Sunday, November 30, 2008

Simple Joy

I have never bought toys for my two children, in their presence.

At their ages - now at six and eight respectively - for some yet-to-be-explained reasons, I would rather not put them in a situation where their mind would swing to and fro in deciding which toy to get, if we decided to buy one for them. And it would certainly break my heart if I saw them get disappointed over the toys they had chosen, regretted their decision and feel unhappy about it.

At this stage, I want them to learn to be happy and contented with what they get and make the most out of it. Although we do have a reward system where they can earn points to get what they want by doing various assignment.

Our excursion at the toys department during shopping trip is when I collect hints and tips on their objects of desire. The children’s sparkling eyes on the toys, their blossoming smiles when they are holding them, their unwillingness to let go and leave, and the departing over-the-shoulder-longing looks, all help me to identify my targets. And, of course, the prices play a major part. Though I would not expose my intention to purchase to them.

When the time is right for me to give the reward, I’ll buy the toys, spring the surprises, sit back and enjoy the moments.

Their looks of surprises, the broad smiles that follow, and the occasional I-can’t-believe-it screaming and non-stop-jumping, out of the unexpected rewards are parts of what make me very happy as a parent.

One such recent occasion was when I felt satisfied with their performances during their last exam. I bought the items of their desires, and put them in their drawers for them to discover when they changed into their nightgowns. Oh, the happiness that they felt then; the happiness that I felt then; and the happiness that saturated the room then; blissful.

The same effect would never be achieved if I had told them that I decided to get them toys as rewards for their performances, then brought them to the toy store, asked them to choose, paid for the toys, and let them bring the toys home. Never indeed.

In a way, that’s how I make the most with what I’ve got. 1 + 1 doesn’t always equal 2.

These joyous moments are there to be cherished. Because, at their ages, inexpensive toys or items will do the trick. As their ages grow, the sophistication of the toys, and the accompanying price tags, will get higher. To extract the same degree of surprises and happiness from them will dig a deeper hole in my wallet, and thus, will come further in between.

Of course, kids being kids, the happiness brought by the newly acquired toys, and the ensuing excitement that make them lose sleeps at night will last no more than two days, if you're lucky.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hi There!

My Dear Friend,

It has been a long, long time. So long that if I had not chanced upon you, you might continue to wander in the wilderness of my past, and never come to the fore again.

Seeing you again was a pleasant surprise.

Holding you again had stirred up some long lost emotion that had sunk deep within me. Though the length of time that had elapsed since I last held you had made their colours faint at first, they slowly started to fill my heart again, much like the emerging sunlight at daybreak.

Listening to you in different voices, different tones, different expression and different style of gesturing, telling me different stories once more had brought back such endearing emotion. The heart-felt warmth that lingered after listening to you then, I felt it again.

We had been through so much together. Although I’ve known you since childhood, your presence in my life was especially significant when I was away from home for my education. Living in a foreign surroundings, loneliness and emptiness were never far away, and helplessness was always lurking. You, by my side, had brought comfort, joy and hope to fill those voids. At times, I really needed that to go on.

How I longed for those comforting feelings then, and how they came back to me again.

I can’t remember exactly how and when, that we’d gone our separate ways. In fact, I was never fully aware about your absence, until we met again. I think we started to drift apart when my life took a progressive step into work places out from the classrooms. And the state of technology then had lured me, like many others, to turn to your successors, for their speed and convenience. But what was traded for speed and convenience, was something no others can replace.

The raw expression, the unfurnished emotion, the natural tone, the unedited thoughts, the sincerity and effort in earnest, the personal touches, the physical connection and all that made you unique, endearing and to be cherished were never felt with convenience, uniformity, virtuality and facelessness.

I do miss you.

Perhaps I’ll never see you again. Unlike those days, all who matters to me now are right by my side. But I hope my children, if they were ever away from me in the future, will be acquainted with you, somehow, and choose you to convey their feelings and thoughts to me. I hope they’ll write, instead of type, or give me an “address” and ask me, along with many others, to read their thoughts and feelings.

It’s nice to have met you again. And I hope I’ll see you again in the future. Do take care.

Yours sincerely,

Someone whom you brought much joy and happiness to.

* I dug out a stack of old letters received during my overseas tertiary education while my wife was going through some old stuff.

Do you still write a mail starting with "My Dear Friend,", with pen and paper? And take the effort to buy a stamp, stick it onto an envelope, seal it and post it?


Friday, November 21, 2008

Oh ... My ... God!

My world almost came to an end the other day – my laptop failed to wake up from its slumber when I gave it a nudge, after nudges, after nudges - I had no internet access!

For a while, “Arghh …. !” was all that came out of my mouth, and I almost went bald from pulling my hair in frustration.

When I came to my senses, I realized that all was not lost. I had two desktop personal computers from the dinosaur age (though my laptop is not much younger than those) sitting in my kids’ study room.

After I made sure that they were “real” computers, which have internet access capability, I had to make a choice as to which one I should “reclaim” while my laptop’s waiting for resurrection.

It didn’t take more than a split second for me to know how to select the fastest machine to save my day.

Following is what this post is all about, and what made my jaw hanging in some sort of disbelief after I realized what I’d done:

I switched on the computers (obviously), double-clicked on the icon with a phone connected to a computer, put in my username and password, pressed “enter”, and double-clicked on the globe-embracing fox. There and then, my world was saved.

Then I logged into my Entrecard account, opened my Inbox, clicked on six cards dropped onto me, and see how long it took for me to drop six cards on each computer.

Entrecard dropping – that’s my main criteria to determine the speed of a computer!

Oh … My … God!

Internet is still the place where I read news, gossips, analysis, gather information, read and write blogs. But it seems that Entrecard’s “responsibility” had over-taken all these to be the main reason for my existence within the cyberspace.

Oh ... My ... God!

On top of what I think Entrecard is in my recent post, I can now add another identity to it – a computer speed tester!

In the event that I need to get a new laptop, I wonder how I would select a perfect laptop? How indeed …


Monday, November 17, 2008

I Like to Move It, Move It - Madagascar 2

It’s a world where lions and hippos get to walk upright on their hind legs, and, perhaps unfairly, giraffes and zebras still have no hands for gesturing; a lion can dance as gracefully as a ballerina, perhaps even better; a giraffe can fall in love with a hippo; a zebra can crack jokes like a black man; and all animals speak the same language, ours.

It’s an entertaining world if your imagination is able to run loose, more so if you watch it with your kids, and an easily entertained crowd.

Madagascar 2:

(Warning: following contains spoilers (even though the movie doesn’t need one) and loads of craps.)

Four urban animals (a lion, a zebra, a hippo and a giraffe) that were stranded in an island a long, long time ago (like in its prequel), finally got to go home in an airplane that was piloted by none other than the birds that can’t fly, penguins.

Right at a few thousand feet above Africa, the fuel of the airplane ran dry and they bungee-jumped and crash-landed into no other place than the birthplace of our main character, the lion. There he was happily reunited with his long lost parents and his clan, who all had great looking hair that Elvis would be proud of. The zebra found his brothers who all had the same number of black and white stripes, same pattern, same hair, same height, same legs, same tone of voice, same humour, same … same everything. The hippo found her clan where being big and very big were beautiful. And the giraffe found his mates who, to his horror, didn’t have a doctor amongst them.

With their new found family, a scenic water place as their home and the protection of the place being a reserve, all was well and rosy, until they need some twists and turns to stretch it to a 90 minutes affair.

The lion was conned and banished from the clan, along with his mother and father, who happened to be the alpha lion. The zebra found out he’s not unique, and all of a sudden had an identity crisis. The giraffe found a brown spot (amongst many others) behind his neck and thought he had only a few more days to live. The hippo … well, she’s happy, gotten to date a six-abs hunk with cute butts.

But all’s not lost (except for our times). God, or in this case, the movie makers, always had something uplifting spiritually saved for the last for those with bravery and perseverance, to stay until the end of the movie.

The waterhole at the reserve was running dry. And nobody had, or should have, a clue regarding what to do, except for our heroes.

The lion saw a chance to redeem himself and his parents, and boldly took up the challenge. After convincing his zebra friend that uniqueness was all in the mind and not in the eyes (he’s white stripes with black, as opposed to the black stripes with white of the other zebras), they ventured into the wilderness to remove the block in nature’s water piping.

As sure as the ozone layer was getting bigger and bigger day by day, they found out the source of the problem and its perpetrators - us human, who does not spare thoughts for other inhabitants on the earth, and claims ownership on everything that is on it.

At the end, with some smooth dancing moves, a father and son collaboration, a wing-flapping airplane, some great stunts from a giraffe and a hippo, a few penguins and loads of monkeys, they saved the day, and their waterhole, and a fish who was able to hold his breath on dry land longer, way, way longer, than I can hold mine in the water.

Our heroes returned as heroes to the reserve and decided that the reserve would be their home and lived happily ever after. And the penguin leader wed his beloved wooden bobblehead doll.

And if you find yourself leaving the cinema twisting your butt while humming “I like to move it, move it …”, you’re probably enjoying a bit too much of the movie. If you leave doubting the logic in a shark’s ability to hop from the sea to the beach, through the forest, up the mountain, and into a volcano; or the technically able mind of the penguins, or their organizing skills, or their shrewdness on the negotiation table; or how a zebra could switch on an iPod with his hooves, you’re probably not loosening enough the rein on your imagination to enjoy the movie.

I never had any control over my imagination, and my kids liked it, so I found it to be an enjoyable experience.

I like to Move It, Move It ...


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Perhaps ...

“Shut up! And sit still!” I shouted at the bickering kids sitting at the back.

I just couldn’t understand why my six-year-old boy likes to annoy his elder sister to no end. He’ll stop when you ask him to. But he did so only to figure out some other way to do it again, right before the echo of your request has died down.

“Ok, we’re not getting your ice cream,” I said.

“No fair!” he protested.

“I’ve already told you. One more time, and we’re not getting yours,” I said.

We’d promised to get the kids’ desserts on the way to the supermarket that night, each with his/her own favourite flavour.

I don’t usually use threats as parenting tools. Because when I do, I would have to make sure my words do not lose their weight by carrying them out. Those words usually build up to what I would not do for the kids, rather than what I would do to them. That’s why I only use it on minor things like not getting them candy, not going to the playground, no TV, and in this case, not getting my little boy his dessert. At their ages, denying them these minor things is as catastrophic as taking away iPods or handphone from teenagers, or cutting off internet access to us.

While doing our round in the supermarket, my little boy was surprisingly subdued, none of his non-stop whining about the unfairness like I expected. But he did put on a wooden face and protective arms across his chest to guard against the world (that would be us, the parents) that he felt was against him, whenever the world cast an eye on him.

Yet, he didn’t make a sound when we put his sister’s ice cream into the cart. And he did chat with his sister on other subjects, without making a fuss about the unfairness, along the way.

His quietness and willingness to accept his punishment without grumbling about it was starting to make my heart mellow. Perhaps my point had driven across. However, I quickly and painfully halt the mellowing process to make sure I wasn’t going to get what he wanted, that night.

I had decided to get it for him on my way home from work the day after.

After we came out from the supermarket, at the car park, as he and his mom and sister got into the car, I stopped him. I told my wife and little girl to wait in the car, and walked towards the supermarket with him.

“For this time, I’ll get your ice cream. But remember what I said about teasing your sister, Ok?” I said.

“Ok, “ he nodded happily, smiling broadly. I believed him, like I believe pigs would fly.

I held his hand walking back towards the supermarket. I was smiling too, my heart totally softened, the wall around it crumbled under his once-again glowing innocent face.

Perhaps, I had spoilt him for turning back on my words; perhaps, by turning back on my words, my words would have less authority the next time round; perhaps, by having less authoritative words, I would have a harder time in parenting; perhaps, I had made a wrong decision.

But my thought at that moment was this: perhaps the unpredictability of life would see that I wouldn’t wake up, for good, the next morning, and then not getting his ice cream would be the last deed he remembered me by for the rest of his life. At my little boy’s tender age, I decided not to take the risk.

That night, I was sure he went to sleep feeling happy, as a child would be, knowing his favourite dessert would be in the fridge waiting for him after dinner the day after.

I wasn’t sure I did the right thing that night, but I didn’t regret doing it then.

But when I opened my eyes the morning after, I was awoken wondering whether I did over-indulge him the night before, or maybe I over-indulged my heart.

Of course, my little girl was crying when I reached home after work the day after, complaining about her annoying little brother. And pigs still have not taken off.


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Change. Good Luck!

George, John, Thomas, James, Andrew, Martin, William, Zachary, Millard, Franklin, Abraham, Ulysses, Rutherford, Chester, Grover, Benjamin, Theodore, Woodrow, Warren, Calvin, Herbert, Harry, Dwight, Lyndon, Richard, Gerald, Jimmy, Ronald, Bill, Barrack.

Pick the odd one out.

Easy, isn’t it.

Just when you thought you had enough of the political posts about the 2008 US Presidential Election, BOOM, four days after the election, here’s another one.

Don’t worry, there’ll be no euphoria or despair that had inundated the blogosphere after the November 4th US presidential election here in this post. After all, this blog pledges its allegiance to the flag of Star and Stripes, and the Moon.

So, whatever happened at the other side of the world is probably none of my business.

But the optimism that exploded from there had actually ballooned hopes and set tongues wagging here about a non-Malay prime minister. I’m skeptical, and doubt I’ll see it in my life’s time. It’s probably a waste of time and space to even write this here, but, hey, it helps to put some meat into this post. So, what the heck.

Barack Obama as the 44th US President. What does it mean to me?

Nothing. Except it’s material for me to put out another post in my blog:-

Try turning the above list into this:-

White. White. White. White. White. White. White. White. White. White. White. White. White. White. White. White. White. White. White. White. White. White. White. White. White. White. White. White. White. White. White. White. White. White. White. White. White. White. White. White. White. White. White. Black.

Does the break in the chain signify racism is on its way out of the land of opportunity? As many have claimed and hoped?

Well, if you see the list as above-written, then it’s probably not. But if you read the list represented by these two words – Capable and Incapable – then probably you all are on the way.

And after that chain had been broken, the next chain to be broken hopefully will be this:

Male. Male. Male. Male. Male. Male. Male. Male. Male. Male. Male. Male. Male. Male. Male. Male. Male. Male … Female.

(If you can transform Morgan Freeman to Barack Obama; you’d probably be able to do the same with Geena Davis)

Or this:

Christian. Christian. Christian. Christian. Christian. Christian. Christian. Christian. Christian. Christian … Buddhist? Hindus? Scientologist? Muslim??? Hey, it’s a free country, ain’t it? Anything can happen?

But, that’s probably none of my business.

But is this Obama fella going to be what he said – Change? And what kind of Change is he about? Is it for the better or worse? Is he the one that will overcome the current economic crisis, the two wars, the nuclear standoff, deteriorating global environment? Is he better than Dubya (but for the blogosphere, I would have never known or guessed who that is)? Is he going to be a capable president?

Not sure. He doesn’t have a single deed as the President of the US of A as testimony.

So far, what is a fact is that he’s the winner of the 2008 Presidential Election. The rest are hopes, promises, prediction, projection, etc. Whether he’ll be a good or capable president remain to be seen, unless you have a crystal ball looking into four, or eight years (did I hear OMG?), ahead.

So, Obama probably didn’t win the election based on his untested capability as a president. But, then again, the same would apply to the white hair guy, if he had won.

But that’s probably none of my business.

Apart from a more effective campaign, a stronger charisma, I think there were few more factors that gave Barack (may I call you Barack?) the winning ticket – Black Gold, Green Back, and the Red and Blue Veeps.

Price of petrol had a hand in changing government everywhere in the world, before the financial crisis took over as the meddling hands. Few governments were spared from the economic wrath; and most had probably deflected the ball thrown onto them the wrong way. All these added up to hardship to the livelihood of citizens all over the world. Hardship turned into complains; complains turned into frustration; frustration turned into dissatisfaction; dissatisfaction turned into votes; and votes turned into change. We nearly saw it happen here in Boleh-land in 308 election, it did happen in the US of A, and as recent as one day ago, in New Zealand.

Barack Obama is black; white supremacy is still well and alive; juxtapose these two facts with the history of assassination on US presidents, and it’s not hard to imagine the tough times the presidential security agents are going to have. While Obama is facing the odds of having an assassin to prematurely end his term; on the other side, 72-years-old McCain would have faced a probable assassin of a different kind with his age, the kind that wears a black-hooded gown and holds a scythe, if he’d won. In view of the higher probability than past candidates that these two candidates had in having their terms ended prematurely if they won, the veeps came into prominence. So Mr Biden had probably opened the gate of White House for Mr Obama; or perhaps Mrs Palin had thrown the key away for Mr McCain.

But that’s none of my business too.

All of the above could very well have been analysed to death in other blogs even way before the election. But, hey, I haven’t. And this is after all my blog.

So, that’s my 2 cents worth. That’s about 0.57 cents for those of you who are going to have a new president comes 20th January of 2009. Depending on his actions in the future, my 2 cents could be 0.80 or 0.20 cents over there … hey, come to think of it, it IS part of my business!

Anyway, to all my American and Non-American friends, Good Luck! And let’s hope this Change will bring a better tomorrow for all of us. After all what’s happened, happened. And all we have now is hope. That’s what every new leadership brings.

P.s. Ya know, for something that’s not entirely my business, this happened to be my longest post to-date. Phew …


Monday, November 3, 2008

A Cup of Coffee?

“What ya doing?”

I was startled by the pat on my shoulder, and almost spat out the coffee in my mouth.

I turned away from the screen in front of me, and saw a face which startled me even more,

“Hey, man. Rough night?" I asked.

"Yeah. What ya doing?"

"Not much, just bending my credit cards every possible way through this

and doing some research to get my personal loans to be

Time’s tough, gotta be ready,” I replied, turning my eyes back to the screen.


” my friend asked.

“Huh? Eight of what?”, I was puzzled.

“If you need successes, of any sorts, just

don’t go

without any clear direction and a guide in mind. I have some very useful sources where you can draw much advices from. Of course, you have to

to get the maximum benefits out of them though, ” he clarified.

“Yeah, that’s what I’ve been doing with all the other people’s around here,

All with very good

” I said.

After much navigation around the cyberspace, I finally got some ideas on what I needed to do with the foreseeable tough time ahead.

I turned to my watch and realized it’s late. I took a final sip from my cup and walked out of the café. I put my walkman on (Yes, I’m stone-aged), and switched to the number one hit of the month,

I turned back and waved a hearty thanks to the patrons who had shared some great cups of EC session.

October had gone past so quickly, I sighed as I walked towards my next hang out place, November EC Café.

Will I see you there?

(September Train)
(August Note)


Sunday, November 2, 2008

In My Eyes

Graceful, was their movement. Turning their heads, waving their hands, swaying their hips, and floating across the stage were all synchronized seamlessly to accentuate the swinging rhythm of the music echoing around the hall.

Twelve pairs of angelic children, wearing the sweetest smile, were dancing on stage to a catchy tune and to the happiness seemingly glowing on their faces; dancing to the delight of parents watching in the audience.

Their glamorous costumes added vivid colors to the already lively decorated backdrop on stage.

It was the graduation night of my 6-years-old son’s kindergarten.

I was sure about that.

But, I was actually not too sure what the stage looked like, or if it was decorated at all.

I was also not too sure how the other children were dancing on the stage, or if they were just moving their bodies dutifully to the music.

Neither was I sure about the number of children on stage, or the colors of their costumes, or whether they were wearing any costumes at all.

I was also not too sure whether they were smiling, frowning, or even grimacing on the stage.

But I was sure my son was on stage dancing with his classmates in their class presentation.

I was also sure my son was dancing as gracefully as a swan taking a morning sunshine bath on a mirror-surfaced lake.

I was sure he was enjoying himself tremendously.

Despite the distance between us, I was sure I sensed his joy and happiness from being part of the presentation.

Of course, I was also sure other parents did not notice how talented my son was. Perhaps they were even wondering why a rigidly moving boy was dancing with their children.

Happy, was the way my little boy felt that night; and thus, the way I felt.



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