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Feb 10, 2007

laptop backpack

I've been looking for a laptop backpack with reasonable price and I found it at Tesco, Bandar Utama. The normal price is RM75 but I've got it even cheaper, with 20% discount (RM63.20). The most important thing for me is my 15.4" laptop fits well into the backpack.

I don't think you can get a better bargain than this. The quality is not bad. However, if you are looking for something like the Targus brand, be ready to fork out RM150-300. Even the best deal I could get on ebay was RM85 for a second hand backpack, excluding the delivery charges of RM20.

So, if you are looking for one, I've already grabbed the last blue coloured model.

Feb 9, 2007

tribute to MGS, my alma mater - part 1

Now even in my early 30s, I still love to reminisce the good old days I had when I was still studying in MGPS (Methodist Girls' Primary School, 1983-1988) and MGSS (Methodist Girls' Secondary School, 1989-1993). I did my Form 6 in SMART (Sek Men Abdul Rahman Talib, 1994-1995) and it was nothing like my previous schools. Hence, I would like to pay a tribute to my alma mater here. For easier reading, I'll present all those memories in a Q&A format.

Q1: Tell me about your school.

A1: Back in those years, MGS, both primary and secondary schools were top schools in the district of Kuantan. We had two very respected and dedicated headmaster and principal, Ms Yap and Mrs Judith Quah respectively. I think we were one of the very few schools that emphasized not only on academic excellence but also encouraged students participation in co-curricular activities. MGSS was (I use past tense because I believe the management is very different now) a school that run not only by the principal and teachers but also the students. Students played active roles in making events such as sports day, special tuck shop, teachers' day, etc a success. In terms of discipline, there was no doubt that my school was the best.

Q2. What about the teachers?

A2: I don't have any particular teacher that I really like though. Perhaps there was this teacher, Cik Jarina. I remember she was the only Sejarah teacher that didn't just read notes to us. In fact, I still remember her lecture (more like a storytelling) on the Renaissance topic. She even reminded us to watch a movie set in the Renaissance era on TV2. The movie actually helped me to understand the topic even more.

There were a few good teachers like Sister Susan, Ms Wong and Mrs Cheah too. I must say Sister Susan was a good English teacher. She actually taught us an Abba's song called Fernando!

Well, there was one particular teacher that I hate. I don't even remember her name. She was transferred from another school, and knew nothing about me. I was in Form 4 then. She punished me for not bringing a new exercise book without listening to my reason. Well, I was on MC the day before and nobody informed me or had a spare copy for me. So, this bloody teacher asked me to stand outside the toilet for the entire period. Damn malu because I always had good reputation in school. When my form teacher, Ms Wong saw that, she told that bloody teacher that she shouldn't be doing that to me especially when the class was on (I was in front of them listening to their conversation). I was thankful for Ms Wong not because she defended me but the fact that she knew my character.

Oh, by the way, have you guys ever made your teachers cry? Well, my class, despite being the top class in our form, we made a few teachers cried because they couldn't stand our noisiness, stubborness and laziness. One of the teachers who became our victim was Encik Azman.

Q3. What were the nicknames that you most remember?

A3: MGS was popularly known as Monkey Girls' School (my Sis told me it's Monyet Gigi Satu). And yes, the girls were like monkeys, making noises, hyperactive, etc. I had a nickname too. My friend, Elena started calling me Aboo when we were in Form 2. The nickname actually came from my surname, Foo. As for my fellow schoolmates, I still remember a few nicknames like SuperG (G means ganas), OTC (otak tak centre, ooops), Mr Chew, and.... (getting old, can't remember). As for the teachers, I remember we disliked an agama cum counselling teacher. We called her Doraemon.

Q4. Who were your best friends?

A4: When I was in Standard 1, I don't have to worry about not having friends during the first day of school because most of my kindergarten friends were there. And I still have a few friends from the kindergarten whom I still meet up once in awhile now. When I was in the lower secondary level, I had two best friends, Norzana and Neela. The three of us were like representing the three main races in Malaysia. I also became good friends to Shu Fen, Cindy and Shuh Yong, whom I still keep in touch until today. In fact I still meet up with Shuh Yong every week as we stay nearby.

Q5. What were your favourite subjects? What subjects were you good or bad at?

A5: My favourite subjects were also the subjects I'm good in. I particularly love History and Bahasa Melayu. I did have a couple of Bahasa Melayu teachers who liked my writing. I even remember a trainee teacher who praised my sajak.


I love science subjects but most of the time I had no idea what my science teachers taught in class. When I asked my friend Shuh Yong recently, why most of our classmates did so well in their exams eventhough they did not know what our teachers taught in class. She told me it was because our friends attended tuition classes and I didn't. So I ended up struggling in my pure science subjects.

Q6: Were you active in extra curricular activities?

A6: One good thing about my school was all students were compulsory to take part in at least three associations and one sports club. For your information, Persatuan Bahasa Malaysia (PBM) and Persatuan Bahasa Inggeris (PBI) were compulsory for all and we had to go back to school every Saturday for that. I think our teachers were very committed because they had to sacrifice their Saturdays and went back to school to assist us in our extra curricular activities. I love PBM and PBI because every classes had to perform depending on the theme that week. We had to act, sing, debate, etc. I particularly love acting and I always got the male lead roles. Perhaps it was because I was tomboyish and tall.

I joined a lot of activities throughout my secondary years: PBM, PBI, Persatuan Sains, Sidang Redaksi (school magazine), ping pong, volleyball. I was also a library prefect and had some minor leadership roles in sports. I was a shy kid back then and being a leader was the last thing on my mind. I think the highest leadership role I got back then was as the class assistant monitor. Even that also was like a burden to me. Perhaps, it was because I had a tough time dealing with some personal issues it affected my self esteem.

Q7: Any unforgettable memories when studying in MGS?

A7: Wow, I'm not sure if can list everything here. I think the best time I had was during the Sports Day and the Special Tuck Shop. MGS had the best Sports Day event compare to other schools in the entire Malaysia, I guess. We had cheerleading, house decoration, marching and the usual race and telematch. Each year we would choose different activity to take part in the Sports Day. I'd tried everything except cheerleading (:D hey I did wrote a rap piece for my Schleman house to be incorporated in the cheerleading session) In my humble opinion, MGS students were the most independent students I ever knew. For example, when I took part in the house decoration for my Schleman house, we had to walk about 1km to search for bamboos. We brought our parang, chopped the bamboo trees and dragged them back to school all by ourselves without any help from adults. As for marching, we had to practise months before the event. We practised almost every evening until all of us became so dark (very, very dark).

Gosh, I love Special Tuck Shop. Each Tuesday, a class would take turn to run the school's canteen. We would stay back after school the day before the tuck shop to do some preparation; fill up the tong with water, boil water, prepare syrup, get the utensils ready, etc. There were a lot of things to buy too. Students and class teacher would go out and buy stuff using the fund we had collected since the beginning of the year. Aside from complicated food like laksa or nasi lemak which we normally order from parents or supplier, everything else were cooked and prepared by students with the help from our class teacher. I loved to prepare drinks, selling food and drinks and go to the supermarket during school hour to buy extra materials (of course with the permission from our class teacher). Even the cleaning part after the tuck shop was fun! At the end of the day, we got our share of profits. Recently I heard the Special Tuck Shop is no longer allowed in my school. What a stupid move. How could they rob away the tradition and learning experience from the students?

I think most of us were afraid of Monday because we had Spot Talk during assembly. The principal would choose a class randomly and then a student from the class (randomly as well) must go on stage and began her speech about the topic given to us on the previous week. Even if we were not chosen, we had to write an essay about the topic and submit to our form teacher after the assembly. We wrote in Bahasa Malaysia and English on alternate basis and it was an every week task. I'm not sure if my school still practice it today. It's a shame if they don't.

There were a lot more to say but I guess that's it for now. I'll go back to my hometown this CNY holiday and I will search my closet for some old photos and school magazines so that I can include them in the next post.

Feb 7, 2007

crohn's disease

Yesterday, I finally saw my teenage student, A. We were supposed to start our tuition class in January. However we had to delay the class until yesterday due to his illness, which he told me was known as Crohn's disease.

I was quite shock to see how much weight he had lost during the school holiday. I remember very well that our last class was in November and he was still the chubby looking boy. It was heartbreaking for me to see him losing 9 kg in just 2 months.

I decided to read about the disease starting with wikipedia. According to the site, it is said that the usual onset is between 15 and 30 years of age, with no difference between men and women. The main gastrointestinal symptoms are abdominal pain, diarrhea, which may be bloody, and weight loss.

The cause of Crohn's disease is not known. It is only known that the disease occurs when the immune system contributes to damage of the gastrointestinal tract by causing inflammation.

My student, A, will be on a long term medication and would not be able to take part in any outdoor activity. I hope the doctors will be able to help him recover soon.

Feb 6, 2007

Q&A about Buddhism - part 5

Disclaimer: For non-Muslims or Buddhists only unless if you are reading this for knowledge purpose. This is a Q&A with HH Sakya Trizin.

This is a continuation from part 4.


Q: Are the hells metaphors for states or amounts of suffering or do they really exist as described in the Buddhist ‘Sutras’?

A: Something really exists, I think. Actually it says in the Sutras that they really exist much more terribly than they are described because, it says, the Buddha didn’t fully describe them. If he fully described them, people would have fainted.

Q: How real are they?

A: They are real as the life we have today. Yes, many people think that they are not real, like a dream. But actually, we are happy and unhappy in dreams, just as real as we are when we are awake. This present experience also is not real, but we think everything around us is real. Hell is as real as this. Of course hell, also, in reality, is not real. This is also not real. What is this, then?

Q: Do the Buddhas suffer?

A: No, they never suffer. They are absolutely free from sufferings.

Q: Do they see suffering?

A: They don’t see suffering, either.

Q: Then how can they help people who are suffering?

A: They don’t suffer. This answer is one of the differences between the Sakya and Gelugpa orders; the Gelugpas say that the Buddhas do see suffering and we say that they do not. The man who has awakened from sleep doesn’t have dreams. This impure Samsaric scene of suffering is like a dream; it’s like an illusion. So the man who has awakened from this illusion can never dream again. But, due to his Bodhicitta, (Enlightenment-mind) and his compassion, help for others spontaneously arises. But the Buddha himself never sees suffering. For him, all things are transformed into pure appearance.

Q: Is the Buddha involved in ‘Karma’?

A: He has achieved the final Karmic result, the highest and the best possible results of Karma.

Q: Can anything happen to us that is not the result of our own actions?

A: No, never.

Q: Can the Buddha perceive the results of his or other’s acts
?

A: Yes, for instance, there have been many prophecies, but I don’t think the Buddha sees or perceives these results. Where there is a need for a prophecy, it just arises spontaneously.

Q: Can we modify the results of past acts?


A: Certainly. The Vajrasattva meditation can purify many of our past bad actions, but in any case, the creation of good causes and merit is very helpful and necessary.

In the next part, we will get more answers from HH on Buddhism.

Disclaimer: This interview was taken from the book "Pointing Towards Vajrayana" published by The Singapore Buddha Sasana Society Sakya Tenphel Ling. The Palden Sakya Centres of American Buddhism Sakya Shei Drup Ling actually holds the right of this text.

Feb 5, 2007

German Film Week @ AEI

The international movie screening at the Asia-Europe Institute (AEI), University of Malaya is back. I'm sure those of you who read papers already know the screening will be from today until this Friday.

A few years ago, AEI and ATMA-UKM (Institute of the Malay World and Civilization, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia) used to collaborate and had regular screening of international movies here in UM. My friends and I loved it very much because it's free entertainment on every Wednesday and not to mention the generous refreshment after the show.

Later, the fellow researcher at AEI who run the programme left UM and formed Kaki Kino. Together with Dr Wan Zawawi, they brought the weekly international movie screening to FINAS. I was very disappointed by the move. Not long after that move to FINAS, Kaki Kino landed themselves in trouble when one of the films screened had explicit scenes.

Anyway, I'm just glad that this programme is back at AEI with new management. Hopefully they will make it a regular event.

Date/Time: 5 - 9 February 2007, 8.30 pm Venue: Auditorium, Asia-Europe Institute Organiser: Asia-Europe Institute, UM and Goethe Institute Contact Person: Puan Joharah (+603-79674645)

Movie Title: Mostly Martha Date: 5 Feb 2007 (Monday) Time: 8.30-10.30 p.m.

Movie Title: Comedian Harmonists Date: 6 Feb 2007 (Tuesday) Time: 8.30 -11.00 p.m.

Movie Title: Good Bye, Lenin Date: 7 Feb 2007 (Wednesday) Time: 8.30-11.00 p.m.



Movie Title: Run Lola Run Date: 8 Feb 2007 (Thursday) Time: 8.30-10.00 p.m.

Movie Title: Nowhere In Africa Date: 9 Feb 2007 (Friday) Time: 8.30-11.30 p.m.

Feb 4, 2007

winning a desktop PC @ the Microsoft Vista launch

Now I feel really bad for complaining about the Amazing Vista Walk Hunt for not providing better Hunt Kit in my previous post.

Why? Because today I received not only extra Microsoft Vista freebies (pen, notepads, paper clips, etc) but also a new HP Desktop PC preloaded with Window Vista for winning the 1st prize in the Windows Movie Maker contest.

I did not save up the 90 sec clip I submitted last night though. My clip is about Visit Malaysia Year 2007 with a little bit sense of humour by using the limited number of photos available in the PC available at the foyer of Low Yat Plaza.

When the Microsoft people called me on my mobile asking me to come over to the stage @ about 5 p.m. today, I was in PJ. Luckily my friends were there to be my representative.

Thank you to my friends (Shuh Yong, Chia Chia, Sok Ei, Jess and Dr Ho), Bro and Sis for taking part with me in the hunt. And especially thank you to my good friend Shuh Yong for noticing the contest and persuaded me to join. Shuh Yong, Jess and Chia Chia also helped me to pick up my prizes today. Love you guys! Congratulations to Dr Ho for winning the 3rd place in the Windows Movie Maker contest as well! Let's celebrate this week!

In the end, special thanks to Microsoft and HP for the prizes! Coincidentally, I'll be collecting the desktop PC on my birthday.
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