After much preparation, the young self-proclaimed Emperor of The Han Dynastory is now serving a full-time mission to the UK with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He will return in 2014.

Hello!

Welcome to the Han Dynastory!

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, September 25, 2007

The Piano

One of the biggest surprises ever is learning something new about something you've been doing for a decade.

Such is the case with me and the piano. Last night Michael Lee's aunt was very kind as to assess my playing skills in lieu of my upcoming End of Year music performance exam. She taught me something that from the moment I learnt it, I knew I had been so greatly lacking it all the long.

She taught me how to use my wrist.

Amazing isn't it? Little things like that can make all the difference. Right now I'm going through my exam pieces playing them differently. Moving my wrists the way they should, lifting my fingers properly, playing the piece with the right feelings. It is a wonderful feeling, discovering what I was lacking all these years.

It won't be easy getting rid of all my old bad habits. There are still many techniques I have not learnt properly. I suppose once I can afford to have piano lessons again, I will get her to be my teacher and work on those little things that affect my playing skills. The looming shadow of the upcoming exams are beginning to annoy me...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

End of Seminary

I still cannot accept the fact that I have finished Early Morning Seminary. After those 4 years of insanely getting up at 5 in the morning to go to Church to feast on Spiritual food, I have finally officially completed the four year course.

Throughout the years I've been under many different teachers, all of which have taught be something different in their own ways. For example, Sister Meritt last year prepared me for some very very difficult and dark times, and indirectly taught me optimism along the way which Dad so often speaks about.

This year, I have been priviledged to attend Seminary in the Singapore Stake, and have been placed under the care of Sister Kate Loreto, a wonderful Seminary teacher. I have also been priviledged to be in a class with 9 other students, all of which have become very special to me.

Where should I start? Well, one thing Kenneth agrees is that the way Sister Kate is very conducive for us to feel the Spirit. She often shares her experience when one of us inspired her without us knowing or stuff like that. And she often gets us to spend time pondering on a certain subject, which is very precious quiet, reflective time, much appreciated by me, at least. Sister Kate also writes to us, which we (at least, I) guiltily have not replied. Should get to that sometime XD

Next is the class itself. All the interesting people who come in each morning. Some barely awake, others up and running constantly repeating the phrase "Life's Good" *ahem*. It's Trent Lai's catch phrase now. There's Benjamin Huang, the class secretary, Kenneth Lee the class president, Malia Ang, his assistant class president, and Casey Tan, Cheryl Woo, Hyrum Li, Wong Feng, and Justin Tai. Together they have allowed to experience yet again a very special love which I have not felt since leaving my beloved S1S1 last year.

Thank you all for the wonderful experiences we've shared this year. Perhaps we should gatecrash next year's Seminary. Haha.

Writing words of advice to the next batch of Seminary students.


Photos! We each received a printed photo which we took during the Seminary celebration which took place during the holidays. I took this for extras.


Left to right: Myself, Trent Lai, Benjamin Huang, Malia Ang, Casey Tan, Wong Feng, Kenneth Lee, Cheryl Woo, Hyrum Li, Sister Kate Loreto (not in photo: Justin Tai)

Okay, to be honest, I think those two group photos had a lousy composition. I didn't have much time to adjust the camera so... yeah, feel free to crop them to get a better composition (which I have already done on my computer) or edit them if you want. Personally I like the first group photo. It's more dynamic than the one below it. Too bad some faces are blocked haha.

I think I've said enough. Have to go sleep now. Feels weird to not have to go to Seminary tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

When You Can't Play It

My worst fear is coming true. My fingers are screwing up right before the Music for 'O' Levels End-Of-Year Performance Major Exam for Secondary Three. *Breathe* *Breathe*

The 'harder' I try to practice on the piano for my three choice pieces: Sonata in F, K.332 First Movement by Mozart, Nuances (No. 3 from Quarte morceaux, Op. 56) by Skryabin, and Meditation from Thais by J. Massenet where I will accompany cousin Ying Er who will be playing the Violin just for my exam (thank you!).

Okay, maybe my Nuances and Meditation isn't so bad... especially since Nuances was one of the highest scoring piano pieces in my whole history of barely-passing ABRSM grades. It's the Sonata.

Paired with a Prelude and Fugue in A flat, BWV 862 by Johann Sebastian Bach, the Sonata by Mozart make preparation for next year's ABRSM Grade 8 Practical Exam a living nightmare. Somehow, I think I screwed up my piano technique basics, so I'm having a really really unimaginably hard time trying to correct really really old bad habits.

Point is, I'm beginning to think I may not be serious enough to take the piano well. Mom says there's never been a piece I've played where I did not play any wrong notes. Blah, totally true. Thankfully, with Music for 'O' Levels, my passion for Music has a new outlet! Music appreciation!

I'm not really cut out to do splendid performances and all that ilk, eventhough my previous piano teacher pointed out my ability to 'feel' the music I play. But listening to Music analytically, I like. Listening out for that sonorous combination of chords, that alluring countermelody, that elusive counterpoint, that magnificent return of the theme. Who ever said the oh-so-commonly-misused-term Classical Music is boring? You only need to know what's going on in the Music to appreciate it. Same applies to Jazz, Pop, and that teeny-weeny bit of Rock songs I listen to.

There have been a fair bit of Classical and Romantic compositions, plus a couple of modern ones that have been stunning me recently. They capture me every time I listen to them.

Classical:
  • By Mozart: Symphony No. 40, K.550 (which I sing with Irfan very often); Piano Concerto No. 17, K. 453; Symphony No. 25, K. 183 (which I would like to conduct haha)
  • By Beethoven: Sonate de Pathetique (Pathetic Sonata - it isn't really as pathetic as it sounds haha)

Romantic:

  • By Schubert: Erlkonig (the Elf King, one of Schuberts many famous art songs)
  • By Liszt: Nearly everything I've listened to so far
  • By Chopin: Prelude in E Minor, Op. 28 No. 4; Etude in C Minor, Op. 10, No. 12 (Revolutionary)
  • By Johann Strauss: Artists Life, Op. 316; Roses from the South, Op. 388
  • By Tchaikovsky: Romeo and Juliet Overture - Fantasy!!! (I'm listening to it as I type)

Jazz:

  • Frank Sinatra.
  • By Nat King Cole: Unforgettable
  • By Glenn Miller: Moonlight Serenade (the current Han Dynastory's National Anthem as of today's date)

Church:

  • By Jay Richards: The Healing
  • BYU Men's Chorus: Lord, Make Me an Instrument of Thy Peace
  • By the Gibbons Family: Come unto Him
  • By Kierre Lewis: I Need Thee Every Hour
  • By Lex de Azevedo: Nearer, My God, to Thee
  • By Merrill Jenson: In Him I Rest
  • Hymns: Be Still, My Soul; If You Could Hie To Kolob; Joseph Smith's First Prayer (especially the Tabernacle Choir version); Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy; Lead, Kindly Light; A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief

Modern:

  • By Joe Hisaishi: Howl's Moving Castle Soundtrack; Spirited Away Soundtrack; LaPuta Soundtrack
  • By Tetsunosuke Kushida & Hitoshi Sekiguchi: Kaze no Katarai (Winds in Conversation)
  • Chinese: "The Butterfly Lovers" transcribed for Western Orchestra Violin Concerto
  • And there's this Pop song (at least, I would ignorantly categorize it as a Pop Song) with a deliberate 70's Beat that I just can't get out of my head. Don't even know the name of the song nor the lyrics. I just love the music.

Haha. I can't believe what I just did. If Blogger had a "post music" feature apart from videos and photos, I would take time each week to post one of my favourite pieces mentioned above and analyze it. Of course, I'm very optimistic when it comes to criticizing things I like, so haha... it would be a very positively-biased analysis.

Maybe one of my many purposes in life is to make other Musicians feel good about themselves. I just feel so much respect for people who can perform/write good music. Too bad I'm not one of them so far. But I must say, I am eternally grateful towards my parents for exposing me to Music at a young age. I love Music.

In the pursuit of Happiness...

“Happiness is a journey, not a destination.
Happiness is to be found along the way, not at the end.
For then the journey is over and it is too late.
The time for happiness is today, not tomorrow.”

~ Joseph Smith ~

Su姐, the now Sister Chong, quoted that in her latest E-mail. What more can I say? Be happy!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Out Of My Way!

Heh. Got bored last night, so I had some fun with stop motion animation. Remember, scroll down to the very bottom of the page to pause the player if there's music before watching the video.

It's a video respond to Hao Ran's previous stop animation movie, Saving Private Han. I think I've just made a breakthrough, Ran! Haha.

Friday, September 14, 2007

2400 Teaser English Version!

Finished editing! I have officially completed the 2400 first teaser english version, originally created by Hao Ran. That is, the captions from the chinese version are replaced with english ones and english subtitles are added for the dialogues. Tailored especially for my non-mandarin speaking friends. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Price Of Obedience

The Singapore Stake had a Priesthood meeting recently, which I attended right after going on a missionary exchange with Elder Vaughan, Elder Cammock and Kenneth. The talks were mainly about magnifying our callings, such as the Priesthood, as well as other Church callings.

President O Grady mentioned 'little details.' He told us that in order to magnify our callings, we have to make sure we do all the little things. Church principles we may consider trivial must be held onto firmly. Right down to raising the right hand in a proper square as show a support in the sustaining of a member's new calling.

So... Dennis and I decided from now on we would not jaywalk when we cross the street to get to school each day after Early Morning Seminary. A trivial thing, jaywalking, but breaking the law nonetheless. As members of the Church we believe in sustaining the law blah blah blah, so yeah...

Yesterday, as we were crossing the road from the Stake Centre to get to our school, Michael and Sherwayne darted across the road when it wasn't our green light yet. Me and Dennis, vowing not to break the lawy even through such trivial things as jaywalking, stood and waited for the green light.

It rained.

There we were, stuck, the two of us dumb enough to not bring umbrellas to school during the rainy season. We got to school soaking wet. I had to dry my socks and shoes at school, which did not dry, causing me to walk around barefooted most of the day. Dennis' hair was ruined and nearly exposed him for having long hair. At least I didn't catch a cold like the last time I got caught in the rain haha.

Our reward for obedience. Haha. Oh the senseless trials and tribulations of life...

Happy birthday Poh Mi. I'm one day late.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

2400 Teaser!

It's here! The 2400 Teaser is ready! All thanks to Hao Ran. I'll work on an English version once he sends me the actual file (as in, English subtitles, since I'm planning to do subtitles for the entire film when it's finished for the sake of my non mandarin speaking friends)

PS: Scroll all the way to the bottom of the page and pause the music before playing the teaser.

Brief outline of film (minor spoilers): 2400 is about a boy trying to save his brother from committing suicide. Before he could do anything, a reaper shows up and gives him a box which he claims will contain the user's deepest desire. He is to use this box to save a man who will be having a heart attack on so-and-so date (hence the box will contain a new heart for him). This teaser shows the scene where the reaper lost a gamble with the angel (me) and was supposed to be the one to deliver the box containing the hear to the man as an errand for the angel (angels are in charge of saving lives). The later scene shows the angel's reaction when he finds out that the reaper got some mortal to do it instead.

Production of the film is now halted till after their SPM. In the meantime I'm supposed to be handling the soundtrack stuff. I can't wait till it's ready!

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PS: Did some random test again. The result is kind of obvious.

You Are 81% Creative

You are an incredibly creative person. For you, there are no bounds or limits to your creativity.
Your next creation could be something very great... Or at least very cool!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Weekend Fun

Stake Youth Dance! Last night.

It was from 7pm to 10pm as usual, and as usual, the actual dancing didn't start till probably about 8pm. I kind of wish we would all get on the dance floor a lot sooner. Either that or they should make the dance start at 6 haha. The 1st Ward youth should be commended for being the ones who usually start dancing first. Maybe it's because they're the "1st" Ward haha.

Casey Tan was DJ that night, and the theme was supposed to be erm, Mambo Night or something. It was something to do with the 70's. Flower Power man! I must commend Dennis since that night was the first time he took part in a dance. In all three previous Youth dances he didn't dance, even in the awesome Youth Conference one. This time he did. Jia Chen and Wen Jie were quite 'enthu' too. Unfortunately the mood just wasn't there. The dance still felt quite lame. The circles that formed broke away faster than we could form them. But when Benji came things were a little bit more fun for me haha. It's almost like I can't dance without him. The two of us enjoy performing in the middle of circles haha. Such as a pretend volleyball match, a made-up conflict, and all sorts of other silly things. Thanks Ben.

As for the slow songs, I guess it was the first time I didn't dance with my cousin heh. Danced with Malia, Marie, Kandance and some random girl who grabbed me XD Although for the random girl and Kandace they weren't slow songs. Kandace taught me a bit of Salsa haha (thank you!). Wish my sisters had taught me more when they were around. The dance with the girl whose name I did not get was probably the craziest. Totally improvised. I probably should start learning a few more proper moves =P

The dance was fun eventhough there were a few drawbacks. Hey, I'm supposed to be the optimist haha.
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Today, after my Chemistry mock exam which I could have been more better prepared for, my family had an extended family picnic. We went to the Botanical Gardens with Ying Er's family, my Mom's oldest brother and his wife and son and daughter and 3 grandchildren. We had a great time feeding the swans (which I did a nice sketch of on the sketchbook Santa Claus gave me last Christmas), and loads of fun playing frisbee. Too bad it started to drizzle, so we went for dinner together. After that, when the rain stopped, Joshua, my super-hyper-energetic nephew wanted me to take him out for a walk, which I happily agreed to. Brought my camera too.
The Swans
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Little Joshua on a rock

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Joshua and the fishes

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Our feet

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I spent a bit of time just taking photographs of plants after that. I've recently been quite fascinated with good photography. I admire a good photographer like how I admire a good artist, musician, or dancer. Friends like Hao Ran seem to know how to capture the moment or the emotion or just the beauty of whatever the photo is about. I wish I had that ability, since I want to explore the world, and it would be great to come back with some decent photos. So there I was, trying to get used to Mom's old camera. Its macro isn't as great as some of the camera's I've managed to get my hands on before, but at least I have a camera now. I like flowers. As in, looking at them, drawing them, or taking photos of them.

Flowers! I find them easy to take nice photos of. So it's good practice. These flowers are my favourite because of their colour. Everybody in art knows that red is the complimentary colour of green. So, yeah... red enhances the effect of green and green enhaces the effect of red. In this case, the red of the flowers is enhanced by the green because of the composition of the shot.

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I like how the camera was able to focus on the flowers while blurring a bit of the background in this shot, but the composition doesn't seem as nice as the previous photo. Maybe it's too much in the centre, and there's that darn building sticking out in the bottom there. Had to stand on the tip of my toes for this shot...

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I thought the signboard would make the shot a bit more interesting here, but unfortunately I couldn't get the camera to focus on the flowers and blur the signboard. It blurred the flowers instead. I suppose I ought to start learning how to use manual focus...

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One of these days, I should borrow a book on photography.

Kena Tagged Again

Yeah, Bryan Chong tagged me at his Blog for one of those personality thingies again. I think this one is good.

Rules: The 1st player of this "game" starts with the topic "6 weird habits/facts/dislikes about yourself" and people who get tagged must write in their journals about their 6 weird habits/facts/dislikes as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose the next 6 people to be tagged and list their names..

1. Procrastinator
Haha. Procrastinated even blogging about my trip to KL. I know it's a problem I have, and I still haven't changed yet. Talk about procrastinating.

2. Multiple Infatuations
It's natural, yet sooooo annoying. I just can't stand having some girl constantly popping into my head. It's just not the time for these kind of things. I know it is good to spend time with girls and get to know them, but these kind of thoughts are what people get before going crazy and wanting some sort of relationship. Worse still, the infatuations themselves make me act like an idiot many many times. I mean, Poh Mi was a good example. I planned to elaborate on this thought last night. Maybe in some future post I shall rant on about my frustration about myself.

3. Addictions
Computer is one of them. As with a couple of others, like a rather noticable habit of peeling skin of my fingers. Naturally they are things I am frustrated with myself for, but have problems stopping.

4. Untidy
I like to think "Practicality over Beauty" which can be a problem when it comes to tidiness. I have a lot of places in my room where I dump a lot of things instead of keeping them properly in shelves or even pidgeon holes which Mom bought, all in the name of "conveniece since I use them a lot." Naturally this leads to excessive junkiness in my room. My future wife will suffer if I don't change this problem. Hah. My Mom is already suffering because of it.

5. Easily Frustrated
I've been trying to be an optimist lately, trying to see the best in people I used to dislike, finding ways to appreciate bad experiences. But the one thing I have trouble being optimistic about is when I'm practicing things like the piano or drawing and I just can't do it. Like playing Vivaldi's La Primavera on the piano, which I can't seem to do because it is hard. Instead of relaxing my fingers and continue practicing, I get frustrated and tense up my fingers, making it worse. The vicious cycle repeats until I can't practice anything properly and can't learn any new pieces. I'm frustrated about that already.

6. Lacking Sufficient "Chi" Energy
Heh. Just some random fact. I was told that recently by a Chinese Sen Sei. She could name all the symptoms I did not tell her about such as a runny nose every morning (my Seminary classmates will know that), nervous tension, sweaty palms and feet, excessive sweating, excessive urinating (haha that explains me having to go to the toilet after every single class at school) and etcetera. Apparently my body lacks the energy to hold in all my body fluids. Makes sense to me. It helps to apply heat to certain acupuncture points on my body, some on my face and a lot on my back, near the lungs. It will take a while to "recover" it seems.

Next 6 People to be Tagged:
Charles Kee
Casey Tan
Hao Ran (as if you would do it)
Vivian Wong (it's good to reflect on yourself you know)
姐姐 (but you reflect so much on your blog anyway so never mind...)
Anybody who feels that it would be a good idea to pause and reflect on yourself

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Quick Trip Back To KL

Yeah, at last I'm blogging about it.

I left on the 31st of August (Friday, my National Day!) I took a bus as usual. Ernie and Ray were with me. Lots of fun on the bus heh. I found a new use for my new pants... you know those that you can "reduce" it by unzipping stuff.



Ray with part of one of my pant legs.

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We arrived in KL sometime in the night, with Dad ready to pick us up from the bus station in Pudu. We headed to his apartment once again settle down a bit. Simba was waiting for us!

After that we decided to go do a bit of night cycling to see some fireworks and whatever night Merdeka Day celebrations were on. It was a real pain having to watch over Ray when we cycled across the streets and stuff. The poor guy.

The return trip was somewhat stressful since we got caught in a crowd of not-really-moving people. Then I had to witness some idiot thinking it would be cool to show off in front of his girlfriend how he could make Ray fall off his bicycle. I'd have run him over with my bike if he had done so.

The next day, Saturday, I was desperately bored. After taking Simba out for a good walk/run, I tried to come up with ways to kill time. See, I initially planned with Hao Ran that we would start filming 2400 (at least, the scenes with me in them) that day, but due to some problems I wasn't able to contact him until the very last minute, where he postponed it to the next day.

So there I was, nothing to do, until Lance replied my sms. We could go watch a movie together! I met up with him at Leisure Mall, where we bought tickets to Ratatoulle (I'm sure that's not how it's spelt). We lepak-ed a bit, taking time to allow me to catch up with all that I missed out on in my old class. Had some Root Beer....


Me and Lance

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Lance had to leave halfway during the movie due to tuition classes. Oh well.

After that I went to visit Grandpa. A few months ago I made a vow to interview him to get to know him better. I didn't remember to do it the last few trips I made, but this time I did. I asked him a whole bunch of things, although his memory failed him many times. I'll have to find his diary he said. I particularly enjoyed asking him about his art. His semi-impressionist watercolour paintings have left an impression on me since I saw them, being the Art-sy person I'd like to be. I guess I'm rather lucky to have a heritage in such a way that I have an artisitically inclined father of my father, and also an artistically inclined mother. Haha. Time to get back to drawing huh?

Went to Church on Sunday of course, got to see quite a few childhood friends. Like Johann. Pity I didn't get to see Clayton. It was a bit funny... seeing how President Lai from the Singapore Stake was there too.

After Church I met up with Hao Ran, L King, and Jian Shan at school to go filming at the Lake Gardens. Dad dropped us off at the park where we spent about an hour filming the few scenes in 2400 that involve L King (the reaper) interacting with a good friend of his, an angel (me). Shan is officially our first not-Hao Ran cameraman ever. I have high hopes that he will be able to fully replace Hao Ran as cameraman. After all, Hao Ran is already busy with directing and scriptwriting. I am still yet to work on the official soundtrack heh.

Monday. Aaah. Got to visit my old friends from Tsun Jin High. Talked to my old history teacher Ms Yong Lin Siew before heading to the canteen to talk to the many many old friends. I managed to gather quite a few ex-classmates, who are now in S2S1. We took a photo under the Rain Tree that will be chopped down to make way for a hunkin new building.

L to R: Back row - Jun Jie, Me, -1, Jia Qi, Wei Jie, (darn forgot her name), Chee Hou, V Yang

Front row - Yi Fei, Gee Cheau, Kit Yue, Shan, Jia Chen, and that silly Chern Hui

------------------------------------------------Jia Chen and Chern Hui. Great friends to have...

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The Rain tree. Oh how the many people protested against its doom. Alas, the principal did not change his decision.

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I'm sure there are people wondering about Poh Mi. Well, I mentioned already that she has a new boyfriend! V Yang from my old class. Good for her. He's a great guy, just too bad I didn't spend enough time with him last year to know him a bit better. This time her boyfriend is someone mature. Her previous one was some immature jerk her age.

Poh Mi and V Yang

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That evening I went with V Yang to meet up with some of my friends who stay in the school hostel: Fang Soe and Yu Ren. We had dinner together and they discussed their plans to move out of the school hostel next year and stay in a nearby condominium instead. It kind of struck me then how we're all growing up and becoming more and more independent. Sigh.


V Yang, Fang Soe and Yu Ren making plans at the dinner table
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We braved a heavy downpour to head back to their hostel, where I spent the night again. Good times...
The next day was Tuesday, and that was the day I head back to Singapore. I sure wish I had a bit more time in KL though. Oh well. Stake Youth Dance tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Masih Belum Mula Lagi

Geez... the more I talk about going to blog about my trip back to KL, the dumber it is becoming, as in talking about it. And now here I am talking about talking about it...

Blah. Just very busy at the moment. There is no end to the work I have to do since coming back from KL. Just this morning I had to get up for Early Morning Seminary. After that I spent a little bit of time studying Social Studies (thanks Ben and Kandace)

And after that I headed to Bukit Gombak MRT to meet up with Sister Oh and Johann! Nice nice. Mom came and we went to eat breakfast before heading to explore a nearby park. Johann and I ventured around the lake. I am yet to remember the name of the lake... Little something. It's a task I wrote down as Quest No. 1 in my new Questbook (to be mentioned in the trip back to KL). Johann, being the good friend he is, allowed me to ramble on about stuff I learnt in Geography as we walked along the lake, observing the interesting view of the cliffs left behind by mining. Eventually we backtracked to meet up with our moms, before having lunch, having a good chat, reading good books, and parting our ways.

I got home thinking I would finally get a break, but no, I had Geography homework to do. Blah. Didn't finish doing it before I got dressed to go on an exchange with Elder Vaughan. We went contacting using his... special non-doorknocking method. Heheh. Wasn't too productive. Not a very nice area, we went.

After having dinner I came back home to start burning a couple of CDs related to my Music Class. Drove me nuts when my computer started lagging. Here I am blogging away, when there's Seminary again tomorrow, followed by a this-time-preplanned-study-session, followed by an exchange with Elder Vaughan again, with Kenneth Lee, followed by a Priesthood Meeting, and probably followed with another excuse for not blogging about my trip back to KL yet.

Blah.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Short Trip Back To KL

Well, I left on Friday and I just got back, so yeah, it was rather short. Did lots of things of course. Will elaborate further when I have the time.