) or a sorry state of a human being, wallowing in self-pity and low self-confidence (if you don't). Those are just the 2 extremes; most people fall in between. However, ignore it completely, and your lack of wisdom and shrewd calculation may thwart your desired career path, despite the genius that is clearly lurking behind your fallen modules.

Over the years, being the extremist that I am (to those to whom bells are ringing and red lights blazing, an extremist is NOT necessarily a fundamentalist you air brain!), I have had the 'pleasure' of experiencing both sheer carelessness and psychotic obsession over my exams but have lately somehow managed to find a satisfactory linear between the two and have come to a conclusion.

Not all learning is study. Not all study is learning. Learning is a process as is study but they focus on different things. Study is the development of any one topic, be it at a basic or advanced level ie "the study of Art History in Medieval England" whilst learning is the ability to internalise that studying. There's almost no point studying if one is not learning at the same time. If my goal when binging on Chemistry and History is only to regurgitate it in the exam and hope to score somewhere, I would have wasted 2 years of my secondary school life studying facts I never actually learn from.

Without going into a heated critique of the Malaysian state education system, I believe that whilst parents urge their children to study (and rightly so), children must be reminded that there is more to life than the number of As one banks in the archives; life does not end at High School Graduation. It is not to say that we shouldn't study or that we should sideline our studies - it is our responsibility as students to study whilst we are... students.

These days, scoring 12As is not the headline news it used to be. I do not know whether it is because the standard has been lowered or whether something in the water is at work, creating this phenomenon. What I am concerned about though, is how well-rounded that teenager is. Tertiary education is often away from the familiar surroundings and security of home. How will that 12A person (hereinafter referred to as "the Individual") cope with the stress of having to interact socially with people who are not of the same mould or to engage in intellectual combat with people who are racist, ageist, chauvinistic, liberal or orthodox, uncompromising, undiplomatic, aggressive and etc? What happens when someone challenges the Individual's beliefs, principles and foundations? Will the Individual have an answer ready or would 12 years of systematic regurgitation have dulled the mind, preventing it from engaging with anything outside a textbook?

I know straight A scorers who are in the same breath, masters of extra-curricular activities yet find it hard to make a simple reservation over the phone. Perhaps the Individual is naturally shy which is no fault by any measure but if the education system is geared to prepare us for a world which often does not follow the book, there are other things more important than the number of As one can score, which should be taught at school.

Ultimately, the real public exam comes, not from an unnamed who slashes his or her red pen through your chicken scribble essays but from society, work peers, colleagues, bosses and authorities, who give not a toss of the number of As you have bagged if you cannot reflect the expected standard and then exceed it.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Wherever the wind blows...

Malaysian rain is awesome. Mortals don't stand a chance against the insistence of pitter-patter powered by winds which blow in every direction except the one you want. Some modern Hercules must have aggrieved Aelous by opening the silver seal, letting loose the winds of Gog and Magog, sending them rushing helter-skelter across the Peninsular. The umbrella did not help.

In fact, holding the umbrella up in defiance merely made me appear all the more foolish as it was quite clear that the added stress of having to juggle an incompetent umbrella was paying off no dividends as bag, jeans, shoes and socks were soaked through.

Funnily enough, the Holy Spirit is a bit like that uncontrollable wind I wrestled with today. You don't know how long He'll go on hammering you for, you don't know from which direction or in which area of your life He'll hit you most, you don't know who will be most affected by His wisdom, you can't tell how much you'll be affected by His impact and any attempts of putting up umbrella shields only goes to show how unrivalled and unequivocal His claim is and will be and how finite and completely unprepared we are to face Him. All you know, is that if He wants you drenched, you'd better just call off that prior engagement and give in to the inevitable.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Refugees in exile

What thoughts come to mind when we think of the word "refugee"? Or "illegal immigrant"? Or "asylum seeker"? Do you even think of them as people?

People who need our help.

A waste of space.

People who have nowhere else to go to.

A waste of time.

People whose lives may be in danger.

A menace to society.

People who are trying to survive despite the odds.

An inconvenience.

People who have been separated from loved ones.

A statistic.

Didn't we all start somewhere? Didn't our parents? And our grandparents? Are we not exiles too?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Why?

Things which, if I had just accepted as fact, would have saved me a lot of trouble, stress and blood pressure:

1) You cannot square a circle - nibbling off the edges of a biscuit does not count.

2) Yes, superglue can really stick the skin of your fingers together.

3) Guys really don't care where they fart.

4) Bleach bleaches.

* The internet has its limitations.

** 100mb is NOT 100kb; and

***100MB is really too big a file to send over email. Do not try it. Do not attempt to try it. Do not even think about it. Else you will possibly end up with ulcers and a hernia trying to squeeze it through.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Clarification


Sometime between opening a cyber window and answering a phonecall, my blog was hijacked by an all-berry team of what could, in half light be nothing less than ginger, resulting in the previous post and a stunning revelation that someone obviously finds himself very good looking. I do however, concur with most of what Sam wrote and he has indeed been faithful in his yearly pilgrimage to Malaysia, pillaging nasi goreng USA, banana leaf rice and nasi kandar from terrified vendors who quake in their Japanese slippers and send whispers circulating in KLCC, "Fi, fie, fo, fum, I smell the blood of an English man," as he does his rounds. Nevertheless, I choose to reserve judgment as to who represents the better looking of the two until such a time when I am persuaded either way with chocolate, preferably Fairtrade, dark, with a 75% minimum cocoa content, but anything goes really. Haha.