Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Back to School

Ha! Scored a 6 out of 10 for a Math (Algebra) Quiz today.

No, I didn’t go back to high school ☺; it was one of those student-parent-teacher conference thingys with my 8th grader today. And his Math teacher thought it would be a novel way for the parents to see what the kids have learnt in Math this past school year.

My son does Algebra. (They split the kids up according to ability: Pre-Algebra, Algebra & Geometry with the majority of kids doing Pre-Alg while Algebra & Geometry are considered faster-track courses). So I had to do an Algebra quiz.

Here are some of the problems I had to solve, starting with the easiest ones first:

David has 83 coins in nickels (5 cents) & dimes (10 cents). He has a total of $6.95. How many of each coin does he have?




Solve the equation if possible:


Factor by grouping

rs – 6r – 5s + 30

Here are some I couldn’t do:

Write an equation in slope-intercept form for the line described below:
Containing (4,8) and (-2, -1)




Graph the system of inequalities and state the solution:

(it’s been eons since I’ve drawn graphs from equations….!!!)

Considering the fact that it’s been more than 20 years since I’ve worked on mathematical formulae and that my brain has been used for memorizing medical facts more than anything else in the last half of my life, I was not too disappointed with my score ☺ .

Besides, two other parents there who took the PRE-Algebra quiz scored a ZERO and a 5 out of 10, respectively....hehehe...

Sunday, May 28, 2006


I am usually pretty oblivious to paranormal occurences. Put me in a supposedly haunted house & chances are I'd probably sleep the night through with no disturbances from the resident ghost/spirit/poltergeist.

However, two days ago, something kinda freaky happened while I was web-surfing. I usually turn on my i-Tunes while I am on the computer. Well, on this instance, I was looking at pictures from the GhostHunters website (I'm a fan of the series) and then on a local paranormal website. These were pictures of "orbs" which are supposedly collections of energy manifested literally as circular objects in photographs. (There is debate on the how these orbs are formed).

Everything was fine until, while viewing pictures taken at various locations in Changi, the volume control on my computer just kept increasing to the max! My fingers were not on the keyboard, & neither were they on the mouse. I tried reducing the volume using the keyboard control but that didn't work. I had to turn off i-Tunes to turn off the music. Thinking it was a technical glitch, I turned on i-Tunes again. 10 minutes later, the same thing happens again. I was still on that same website looking at the pictures.

Now, thoughts of what-ifs start running through my mind & I decided to turn off the computer. When I later checked with hubby if this has ever happened to him before with i-Tunes, he said no. And it hasn't happened again since, although I still occasionally visit that same website.

I'm no techno-geek, & for all I know, it was some weird technical short circuit or whatsit that happened.

But it WAS weird though.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

X-Men: The Last Stand

*************Spoiler Alert**************

“X Men: The Last Stand” is REALLY, REALLY GOOD. Really.

Apart from the fact that Hugh Jackman returns as the angsty (my favourite word of the year) Wolverine, the storyline which touched on issues like genocide, terrorism & intolerance was an engrossing & thought-provoking one. There were also a few heart-wrenching scenes including main characters who (*gasp*!) die, (yes, die!) & also lose their powers (*gasp* again!).

The aptly cast actors included return performances by Patrick Stewart as Prof X, Ian McKellan as Magneto, Halle Berry as Storm, Famke Janssen as Jean Grey aka Phoenix, James Marsden as Cyclops, Anna Paquin as Rogue, Rebecca Romijn as Mystique & Shawn Ashmore as Iceman. Kelsey Grammer & Ellen Page gave impressive performances as Beast & Kitty respectively. I was especially surprised by Mr Grammer whose long tenure as Frasier in the TV series had him stereotyped, in my mind, as a square, slightly wimpy academic sort. His turn as Beast has certainly corrected that. Well done, indeed.

The special effects with (literally) earth-shaking sound effects were spectacular & made the movie experience all the more intense.

This is, supposedly, the last of a trilogy…but is it? (Hint: stay till the END of the credits, & you’ll see what I mean).

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

AI Fever

Tomorrow is the finals of the American Idol competition. I sincerely hope that Taylor Hicks wins. Something about Katherine McPhee annoys me.

Maybe it's the way she tries to oversing a song.
Or the way she likes to bounce around.
Or the lack of something in her eyes which somehow don't possess the soul & passion that Taylor has.

I don't know what it is, but I just don't get her.

I really hope Taylor wins it.

On Mediation

In another letter to the papers today:

CJ right to urge aggrieved patients to talk to doctor rather than sue

INDEED, it was heartwarming news - 'Getting aggrieved patients to talk to doc, not sue' (ST, May 20).

Occasionally, precious lives are lost due to hospital mismanagement and doctors' negligence. Sadly, many people do not have the financial resources and knowledge to take legal action against health-care professionals and medical institutions.

With Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong's new protocol, many people will find solace, and closure of their grief so they can move on with life.

From my observation, consultation time allocated to each patient is relatively short and doctors rarely have enough time to conduct proper patient examinations and assessments/examinations. Owing to time constraints, they may be in a hurry to move on to the next patient, leading to oversight or dismissal of obvious symptoms.

Therefore, to protect the interests of both doctors and patients, the Ministry of Health should review and improve the present practice in medical institutions.

The new protocol will pose a great challenge to mediators, and all parties concerned.

One kind doctor shared with me the following:

As doctors we can only pray that God guides our hands to do the right thing. And, if we do wrong, to have the courage to admit it. And pray that the patient's relatives will be forgiving. What more can be done? Not all people we meet or deal with are forgiving.

There are some (fortunately a few) who make excessive demands of compensation. The world is like that. Fortunately, the majority are willing to close the chapter without 'killing' the doctor.

Lee Soh Hong (Miss)


I wish I was as optimistic as Miss Lee. Being the skeptic that I am as far as human nature is concerned (especially in the local context, where materialism seems to be so prevalent), and having spent some time dealing with such cases, I really do not think that “the majority are willing to close the chapter without 'killing' the doctor”. Not yet, anyway.

Don’t get me wrong, I think mediation is a great idea. But you will need a drastic change of culture for it to succeed. Right now, with the culture of blame (on the patients’ part) & the culture of shame (on the medical professionals’ part), there will need to be a lot of careful meandering through the landscape of medical jargon & potential litigation, peppered with emotions like grief, anger, & even the occasional desire for vengeance. Even in the first paragraph of Miss Lee's letter, one can see that the assumption made when something goes wrong & a patient dies, is that it is due to "hospital mismanagement and doctors' negligence".

The process of mediation will have to involve a team comprising of medical professionals (be they doctors or nurses), lawyers & highly skilled counselors/psychologists to help both parties through a difficult process. Let us also not forget that the victims are not just the patients & their kin, but also the healthcare worker who has been implicated in any case of alleged negligence or wrong doing. The resulting guilt (whether real or implied) can be devastating & may even impact their ability to carry on with what they have been trained to do.

I don’t mean to belittle the anguish which a patient or his family go through when an adverse event occurs resulting in disability, injury or even death. But I hope that both sides of the story will be presented – after all, isn’t that what mediation is about?

On raising a child

It was heart-lifting to read this letter in today's newspaper:

Young adult thinks parents should take responsibility for their children rather than rely on 'the authorities'

I REFER to the letter 'Kidz Bop spreads wrong values' by Mr Nicodemus Ching Cheok Hui (ST Online Forum, May 20).

As a young adult, I have yet to experience parenthood and am unable to share my sentiments with Mr Ching, but letters to ST Forum by parents showing concerns over their children have given me an image of 'modern' parents in Singapore.

All too often, there are letters from parents with concerns or complaints about contents in the media or issues their children have to deal with in and out of school. Almost always, a reply is expected from 'the authorities'. This raises a question in my mind: 'Are parents fulfilling their roles as parents?'

Let us face the harsh reality. The influence of media is growing exponentially and the environment around us is ever changing. There is no way to put a stop to 'undesirable' materials being displayed via any medium, nor can we choose what experiences we want our children to go through.

Please do not seek solutions from the authorities or the Government. You, as a parent, chose to have a child, and it is your responsibility to bring him up to be an upright person.

One may argue that I am still too young and inexperienced to put forward any comment on how a child should be brought up, but I beg to differ. One simply needs to move outdoors and observe parent-child interactions to see the seriousness of this problem: for example, children showing disrespect to their parents and parents taking no action to correct their children's behaviour.

Perhaps parents today are too soft-hearted and resort to other means to teach their children. It is time for parents to reflect and take the responsibility of teaching their children rather than spend time and effort trying to get a solution from 'the authorities'.

Eric Ho Wee Kim

Parenthood is a hands-on endeavour. This seems to be an oft forgotten fact by many Singaporeans. Because of easily available & affordable domestic help here, much of the parenting has been left to the maids. And having husbands who are mostly hopeless on the homefront as far as childcare, & housework is concerned, doesn’t help either, thanks to their mothers who think that their darling sons should not be allowed to lift a finger to help out at home. I know of people whose husbands have not even touched their own children’s diapers. And these are mostly guys who have grown up locally, and not had the experience of living overseas & having to take care of their own household without Mummy or a maid to help. (Note: I am not saying that ALL local guys are helpless; this is the impression that I have gotten from my encounters).

Giving birth is probably the easiest part of parenthood (or perhaps the creation of the child ☺). After that come the sleepless nights, the dirty diapers, the messy emissions from various orifices, the childhood illnesses with the accompanying anxieties, the tantrums, the adolescent angst, teaching your child right from wrong, school choices, school grades, colleges choices…the list is never-ending.

Parents should take it upon themselves to raise their children & not rely on the government or their maid to do so. Oh sure, have someone help out with some of the housekeeping chores. But for heaven’s sake, discipline your own child, & teach them to behave in a civilized manner instead of relying on your maid to do so. Speak to your children about the birds & the bees instead of blaming the schools for not giving proper instruction on sex education. Help your children make the right decisions instead of asking the government to ban certain books/music/movies/TV programs because of questionable content (be it religious, moral or ethical).

We, parents, are the grown-ups, and our children look to us for guidance. It is OUR responsibility that they grow up to be well-rounded individuals, who are able to make wise choices in their own lives.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Da Vinci

Watched the movie last night. The theatre was full to the brim despite it being a Sunday night. I think all the hype surrounding the book has spilled over to the movie adaptation, & no matter how bad the reviews are, people will still go watch it.

I found it entertaining enough, although, I think Ron Howard could have done a better job with it. There was something missing especially in the first half of the movie, almost like the players & director didn't quite have their hearts in the project. I didn't quite feel the thrill of the chase though I could see that the potential was there.

Tom Hanks was also rather stiff throughout & sounded like he had a sinus infection for most of the movie.

Ian McKellan stole the show with his portrayal of the seemingly-normal-but-actually-demenented Sir Leigh Teabing. Jean Reno also did a decent job as Captain Fache.

There were some nice additional touches which were not in the book eg. the ending when Sophie (Audrey Tautou) playfully attempted to walk on water then smiled & shrugged at Robert Langdon. Cute.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Go, Right Brain!

If someone had told me six months ago that I would one day be sitting on the sidewalk, painting shophouses (pictures of, not walls) on Emerald Hill Road, I would have been ROFLMAO, and thought that person out of his/her mind.

Well, that's exactly what I did today (paint shophouses, that is). I felt very Bohemian, sitting outside in 33 degrees (Celsius), 100% humidity weather, looking very artistic, sweating like a hog & actually PAINTING A SHOPHOUSE with my fellow students. Amazing.

The end result is not exactly pleasing to the eye, nor complete (yet)- I suspect it will go the way of my Abstract & sit in my living room till I get the inspiration to complete it.

Neverthless, I am very pleased with myself for how far I've come. I am no longer overwhelmed by the thought of doing an actual painting nor fearful of making mistakes. And I have my art teacher to thank; without her encouragement or kind words no matter how bad my art work looked/looks, I would have remained in my shell instead of gritting my teeth & attempting to stretch my creative wings!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Abstract-ion: complete

After leaving it sitting in my living room for a few weeks, I finally got down to attempting to finish my abstract piece. After a couple of revisions, here's the final result.


Nothing fancy, as you can see, but it just feels right.


Yesterday was Mother's Day.

I realise that I am only less than halfway through this journey through motherhood; and what a journey it has been...

The Beginning - I first fell in love with my child when I found out of his existence. Hard to imagine for some, but there it is, the strong maternal bond that can develop even before the child is born.

Giving Birth - done it both ways: C-section (because of breech presentation) as well as the normal way (if you can call pushing what feels like a watermelon out of one's body normal!). To all you mothers-to-be out there, the epidural is THE WAY TO GO...THANK YOU to whoever discovered/developed/invented the epidural procedure...you are a godsend!

The Trials & Tribulations - breastfeeding (actually just the initiation of breastfeeding with the accompanying sore nipples, engorgement & anxiety over whether one is producing enough or not :) ), sleepless nights (especially if one does not rely on a maid to bring up one's baby!), childhood fevers which sometimes seem neverending, the toddler tantrums, dealing with the sibling rivalry (still ongoing), worrying about the quality of education they receive...

The Cost - self-explanatory. This brings to mind an exchange between Homer Simpson (speaking in a very fatherly way) & his son Bart:

Homer: "Do you know why your mother & I share the same bed?"

Bart: "Because we're poor?"

Homer: "Yes...and do you know why we're poor?"

Bart: "Why?"

Homer: "Because we have children."

It had my husband & I ROTFL because it is so true!!!

The Rewards - immeasurable.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


What do I have in common with George Washington, Joe Friday, Eeyore & Evander Holyfield?

I am, apparently, an ISTJ, according to this cool test I took.

Eerily accurate...


I was disappointed to learn that “The Da Vinci Code” movie has been rated NC-16 by the censorship board. Having read the book, I wonder at why the movie has been given this rating. Sexual content? Hardly any. Violence? Perhaps, but not anymore than some of the other movies which have been rated PG before. I suspect that it is to appease some of the groups, which have been protesting its release.

I wish I could sit down over a cup of coffee with the actual people who rate these movies & find out what they look for when they rate movies. There seems to be a disparity in how movies are rated. There is a huge gap between the NC-16 movies & the PG movies. For example, “When A Stranger Calls” has been rated PG. Now, I know that there will be kids out there who will be scared out of their wits after watching this movie. There needs to be another rating category in between, say, PG-13 where parental guidance is advised for those under 13, or where kids can only watch the movie with their parent/guardian.

Oh well, looks like our family will wait till we get to New York before watching the DVC movie. Pity...we had been looking forward to booking ourselves some Gold Class tickets & watching it in style.


With the approaching summer also comes the season of blockbuster releases. Some movies I am looking forward to watching are:

X-Men: The Last Stand - I think X-Men is one of the better movie adaptations of comic series, on par with Spiderman 1 & 2, Batman Begins and Superman… Hugh Jackman as Wolverine doesn’t hurt either (*drool*drool*).
Superman Returns – sounds like an intriguing storyline; would like to see how Brandon Routh’s portrayal compares with Christopher Reeve’s.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest – enjoyed Johnny Depp in the first installment. He is usually so angsty, it is nice seeing him in a lighter, comedic role. Am also a fan of Keira Knightly, and I guess Orlando Bloom is OK as eye candy.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Politically (in?)correct


Elections are over & the PAP are back in power. I am quite relieved, to be honest. It's hard to support an opposition which doesn't seem quite up to par. The PAP have done a decent job of running the country so far.

Say what you may about the dictatorial methods of the government, & being a nanny state etc. etc. but I believe that the leaders had to do it this way in order to survive & to grow. They had to work with what they had. And now, they have to work with what they have.

Look at how far we've come since our independence over 40 years ago. There is much noise that has been & is being made about giving more freedom to the people, some of this noise coming from abroad, & some from within our shores. But I frankly do not think that the average citizen of this country is ready for this responsibility. I see the country as being a young one, just approaching maturity. The hardware is there but the software has yet to catch up. Many still look to the government to solve their problems. Social & civic skills are often still 3rd world despite our 1st world reputation where business & economy is concerned. We have a fine if you don't flush the toilet, for crying out loud!!!

I think change is needed but at the right pace. And until we see credible opposition candidates, the PAP should remain the incumbent party in government.

That's my two cents anyway. Enough politics for now.


Watched MI:3 over the weekend. I thought it was pretty well-made, lots of action, incredible stunts & a surprisingly good storyline.

Thought that Jonathan Rhys-Meyers & Maggie Q were rather under-used though. Can't be helped I suppose...God forbid that they should upstage box-office draw, Tom Cruise!!!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

One Big Happy Family

Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet…
The opening line from The Ballad of East & West by Rudyard Kipling

One of the things which gets my goat & raises my hackles is when people start comparing Asian values with so-called Western values, praising the former & denouncing the latter. Having lived in both the East & the West, I realize that I may have life experiences which are unique & which the majority of folks would not have the chance to go through.

Before moving to the West, where I spent 7 years, I was rather apprehensive about settling in, being accepted, making friends in a foreign land. Being the shy sort, I was very uncomfortable about having to make friends with people of a totally different background & culture from myself.

However, I learned that wherever you are, the underlying values are very similar. We all want the best for our children. We value family time. We respect our elders & we teach our children to be respectful to their elders. Neighbours help each other when the need arises. We all try to earn a good living in order to put food on the table & ensure a secure future for our children. We laugh when happy, cry when sad, gasp at atrocities, celebrate achievements. Thanksgiving, Chinese New Year, Christmas, Hari Raya, Deepavali…different festivals celebrated by different cultures, but under it all, it’s all about family, love, togetherness.

I realized that whether you live in S______ville, PA in the USA or S_________ one degree north of the Equator, we are all the same underneath our differences. I finally got it. I hope we all get it one day.

I know that I may be too idealistic. But hey, what’s wrong with high hopes; I think the world needs it today.

But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face,
tho' they come from the ends of the earth!

The closing lines from The Ballad of East & West by Rudyard Kipling