Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Big shoes...

It's hard being a parent.

Monday, December 29, 2008

End of Semester One..

Results are out and though they aren't all that great, Im glad and grateful nonetheless.

When i first saw my results at the stroke of midnight, I analyzed them and had to do several calculations before deciding that i did ok. I had high hopes for computing but had to settle for a B and while i expected to flunk physics and maths, I'm glad i had Cs. An A in Effective Communication was the little cherry that topped my little ice cream.

Overall, Im happy considering that it could've been a lot worse. And after comparing my results with those who did better than me, I realize i could be alot happier had i done better. So that'll mean hard work in the coming semester.

And i'll have to remind myself that not getting the grades after putting in so much effort is not an excuse for not putting in as much effort in future. I just got to be more patient and just soldier on. One thing's for sure, all that effort simply means there's no regret over the things I should've done but I didn't.

Let success be a measure by your own standards. Don't be too concerned about others. But don't ignore them either. Instead, let them lead you as you continue to pursue your dream.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Engagements and out of ideas...

The word engagement does seem to linger around the house as of late - be it friends or relatives. Almost got into a quarrel with the mother talking about the process of minang, tunang, nikah and whatever else there is that i hear about without knowing what's what. Seems like culture and tradition to her is like the basic computer know-how to me. Two different generations but I guess I'll look up the books of adat istiadat when the time comes -- though i prefer to learn the hard way even if it means making myself look like an idiot and the mother, otherwise.

One thing i realise is the existence of some conditions that have to be met before us children can even think of getting into something serious. Not that im having such thoughts, yet, but whatever she's been saying would definitely apply to us as well should the time come. It's pretty hard to put it down in words so to put it simply, I know what conditions i have to meet first and whoever i like must definitely be someone very patient and understanding.

It has been a while since i wrote something i could call my own aside from short comments and facebook status updates. Hate it when the creative juices stop flowing....

Till they start flowing..

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Hidden meanings

Adolescents are not the world's greatest communicators, and some of the things they say are almost unintelligible, even without their slang. Large portions of my humility have come as a consequence of realizing that just when I begin to think that I understand them, they remind me that I don't.

What the adolescent means is sometimes hidden from view and must be sought, because the real meaning can be quite revealing. Let me cite an exchange that took place between me and one of my patients on the adolescent ward one morning:

Dan, a 14-year-old boy who had been physically and emotionally abused in life, was brought to the hospital after a suicide attempt. He seemed to be responding positively to the security of his new environment. He let the nurses know that he liked feeling safe. However, he was distant with me, and, despite my efforts to get something going with him, he remained apart.

As I entered the ward one day, I spoke to several adolescents near the entrance. I turned to see Dan glaring at me. "You don't like me!", he declared in a most unfriendly manner. My first impulse was to feel offended. My second impulse was to defend myself against this unfair accusation, saying something like, "What do you mean saying something like that to me after all the hard work I've done to help you? Who do you think has been trying to make things better for you? Is that the thanks I get?" and so on.

Instead, I decided to seek the hidden meaning in his words. I was confused and said to him, "I don't understand." His reply was,"Yes you do, you don't like me!" I asked: "I don't? You believe that I don't like you?"

"That's right," he snapped. "Gosh, Dan, what is it that I'm doing that would cause you to feel that way?", I asked.

"You spoke to everybody else and didn't speak to me!", he informed me. "Oh, I see! I guess I'd feel the same way if I thought someone didn't want to speak to me. How does it make you feel thinking that your own doctor doesn't like you?" I inquired.

"It scares me. It makes me think that you might send me away," was his almost whispered response. "I'm not going to send you anywhere, Dan, not until you and I both think it's time to go," I assured him. I touched his shoulder and said no more.

Initially, I had been tempted to refute Dan's statement. Instead, I chose to find out what had prompted his statement. My obvious struggle to understand what was going on in this unhappy young man made a statement to him far more eloquent than a defensive denial of his charge. I didn't have to tell him I cared about him. He concluded that on his own.

I was fortunate that Dan was willing to give me bad news. Too frequently, children will misinterpret parental actions and feel hurt, but out of "respect" they keep it to themselves. If they tell us about it, we have a chance to put it right. Whether they are willing to bring unpleasant news to us depends upon how we ordinarily react to bad news.

......."Understanding the Adolescent" by George H. Orvin

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


"What is an alchemist?" he asked, finally.

"It's a man who understands nature and the world. If he wanted to, he could destroy this camp just with the force of the wind."

The men laughed. They were used to the ravages of war, and knew that the wind could not deliver them a fatal blow. Yet each felt his heart beat a bit faster. They were men of the desert, and they were fearful of sorcerers.

"I want to see him do it," said the chief.

"He needs three days," answered the alchemist. "He is going to transform himself into the wind, just to demonstrate his powers. If he can't do so, we humbly offer you our lives, for the honor of your tribe."

"You can't offer me something that is already mine," the chief said, arrogantly. But he granted the travelers three days.The boy was shaking with fear, but the alchemist helped him out of the tent.

"Don't let them see that you're afraid," the alchemist said. "They are brave men, and they despise cowards."

But the boy couldn't even speak. He was able to do so only after they had walked through the center of the camp. There was no need to imprison them: the Arabs simply confiscated their horses. So, once again, the world had demonstrated its many languages: the desert only moments ago had been endless and free, and now it was an impenetrable wall.

"You gave them everything I had!" the boy said. "Everything I've saved in my entire life!"

"Well, what good would it be to you if you had to die?" the alchemist answered.

"Your money saved us for three days. It's not often that money saves a person's life."

But the boy was too frightened to listen to words of wisdom. He had no idea how he was going to transform himself into the wind. He wasn't an alchemist!

The alchemist asked one of the soldiers for some tea, and poured some on the boy's wrists. A wave of relief washed over him, and the alchemist muttered some words that the boy didn't understand.

"Don't give in to your fears," said the alchemist, in a strangely gentle voice. "If you do, you won't be able to talk to your heart."

"But I have no idea how to turn myself into the wind."

"If a person is living out his destiny, he knows everything he needs to know. There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure."

"I'm not afraid of failing. It's just that I don't know how to turn myself into the wind."

"Well, you'll have to learn; your life depends on it."

"But what if I can't?"

"Then you'll die in the midst of trying to realize your destiny. That's a lot better than dying like millions of other people, who never even knew what their destinies were.

"But don't worry," the alchemist continued. "Usually the threat of death makes people a lot more aware of their lives."

........."The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho

Monday, December 22, 2008


And a youth said, "Speak to us of Friendship."

Your friend is your needs answered. He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving. And he is your board and your fireside. For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.

When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the "nay" in your own mind, nor do you withhold the "ay." And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;

For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.

When you part from your friend, you grieve not; For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.

And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.

For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught. And let your best be for your friend.

If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also. For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?

Seek him always with hours to live. For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.

And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.

For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

....."The Prophet" by Khalil Gibran

Saturday, December 20, 2008

When one becomes too many

This week was and might still be filled with events. I do not remember a time when I've been out as often and thus, i didn't know when one becomes too many. Until today...

I was pretty much a person of excuses whenever it comes to social gatherings and stuffs. And I really don't give much thought about what others may say. I only think about what my mum would say whenever i make my decisions.

Lately, it has all been about me that i forgot about her. However, just a handful of words from her left me thinking -- about freedom.

At the city gate and by your fireside I have seen you prostrate yourself and worship your own freedom, Even as slaves humble themselves before a tyrant and praise him though he slays them.

Ay,in the grove of the temple and in the shadow of the citadel I have seen the freest among you wear their freedom as a yoke and a handcuff.

And my heart bled within me; for you can only be free when even the desire of seeking freedom becomes a harness to you, and when you cease to speak of freedom as a goal and a fulfillment.

You shall be free indeed when your days are not without a care nor your nights without a want and a grief, But rather when these things girdle your life and yet you rise above them naked and unbound.

And how shall you rise beyond your days and nights unless you break the chains which you at the dawn of your understanding have fastened around your noon hour?

In truth that which you call freedom is the strongest of these chains, though its links glitter in the sun and dazzle the eyes. And what is it but fragments of your own self you would discard that you may become free?

If it is an unjust law you would abolish, that law was written with your own hand upon your own forehead. You cannot erase it by burning your law books nor by washing the foreheads of your judges, though you pour the sea upon them.

And if it is a despot you would dethrone, see first that his throne erected within you is destroyed. For how can a tyrant rule the free and the proud, but for a tyranny in their own freedom and a shame in their won pride?

And if it is a care you would cast off, that care has been chosen by you rather than imposed upon you. And if it is a fear you would dispel, the seat of that fear is in your heart and not in the hand of the feared.

Verily all things move within your being in constant half embrace, the desired and the dreaded, the repugnant and the cherished, the pursued and that which you would escape.

These things move within you as lights and shadows in pairs that cling. And when the shadow fades and is no more, the light that lingers becomes a shadow to another light.

And thus your freedom when it loses its fetters becomes itself the fetter of a greater freedom.

......"The Prophet" by Khalil Gibran

Friday, December 19, 2008


And he said:

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit,
not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

......... From The Prophet by Khalil Gibran

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ayat-ayat cinta 2

Watched Ayat-Ayat Cinta the second time during the long trip back to Singapore and i must say there were a couple of moments that made me want to cry. The first time i wrote about it, i sounded pretty emotionless. Maybe it was due to poor sound quality the first time round.

Fahri was indeed a lucky guy. The writer of the novel must've left most guys dreaming...

The short vacation

It has been a long time since i went on a holiday overseas. This not including the two trips to Taiwan while in the Army.

Clearly everyone isnt used to going on a trip without the dad. And the morning got off to a pretty bad start. It's back to whether the mother should try to understand her children or the other way round. Personally, i thought she was being unreasonable but after a while, from my other perspective, us children should be taught a lesson on punctuality and that's just her way of doing things.

In short, it's hard to understand what goes on in the minds of our mum and dad. And likewise, i guess it's hard to understand what goes on in the mind of young kids nowadays. So i'll stick to if u cant understand them, just follow them.

KL was all about food. The cakes from Secret Recipe was awesome! Burger Ramlees. The hotplate noodles. The mangoes and mango juices are lovely. Shopping was boring coz the package are more catered for the makcik-makciks. Petaling Street was great -- and mothers know how to bargain best! If only there's more time.

Went to Bukit Bintang at night and it really seems like Orchard Road -- with mats and minahs here and there. Didnt see much of Bukit Bintang though.... coz we were trying not to miss the last monorail.

More shopping at makcik-makciks place the day after at Nilai and Ayer Hitam and i was back home -- surprised that Man U didnt capitalise on the draws of Liverpool as well as Arsenal. Glad that Chelsea drew last night too!

All in all it's definitely better than home and tv. For $75, decent hotel and cheap food, it had been a great short vacation.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bioethics, Life Sciences and Islam

In this current era of information and technological development, various new findings have been presented. Many of these new developments have great potential in helping to solve the issues and challenges facing humanity today. This is the opportunity for Muslims to benefit from in order to take lead in such efforts towards global development.

However, the enhancement of knowledge and the mastery of new information that we seek is not only for the intention of contributing to the social and economic developments, but it is also for us to implement our responsibility in bringing peace and prosperity to the world. Let us not forget the fact that many of our Muslim scholars in the past were not only experts in Islamic sciences but also in other areas of knowledge as well.

Abu Rayhan al-Biruni for example, not only was he an expert in Islamic philosophy and comparitive religion, but he was also a scientist, astronomer and an expert in geography. Ibnu Nafis on the other hand was a master in physics and human anatomy. At the same time, he was also a Hafizh of the Quran and an expert in Hadith.

All of them studied science, geography, human sciences and other types of knowledge. However, they were always guided by their strong understanding of Islamic morals (akhlaq), and Islamic law (syariah) in their pursuit to consolidate the knowledge that they had.
As a result, not only were they able to leave behind valuable knowledge for others to inherit and learn, but they also managed to do a lot of research for others to benefit from and improve the quality of their lives as well as their understanding of a certain knowledge. This is the kind of motivation and spirit that we should take away and learn from.

My dear brothers,
Among the types of knowledge which has seen a lot of rapid developments recently is the knowledge of human science and bio-medics. This field of knowledge has the potential to discover the antidote and alternative treatments for various diseases and genetic disorders. Issues such as cloning, genetic testings, stem cell research and others are just some of the outcomes from the study done on life-sciences. With stem cell research for example, we are able to study the source of various diseases and genetic disorders.

That is not all. In fact, it is also needed to find the best cure and discover solutions to overcome these problems.
As a community that has been entrusted to enrich the earth, is it proper for us to ignore the developments in knowledge? Is it not part of our responsibility to analyse these developments and look at their benefits and harms?

Would it not be brilliant if the Muslim community, either ourselves or our children, are to be the ones taking the lead in such developments? It requires guidance so that the efforts are made in relevance to the ethics of the Syariah and does not contravene with its restrictions.

Allah s.w.t. says in the Quran in Surah ar-Room, verse 8: Which means: “Do they not think deeply (in their ownselves) about themselves (how Allâh created them from nothing, and similarly He will resurrect them)? Allâh has created not the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, except with truth and for an appointed term.”

In analysing the creations of Allah s.w.t, especially in the creation of humankind, we will discover many of His secrets as we study this wonderful and flawless creation. By just looking at the growth process of a foetus in a womb is enough for us to remind us of our status as His humble servants. Also look at how careful and organised the creation of a human is through the structure of DNA and chromosomes in the human cells. This allows us to think of Allah’s Divine Greatness. His Greatness which is shown in His perfect creations. SubhanAllah! This is one of the wisdoms behind Allah’s command for humans to think about how He Created them.

One of the wisdoms behind this is to also study the type of things that we can benefit from this knowledge. There are actually a lot of secrets that we can discover, which could actually improve the quality and standards of a human’s life. For example, the stem cell research can open doors to identifying antidotes for many diseases. The blood which is taken from a baby’s placenta can be used in the future as a source of treatment for that particular child or even for other children. The advancements in technology can also help a couple to have a child through the process of fertilization outside the mother’s womb, before the mother actually carries it in her own womb. Subhanallah!

God is great, for He has hidden many secrets in His creations for humans to learn and discover.
At the same time, these efforts need to be done in relevance with the conditions and ethics that has been set by Allah s.w.t. and His Messenger s.a.w. in the Holy Quran and Hadith. Let us not allow these developments to instead bring damage and harm to our planet and the creatures who are living on it.

Allah s.w.t. says in Surah al-Qasas, verse 7: Which means: “And seek not (occasions for) mischief in the land: for Allah does not love those who do mischief Some of the guiding principles in Islamic ethics when facing the developments in life-sciences are:
  1. To not bring harm to anyone, as this is prohibited in the religion, and it is in line with the core principle of protecting lives.
  2. Any form of harm, if available, must be minimised and reduced to a level which is acceptable in Islamic law.
  3. To avoid harm is more important than obtaining goodness or benefit.
  4. A good and true intention (to achieve something) cannot be attained by a manner which is immoral in Islam.
Let us become a Muslim community which thinks about Allah’s creations. Let us be determined to raise our level of knowledge and develop a generation after us that is always hungry for knowledge. Let us use the knowledge that we have now to bring benefit to others and in bringing prosperity to the world. With this strong determination, may we be chosen as the ummah which thrives in its duty as a vicegerent and caliph on earth.

Sermon for Friday prayers,12 December 2008

Fine tuning the neurons in my brains

9 days without something.

3 seasons of Avatar: The Last Airbender basically sums up the 9 days. There were some readings and i must say that i do not understand the relevance of pathogens, diseases, DNA, RNA, Polymerase Chain Reaction, Bioethics (and the list just goes on...) with Civil Engineering. Perhaps before thinking big, an Engineer has to start small -- i never thought that small is at the cellular level.

Genes, gentetics and the human genome reminds me of Dr Suresh from Heroes. And hypothalamus something something reminds me of the disease Michael Scofield has. 

I am beginning to wonder if too much television inhibits the way the mind thinks. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Making decisions

Fun day today although something was definitely wrong with my aiming.

A conversation led to a thought to ponder about and it led to this for the night.

I remember the last few months before ord really starting to think about what i wanted to do with my life. Whether Civil Engineering is the way to go or whether i should listen to my heart and stuck with what i wanted. Or at least that's what i thought i wanted back then.

Deciding where to go was tough and it took a really really long time. Slightly over a year.

I remember wanting to do a degree in social work. I felt that i had enough of maths and sciences and that if i ever go higher in this field, I'll struggle. I didn't want to suffer anymore. And social work seemed like the easier option. The only problem was I didnt have the ability to see the future. I had to choose between two options which clearly leads to two totally different paths and I really needed to see the future.

So while i was still in National Service, I sent an email to a person whom I felt was the best individual that could help me make the right decision. 2 emails and plenty of sound advices from individuals --who cant see the future but can look back in time and have seen so much more -- made me where i am now. And now me looking back slightly over a year from now, Im glad i've made the right moves and seized the right opportunity.

I believe that when it comes to making important decisions, one has to consult one's council, seniors, resource people. In other words, I believe that it is best for one to be open to different views and opinions from different perspective. Cross reference everything with one's own research and ideas and then make that decision.

And that said, I guess looking back, I wouldnt have met the the individuals ive met had i hidden in my own shell. The shell's long gone. Perhaps there's the right time and the right place with the right people to do the right thing.

Perhaps there really is.

Monday, December 1, 2008

December's here!

December's arrived a little early.

Ran out of The Big Bang Theory episodes a couple of days back. And ive decided enough was enough. But i did catch 21 and Eagle Eye though and both were great movies! Could have watched Quantum of Solace and Madagascar 2 back to back but I decided to wait till Harry Potter shows up. Till then, ive got more important things to do.

Getting my next speech up seemed hard. Firstly, the brain's filled to the brim with music, tv and movies. And secondly, would a speech on saying no to slimming pills offend un-slim audience? And thirdly, is such a topic relevant for an audience who are generally slim?

Im trying to write something interesting and meaningful, logical and clear. My aim is to present a 5-7 minutes that is organized in a manner that leads the audience to a clearly defined goal.


Since December's already arrived, I must say that it's time to hit the books again. If we dont start early, how else can we beat the smart internationals? And even if we cant beat them, we can try to beat as many locals as possible right?

And it's also time to hit the gym. im so unfit right now and fitness wise, im not ready for Sunday's game. Aiming for that $400 offered by Ministry of Defence. Wonder if it's possible.

I shall sleep, hoping that fats will miraculously be gone by morning.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Planning the time table..

The planning of next semester's timetable can get pretty time consuming. Questions like should i try to free up my Mondays and Fridays? Should i try to be in the same class with this friend or with that friend or should i just make new friends?

Ive given it much thought and have decided to spread my days out -- considering that im more productive in school than at home. And the library and the old canteen A can be a pretty good place to meet people.

One of the electives that im looking at is photo imaging - principles of black and white photography. Non-examinable. Pretty technical. The only hard part: Whether there's a creative me in me.

Interactive public art and media seems fun too. But through blog searches, i think the mod's way too arty farty for me. Reading some write ups for some art projects, I really wonder what goes on inside the mind of an artist. They're like in a world of their own. That said, i still might want to give it a try: to just culture the arty side of me.

A week has passed. 4 weeks till school starts.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

How much is enough fun?

Marathons of tv shows been keeping me occupied. Been repaying all those hours of sleep that i owed to myself this past few weeks.

Past notes all cleared and my messy den all tidied up, im actually waiting for something to happen. I know i cant be waking up late all the time and watch hours go by after every two hours of Heroes, PrisionBreak, The Big Bang Theory and who knows what else after i run out of episodes? Project Runway or Cashmere Mafia?

Perhaps i shall start writing up on my second speech. I'll use my slimming pill persuasive speech as the back bone and add 4 minutes worth of muscles in the form of words to it.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Always the love 2

It has been 2 weeks since i spoke to either of them.

I never knew this side of me existed but I guess i now know what it feels like to have your heart broken. Whenever friends talk about how their friends just broke up with their girlfriends and how they feel very sad, I'd often say that if you get too emotionally attached to someone, that's what you'll get.

I guess i was too emotionally attached to those two and that i should've heeded my own advice. Perhaps enough was enough.

I'm feeling like a mother who sees years of love and affection go down the drain. A mother whose heart just shattered into million of pieces that there's just no way to mend it. I'm recalling those days when my own mother would refuse to say a word because of what we did and im finally starting to understand why. But back then, there was my father who could turn things around.

Perhaps that explains why ive been dreaming of him ever so often lately. Perhaps a part of me just wants him to come back. Or perhaps im feeling what he's been feeling ever since i started to grow up. Maybe he realised that the best way to tell me everything is by telling me nothing. Maybe it's about time i realise it too.

And now that i feel like a single child, I finally understand why kids out there hang out in the playground late into the night or choose to sit at the voiddeck strumming their guitars. Or why they ride a bike and ride into the the night. They're just looking for something to keep them occupied, for someone to spend time with.

Perhaps in the end, parents are really the ones at fault for every delinquents they raise. For not ensuring a healthy environment at home for their kids. For creating a functional dysfunctional family.

But i guess one has got to look life in the face, always to look at life in the face and to know it for what it is. At last, to know it, to love it for what it is, and then to put it away.

Always the love. Always the hours.

Friday, November 21, 2008

After 3 long weeks..... FINALLY!

3 of what seemed to be the longest of weeks have finally come to pass. And never have I felt so deserving of a break for I believed i did the best i could for my first five papers. Of course i would have done things alot differently if i had the powers of a precog -- one who can see the future. Or if i had the ability to bend time and space and teleport a couple of months back. I just miss watching television (over the internet) without feeling guilty.

While i'm waiting for episodes of Heroes to stream, I googled "easy NTU electives" to have some rough idea as to which are the easiest of them all, those that are non-examinable, MCQs, or project-based. Sadly though, no one writes about "NTU electives one can get an A in" ... which means that ive gotta go with my intuition.

2 Arts, 1 Biz, 1 Science and 3 unrestricted electives.

For Arts, Mind over Stress, Are you OK? Mental health, What is Cinema?, Fictional film: From Hollywood to Bollywood, Media in America and Fundamentals of Communication studies seemed the most attractive of the lot. But i heard that there'll be lots of writing and film reviews. So how should i choose?

Biz's so not my cup of tea. Accounting, Principles of marketing, Fundamentals of Business Law and Fundamentals of Management seemed useful but which one is easier?

Science.... I've had enough of science but Cyber Security, Astronomy and Spatial Info Science seemed the least scienc-ey of em all. Heard that though it's fun, ive gotta memorise the stars and constellations and what not... which will neutralise the fun-ness in it.

As for the unrestricted electives, there's an array of electives to choose from: Among which are Interpersonal Communication, Introduction to Children's Literature, Studies in Malay Music, Basic Counselling Skills, Motivating pupils to learn, Chinese Level 1 and Spanish Level 1.

Spanish might be useful in future on days i wear my mexico jersey. Ive attracted my second Mexican - who's doing a Masters in something. It's as if they see family whenever they see anything Mexican. And it seems that Mexicans dun speak Mexicano but rather, Spanish. So who noes. At least they dun have confusing strokes for words, unlike Chinese or Japanese.

And there's also a minor in Education seems fun. No exams, but rather it's assessed more on project works, collaboration, and problem based learning.

And of course there's the issue of bidding that Ive not really experience before - this being my first semester - so it helps to know what u want in case u fail to get ur first choice. :)

3 more episodes of Heroes to go. More entries to come!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Heart....

It was the weirdest of dreams.

I found myself having to go for a heart operation. And I had this donor who was willing to donate half her heart to me. The transfer went well and it was the most heart warming experience -- to know that someone whom Ive never met before was willing to donate part of her heart to me. But when i woke up, I felt confused.

Could it be a warning for what might happen as a result of all the McDonald's Extra Value Meals Ive had during this exam period?

Could the dream be telling me the difference I can make in someone else's life as an organ donor -- by putting myself in the shoes of the recipient?

Or am I suppose to reflect upon my dream literally..... That there's someone out there whom Ive never met before who is willing to give me half her heart should I need it most one day.

...... But i think it's meant to take my mind off school and papers.... 2 more hurdles to go.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Remember that life is short

It's easy to get caught up in our own stress and anxiety. However, if we remember that our life is short and temporary, and that the everlasting life is in the Hereafter, this will put our worries in perspective.

This belief in the transitory nature of the life of this world reminds us that whatever difficulties, trials, anxieties, and grief we suffer in this world are, Insyaallah, something we will only experience for a short period of time. And more importantly, if we handle these tests with patience, God will reward us for it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The first and second hurdle...

My foot got stuck at the very first hurdle. I fell pretty bad but one has just got to get back up quickly and move on.

The second hurdle was cleared cleanly but the thing with econs is if i somehow got my logic wrong, there goes my marks. Nevertheless, i m glad that not all of the effort i had put in went down the drain.

Monday's hurdle is Computing: Im looking forward to it. Wednesday's Physics and Friday's Chemistry. And then i can breathe easy...

University is really no joke. It's tough.

Went over to NIE with some friends for lunch and for some final recap of econs and one can just feel that it's in a different world altogether. Time seem to pass at a slower speed and students seemed generally happier and relaxed.

Could the grass really be greener on the other side?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Feels like A levels....

First hurdle come tomorrow. Despite the efforts made, i dun feel ready for the jump. But i guess they dun really care as to whether or not ure ready.

Time really flies and 14 weeks gone just like that. I shall not worry too much about tomorrow's hurdles. What's done cannot be undone. But i will keep in mind that maths is something u practice on week after week. Easier said then done but i'll try to apply it come next semester.

Lots of things to rethink about...

In two weeks...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Always the love.

I cant tell Sundays from Saturdays or Thursdays.... For each day had been the same. Same spot at the old canteen, catching up on work. The day ends when i reach home minutes before midnight for a deserved sleep. And 6 hours later, a new day, another cycle.

And having spent most of the week in school, i ended my day earlier today to spend some time at home watching tv with my brothers. But i guess these days, kids no longer behave like how they're supposed to. Or perhaps im just lost in my own world where i believe younger brothers should treat their elders with respect.

Sometimes i wonder if Im better off in school then at home. Why bother to love someone when they dont seem to care? Sometimes out of frustration, i do ask my mom if we could adopt a small kid from some home that do not know what it feels like to have a family. How it feels like to be loved. But i know it's costly.

Why is it that i see my brothers changing... growing up... but i still see the same me? I really feel for parents who spent so much time and effort in raising their kids only to suddenly find their kids rebelious and uncontrollable.

But i guess one has got to look life in the face, always to look at life in the face and to know it for what it is. At last, to know it, to love it for what it is, and then to put it away.

Always the love. Always the hours.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Money supply increase, interest rate decrease...

"God-like" is a phrase often used to describe a student whose intelligence make others feel like he's from some distant galaxy. For example, some would say that our maths tutor is "god-like" cause he's able to solve seemingly complicated questions using the simplest of methods. There is also an international student in class who is associated with the phrase "god-like". If only the guy was me.

Today has been another long day. My mama kind of reminded of the past couple of days when she told me not to study in school till late and that I should take a short break in between. Ironically, it was what she told me a long time back that made me want to study. She told us kids about how her friend had to force her son to go out of his room just to have his meals coz he was too busy studying in his room. In other words, it was her way of telling us to at least be half as hard working as him.

And now you know where i get my read-between-the-lines skill. Haha!

Spent 8 hours on a single economics lecture -- Short run economic fluctuations. Ie. why aggregate demand curve is downward sloping, causes of economic fluctuation, the influence of monetary and fiscal policies on the aggregate demand and the list just goes on. (To be exact, 1 and a half drawing block required with my cute and small handwriting)

8 hours is indeed a long time considering the number of subjects i still need to catch up on. However, im pretty glad i got it over with coz really, it made me feel "god-like" -- thought it was just during the moments when i managed to expl confusing parts to my friends. If there's to be a turning point in my uni life, tonight would be it. I didnt forget to be more grateful and less cocky.

However, when i got back, I noticed the utilities bill increase by about 60%. Ouch! Lucky there's some sort of Gvt intervention in the form of rebates. Total amount payale was halved. Mama couldnt understand why there's price increase as well as subsidies at the same time. And she asked why couldnt prices remain and eliminate all the subsidies nonsense.

After all that studying and boosting of my morale, I was brought back down to earth.

Hmm....let me give it a try.

One of the causes of economic fluctuations/ recession is a leftward shift of the aggregate demand for goods and services. ie. A decrease in consumption by households and firms. This will reduce the GDP of a country.

GDP = (Consumption- Tax) + Investment + (Tax + Government Net Earnings) + Net Exports

By imposing a tax/tariff on energy consumption, households and firms are now required to pay more for the same quantity of electricity consumed in order to offset the decrease in consumption. However, this will lead to a further decrease in consumption as some consumers are less willing to pay a higher amount for the same qty of electricity consumed. Take note that the demand for electricity is price inelastic as electricity is an integral part of our lives. Therefore to offset a further decrease, if any, subsidies and rebates have to be implemented.

Rebates and subsidies vary inversely with income levels -- the higher ur income, the lower the subsidies, the more tax you pay and vice versa. The lower income families will maintain consumption -- under the perception that they will enjoy subsidies and rebates during certain months of the year. In other words, the bulk of the tax will come from the rich, the rest coming from the tax paid by lower income groups on months where there's no rebates.

Taxes generated as well as other monetary and fiscal policies implemented by the Government will increase, if not, maintain, if not, minimize the fall in GDP. Therefore, a tax on electricity during a recession is in fact the way to go!
Let me see if i can convince Dear Mama with my theory. Gotta tell her that her question kept me awake for half the night, and Man United will be keeping me awake for the next half.

On a sidenote, both my brothers are having fever and I have this feeling mum will be next coz she's looking after them. If she catches the virus, who'll look after me?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Been a long day, but...

Long tiring day. Much more to be done but this post shall be nothing about school.

It's about how even two parallel lines can one day meet. Ive been using this quote ever since the night i watched the movie "Turn left, Turn right".

It's been 3 months since two parallel lines met. Usually, if a line sees another line whom it kind of liked, it would take the first step by slanting towards the other line. Whether both lines intersect or not is another story altogether. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

But there are some lines who seem to confuse fairy tales as well as the reel world with the real world. And when such lines happen to meet some other nice line during their long journey, they would still remain parallel -- but silently wishing how nice it would be if two parallel lines could meet.

And sometimes, like in the fairy tales, wishes do come true! :)

And there's a line somewhere silently wishing for two parallel lines to meet more than just once. If it can meet once, why not a couple more time? You know, each line travels by itself on a seemingly neverending journey. It can get pretty boring sometimes.

So if two lines are parallel, heading towards the same direction, wouldnt it be nice journey together side by side?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Lack of inspirations....

Inspirations are hard to come by these days --Inspirations to write that is. Perhaps as the days come closer to the exams, I find myself too caught up with the need to spend every waking minute studying.....

..... that i forget to set aside time for myself. I find it a crime sitting and thinking about something to write about. I find it a crime to watch tv. I find it a crime to play soccer. And it's all because the exams are 10 days away.

I have not been doing much housework. It has been a very long while since i last swept or mopped or folded the clothes. Mama's been doing everything. And I know she's fine with it cause she know the exams are just 10 days away.

I have not visited Grandma for almost a month. The longest ever absence. And with this favourite lady of mine, I know she's pretty angry about it. Never has she called my home asking us to visit her. I can imagine how she feels inside. Despite all the feeling feeling, I didnt followed the rest to visit her -- all because I find myself too caught up with the need to spend every waking minute studying..... But I will do so soon.

Despite being too conscious about time, it's not as if Ive been fully utilizing my time well. I still find myself distracted with TV, the computer, the internet. Each time i get stuck trying to understand certain concepts, I'll let myself be distracted. Something's just not right.

I was rushing through my prayers in the hopes of wanting to study. The guilty feeling finally sank in. I finally realised what went wrong. My being successful is not my doing and i forget that. When i start to feel good about myself, i tend to forget where it all came from. I forgot to be grateful. And each time i forget, I fall. I always have to realize it the hard way.

Why cant i always remember to be grateful? This is definitely not the first. Looking through my past entries, i have risen and fallen one too many times just because I forgot to be grateful.

Whoever's reading this, never let a little success cloud ur mind. Trying overly hard might just be the wrong thing to do. Always remember to be grateful and insyaallah, with some effort on your part, u will get what you want. Do not make the same mistake as me.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Scenic poetic humour

Today marks the end of official Effective Communication lessons. I really find it a good platform in my journey to try become an effective communicator.

Fitted in the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle this morning. I spent a couple of hours yesterday editing and re-editing and rehearsing my final assignment -- the 3 minutes "Say no to slimming products" speech. And i'm pretty glad having breezed through it without much pauses. However, despite feeling confident practicing by myself in my room and on the train to school, the heart still beats thrice it's normal rate while I wait for my turn.

Observing some speakers while waiting for my turn, I find that reasonable time and effort must be put in while preparing one's script. Only then will one be able to step up confidently and share one's hard work with the rest of the class. As a member of the audience, i want every speaker that steps up to do well -- and that's provided he or she is well prepared. And I realize that i am one of those who is not a fan of those who do not seem to care about their speech. Speakers should know that members of the audience can tell whether due time and effort had been put into the speech.

I'll use this speech as the backbone for my Project 2: "Organize Your Speech." This speech has to be between 5 to 7 minutes, which means that I'll now have the opportunity to add some depth into my speech. I've heard the word "humourous" after giving my 2 speeches. So it seems to me that humour will always be part of the way i write. Still finding it hard to associate Ali and Humor as one.

And i remembered someone approached me after my P1 speech and asked,"You spent quite a lot of time on your speech, didnt you?" And when i said i did spend a fair bit of time on it and asked how he could tell, he said that he finds my speech poetic -- reminding me of the phrase "scenic and poetic" which i had read somewhere, sometime back.

I'll keep in mind these two words the next time i write: poetic humour. Sounds like a new genre altogether. In time, it'll be scenic poetic humour :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Nice song by Keane.

Glad P1 is over

First speech went well and i was surprised i had zero erms, ahs, hmmm..... Im a pretty fluent speaker. I have been forcing myself to just speak fluently ever since the day i tried to "verbalise my thought" -- irregardless of whether or not i make any sense. With fluency, I believe the next step is to talk with more sense as well as conviction.

I was also surprised my evaluator found me humorous for i believed i was far from it. I just do not see myself being humorous. I like me to sound cool, calm and composed -- like Gaurav Keerthi or Ashraf Safdar who were judges for the game show, The Arena.

But nevertheless, now that ive got this one over and done with, I'll build on my voice and my reliance on notes. Ive got next week's oral presentation on slimming pills that I could work on. After all this who know's, i might end up reading the news one day. (Are they well paid?)

Anyways, I got back home late and was i glad to hear one of the twins got first in class. The other came in a distant 15th. Really glad that they're coping well with their studies despite me not intervening-- except those times when they encountered tedious maths questions. My mum mustve be feeling very proud and happy. I know i am.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Ice breaker

Second speech. Hoping to get the hang of writing one. This one's almost 5minutes 30 seconds and ive got 30 seconds to spare. Basically, it's suppose to be about me. Ive gotta present it tomorrow and ive just finished writing it. Didnt have time for much editing. But it being the first, im sure it's ok.

Its been a while since i last written. Time doesnt seem to permit. Or maybe it's because i always fall asleep earlier than usual. Till next time....

My name is Ali Marzuki. You can call me either Ali or Marzuki. Most of my school friends call me Ali because I have always introduced myself as Ali. I know that people will remember it better. This is the first time I’ve introduced myself as Ali Marzuki to my school friends.

Marzuki is the name I’m more used to as that’s the name my family calls me by. U can try calling my home now and ask for Ali. Should my grandma picks it up, she would tell u that there’s no one by the name of Ali living in the house. And that’s provided u asked her in Malay – or Javanese.

And no it’s not Japanese, it’s Javanese… with a V. I have been told once in a while that Marzuki sounds cool coz it sounds Japanese. Suzuki, Kawasaki, Ayumi Hamasaki, Ali Marzuki … U get I mean. Though it may be cool to be jap, I’m not. I’m Malay - born and raised in Singapore.

According to my mum, there was a doctor in the hospital where I was to be delivered. He goes by the name of Dr Marzuki and it’s obvious to me that my mum wanted me to become a doctor. However, I never liked my chemistry nor am I really into dissecting frogs nor rabbits -- so Biology is definitely a no no for me. Still, I did make it into university and I know I have already made my mum pretty happy.

As you can tell, I’m pretty close to my mum. I’m the first of 4 children and that’s probably the reason why. She really had a huge influence on me and I actually feel like a carbon copy of her.

She hates butter and milk , cheese and mayo and so do I. Of course I did try them before and I definitely do not like them one bit.

I remember her not liking to watch shows like star trek or star wars because she doesn’t like the idea of people dressing up as some ugly and deformed aliens or scary hairy monsters. And I guess I kind of followed in her foot steps. However, I must clarify that it is not the reason why im dressed like this tonight. You guys should know that I’m actually dressed as a werewolf. It’s just that there not going to be a full moon tonight.

My mother also doesn’t like the idea of spending money on unnecessary items like going to the movies, buying toys and stuffs like that. Just a secret between you and me, though I’ve told her I’m in toastmasters, I’ve never mentioned having to pay a small fee for it.

She’s really into the idea of saving for a rainy day but I’m glad that she is, for the rainy day had came.

It was two years ago, Father’s day. Rain wasn’t falling that Sunday morning but tears were. My dad left this world for another. I was only a few months into my National Service. I was at a lost. I did not know what to expect. Nor did I know what I should do.

All I know I had to start thinking and acting more like an adult, less like a kid. I was still 18 and I was far from ready to be a father. I even remember feeling unhappy that I had to put on hold my plans of getting braces for my teeth and getting a driving license but I just knew I had to. For I had no choice. I also knew I’ve got to make lots of sacrifices from then on.

I almost signed on as a specialist in the Army. At that time, it seemed like the best solution to my problems. I almost wanted to forget about going to the Uni as I was afraid it would be a burden on my family financially.

But despite all these irrational thoughts, I managed to convince myself that with a better education, I could better support my family. I knew I had to think long term. And that’s the reason why I’m standing here today.

Fellow friends,

My life has always been revolving two things -- family and school. I am very much aware that this translates to no life at all. I’ve given it much thought and had found a solution. Toastmasters –- a club where I’ll learn new things and make new friends.

Thank you for your time. I hope I’ve given u a glimpse of the person I am. And I wish you all the best for the coming exams.

Thank you.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Mandatory seat belt laws

A recent paper in the May 2008 edition of the Journal of Health Economics by Carpentera and Stehr finds that mandatory seat belt laws save lives.

“…we find consistent evidence that state mandatory seatbelt laws – particularly those permitting primary enforcement – significantly increased seatbelt use among high school age youths by 45–80%, primarily at the extensive margin. Unlike previous research for adults, however, we find evidence against the selective recruitment hypothesis: seatbelt laws had consistently larger effects on those most likely to be involved in traffic accidents (drinkers, alcohol-involved drivers). We also find that mandatory seatbelt laws significantly reduced traffic fatalities and serious injuries resulting from fatal crashes by 8 and 9%, respectively. Our results suggest that if all states had primary enforcement seatbelt laws then regular youth seatbelt use would be nearly universal and youth fatalities would fall by about 120 per year.”

So should we implement mandatory seat belt laws? From the evidence in their paper, Carpentera and Stehr believe so. However, is this issue truly so clear cut?

One question is whether or not mandatory seat belt laws really caused increased seat belt use. Did the seat belt laws cause increased seat belt use or did increased seat belt use lead to the increased popularity and passage of a law?

This paper is important in that it quantifies the benefits of the mandatory seat belt laws, but does not quantify the costs. What is the cost of enforcement in terms of 1) time law enforcement must dedicate to seat belt policing instead of “real” police work? and 2) the cost to the justice system and work absences due to the adjudication or appeals process for seat belt violation, and 3) the violation of a person’s individual freedom to choose to not wear a seatbelt. In this case, there is no externality to not wearing a seat belt; the person harmed from not wearing a seat belt is that person themselves. A libertarian would be strictly against a mandatory seat belt law. Nevertheless, a compelling argument can be made that minors do not use an optimal decision-making process when deciding whether or not to wear a seat belt.

Do I support a mandatory seat belt law? No.

I believe that parents should help to convince their child to use seat belts and that it is possible that schools should educate children on the benefits of using a seat belt. However, using police resources to fine individuals who do not wear seat belts seems to be a waste of resources. If mandatory seat belt laws are not enforced, then this would free up police resources, but also would weaken the impact of mandatory seat belt laws.

Seat belt save lives. But I think parents and schools–not the government–are the best institutions to spread this message.

* Christopher S. Carpentera and Mark Stehr (2008) “The effects of mandatory seatbelt laws on seatbelt use, motor vehicle fatalities, and crash-related injuries among youths“, Journal of Health Economics, Volume 27, Issue 3, Pages 642-662.

Monday, October 13, 2008

First persuasive speech...

6 years ago, a local actress by the name of AndREa started taking a diet pill named Slim 10, ALL BECAUSE her weight increased slightly above 48kilos. Two months later, she was near death, unconscious in a local hospital. Doctors suspected that an ingredient in the slimming pill had ravaged her liver, which had all but shut down.
6 years ago, a friend of mine by the name of Ally also wanted to lose weight in order to get out of the TAF club- a club where all overweight students have to be in until they get their weight down to a healthy level. Ally was THIS close to buying Slim 10 after seeing so many ads about it in the papers and on TV. Lucky for him, unlike Andrea, Ally didn’t and is well and alive.
It is generally assumed that being thin is being beautiful and being slim is being healthy. And MANY have this misconception that one of the “quickest” and “easiest” way to lose weight is by taking slimming pills. I would like to alert all of you TO SAY NO TO SLIMMING PILLS. I say again, SAY NO TO SLIMMING PILLS. Keep this in mind. If you know of anyone who consumes slimming pills, tell them to SAY NO.
Tell them they are doing MORE HARM than good to their health.
People should avoid slimming pills due to extreme health risk and adverse side effects.
i. Cause diabetes
ii. high blood pressure,
iii. heart attack,
iv. heart failure,
v. stroke
vi. anxiety
vii. nervousness,
viii. insomnia
ix. hyperactivity,
x. digestive problems like vomiting, diarrhea, constipation
xi. fever,
xii. headaches,
xiii. dizziness,
xiv. hair loss,
If you cannot remember all these side effects, Just remember TO SAY NO TO SLIMMING pills because you don’t want to lose your hair!

Exercise, eat healthy – eat more fruits, more vegetables, less fast food, less fatty food, less soft drink. There are so MANY other SAFER and MORE effective ways to lose weight. Just say NO to slimming pills.
Thank you.

Ive got only 3 minutes and this one falls just above 2 and a half. 3 mins speech took me more than 3 hours to prepare -- the thinking, the planning, the writing, the editting, the re-editting and u get a first draft. And then there's rehearsal and more editting......

I wonder who prepares the PM's speech each National day rally.....

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Wisdom might not be a wise thing to wish for...

I had asked for wisdom when i turned 21 but i never thought it would come in the form of a tooth. Boy it sure does hurt. Finally explains why my head's been feeling some pain this past few days.

Yes ive been doing school work but im definitely sure it wasnt the cause of it. Heard that plucking it out would cause severe pain and headaches and swelling and even complications if the dentist isnt skilled. So now would definitely not be the right time to do remove it. There's oral presentation in 2 weeks and i sure cant afford to screw that up. But not removing it will affect the way i talk too.

And looking at forums on the extraction of wisdom tooth, prices seem to range from $500-700 per tooth. And that's a little bit crazy. Should've removed mine while i was still in the army but that's long gone.

Well i hope I'll be able to sleep away the pain.... till the exams are over.

The timing is just so so wrong.... ouch!

Panic studying..

The final stretch of first semester and i'm preparing for the sprint. Only now i realize that it's good to have the right people around you who inspire and motivate to work harder. There are those who will occasionally ask little things like how you are coping and encourage you to work hard. And there are also those who need not say anything as their very presence and actions say it all.

There's simply this tendency to wait for everyone to start panicking before one really go full steam ahead. One simple has got to realise that there's really no point waiting. It all depends on one's engine -- if it's not as powerful as the ones made in China or India, one simply gotta start the sprint earlier.

And the library is indeed a conducive place to study. That's the place where one will find the motivation to study. And yes, it's also a good place to socialize and meet people. Someone caught my eye too! Hoping that our path will somehow cross..... haha...

Anyways, I also realise that Ive got to always remember my responsibility to those around me. To not be selfish when it comes to sharing what I know. That's the only point i remember from the khutbah yesterday. Everything really comes from Him. My ability to grasp computing concepts with ease really isnt my doing. And i fear that should i hide my knowledge from others, I might lose it all some day.

Also, the next most enjoyable part about school, after studying, is making new friends as the days go by!! Starting to see why some of those i know are ever so wiling to trade places with me. Think about it and start enjoying the 4 years.