As I am now serving a full-time mission with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have left this blog under the stewardship of a family member, who may post updates on how I'm doing as he/she sees fit.
Enjoy your stay!
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
It was about a month ago, to be precise. I regret that I have no photos of it to post here.
I am so sorry Hao Ran. You bought that sketchbook for me last year, and I treasured it with all my heart. So much that I vandalized the picture of the bust on the front and turned it into something like my comic strip character Han.
That sketchbook has travelled with me to many many places. To school, to Kelantan during the National Gymnastics Competition, to the drafting table I now use in Singapore. Inside it are many many wonderful drawings. Ideas to future comic strips, cartooning skills practices, in-class doodles and even mathematical equations. All gone.
I lost it at school.
Just today at band Phillip suddenly came up to me and asked me if I'm an artist.
"Oh, I dunno. I saw a piece of paper with nice drawings on it that had your name signed at the bottom."
My sketchbook! Apparently somebody had torn out a page from it to show people. Through further questioning I found out that it was found outside Mrs Janet Ong's classroom. Oh no!
I am so sorry my dear sketchbook. I should have been more careful with you. I should have checked my bag every time I left each classroom to make sure you were in there. I am afraid that I failed to do so once, and it has resulted in you being mutilated in the countless ways Barker Boys can invent.
Alas, my poor sketchbook is lost.
Thankfully, I am not left sketchbook-less. Vivian bought me a sketchbook (along with a pen which has since had its ink used up graciously) last year, and it is currently serving me well. I am sad to say to my old sketchbook that this new sketchbook has better paper quality =P
I guess I ought to take a photo of this sketchbook before I lose it. Bah.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
For the results...
I am listening to "Peace - Music of Reflection," which is a collection of musical pieces/songs related to the Gospel. Music has influenced my family in ways I cannot be grateful enough. Listening to this music suddenly makes me feel grateful for a lot of things again.
Today, I want to reflect on the friendship I've formed with some very close friends of mine from KL: Hao Ran, Chern Hui, Zi Xian and -1. We've had many interesting adventures together in the past, such as the construction of our very own "bunker", the hike up a hill that went wrong, the trip to our bunker that resulted with another friend, Waylon, getting stuck climbing up a cliff and many more.
-1 once described our friendship as a canyon of many rivers, constantly intertwining, but each forming its own path. Hao Ran once described it as the kind of friendship that doesn't require constant companionship to strenghthen. Chern Hui mentioned recently that our friendship has never been shaken by the troubles of girls.
When I think about it, I rarely come across friends like them. We don't do much together, but when we do, they are always very memorable expreiences. It's funny how we first got together and realized how much we enjoy each other's company --- the school Math team of 2004. Interesting...
It is insufficient to say that I am very thankful to have had them as my friends during my years in Tsun Jin, and even now. The little things they say often inspire me. And the help they've given me at school are endless. Hao Ran, Chern Hui, Zi Xian, or -1, if any of you ever read this, thank you for being my friends all this while.
My group was assigned to visit Sister Cheong. We gathered at the Red Hill MRT at about 4pm and walked to her place, putting my navigating skills to good use (I used a map). We got there to find a really tight, but cosy apartment. It makes me appreciate my current house a lot more because her house is smaller than mine, and she shares it with her husband, her adopted son, her daughter-in-law, and three grandchildren. Oomph.
We couldn't really talk to Sister Cheong very much because she only speaks Cantonese. Nobody from my group could speak cantonese. Me and my brothers are all lousy KL chinese who can barely form a passable cantonese sentence haha. So we communicated through her daughter-in-law Sister Lim's translations. We found out some interesting details like how she came from Guang Zhou, China, how her husband had moved around a lot before finally arriving in Singapore, her old job etc.
Sister Cheong and her husband did not talk much however. Even when I asked if they had any life's wisdom (something I appreciate very much) to share with us, they said they had nothing to say. We spent most of the time talking to Sister Lim in the end. Introducing ourselves, getting to know her and her family, and just lots of good fellowshipping.
We left at 5:30pm to head for Derek's place for dinner and swimming. Before that however, I gathered everyone for a brief "family" photo.
Monday, August 20, 2007
I can't remember everything exactly. Apart from the main important part which I will get to later, I only remember a girl I've been dreaming about a little bit too often lately. But thankfully she wasn't the focus of the dream. At least, I think she wasn't...
It was something to do with me and those little errands I do for Dad, like moving the car around the yard and stuff. So, there I was in a house I don't recall ever living in, and Dad told me to shift two of his cars for him. I grabbed the car keys and went out into the yard to get the job done. Somehow or other, as I was driving one car, the other started rolling downhill. In a burst of panic (and sheer stupidity) I stuck out my hand through the window and held on to the other car, thinking I was strong enough to hold it back. Naturally, success would defy all the laws of Physics, and even in dreams I tend to stick to them from time to time. So the car didn't stop rolling down the hill, and instead it pulled me and the other car with it. In yet another moment of panic I accidentally stepped on the accelerator instead of the brakes and rammed into the other car. Both cars continued to roll downhill, until the other car crashed into a guard house or something like that, followed by the car I was in.
At that time, it was one of the dumbest dreams I could ever remember. But looking back and thinking about it, it had a rather... uncomfortable meaning.
See, I'm generally the kind of person who has big dreams and wants to do everything possible. I've probably mentioned several of my aspirations for the future, and a lot of them cannot be achieved without sacrificing the other. For instance, last year was my first and last time I got to represent the KL team in the National Gymnastics Competition. I also created quite a bit of outstanding School Blues creations. What was the sacrifice? I ended up with only 6 School Blues strips at the end of the year and terrible grades. This year I still persist in doing all the things I love, but giving up a few, like gymnastics. I'm drawing more than I did last year, and studying a lot harder too, but I haven't sat down at the piano and practiced properly for the past few months. See what I'm getting at?
The dream told me that I cannot do to many things at once. You just can't drive too cars at once, it's crazy. When I think about it like that, I'm crazy. Perhaps it's a warning to me that if I don't tone down a bit on all the things I want to do, I'm going to suffer the consequences one way or other. I suppose it's time to revise my priorities again. Am I keeping in line with the priorities I have set for myself? I hope so.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Lance and I
Happy trails Lance. Hope you'll be able to blend in better with S2S1.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
I just read several blogs. I particularly love reading Bryan Chia's blog. If I would recommend a blog that shares little nuggets of wisdom, it would be his. I read Casey's blog and about his sudden fear of death one night, and how his mother had comforted him. I have read a blog of a friend going through a time of great trial and need, doing what I hope is the best way I can help.
I have spent time playing with my two nephews and a niece who came over today to play with Ern and Ray. I have spent time listening to Mozart's wonderful Symphony no. 40 in G minor, K. 550 and Concerto No. 17 for Piano and Orchestra in G, K.453.
I have spent time going through my old blog posts to label each and every one of them individually, reading and reading, rediscovering who I really am or was, constantly grateful that I had gone through the trouble to maintain this blog, allowing me to read through them now, putting things into perspective, realizing how much I've changed and how I can continue to change for the better.
I have spent time thinking of the letter my Seminary teacher, Sister Kate Loreto, wrote to each individual in our Graduating Year class. She believes that we were all in the same class for a reason. I have felt that too, somehow. Somehow, I just feel like we all used to know each other well, even though I never had a chance to at least grow up with them in Primary. Our contributions in class are special to our teacher, and they are special to me too. Another person's thoughts are always worth listening to, especially if we're in a class discussing Gospel Doctrine. Every now and then, someone will say something that means a lot to me.
I love my friends who, without knowing it, have inspired me in many ways. I love my nephews and niece, because they are so young and joyful that I cannot help but feel their joy. I love music, because it has brought so much joy to my family and to myself. I love the idea of writing in journals, diaries, or even blogs, because years later, our own thoughts from the past that might have seem random back then may become nuggets of wisdom in the future. Even our mistakes are worth recording, because in the future, when we go back to read about them, we are reminded to be wary. I love my seminary class, because whenever we get together the Spirit opens the gates of heaven, pouring inspiration to my soul. Sometimes, when the veil thins, I feel a love for my classmates and my teacher that I have never felt before.
You're right, Trent. Life's good.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
I've been busy for the past few nights meticulously labelling each and every one of all those posts, giving them labels like 'frustrations,' 'misadventures,' 'school,' etc. As I read all these posts I realize how much I've grown. I can't say I've entirely grown up yet, but comparing stuff I posted back in 2005 with now, there's been quite a bit of change.
Reading old posts has also brought quite a few startling surprises to my own self too. Most notably is that I was a horrible quadruple-crosser when it came to my crushes! Oh no! It turns out I was the type of person I hated so much back then. Funny how things turn out in the end eh? If you're curious, or nosy, or even out to frame me or something, just scroll down the sidebar and head to the labels section, named "Local Issues" and click on the topic of "crushes." (or just click here) You'll eventually notice how many crushes I blogged about at once, and that I really deserve a really big slap in the face. Or maybe a lot more. Oh dear.
Another thing I noticed is that I talked quite a bit about computer games. I was (and still am really) a computer game freak! I can't believe I was that dumb enough to actually blog about wanting to play computer games and stuff. That's when I would want to give my old self a really hard slap in the face.
Growing up is a rather funny process. The older we get, the more we think that our old selves were so foolish. Wisdom is thus harder to achieve than intelligence, both of which I value very much. You can read every single book in the world and gain lots and lots of intelligence, but to gain wisdom, you have to make many many mistakes and learn from them.
Monday, August 13, 2007
I mentioned a while back how Simba has officially retired to the city. Well, Dad responded with an update on Simba's latest lifestyle. It's totally hilarious. Simba is as young as I remember him, although if he were a man he'd be in his 70's by now. If anyone dare says you can't teach an old dog new tricks, Simba is the Chong family's living exception!
There was once when we were talking about seeing Simba and Grace in the next life, sparked by my aching question whether I'll ever get to see Grace again. Dad said maybe when we see Simba, he won't be a dog but in fact and Angel from God =)
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Anyway, I shall first announce that I did not get chosen for Khidmat Negara! That would be Malaysian NS to all you Singaporeans. I think it is due to a lack of facilities (since it has only been implemented recently) that they are only able to take in a randomly picked bunch of young adults. It's only a few months anyway, compared to Singapore's two whole years.
Next, I'll start explaining why I picked the title "Inspiration" for tonight's post.
During the week I've been flooded with various creative thoughts, most recently in the bathroom earlier (as usual). One of them earlier during the week was the front cover for my 2nd School Blues Album: Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Been. I pencilled it out last Saturday, and got to work on Monday.
After all that painting and classical music and asking for opinions from Mom and scratching my bum, I finished it!
The final product
I must say I'm quite happy with it. I haven't experienced the feeling of holding a paintbrush in a while. For a person like me, it's exhilirating. The last time I even painted any of my drawings was last year, for -1's birthday in November, and before that was in October for his sister Poh Mi's birthday. I should do it more often. Love that feeling...
As a side note, I can't help but feel proud at what my youngest brother Ray is doing. He loves School Blues, and is doing the copy-your-older-brother thing typical of younger siblings, that is, coming up with a comic strip of his own. He hasn't come up with a title for it yet I think... it's mostly a work in progress, but I daresay he's doing much better than I did at his age (10 this year)
Other inspirations I've had include writing an arrangement for the hymn "If You Could Hie To Kolob," most likely for a trio between vocals, a Clarinet (for myself to play) and a Piano. Just too bad that my attempt at writing the piano part today was almost a disaster, as most of my previous music writing attempts have been. I'm beginning to wonder how much trouble it is going to be for my O Levels Music next year...
The other, perhaps major inspiration, is to build a School Blues website. The first time I created a website from scratch was in 2003, when School Blues first came about. Dad and Sis helped me to ftp it to a free host I used (Tripod) and it stayed online for quite a while, until some time in about 2005 I redid the whole website to do other non-school blues related stuff, such as hosting the music I currently play at this blog... Anyway, I told Mom about my idea and she reminded me that Dad offered to give us online domains of our own last year since he bought some for his company. Sis' blog is currently hosted by his domain, if I'm not mistaken, so Mom suggested I call up Dad and get his help. I did, and he advised me to use Dreamweaver to build the site, and once I'm done he'll give me the domain. Can't wait to get started. It'll be a great chance to see what kind of reaction strangers will have to my comic strip, provided people actually visit the website. I'll have to do extensive advertising and then update it regularly. More work aaaah....
Ah well, I suppose that if I manage to set aside some time for the above ideas, I should be able to get them done. First I have to study for the Chemistry and Physics tests this week... I'm still keeping my fingers crossed for the 2 free movie passes my teacher promised to whoever scored the highest in the last Physics test.... hope I get it heh. Then I can go watch The Simpsons and Rush Hour 3 for free... or just one movie for free, but with a date. Whateverrrrrrr.
But who knows. I might get interesting ideas for my comic strip...
Later, we watched a performance by a Christian Korean group, involving traditional dance, a martial arts display, singing and dancing with the audience, and even a play about Jesus Christ. During the performance, I turned to my beneficiary, a man named something like "Doo-ah" and asked him if he knew about Jesus Christ our Saviour. He did.
The traditional Korean Dance
Standing up to sing and dance
After the performance, we continued with a telematch thought up by Wen Jie (I think). The games included putting hoops over the youth, human bowling, pinning the face, passing water balloons and even a race. These were great fun as it challenged the disabled motor skills of the beneficiaries. As for those who did not lack motor skills, well, a little bit of childish fun never hurt anyone, even myself.
Two beneficiaries having fun with the water balloons
After the games the beneficiaries were brought to the canteen for some doughnuts and juice, as well as to receive some gifts before being sent home.
Service has always been an enjoyable part of my life, and this experience was no different. The smiles that stretch across all the faces of the beneficiaries, eventhough some couldn't help it, were very contagious indeed. Bringing joy to others is indeed bringing joy to ourselves.
A thought crossed my mind during the activity. These people are the souls who fought alongside us in the premortal existence to be able to come to Earth and have a body we always wanted. Who knows the roles their spirits may have played then. The least we can do for them is make this life just a little bit more joyful. Many thanks to those who organized the event!
Sunday, August 05, 2007
Two Sundays ago when I was at my cousin Claudia's place, Ying Er invited our family to watch her Toa Payoh Ward Talent Night which would be on the 4th of August (yesterday). Apparently she had gotten together a bunch of youth to do some ensemble. Being the musician she is, I was sure it would be something worth watching. So I agreed to go watch.
Then... I received a call from her yesterday saying that one of their singers could not perform. Suddenly I was asked if I could sing the Phantom of the Opera.
So I went off to practice the song The Phantom of the Opera (other people would sing the other songs). I thought I did fine except for one of the high G's. I couldn't control it very well. After getting some advice from Mom, I had a bit more control over it, but I wasn't really sure if I would be able to pull it off perfectly that night.
So I arrived at the Singapore Stake Centre at about 5pm. Ying Er actually transported her harp all the way, with the help of Marie's Dad who has a truck.
It turned out that Casey, Andrea, Zhi Ling (thanks Kandace =P), Parker and Marie would also be singing that night. Andrea would sing as Christine in "Think of Me", Casey and Zhi Ling would sing as Raoul and Christine in "All I Ask Of You", Parker would sing as Eric in "Music of the Night" while Marie and I would sing as Christine and Eric in "The Phantom of the Opera".
The practice turned out better than I expected. I was able to hit the high G. Of course, Benjamin, our pianist, later pulled me aside to let me know of some problems he noticed in my singing. Certain notes were rather shaky etc. He taught me a few techniques, and I even ended up asking if some could be applied to the Clarinet XD. Thanks Ben.
That night there were several interesting performances I wasn't expecting. Ying Er actually arranged the theme song for Titanic, "My Heart Will Go On", for her harp, Marie's oboe, and Brandon's flute. It was awesome. If my arranging skills were even half of hers... I had the priveledge of hearing the music close up since I helped Ying Er flip the pages of her score heh.
When it finally came for my performance, it was really nice. The audience applauded at my entry with the phrase "Sing once again with me... our strange duet...." I think I was the only one during the Phantom of the Opera performance that didn't use a microphone... The song went well until the last part. It was kind of funny. Marie wasn't able to sing the part where Christine sings the really high "Ah"s where the Phantom keeps going "Sing, my Angel of Music!" so we got Andrea to lip sync for her backstage. It was so obvious, and even Andrea wasn't able to do it as well as we hoped. It sure was funny though. I did the high G perfectly! Just too bad there was a brief fumble when Benjamin and Ying Er got a bit confused on the piano. I wasn't able start my second phrase "In all you fantasies... you always knew...." properly because of that. Oh well. Everyone was nervous anyway.
But we all had a great time!
As a side note, the Meritt's, the wonderful charity couple missionaries from the Church, finished their mission in Malaysia and were heading back to America. I cannot say here just how much help they've given to my family since last year, but one thing for sure, they aren't going to be forgotten.
The Meritts and us.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
It has been quite interesting so far. Apparently it is a movement by the school to promote independent learning. Not a bad idea, but just how many students actually learn anything during E-learning apart from how great it is to not have to go at school, that's rather questionable...
Anyway... that wasn't my point. These 2 days I've been asked by Mr. Alex Lee to help out a bunch of newly arrived Sec 2 students from China, 3 of which are in Shuan's class. Obviously, they know a heck lot more than most people in my school (coming from China and all). However, having learnt everything in mandarin, Science has proven to be quite a problem for them.
Having found out that I have been educated in Chinese back in KL, my Chemistry teacher asked if I could help these boys out by translating key words for them. At last! This interesting skill of mine could be put to good use.
So for these two days, I spent the mornings in the Life Science Lab teaching these boys, translating keywords for them, as well as giving them worksheets which some teachers kindly provided so that they can get a feel for how they should answer questions.
My "students" were a nice bunch. 2 from Kwantung, 2 from Shanghai, and 1 from a province I've never heard of before (Irfan might have mentioned it when he was listing out all the provinces in China for fun the other day). They know a great deal, and were very eager to learn.
The teaching itself was quite fun. Of course, I had to do quite a bit of preparation. Mr. Alex Lee got hold of about all the previous Sec 2 Science worksheets relating to Chemistry and gave me copies. I spent a few hours translating whatever words I could remember, then turned to the bunch of genius ex-classmates for help. Nearly all credit would go to Yi Fei. She could translate so much that I started asking stuff that I wasn't expecting to cover. If I had paid attention in Chemistry during the past 4 years, maybe I might not have needed to ask that much haha. I'm beginning to think teaching might be an interesting profession...
I had a good time just getting to know them, even listening to them talking among themselves. I guess to me it was reliving my old days of chinese education. I quickly realized my chinese needs a lot of brushing up, even though it's erm, considerably good given my current environment. But hey, what's the point of just knowing how to speak mandarin when you can't communicate well enough with real Chinese?
Suddenly, I feel really glad that I had a chance to study in Tsun Jin. After all, how many people get to learn Math and Science in both English and Mandarin?