Wednesday, August 25, 2010

V-Blog: Think, When you were a kid...

Isn't it amazing that the things we did as kids are the boldest, purest and most imaginative? We were once fearless and the courage to dream big, to fantasize. So, did we become more realistic or are we setting our own barriers to success as we grow older?

Touch base with the younger you again. You may discover more than what you thought you had. :)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Balancing Act.

Currently, I am in a situation where I identified the paths but undecided on which to choose. For the past half a year or so, I had experienced two seemingly similar environments but yet they are worlds apart. And through this period, I had discovered a lot more about myself.

I find joy in interacting with the students.
I find satisfaction seeing them grow.
I am filled with pride when they attain enlightenment on things.
The feeling of having added value (or dis-value, and so a negative eg) to someone was the key driving force in living to the fullest.

But while doing all this, I cannot live my conscience intact while doing magic to meet requirements. I can see why, but I do not agree to it.

And then I became realistic. It is a classic case of “You won’t know until you done it yourself.” I remember bitching back in hall that how come the younger generations just had to go through the path that we had done, and learning the same lessons all over again. While in the later stage, we did conclude “This is the only way that they will learn. At a low cost.” And so now I am, walking down the same path. And I learnt. Luckily, at a low cost.

Well, I did gain something more than just uncovering the little bits in me. The whole process had given me the motivation to push new frontiers. Places I never had thought of in my entire life. Borders which I solemnly kept to be safe, and thoughts I never even entertained before this. I just wanted to be safe, previously. And now, I am eager to go. Even to the extent of taking the “It is now or (probably) never!” screams my bestie. And he is right.

Now, I had narrowed things down to typically two paths. Incidentally (and very proudly, so) they stem from the same intent and basis of adding value to people’s life. Simplicity in reason had ironically, led to complexity in decision.

Option A: The chance to carry on the legacy and at the same time, able to pursue and further develop the passion. The potential is great. And with another joining the fray, it would go beyond the level 1 that it is at now. Is it a long term prospect? It could be.

Option B: A unique opportunity. The invitation was given since a year back. Impressed by the plan and all, and intrigued by the possibilities. The confidence and insistence of the maestro in the plan is impressive, though somewhat undeserving for someone like me who had no track records.

Simply put, I will enjoy both options immensely. The long chat had given some visibility to both ways and both still tilts evenly on the balance.

“Go with your heart!” But both are from the heart! So how now brown cow?

The wife had been very supportive. Her willingness to take care of the backyard had indeed made my internal struggle much easier. So too, my parents’ and family’s support had been massive. At least I have the luxury of only fighting one war. And I am immensely grateful for that.

I realize things get clearer as I talk in depth with people. The refinement of thoughts comes with conversation. How true.

Crystallise my thoughts, anyone?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

V-Blog: It's my choice!

Another video that touched me. This reminds me of the story of Nick Vujicic, the author of "No arms, no legs, no worries." Another demonstration of the human will and the power of belief.

Perception. And how they will shape you. The simple, yet powerful "You are no different from others." from his mum simply shaped his life. Don't you love it when you learn of the stories of these heroes of life?

Many many quotable quotes here too. And coincidentally we are in the midst of YOG Singapore 2010. The true Olympic spirit shines through here.

"It is my hobby; my passion. Whatever I want to do, I have to do it till the end." - Do whatever it takes to reach your goal.

"I think that in my life, there are only 2 paths. Either I die quickly, or I live my life splendidly." - Make a choice. It's your choice and nobody's else can decide for you. Grab the power of this choice and use it to realise your greatest potential.

"No one stipulated that the piano must be played by hands." - The only limits are the limits you set for yourself.

"A real talent uses life to demonstrate his potential." -Embrace life, Enjoy it. 

Be the Olympian of Life. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

V-Blog: Meteor Shower

Really awesome. Since a kid, I had always been awed by the wonders of nature. So much so that my dad bought me a biology book way back in Primary School. (Biology at my time was only introduced in Secondary 3). Well, I guess I wasn't that intrigued by the cellular level, but still maintained my respect and love for Mother Nature. It wasn't surprising that my favourite magazine and tv program is National Geographic. (and Animal Planet.)

I believe in all of us, there is this natural love for things. Be it nature, technical stuff or simply love for the fellow man. It is really up to us to nurture it and maximise our true potential. It may sound cliche, but I truly believe in the saying "If you do what you love, you never work a single day in your life." It's all about passion. Discovering it and living it.

So, what's your passion? Are you living your dream?

Poll: Demographics of readers

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As our readership increases, we are looking to restructure our whole concept to serve you (our readers!) better.

Poll on FoodPrints.

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V-Blog: Words

Could you get every thing?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

V-Blog: Education...?

Food for thought. For educators and learners alike.

I do not totally agree with her. Education... content or life skills learning? I think it depends on how you define learning. It is just like defining happiness, or success. We have our own boundaries. It is not fair to impose our model of the world on others and claim "This should be what REAL education is about." What real for some may be surreal for others. Who are we to judge?

It may be a systemic shortfall, or is it a personal one? One that we set for ourselves or do we point to social norm of recognising good results? 

The eternal debate will go on. :)

Here is a transcript if you cannot get what she is saying:

The following speech was delivered by top of the class student Erica Goldson during the graduation ceremony at Coxsackie-Athens High School on June 25, 2010

Here I stand
There is a story of a young, but earnest Zen student who approached his teacher, and asked the Master, "If I work very hard and diligently, how long will it take for me to find Zen? The Master thought about this, then replied, "Ten years." The student then said, "But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast – How long then?" Replied the Master, "Well, twenty years." "But, if I really, really work at it, how long then?" asked the student. "Thirty years," replied the Master. "But, I do not understand," said the disappointed student. "At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that?" Replied the Master, "When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path."
This is the dilemma I've faced within the American education system. We are so focused on a goal, whether it be passing a test, or graduating as first in the class. However, in this way, we do not really learn. We do whatever it takes to achieve our original objective.
Some of you may be thinking, "Well, if you pass a test, or become valedictorian, didn't you learn something? Well, yes, you learned something, but not all that you could have. Perhaps, you only learned how to memorize names, places, and dates to later on forget in order to clear your mind for the next test. School is not all that it can be. Right now, it is a place for most people to determine that their goal is to get out as soon as possible.
I am now accomplishing that goal. I am graduating. I should look at this as a positive experience, especially being at the top of my class. However, in retrospect, I cannot say that I am any more intelligent than my peers. I can attest that I am only the best at doing what I am told and working the system. Yet, here I stand, and I am supposed to be proud that I have completed this period of indoctrination. I will leave in the fall to go on to the next phase expected of me, in order to receive a paper document that certifies that I am capable of work. But I contend that I am a human being, a thinker, an adventurer – not a worker. A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition – a slave of the system set up before him. But now, I have successfully shown that I was the best slave. I did what I was told to the extreme. While others sat in class and doodled to later become great artists, I sat in class to take notes and become a great test-taker. While others would come to class without their homework done because they were reading about an interest of theirs, I never missed an assignment. While others were creating music and writing lyrics, I decided to do extra credit, even though I never needed it. So, I wonder, why did I even want this position? Sure, I earned it, but what will come of it? When I leave educational institutionalism, will I be successful or forever lost? I have no clue about what I want to do with my life; I have no interests because I saw every subject of study as work, and I excelled at every subject just for the purpose of excelling, not learning. And quite frankly, now I'm scared.
John Taylor Gatto, a retired school teacher and activist critical of compulsory schooling, asserts, "We could encourage the best qualities of youthfulness – curiosity, adventure, resilience, the capacity for surprising insight simply by being more flexible about time, texts, and tests, by introducing kids into truly competent adults, and by giving each student what autonomy he or she needs in order to take a risk every now and then. But we don't do that." Between these cinderblock walls, we are all expected to be the same. We are trained to ace every standardized test, and those who deviate and see light through a different lens are worthless to the scheme of public education, and therefore viewed with contempt.
H. L. Mencken wrote in The American Mercury for April 1924 that the aim of public education is not "to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence. ... Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim ... is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States."
To illustrate this idea, doesn't it perturb you to learn about the idea of "critical thinking?" Is there really such a thing as "uncritically thinking?" To think is to process information in order to form an opinion. But if we are not critical when processing this information, are we really thinking? Or are we mindlessly accepting other opinions as truth?
This was happening to me, and if it wasn't for the rare occurrence of an avant-garde tenth grade English teacher, Donna Bryan, who allowed me to open my mind and ask questions before accepting textbook doctrine, I would have been doomed. I am now enlightened, but my mind still feels disabled. I must retrain myself and constantly remember how insane this ostensibly sane place really is.
And now here I am in a world guided by fear, a world suppressing the uniqueness that lies inside each of us, a world where we can either acquiesce to the inhuman nonsense of corporatism and materialism or insist on change. We are not enlivened by an educational system that clandestinely sets us up for jobs that could be automated, for work that need not be done, for enslavement without fervency for meaningful achievement. We have no choices in life when money is our motivational force. Our motivational force ought to be passion, but this is lost from the moment we step into a system that trains us, rather than inspires us.
We are more than robotic bookshelves, conditioned to blurt out facts we were taught in school. We are all very special, every human on this planet is so special, so aren't we all deserving of something better, of using our minds for innovation, rather than memorization, for creativity, rather than futile activity, for rumination rather than stagnation? We are not here to get a degree, to then get a job, so we can consume industry-approved placation after placation. There is more, and more still.
The saddest part is that the majority of students don't have the opportunity to reflect as I did. The majority of students are put through the same brainwashing techniques in order to create a complacent labor force working in the interests of large corporations and secretive government, and worst of all, they are completely unaware of it. I will never be able to turn back these 18 years. I can't run away to another country with an education system meant to enlighten rather than condition. This part of my life is over, and I want to make sure that no other child will have his or her potential suppressed by powers meant to exploit and control. We are human beings. We are thinkers, dreamers, explorers, artists, writers, engineers. We are anything we want to be – but only if we have an educational system that supports us rather than holds us down. A tree can grow, but only if its roots are given a healthy foundation.
For those of you out there that must continue to sit in desks and yield to the authoritarian ideologies of instructors, do not be disheartened. You still have the opportunity to stand up, ask questions, be critical, and create your own perspective. Demand a setting that will provide you with intellectual capabilities that allow you to expand your mind instead of directing it. Demand that you be interested in class. Demand that the excuse, "You have to learn this for the test" is not good enough for you. Education is an excellent tool, if used properly, but focus more on learning rather than getting good grades.
For those of you that work within the system that I am condemning, I do not mean to insult; I intend to motivate. You have the power to change the incompetencies of this system. I know that you did not become a teacher or administrator to see your students bored. You cannot accept the authority of the governing bodies that tell you what to teach, how to teach it, and that you will be punished if you do not comply. Our potential is at stake.
For those of you that are now leaving this establishment, I say, do not forget what went on in these classrooms. Do not abandon those that come after you. We are the new future and we are not going to let tradition stand. We will break down the walls of corruption to let a garden of knowledge grow throughout America. Once educated properly, we will have the power to do anything, and best of all, we will only use that power for good, for we will be cultivated and wise. We will not accept anything at face value. We will ask questions, and we will demand truth.
So, here I stand. I am not standing here as valedictorian by myself. I was molded by my environment, by all of my peers who are sitting here watching me. I couldn't have accomplished this without all of you. It was all of you who truly made me the person I am today. It was all of you who were my competition, yet my backbone. In that way, we are all valedictorians.
I am now supposed to say farewell to this institution, those who maintain it, and those who stand with me and behind me, but I hope this farewell is more of a "see you later" when we are all working together to rear a pedagogic movement. But first, let's go get those pieces of paper that tell us that we're smart enough to do so!

Monday, August 9, 2010

V-Blog: 感动全中国的~孔雀哥!

Another video that made me cry. Somehow the judges had to really victimise the contestant before the whole story unravels. Nevertheless a very dedicated husband that shows the courage and might of love, true love. 

Don't you just feel better that there are people like these that still exist?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

V-Blog: The Last Lecture

"Achieving your childhood dreams." This is a short clip of Randy Pausch on the Oprah Show. If you like it, you should watch the full 76mins lecture below. 

Several lessons can be learnt from the clip. Watch both, really.

1. His positive outlook.
2. His choice of the positive outlook in life, despite the brickwalls.
3. His ability to reproduce his lecture.(consistently producing good results)
4. His goal setting strategies.
5. His sense of humour!

6. Focus. Do whatever it takes to get you to where you want to be!

"Inspiration. And to dream the impossible."

By the way, he had since passed on. But he left a mark. At least on me.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

V-Blog: Love has no limits.

Love has no limits. Very touching clip. You can feel that connection between the lion and his 'parents'. And yes, I was totally touched by the emotions. Love the people around you, love your life. 

It may be cliche, but treasure the people or things around you before they are gone. It is easy to take things for granted and only miss them when they are gone. Why not start appreciating what you have? Be thankful of what you have every morning when you wake up. You will be happier.

I love my life. So do you.

V-Blog: In the Navy! (Muppets)

Haha. Tribute to my years at sea and to my fellow sailors. Loved the time spent there and the camaraderie. Thank you for the memories. And yes... this makes a nice recruitment video. :)

V-Blog: You are fired.

"You fire the people in your life that tell you can't dream big!" Monster thought.
The Past Doesn't Have a Future, but You Do: Achieving the Future That's in Your Hands

Monday, August 2, 2010

V-Blog: You want something? Go get it. Period.

Nobody's gonna stop you. Nobody but yourself. You choose to receive the 'advice' given to you, whatever, whichever is useful and turn it into your strength and motivation. I live with passion and purpose! I love my life! And so do you.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

V-Blog: Japanese Police vs Darth Vader

First of my video-blog. I had the privilege to view many interesting, inspirational and funny videos. Some of which I think is worth sharing. Therefore, I have decided to use my blog to share with people the videos that I personally like.

I typically enjoyed this one. Ha. Have fun.

WHB #244: Truffles

WHB entry for this week. Truffles!!

Full post here:

Black truffle [Source]
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