Saturday, May 30, 2009

3 little words

I like the Plain White Tees' new song.
"1 thing, 2 say, 3 words, 4 what I'll do....I love you".
Very catchy. Will get the CD.
After work today, will have lunch with Daddy before he flies off to US for a holiday. They're off to see Niagara Falls. Hope they have a great holiday.
Ethan and Ewan doesn't get to see their grandfather so often cos' he still lives in Taiping. One day, I hope that I can send Ethan back to Taiping to school there and spend a few years of his life in a small town.
I know my character was shaped from growing in a small town, and it's a good thing to live there. Big cities have too many "bad" elements which tempt the young.

I'd like to remember this quote today from a great singer/songwriter.

Some people never say the words 'I love you'.
It's not their style to be so bold.
Some people never say those words: 'I love you'.
But, like a child, they're longing to be told.
- Paul Simon

Love you, Daddy.

Love conquers all.....except self

I have acted as counsellor for a great many couples. This is of course a few years back when I was still within the "dating" age.
There was something very noticeable about the fights and the reasons for the fights.
It was almost always about why he or she "didn't change" or why they did.
If it was so easy to predict what changes were coming, then this world would be a more peaceful place.
Many relationships fail because one party tries to overpower another,or demands too much. People in love tend to think that love will conquer all and their spouses will change the bad habits after marriage. Actually, this is not the case.
There is a Chinese saying which carries the meaning that "It is easier to reshape a mountain or a river than a person's character."
It is not easy to change. Thus, having high expectation on changing the spouse character will cause disappointment and unpleasantness.
It would be less painful to change ourselves and lower our expectations. .

Friday, May 29, 2009

29 May 2009, Story for the day

Thought that the previous post was insufficient for the day. Here's a story for you.

Once a traveller was on his journey when he stopped by an old beggar sitting by the roadside and asked, "How far is it to the next town?"
The beggar remained quiet without a reply.
The traveller asked again and again but the beggar refused to answer and remained sitting as he was, quite silent.
Finally, the traveller gave up on the old beggar and decided to go on his way.
Taking a few steps, the beggar shouted out to him, "It will take you a half day to get to the next town!"
Angry, the traveller returned and confronted the beggar saying, "If you knew how far, why didn't you answer me when I first asked you?"
The beggar answered: "How could I know until I could see the stride of your steps?"
- by Yamashita Sensei

The moral of the story is, how can you expect anyone to tell you what to do when they cannot even see what you CAN do?
One of my guiding principles in life is to always put yourself in the other person's shoes. See what they're thinking. What is their motive behind their words and actions? Why?
Then you will be able to judge for yourself, the situation and what action you should take.

29 May 2009, Thought for the day

If you understand the quote below, then I challenge you to live it.

"Some luck lies in not getting what you thought you wanted but getting what you have, which once you got it you may be smart enough to see is what you would have wanted had you known."
-- Garrison Keillor

The above has been a favourite quote of mine for a long long time. When I found it floating online again, I felt it has to be shared because many people do not realise what they have but instead clamour foolishly for more.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thank God for selfless teachers

I was born on Teacher's Day, which is pure coincidence as both my parents were teachers. I suppose I was a present for them then.
I want to give credit to all the great teachers I have had in King Edward VII (Primary and Secondary), my MACPA lecturers as well as the lecturers in Maastricht School of Management.
This story is for you all.
(Uncle Bernard Khoo aka Zorro, weren't you a teacher too?)

Thank God For Teachers

The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life.
One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued, "What's a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?"
To stress his point he said to another guest; "You're a teacher, Bonnie. Be honest. What do you make?"
Bonnie, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied, "You want to know what I make?
(She paused for a second, then began...)
"Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
I make an A student feel like winning the Thomas Cup.
I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time when their parents can't make them sit for 5 without an I Pod, Nintendo DS or DVD movie. You want to know what I make?"
(She paused again and looked at each and every person at the table.)
I make kids wonder.
I make them question.
I make them apologize and mean it.
I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions.
I teach them to write and then I make them write.
Keyboarding isn't everything.
I make them read, read, read.
I make them show all their work in math. They use their God given brain, not the man-made calculator.
I make my students from other countries learn everything they need to know about English while preserving their unique cultural identity.
I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe.
I make my students stand, placing their hand over their heart to say the Rukun Negara to the Malaysian Flag, because we live in this great country called Malaysia.
Finally, I make them understand that if they use the gifts they were given, work hard, and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life.
(Bonnie paused one last time and then continued.)
"Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, with me knowing money isn't everything, I can hold my head up high and pay no attention because they are ignorant.... You want to know what I make?
What do you make Mr. CEO?"
His jaw dropped, he went silent.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

How to be a good quitter

Last Saturday was my 35th birthday.
It was the beginning and end of some things in my life.
I usually give myself some reflection time on my birthdays.
Mostly, it's a post mortem of what I've done over the past 365 days.
Who I've helped, how I've improved etc.
I didn't get the time to do it because I worked half day. (Why take leave when it's only half day?)
Then went off for golf in the afternoon.
Harry, Dunstan etc threw me a dinner, then we adjourned to my place for a few rounds of 5-card stud poker. Which was good since they helped to finish the 2 cartons of beer that's been lying beside my fridge since Chinese New Year.
I've given up golf on weekends, unless it's a tournament thingy or function.
I've quit smoking. Which was something I did for 15 years. (Sorry, Daddy, I had to hide this habit from you because I know how much you detest smokers)
The first is because Elaine has asked me to stay home to take care of the boys.
The 2nd initiative is on my own. I've decided I really don't want to smoke anymore.
It's not helping my health nor my wallet.
I was astounded when my insurance agent told me that the loading premium for smoking is an additional 50% of my insurance policy. Imagine that!
What have I begun?
I have started to see the light. I never thought my mind could be that clear, but it now feels like every single thought of mine has a piercing clarity.
I know what I'm doing.
I know where I'm heading.
Life / God may throw some obstacles my way, but how I overcome them eventually will be the stories that make life interesting.
A toast to myself then, and to all friends and family.
I'll leave today with a quote from one of my favourite movies, "Hitch".

Never lie, steal, cheat, or drink.
But if you must lie, lie in the arms of the one you love.
If you must steal, steal away from bad company.
If you must cheat, cheat death.
And if you must drink, drink in the moments that take your breath away.
- Alex Hitchens (Will Smith)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Perfectly imperfect

This thought has been lingering at the back of my mind for a few days now.
Everyone strives towards perfection, although it is a never ending quest. It's not futile because for every bit of improvement you make towards that goal, it's a worthwhile journey by itself.
Take for instance.
You have a 100% record for 10 tasks you undertook. You've never failed.
But out of 11 tasks, you didn't complete the 11th one, or rather it was not well done.
What's your percentage now?
It drops to 91% ! A drop of 9%!
Suppose you're perfect in the next 10. Your percentage of success goes up to 95%
But do you realise, that even if you're perfect in the next 10, 100 or even a thousand, you will never reach 100% EVER again?
That's what I call it, perfectly imperfect.
What some people should do is to accept that you'll never be perfect.
What you CAN do is KEEP TRYING.
Keep going.
Never give up.
And keep in mind, that whilst you might never even reach 99.9%, you will be in a constant flux of improvement.
And you'll be perfectly imperfect.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The stranger in our home

Everyone has this stranger in their homes.
I'm concerned that he's been distracting Ethan and Ewan in the mornings and on weekends.
Have to take the boys outdoors more often.

"The Stranger in My Home"

A few years after I was born, my Dad met a stranger who was new to our small town.
From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer and soon invited him to live with our family. The stranger was quickly accepted and was around from then on.
As I grew up, I never questioned his place in my family.
In my young mind, he had a special niche.
My parents were complementary instructors: Mom taught me good from evil, and Dad taught me to obey.
But the stranger... he was our storyteller.
He would keep us spellbound for hours on end with adventures, mysteries and comedies.
If I wanted to know anything about politics, history or science, he always knew the answers about the past, understood the present and even seemed able to predict the future!
He took my family to the first football game.
He made me laugh, and he made me cry.
The stranger never stopped talking, but Dad didn't seem to mind.
Sometimes, Mom would get up quietly while the rest of us were shushing each other to listen to what he had to say, and she would go to the kitchen for peace and quiet.
(Sometimes she would lock him up in his room to keep me away from him)
Dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions, but the stranger never felt obligated to honor them.
Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our home...
not from our friends, any visitors or us.
Our longtime visitor, however, got away with four-letter words that burned my ears and made my dad squirm and my mother blush. (but my Dad did tell me those were words that I should NEVER use)
My Dad didn't permit the liberal use of alcohol.
But the stranger encouraged us to try it on a regular basis.
He made cigarettes look cool, cigars manly and pipes distinguished.
He talked freely (much too freely) about sex.
His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing.
I now know that my early concepts about relationships were influenced strongly by the stranger. Time after time, he opposed the values of my parents, yet he was seldom rebuked... and NEVER asked to leave.
More than thirty years have passed since the stranger moved in with our family. He has blended right in and is not nearly as fascinating as he was at first.
Still, if you could walk into my parents' living room today, you would still find him sitting over in his corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures.
His name?....
We just call him by his initials, "TV."
He has a younger sister now.
We call her "Computer" or PC for short.

Life Is A Gift

Too many people taking too many things for granted.
That's one sentence to summarise what's happening to those people who forget what life is all about.
I hope gratitude is expressed at the end of each day for the things you have.
Remember, it's not about the things you don't have yet, but those that you already possess.

Today before you think of saying an unkind word
- Think of someone who can't speak.

Before you complain about the taste of your food
- Think of someone who has nothing to eat.

Before you complain about your husband or wife
- Think of someone who's crying out to God for a companion.

Today before you complain about life
- Think of someone who went too early to heaven.

Before you complain about your children
- Think of someone who desires children but they're barren.

Before you argue about your dirty house, someone didn't clean or sweep
- Think of the people who are living in the streets.

Before whining about the distance you drive
- Think of someone who walks the same distance with their feet.

And when you are tired and complain about your job
- Think of the unemployed, the disabled and those who wished they had your job.

But before you think of pointing the finger or condemning another
- Remember that not one of us are without sin and we all answer to one Maker.

And when depressing thoughts seem to get you down
- Put a smile on your face and thank God you're alive and still around.

Life is a gift.
Live it.
Enjoy it.
Celebrate it.

Religion is good, but not to be followed blindly

I've heard of Dr. Laura Schlenssinger. She's one of those Dear Abby types.
I've always advocated that one should have their own religious faith, but bearing in mind that the main religions in this world started propagating more than 2000 years ago and not all of their rules and regulations should be applied strictly.
If we follow the line of reasoning as per below's story, then it means that I "own" my Indonesian maid?

"Why Can't I Own a Canadian?"

Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a radio personality who dispenses advice to people who call in to her radio show. Recently, she said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22 and cannot be condoned under any circumstance.
The following is an open letter to Dr. Laura penned by a n East Coast resident, which was posted on the Internet.
It's funny, as well as informative:

Dear Dr. Laura:
Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can.
When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them:

When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them.
Should I smite them?

I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15:19- 24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify?
Why can't I own Canadians?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Reflections of a Mother

I read 2 posts by Masterwordsmith for Mother's Day, and it dawned on me that I had forgot to appreciate my own mother last Sunday.
It's been 23 years, but you'll always be in my heart, Mummy. I love you and I will always miss you as long as I live. I will teach your grandchildren the way you taught me about life.
This post is dedicated to Gina Yong Ing Kwong (1941 - 1986)

I gave you life, but cannot live it for you.
I can teach you things, but I cannot make you learn.
I can give you directions, but I cannot be there to lead you.
I can allow you freedom, but I cannot account for it.
I can take you to worship, but I cannot make you believe.
I can teach you right from wrong, but I cannot always decide for you.
I can buy you beautiful clothes, but I cannot make you beautiful inside.
I can offer you advice, but I cannot accept it for you.
I can give you love, but I cannot force it upon you.
I can teach you to share, but I cannot make you unselfish.
I can teach you respect, but I cannot force you to show honor.
I can advise you about friends, but cannot choose them for you.
I can advise you about sex, but I cannot keep you pure.
I can tell you the facts of life, but I can't build your reputation.
I can tell you about drink, but I can't say "no" for you.
I can warn you about drugs but I can't prevent you from using them.
I can tell you about lofty goals, but I can't achieve them for you.
I can teach you about kindness, but I can't force you to be gracious.
I can warn you about sins, but I cannot make you moral.
I can love you as a child, but I cannot place you in God's family.
I can pray for you, but I cannot make you walk with God.
I can teach you about God, but I cannot make God your Lord.
I can tell you how to live, but I cannot give you eternal life

I can love you with unconditional love all of my life.....
and I will!

I have learned...

I've learned...That the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.
I've learned...That when you're in love, it shows.
I've learned...That just one person saying to me, 'You've made my day!' makes my day.
I've learned...That having a child fall asleep in your arms is one of the most peaceful feelings in the world.
I've learned...That being kind is more important than being right.
I've learned...That you should never say no to a gift from a child.
I've learned...That I can always pray for someone when I don't have the strength to help him in some other way.
I've learned...That no matter how serious your life requires you to be, everyone needs a friend to act goofy with.
I've learned...That sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.
I've learned...That simple walks with my father around the block on summer nights when I was a child did wonders for me as an adult.
I've learned...That life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.
I've learned...That we should be glad God doesn't give us everything we ask for.
I've learned...That money doesn't buy class.
I've learned...That it's those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.
I've learned...That under everyone's hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and loved.
I've learned...That to ignore the facts does not change the facts.
I 've learned...That when you plan to get even with someone, you are only letting that person continue to hurt you.
I've learned...That love, not time, heals all wounds.
I've learned...That the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people smarter than I am.
I've learned...That everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile.
I've learned...That no one is perfect until you fall in love with them.
I've learned...That life is tough, but I'm tougher.
I've learned...That opportunities are never lost; someone will take the ones you miss.
I've learned...That when you harbor bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere.
I've learned...That I wish I could have told my Mom that I love her one more time before she passed away.
I've learned...That one should keep his words both soft and tender, because tomorrow he may have to eat them.
I've learned...That a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.
I've learned...That when your newly born grandchild holds your little finger in his little fist, that you're hooked for life.
I've learned...That everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it.
I've learned...That the less time I have to work with, the more things I get done.

Monday, May 11, 2009

What do we have, if not freedom to speak?

I've always been a firm believer of freedom of speech, and also media freedom.
I've taken the below excerpt from one of Barack Obama's speeches.

Obama was speaking at the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner.
Obama also turned serious and talked of the financially struggling media industry, praising journalists for holding government officials accountable.
"A government without newspapers, a government without a tough and vibrant media of all sorts is not an option for the United States of American," he said.

Yo Hussein, you're right, and it doesn't just apply to the States, it SHOULD apply to ALL countries, including MALAYSIA.
I've started picking up the Sun from 7-11, and started boycotting Malay Mail since it had a change of staff.
One of my favourite bloggers, Malik Imtiaz Sawar, has resigned as a matter of principle.
What a show of integrity!
If only I could say the same for the rest of the mass media in this country...........

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The end of journalistic integrity in Malaysia

I used to read all the English papers available.
Then I gave up reading NST because it was so full of propaganda BS, especially after March 08.
Recently I have stopped reading The Star because it is also full of useless articles.
My only paper to read now is the Malay Mail. It is also special because it is one of 2 papers that does investigative reporting.
When I heard Ahiruddin Attan aka Rocky Bru would be appointed CEO of Malay Mail, I almost regurgitated my breakfast.
There it goes.
The end of journalistic integrity in Malaysia.
He sold out! Actually, a lot of people knew he sold out earlier, when it became quite obvious after the KT byelection.
Hmm, looks like my only alternative is to wake up early and pick up the Sun from the 7-11 before freeloaders get there.
A very sad day for mainstream media in this country.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

A Pulitzer Prize Winner's Speech... And what a speech !

Realised that it's the 6th day of May, and this is my first post for the month. 10 more days to birthday. Hmm, reflection time again.
I have an uncle who prizes the enjoyment of life above many things, other than health. I like his zest for life, his sense of curiosity and adventure (although he's quite a timid man physically) and his belief that you never stop growing spiritually in life unless you choose to.
He sent this to me, which is really appropriate content for this blog.
Uncle Hong Cheong, here's to you.

This was a speech made by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Anna Quindlen at the graduation ceremony of an American university where she was awarded an Honorary PhD.

"I'm a novelist. My work is human nature. Real life is all I know. Don't ever confuse the two, your life and your work. You will walk out of here this afternoon with only one thing that no one else has. There will be hundreds of people out there with your same degree: there will be thousands of people doing what you want to do for a living.
But you will be the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. Not just your life at a desk or your life on a bus or in a car or at the computer. Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart. Not just your bank accounts but also your soul.
People don't talk about the soul very much anymore. It's so much easier to write a resume than to craft a spirit. But a resume is cold comfort on a winter's night, or when you're sad, or broke, or lonely, or when you've received your test results and they're not so good.
Here is my resume:
I am a good mother to three children.
I have tried never to let my work stand in the way of being a good parent.
I no longer consider myself the centre of the universe.
I show up. I listen. I try to laugh.
I am a good friend to my husband. I have tried to make marriage vows mean what they say.
I am a good friend to my friends and them to me. Without them, there would be nothing to say to you today, because I would be a cardboard cut out. But I call them on the phone and I meet them for lunch. I would be rotten, at best mediocre, at my job if those other things were not true.
You cannot be really first rate at your work if your work is all you are. So here's what I wanted to tell you today: Get a life.
A real life, not a manic pursuit of the next promotion, the bigger pay cheque, the larger house. Do you think you'd care so very much about those things if you blew an aneurysm one afternoon or found a lump in your breast?
Get a life in which you notice the smell of salt water pushing itself on a breeze at the seaside, a life in which you stop and watch how a red-tailed hawk circles over the water, or the way a baby scowls with concentration when she tries to pick up a sweet with her thumb and first finger.
Get a life in which you are not alone. Find people you love, and who love you. And remember that love is not leisure, it is work. Pick up the phone. Send an email. Write a letter. Get a life in which you are generous.
And realize that life is the best thing ever, and that you have no business taking it for granted. Care so deeply about its goodness that you want to spread it around. Take money you would have spent on beer and give it to charity. Work in a soup kitchen. Be a big brother or sister. All of you want to do well. But if you do not do good too, then doing well will never be enough.
It is so easy to waste our lives, our days, our hours, and our minutes. It is so easy to take for granted the colour of our kids' eyes, the way the melody in a symphony rises and falls and disappears and rises again. It is so easy to exist instead of to live.
I learned to live many years ago.
I learned to love the journey, not the destination.
I learned that it is not a dress rehearsal, and that today is the only guarantee you get.
I learned to look at all the good in the world and try to give some of it back because I believed in it, completely and utterly.
And I tried to do that, in part, by telling others what I had learned. By telling them this: Consider the lilies of the field.
Look at the fuzz on a baby's ear.
Read in the back yard with the sun on your face.
Learn to be happy.
And think of life as a terminal illness, because if you do, you will live it with joy and passion as it ought to be lived".