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.


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!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

After Laughter

I went to crash Seminary again today. We really went wild today with our being F.O.C. haha. Full of Crap! Soon to be the Toa Payoh Ward Youth catch phrase =P

David is a joke. Seriously. Spend a morning with him and you'll find your cheeks and belly aching from excessive laughter. We had fun taking a few photos today.

This was the best shot of the day, though obviously edited.

I got home and actually managed to finish the Custom Card Jon Poh ordered. I've been dragging that on for weeks. The money earned should be able to pay for one of the many movie tickets I bought during the holidays XD

姐姐 gave yet another awesome crash course on the Lindy Hop for me and Germaine today. Obviously, with two noob Swing Dancers learning together, apologetic laughter consistently drifted from the pavilion under which we danced to sweet 40's Swing music. The entertaining moments were when my yet-to-be-refined leading skills confused poor Germaine who just had to follow along. Well, at least she didn't end up literally flat footed... unless guys who step on their partner's toes when dancing are completely unaware that they do... Luckily she was really patient with me - It's a lot of work trying to remember my own footwork while having to consciously remind myself to send the right signals so she knows what we're trying to do. With a little more pracitce, however, I think the Lindy Hop will be the only dance I can pull off on the dance floor that is not bogged down by a fixed routine, which will be no less than awesome. The joy of two people dancing as one is inexpressible, understood only by experience.

My flexible schedule was later stretched to accomodate a last minute invitation from the Missionaries to accompany them on a visit. The next few days will be my last few days enjoying that sort of flexibility... School starts next week.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

School Soon

I need school to pull me out off idleness. I was reduced to card making and computer gaming today. Dad went back to KL, so I won't be driving any more this Chinese New Year XD

姐姐 came on a surprise visit from China today. She emailed me to check in advance whether we'd be around, so I was the only one expecting her when she showed up at our front door all of a sudden. Unfortunately, I was so caught up about keeping it a secret that I didn't tell Dad, and he left before 姐姐 arrived. Gah.

The best part about 姐姐 being back is being able to pick up bit of the Lindy Hop again! Okay, maybe the best part is supposed to be the fact that she's here, but still. Lindy Hop! I just got about a zillion classic swing mp3s from her. Germaine Yee will be coming over tomorrow to Visit Teach Mom, so we'll get to have another go at stumbling through the Lindy Hop under 姐姐's guidance XD

Two more days till posting! I'll probably dance it away.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Sick of sitting around all day while a girl plays basketball with your heart and mind?

Try driving!

If the level of concentration required of a noob driver doesn't keep her out of your mind, then the car crash resulting from her playing hopscotch on your heart will.

Because you probably won't have a beating heart for her to mess with anymore! Har har!

Too much Chinese New Year goodies must be affecting me more than she is XD

Monday, January 26, 2009

Chinese New Year Driving

I got to do the driving around this 初一. My steering skills have improved a bit, though my parking skills need a lot more refining. Thank goodness Singapore isn't so full of parallel parking. But hey, at least my family wasn't throwing up or screaming for mercy in the back seats.

Despite the fact that driving around here during Chinese New Year can be a bit tricky (random people parking at the sides of roads), I have to admit that it's still a lot easier driving in Singapore than in KL. In KL, you don't need to wait for festive seasons to see cars parked at seemingly impossible spaces. Just try driving past a Mosque on a Friday, or down Petaling Street (Chinatown) on any day.

I can't wait for the day that I'm skilled and confident enough to go on road trips. That will be when I can truly explore and appreciate Malaysia better.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Chinese New Year Eve Eve

大舅父was not up to cooking for a Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner this year, so we decided to all go to a Western Buffet at Holiday Inn. It was the usual group: 大舅父, 大舅妈, their children: Simon (and his wife and two sons David and Joshua), Matthias (and his daughter Beverly), Claudia (and her husband and parents-in-law), and even the elusive Baxter, my older, vegetarian and animal-loving lookalike. Uncle Yen Wei and Auntie Chai Yan also came with Ying Er. 二姨妈 (and her grandson) were not with us, though.

Word had spread around the family about both Ying Er and my 'O' Level results. We had become walking celebrities for the night haha. Simon took a photo with the two of us, while Claudia's husband Jefferey came up to shake my hand.

I ate my heart out. Mussels and Scallop and Mussels and Ice Cream and Chocolate coated Marshmallows and Mussels. And other things...

I was barely into my first round when my nephew Joshua came over to ask if I could play with him. Within half an hour I was running after him around the hotel, trying to make sure he didn't break anything in the souvenir shop, teaching him how to pop a Mentos into his hand without having to tear the wrapper, and letting him have a go with my camera.

After the dinner Mom wanted to 大舅父's house to watch Mamma Mia with Claudia, while Dad had to go for a business meeting, which meant that I got to drive Mom to 大舅父's house. Watch out! Malaysian driver on the PIE and BKE! Haha.

Joshua was as hyper as always. Time is no limiting factor to his energy levels, apparently. Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to buy him Mentos. I had just taken my bath and was watching Mamma Mia when he started calling me from the other end of the living room to play with him.

Joshua, David and Beverly had constructed a fortress out of "imitation Lego" and garrisoned it with plastic soldiers. I was mildly surprised when Beverly began to show me the ropes of their fortress.

"This is where the captured soldiers are tortured.... and if they die they go here."

Okay... I suppose that's what happens when a girl grows up with two male cousins to play with.

This was the best shot I could take the whole night.

Joshua showing off some claws

I think the best part about Chinese New Year is that it's family-oriented at heart, a season to strengthen relationships within the bonds of the most sacred and fundamental unit of society. Never mind the hassle of festive preparations - the joy of overcrowding a house with a swarm of relatives is worth every drop of sweat once you're all laughing together.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


WARNING: Make sure your speakers are not set at too loud a volume.

We filmed and edited this after Seminary yesterday. The idea was based on a joke me and my classmate from Chung Hwa Primary School used to pull back in KL. Sherman (the actor) was all up for it. Thanks! =)

Ben pulled off a pretty cool sound effect near the end =P

Stay tuned for more upcoming gags!

Thursday, January 22, 2009


I just got back from Newton Circus forty minutes ago. I had dinner with Ben after Institute. He had a full day thanks to our 2nd after-seminary hangout in a row, followed by a flu jab for his work at the zoo. My full day was a nice long chat with Mom over lunch followed by helping the Missionaries teach two investigators. I was once again reminded that helping Missionaries requires a very flexible personal schedule, because they called at 1pm to invite me to help them at 4pm, and when I got there I was asked if I could stay on until 6.30pm instead of 5.30pm. Needless to say, I was late for Institute. At least it was for a worthy cause.

I guess I went the long way round to say that both Ben and I were famished by the end of Institute, and what better place to drop by than good 'ol Newton Circus for our tradition of Hokkien Mee and Oyster Omelet. In fact, just last week we were there with Marion to celebrate my 'O' Level Results.

Tonight was just me and Ben, but we managed to chat all the way until 10.30pm. Dinner and Conversation with close friends are one of the best forms of therapy (D&C haha).

Going to Seminary again tomorrow. We've got lots of fun stuff lined up to make the start of the day a blast.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Single to His Glory

Last Saturday I made a mad dash back to KL to celebrate Grandpa's 89th Birthday. A mad dash because I was only in KL for about three hours before zooming back to Singapore on a bus. I had some responsibilities to attend to on Sunday.

The rush back to KL was done by means of Dad's car (he arrived in Singapore at around 8am to pick us up). The moment we crossed the border I took over the wheel with my driver's license. However, after leaving the 2nd Link via Tuas and driving for about forty minutes, we suddenly found ourselves back in Johor Bahru, heading back towards Singapore. Dad decided it was a better idea to let him drive, and the speed at which he hit (in order to make up for the time I wasted) had me gripping the edges of my seat.

The rush back to Singapore was considerably less eventful, thankfully. I went solo and took a 4.30 bus back. The bus stopped at the halfway mark for a toilet break, so I decided to make use of the only great thing about lengthy bus rides - the scenery.

I was on top of a hill and had a nice panoramic view of the far reaching forest ahead of me. But it didn't seem like it would look nice on camera. Furthermore, the highway and cars on the foreground were ugly, in my opinion. However, I made an interesting personal discovery.

By deliberately including the blazing sun in the photo, the resulting glare darkened the unimpressive foreground, and brought out the beautiful background - rolling mountains which always remind me of home.

Isn't God like that sometimes? His Glory, surpassing the radiance of the Sun, defying all description. If we but look towards Him, with an eye single to His Glory, every petty little thing that bothers us will be drowned in its own insignificance. Our eyes will be opened, and a sweet, distant treasure will be revealed.

Our problems won't go away, but at the very least, we will be empowered with the courage and strength to put things in perspective, and to fight on, with steadfast Faith in the irrevocable truth that "all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good." (Doctrine and Covenants 122:7)

Have courage, my lanky friend.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Junior College or Polytechnic?

I submitted my Joint Admissions Exercise application online yesterday. To those who are curious and completely unaware of my plans, I put Anglo-Chinese Junior College as my first choice.

For the benefit of those not familiar with the Singapore Education System (which apparently requires you to be a Straight-A Student in order to understand it according to cousin Mark haha), the Joint Admissions Exercise, commonly acronym-ed as JAE, is the method is which students who have just received their GCE 'O' Level results apply for their next level of education.

Each student is given a JAE Booklet which contains all the information you might need on the various options you have to further your education, as well as how to complete the JAE application itself. The actual application itself involves filling up 12 choices of the courses you want, in order of preference. For most Singaporeans, the options they have after Secondary School are: 2 years in a Junior College to obtain an 'A' Level certificate, 3 years in a Polytechnic to obtain a diploma, 2 years in the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) for vocational training, or admissions to colleges or universities which accept 'O' Level certificates.

Of the options listed above, Junior Colleges and Polytechincs (commonly reffered to as JCs and Polys/Polies) are the main contenders. Singaporeans would be particular aware of the competition Junior Colleges and Polytechnics face in order to attract students. Just look at all the propaganda that magically finds its way into your mailbox (physical mailbox, mind you) - Attempts of Polytechnics to dispel the age-old assumption that Junior Colleges are always better than Polytechnics.

The main Junior College Advantage:
You take two years to do your 'A' Levels. Upon graduation, you receive a certificate that allows you to enter just about any university you want... provided you do well, of course.

The Catch:
Junior College life is notorious for being highly stressful and not for the non academically inclined. A diploma obtained at a Polytechnic is also more winning on a resume compared to an 'A' Level certificate.

The main Polytechnic Advantage:
You take three years to obtain a diploma for the course of your choice. This allows you to work straight away.

The Catch:
There is still much debate over the credibility of the diploma overseas. There is also the unfortunate case that most of the studious, academically inclined students follow the conveyer belt into Junior Colleges. Consequently, Polytechnic students are supposedly what's left behind. This means that one may not feel the urge to work hard if he or she relies on peer pressure.

The common question most Singaporeans ask perfectly reflects the kiasu spirit which resides deep within each of them: So which is the best choice?

My response: Whichever is best for you.

Consider case-by-case examples:

Student A with no idea of what career he wants but does well in school.

Student B who is not so academically inclined but has an idea of what he wants to do.

Student C who is unable to afford University.

For student A, going to a Polytechnic would be a potential nightmare, because he would have to sit down and consider all the courses offered in Polytechnics, and make a choice that would commit him to 3 years of narrowing down his options. If he goes into a Junior College, he can still do "general" subjects which will allow him time to slowly discover where his heart lies. Being academically inclined, he does not mind the workload that Junior Colleges supposedly slam onto students.

For student B, going to a Polytechnic would be a better idea. He can obtain a diploma in a course that fulfills his desires, and work hard at it without the need to worry about all that mugging Junior College students seem to be doing for the sake of it.

For student C, going to a Polytechnic or Junior College will depend on his academic ability. If he can do exceptionally well in his studies, doing well in Junior College and obtaining magnificent 'A' Level results will open door to many scholarships in Universities. On the other hand, if he is not so academically inclined, going to a Polytechnic will allow him to obtain a diploma, improving his chances of finding a job, and allowing him to work and earn money for University at a later time.

In my case, I was at first like Student A, with no idea what I want to do. Hence, at the start of 2008 I decided that I would aim for a Junior College and continue to broaden my mind, in the hopes that I would eventually discover my hidden interest. This changed over time, as I slowly came to the conclusion during the course of 2008 that I have a heart for Social Sciences. Nevertheless, I blindly assumed that going to a Junior College will suit that sort of interest better. It was no longer a blind assumption once I filled in my JAE application form.

I put ACJC as my first choice, followed by random Junior Colleges I would not mind getting thrown into if ACJC miracalously rejects my application. By the time I reached my 7th choice however, I was bored with filling in all sorts of random Junior Colleges, so I decided to put in some Poly courses I would have taken had I not been dead set on going to a Junior College. Out of curiousity, I looked at the courses offered at Polytechincs under the Humanities section. I was disappointed. The only courses that had even the slightest connection to what I want to do were Business & Social Enterprise and Psychology & Community Services. Even the Humanities section itself was drowned by the plethora of Engineering, Business, Finance & Law, Chemical & Life Sciences, IT, and Media & Design courses offered at Polytechnics. It was clear to me that Junior College was a better choice. Apparently Humanities aren't very popular choices in Singapore. In a Junior College, I can take Economics and Geography, which will give me a good general sense of things before heading to a more specific route at University level.

My path is set.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


I attended the ACJC Symphonic Band practice today. I realized that playing in a band has become a part of me that I will not give up easily. I expressed my interest (and reluctance) to some Band members at the ACJC Open House on Tuesday, so they invited me to join their practice today.

I was immediately drawn to the burning Band spirit they had. It soon became clear to me that it wasn't an overstatement when somebody said something along the lines of "even the 'most slack' Barker Band Boys were enthusiastic over practices."

They were working on Leonard Bernstein's Symphonic Dances from West Side Story. It was, by all accounts, a crazy piece to sight read. It was fun for sure, but I will need to practice a lot once I get the scores. This Saturday they will be practicing Puccini's Turandot, though I will be in KL so I won't get to join them.

I don't think I've been buzzing with this much excitement over Band for a long time.

Peculiar Methods of Celebration

Mom decided to celebrate my results by setting up a long-delayed appointment with the Singapore Health Promotion Board on Tuesday. I had to go for immunisation.

Of all crazy things. They jabbed me once in each arm, after administering the bitter tasting, oral Polio vaccination. Mom thought it an occasion to capture on camera.

I was laughing stupidly the way I usually do when under stimulated physical pain. Somehow, my body's natural painkillers work that way. I'll start shivering first, and then suddenly start laughing uncontrollably. I remember on time when I hurt my head during volleyball in 2006, and I couldn't stop laughing at how stupid the whole accident was when Hao Ran applied medication to the wound.

Interestingly, Ying Er was also celebrating her results by piercing two holes into her body as well - She had earrings when I met up with her at the ACJC open house later during the day.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Troubled, But Not Hopeless

Have you ever read something so disturbing that you have to go to sleep to clear your mind, and when you wake up it's still stuck to you?

That non-fiction book that seems to be sweeping the region in a storm is lying on the couch. I'm not sure if I dare touch it again. It just felt.... wrong when I read it. Mom said she felt the same.

With the disturbance etched into an uneasy corner of my head, I went over to the Anglo-Chinese Junior College Open House to hang out. Ying Er and Marie Low where there, and we even bumped into Chrystal Yip. Once again, I was thrilled to feel the buzzing excitement that the AC Spirit is.

We went to attend the Music Elective Program Talk, since Ying Er and I are both considering Music for 'A' Levels. They will be studying Nationalism in 20th Century Music this year, to the disappointment of me and Ying Er. There goes our hope of Romanticism.

However, as the talk progressed I became more and more worried. I was acutely aware that my Musical aptitude is not exactly up to par with the many talented people out there who survive 'A' Level Music. Despite my profound interest in Music, I felt that I may not be able to bear the strain of such a technically demanding course, especially since all MEP students are expected to advance to H3 Music. Consequently, I was deeply troubled by the clash of interest and capability. Whatever disturbance from reading the book earlier was now replaced with a new turbulence.

I mentioned before that the subject combination I had in mind was Knowledge Inquiry, Geography, Mathematics, and Music. This was shot down in NJC, but when I asked the Music teacher in ACJC if it were possible to take Knowledge Inquiry and Music at the same time, she said she had nothing against it, except that I had to be aware that the workload would be significant. It was comforting to know that they were a bit more accomodating, but this time I was uncomfortable with my own decision.

I expressed my concern to Mom when I got home.

I know with a certainty that I will keep Geography and Mathematics as part of my subject combinations, which leaves two more subjects. Between KI and Music, I decided that I would have to drop one of them, and perhaps replace it with Physics.

However, after talking a bit to Rendy Marican online, I am beginning to think it would be a good idea to take up Economics instead of Knowledge Inquiry, considering my present aspirations. As for Music, Sister Eng Huey made a timely phone call to Mom to congratulate me on my results. She said that it is possible to obtain a degree in Music using my 'O' Level results after obtaining my first degree, should my interest and desire still burn at that point in time. Hearing this, I believe that it is time to put temporarily put aside my passion for Music, and plant myself on a path towards a much firmer goal. Perhaps I will expand my horizons in the world of Music through the ACJC Symphonic Band.

Which leaves me with a subject combinations of Economics, Geography, Mathematics, and Physics. Something seems lacking in this decision, but I still have some time to think and reflect on it.

On a side note, the Light of the World soundtrack works wonders on a troubled mind. It shimmers with Hope, a reminder to all that there is a silver lining to look out for.

Time to Hide

I was interviewed by Asia One after receiving my results.

The article is here

Oops.... I guess the phrase "I'll be 19 this year" is a bit misleading.

Mom was diagnosed with her second cancer after she completed radiotherapy for her first cancer.

I forgot to mention that I made sure I took time off to "play hard, not just work hard," like my Dad used to tell me since my first day of school. For example, soccer during recess, soccer after studying in the library, dance lessons every weekend, drawing every now and then etc.

Girl problems is an understatement. (and I had to laugh when asked if I had a girlfriend)

Mom is looking for work as a story teller, not writer (although writing is her recently rediscovered passion)

The second last sentence should be rephrased to "I was struck by a revelation over the period of an enriching Geography course taught by a truly inspiring teacher that education is the foundation of human development." [haha]

Monday, January 12, 2009

O Level Results Celebration with Ying Er

Guess who got 9 Distinctions too? Cousin Ying Er! 8 A1s and 1 A2 too! Uncle Yen Wei and Auntie Chai Yan took us out for dinner along with the rest of our family. Sister Kate joked that beauty, talent and brains must run in the family haha.

Ying Er and I celebrating our tandem success

My first jump shot ever. Ying Er's suggestion =P

I want to give credit to my backstage heroes

My inspiring Form Teacher and Geography Teacher Mr Ng and my one and only Mom!

My superhuman miracle worker Chemistry Teacher Mr Alex Lee

Not in photos:
Dad! Who always encouraged me that no matter how bad my grades were in Tsun Jin High School, all he wanted was for me to do my best.

My Tsun Jin High School friends. Where would my Chinese A1 be without them XD

Everyone who ever played soccer with me at school. My mind would overheat if I only spent time pouring over books =P

Everyone who believed in me. It's the Law of Attraction y'all =)

Incidentally, I think Debussy's Pour Le Piano, L 95 - Toccata describes my triumphant spirit perfectly. I can't find a recording as good as the one I have by Martin Jones though.


I got back my GCE 'O' Level Results!

8 A1s and 1 A2 (I took 9 subjects)

Words cannot express even a slightest margin of the euphoria I experienced. I had achieved my goal of becoming a Straight-A Student. It was also quite a relief that I only had one A2 - I was rather worried about several subjects. I assumed the A2 was for Chinese, which would have satisfied me anyway, but I was in for a crazy surprise.

My A2 was for Chemistry!

Which meant that I got an A1 for Chinese!

I literally jumped and screamed for joy. Forget my public image, man, I was in heaven!

English - A1
My writing paper went out of hand in terms of number of words, in my opinion, but I guess it didn't jeopardize the quality of my narrative essay =D

Combined Humanities - A1
I came out of both the Social Studies and History papers secretly feeling good about myself. And considering what spurred my to study harder for the Social Studies paper, I would say that I have found my miracle motivation XD

Geography - A1
A good comeback from my poor Prelim results, I didn't let my teacher down! There's no way I would neglect a subject that changed my whole perspective on secular life.

Mathematics - A1
I owe it to my good foundation in Tsun Jin High School

Additional Mathematics - A1
Failing it in Tsun Jin taught me a valuable lesson on hard work =P

Physics - A1
I now worship the bell curve.

Chemistry - A2
The greatest irony of all, Chemistry was one of my strongest subjects when I first came to Singapore, thanks to the miracle efforts of Mr Alex Lee. Even more ironic is that Chemistry was the subject I helped other people out with the most. I helped Ying Er out, and she got an A1 for Chemistry hahaha. My English teacher Mr Alan Lim pointed out that it is meant to keep me humble, which I think I am in need of even now haha. Nevertheless, it should be noted that I was once a single-digit-score Chemistry student in Tsun Jin High School =) On a side note, I think my Science Practical Assessment killed me.

Music - A1
For this subject, I have to thank Ying Er for helping me out with Haydn, as well as my Performance Exams, Benjamin Huang for playing the awesome duet with me for my Performance Exam, and my piano teacher 林老师 for helping me learn the pieces for my Performance Exam. And finally, my Music teacher Mrs Rachel Ong and her friend Mr Shahril for teaching me, broadening my perspective on Music, and giving me the encouragement I needed in completing the Art Song. Yes, especially that XD

Chinese - A1
WOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! I'm officially glad that I chose to retake the exam now. For this, I really owe it to my years in Tsun Jin High School.

I was announced as the Top Student in my school. Naturally, almost every teacher I came across congratulated me. In particular, Mr Glenn Wong came up to me and expressed both his congratulations and relief. Relief because the teachers were a bit worried over the stunt I pulled for Teacher's Day with the exams around the corner. But looking back, that is the legacy I want to leave behind in ACS Barker Road - my drawings, and the proof that there are so many other things you can do besides studying.

What I love most about ACS Barker Road is the efforts the teachers put in. The legendary Mr Alex Lee is one particular example of the amazing teachers I had. It was my privilege to be able to study and do well in a school that truly takes care of its students.

See you all in ACJC!

Tremble Clef

In a few hours, our GCE 'O' Level will be released.

I know I studied, did my homework, and tried my best during the exams, but I'm probably as nervous as anyone else. What scares me the most is the fact that my grades were slipping from my peak right before 'O' Levels.

The problem about me, is that I tend to set high expectations of myself, creating unnecessary stress. Almost everyone thinks I'm going to do well, which puts even more pressure on me. It seems that I am being crushed by my own reputation.

I just hope I at least get an A1 for Music. Too many people have helped me out in that subject, and I don't want their efforts to go to waste on my account.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Waving at me is as good as slapping me in the face

Because both will make me stumble.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Driving Test Woes

I passed my driving test today!

It was just my luck that I had to wait till after the lunch break and the Friday prayers (this being Malaysia) before I took the final part of my test - the on-the-road test. I was there since 8am. By the time I finished it was four.

I took the three stations in the morning. The first was the hardest and where most people who fail tend to mess up - climbing a slope from rest position. Basically, I had to drive onto a slope, stop at the tip (with the car still inclined), pull the handbrake, and through the tricky balance of pressing down the accelerator while releasing the clutch, climb over the peak by releasing the handbrake the moment I reach the right balance. I have friends who failed that station.

The next station was parallel parking. Thanks to the fact that we drive Small Little Kancils, and the idiot-proof "formula" that is used to ensure a pass in this station, I passed. The next station was the Three Point Turn, which was a breeze.

I must say, today was a field lesson on patience. I was sitting around for hours. Thank goodness 怡妃 was taking the test too. It's always great having old friends joining you in moments like these.

How shall I describe the on-the-road test? Perhaps it would suffice to say that it was more of a test of tolerance or conscious ignorance.

When I first got into the car, I started doing the necessary adjustments and checks.

"Are we going to stay here all day?" quipped the examiner in our National Language.

So the journey began, but not without his immediate comment on my slow speed. It is one thing to be warned by your friends in advance that most of the examiners are impatient and then mentally preparing yourself for it, but it is a whole other thing to actually feel someone next to you inflating when you're driving a car that you're not used to.

I had a few fumbles with the steering wheel later. The car I got was the newer version of the Kancil, so everything was more sensitive compared to what I had been practicing on. My examiner's sharp comments on lack of speed was eventually interjected with insults to my intelligence. The examiner's degeneration into a vicious, confidence-destroying speed talker was quite a surprise to me, because the examiner's colleague who gave me my first practical driving lesson had left a considerably better impression.

I still passed with a 17/20. (passing requires at least 16/20). I lost two marks to mistakes which I don't normally make when not under pressure. The other mark was for something I completely forgot about - starting the engine in free gear. I had been starting the engine in gear one in the past few days without realizing it.

I was compelled to wonder if all the examiners put up such a show during our road tests. After all, a good driver has to be able to put off emotional and psychological pressure while on the road. Maybe they're testing to see if we crack under pressure. Even if that is not their intention, it was a personal test to me.

For the record, I called it a test on ignorance because I ignored the examiner the whole time. I'd like to see who gets marked down for driving safely.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Regards, Han

My first day back in KL and I'm already answering important emails for stuff to do in Singapore. Clearly, this is not a break at all.

Not that it was supposed to be. I'm back in KL to take my driving test, but I was stupid enough to forget to remind my instructor that I'd be back this week. Apparently he will try to put me into this Friday's slot (I missed the Wednesday one because I only called him today). Which means it will definitely be a mad rush back to Singapore for Institute and Waltz this Saturday. Bah.

Incidentally, I'm considering attending the Chinese Institute class (alongside the English one if that's possible), though I don't have a mandarin Bible. It will be one of my craziest aspirations yet.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Sweet is the Reward

Sister Seow surprised me with these chocolates today. Presumably in return for all those Sundays where I took care of her children after Church.

It's funny, because taking care of her children was a reward in itself. Nothing puts a smile to my face like children's laughter... or quirks. My favourite memory was when I was reading to Rachel and Renee, and Renee suddenly burst out in frustration:

"Can you read faster?!?"

Complete with head jerking, eyes rolling and hands waving. She just loves looking at the illustrations.

Thanks, Sister Seow!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Step Back

Today was my first Waltz lesson after those long, dreary months.

Marie managed to gather a group of people willing to learn the Waltz, so I joined in. They had their first class today, which I took part in. They went through the basics today, such as the technique of bending knees, keeping contact with the floor, moving forwards and backwards, and tilting. I've learnt everything before, but it was clear today that I had not mastered the basics yet, despite taking lessons for a large part of 2008. For instance, my feet are not always in the closed Ballroom position when they come together.

Isn't that true for the many things we do? How often do we find ourselves blundering through things without getting a proper grasp of the essentials.

Today's lesson was a breath of fresh air. Forget the old routine I used to practice. Today was essential elements 101. Once the Music came on, I realized that the finer details of my posture were slipping away. When I consciously paid attention to all the little things that add up to the Waltz which I was to do, I realized how much I had forgotten what the Waltz truly is. I was gradually losing awareness of what I was doing as my struggle to keep up with the Music became more pronounced.

So take a step back, look at what you're doing now. Have you lost sight of the true meaning of your actions?

Friday, January 02, 2009

School Starts for Everyone Else

I woke up from a somewhat disturbing dream this morning at 5.30am. I couldn't go back to sleep until all my younger brothers woke up for school at about 6. I was able to go back to sleep soon after they started leaving. I guess I was instinctively reverting back to the normal school sleep pattern, despite it being a month too early for me.

I woke up later at 11am promising myself not to spend the rest of my break watching my days degenerate into desperate skirmishes against idleness. I think I did rather well today.

I took out my Waltz shoes to air them today in preparation for tomorrow's lesson. I'm that excited.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Start of 2009

Today was the first day of the New Year and I woke up at 2pm. Wasted a whole morning.

I woke up promising myself not to let the day slip through my fingers by letting my thoughts drift towards her, and it kind of worked. I spent what I had left of the day studying the scriptures before working on 2008's collage. I am yet to finish writing my journal entry on what I've been grateful for in 2008 though.

I still have not considered what New Year's Resolutions I should set, since I've been thinking more on what I was grateful for in the past. If I am not wrong, Dr. Martin Luther King once said that "Tomorrow is Today." If I want to make an impact on the future, I have to start doing it now, and I think goal setting is vital. Wait, here I am shooting myself down for procrastinating and I'm still not doing anything about it?

I'm starting to feel bad about entertaining myself too much. I guess that could be something like a hangover after too much fun. I'm feeling empty, like I need to do something productive. Mom said I should offer to paint someone's house. Well, I have not proven myself to be particularly adept with a paintbrush, so I'm not sure if people would like me going near their homes with a can of paint. I might be mistaken for a loan shark.

Mom will probably find me something else useful to do around the house.

Ushering in 2009

I spent New Year's Eve hanging out with my closest friends.

I went down to Lido past noon to buy tickets for the six 'o clock screening of Twilight, then went to hang out at Borders to kill time (where I was absorbed by Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth). I then headed to United Square to meet up with Marion, and eventually Benjamin for some ice cream at Ben and Jerry's. Marie Low soon joined us and we had dinner before heading back to Lido to catch Twilight with Ariel, Jessica, and Yong Bee.

For me, Twilight was suffocatingly full of romantic tension. For someone currently overflowing with anxiety over such matters, it was nearly more than I could bear. It was a wild ride, and I was deeply drawn into Bella and Edward's walk on the tightrope of romance. Needless to say, it was clear to me why Twilight is so appealing to the female audience. Edward Cullin makes girls drop faster than a .223 NATO General Electric XM214 Minigun can, hands down (or sprawled all over the floor). For the male audience however, unless one truly appreciates romance stories (or is fascinated by Kristen Stewart or her character Bella Swan), his only reason to watch it may be his mesmerized girlfriend dragging him along.

Of the three movies I've watched this week, I must say that Ip Man moved me the most. The touching "kite scene" near the end of the movie had me in tears as it captured the very essence of the movie. Neither Bedtime Stories nor Twilight could touch me so.

We rushed to the Stake Youth New Year's Eve Dance after that, partying the final moments of 2008 away. As I presently lack the mental capacity to comprehend the implications of setting New Year's Resolutions, I shall share my New Year's Wishes instead.

1. Development on my quest to discover my future career
2. Increased capacity to serve others
3. Immunity to matters of the heart

Oh, and joy of all joys, one of my Christmas Wishes actually came true! Marie Low gathered a group of people to learn the Waltz and I've been invited to tag along! How my feet have longed for the feel of dance shoes gliding across the dance floor. The last time I even used my dance shoes was Orchid Ball, and before that, forever...

The time for personal reflection on what I've learnt and appreciated in 2008 will come, but I need my sleep first.

An Inconvenient Truth

Before wishing everyone a happy new year, I want to share a very important book.

An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore.

Now made into a major motion picture, the book touches on the stark reality of global warming and the grave consequences awaiting future generations if we continue to ignore this inconvenient truth.

I spent an hour skimming through the book at Borders, and was deeply moved by the message Al Gore resounded from the pages of his book. While his message was generally directed to his fellow Americans, his message to me was clear: Global Warming is real, and something must be done before it is too late.

What I liked about the book was its friendliness to non-geeks. Anyone can easily flip through the pages filled with pictures and diagrams that illustrate each point with crisp, quick-to-the-point captions. The statistical graphs may have been a bit of a mental strain, but they provided critical information which made his underlying message much stronger.

In fact, I was so fired up by his book that much later, at the Stake Youth New Year's Eve Dance, I was momentarily distracted by my realization that we were contributing to increased Carbon Dioxide emissions by staying up late and partying. Some time for a moral dilemma.

To all my friends out there yet to realize the seriousness of our current predicament, please read An Inconvenient Truth.

As Sir Winston Churchill once said, "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak, Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen."