Vigor in kindness

Last Monday, my daughter came 1/2 hour late for her Math class at college.  The only available seat was right in front of the tutor and beside a male classmate (whom she has never spoken to before).  The class was copying something from the board.  While she scrambled to take her stationery out, the male classmate tore his notes paper from his book and shoved it to the side of his table and whispered to her, “This is what you missed.”  My daughter murmured ‘thanks’ and copied frantically the notes that she missed from his paper.  I thought it was soooooo sweet of him to do that to her.

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(Crap Taxidermy)

Today, she was early to class but fate has it that the same guy was late, almost 20 minutes. And fate also has it that there was an empty seat beside her (and the fact that the attendance list was also on the empty seat), so the guy took the seat, signed his name and started to take out his things.

Feeling obliged to do the same, my daughter tore off her notes paper from her book, shoved it to the side of her table and whispered to the guy, “This is what you missed.”  The guy said thanks and almost burst into laughter (but he stifled it so as not to break the silence of the room).  He did the ultimate thing.  Instead of copying frantically the notes that he missed (like my daugher did the week before), the guy took out his phone and took a screen shot of the notes.  Done.

Despite feeling foolish that she didn’t think of taking a screenshot of his notes the week before, my daughter still felt so elated that she was able to return the favor to him.

Such vigor in kindness is really commendable and worth mentioning.

Vigor

What I learned from ‘The Girl on the Train’ novel

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I had such vigor reading the book ‘The Girl on the Train’ by Paula Hawkins.  Never had I such determination to finish reading the book as fast as I could amidst my busy schedule.  But I did it! – I finished reading the book in about 12 hours.  It had never happened before.  Never had I been so hooked on a book that I could finish it within such a short time.

I desperately need to watch the movie though I know that the movie will be nothing compared to the actual story.  But nevertheless, I still need to watch it.  I watched the trailer over and over again.

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What’s more important to me is what lessons I learn from the story. I can’t help it.  I’m an English Language Arts (ELA) teacher.  And in any ELA lesson, I have to teach my students to analyze the story that they have read – the author’s style, the mood, the tone, the figurative language, symbolism, irony, foreshadowing, and of course the theme or the moral lessons learnt.

In this post, I’m not going to touch on all the aspects of literary analysis listed above.  I want to touch on only 1 aspect – the moral lessons learnt from the story.  This is just my opinion.  Other people may have different opinions of the lessons they have learnt from the story.  It depends on one’s perspectives of the story and story line.

The first thing I learn from this story is that we can never know the real identity of a person just by looking at his/her physical appearance.  In the story, Rachel, the main character observes a married couple for a few times from afar, from the train, and decides for herself that they are the perfect couple, the most loving couple in the world and she longs to be like them.  But the truth is far from real.

As the story develops, she discovers that the man is actually a jealous, and bad-tempered man who controls his wife to the extent that he checks on her whereabouts and even checks the history of her internet activities.  And when he finds out that she has been searching for an old flame of hers, he blew his top.

The woman, on the other hand, is actually an unfaithful and unstable wife who cheats on her husband with not only one man but two men, or maybe more.  She got pregnant with the last man whom she had an affair with, a married man himself, and met her death in his hands when she refused to abort the baby.  It is such a tragic ending for her though one could sympathise with her because she had had a traumatic early life – the loss of her brother in an accident, getting pregnant at the age of 16 or 17 (I can’t remember), accidentally drowning her baby when she fell asleep in the bathtub while holding the baby, being abandoned by her then boyfriend and the Art gallery that she opened closed down due to poor business.  She was bored, disappointed, helpless especially when her husband is constantly out of town on business.

The story also deals a lot with the problems faced by an alcoholic – the fear, the helplessness, the confusion and the trauma caused by such habits.  It surfaces to the readers the psychological, mental and physical problems that crop up due to drinking.  It should open one’s eyes that drinking, does not solve problems and in fact, create more problems for the person and to the people around him/her – family, relatives, friends, society, community.

The third lesson that we can learn from this story is the issue of extra-marital affairs.  This is really a big problem in our society – huge.  It has become so common that people don’t have any guilty feeling any longer. This story portrays the multitude of problems that can surface due to cheating or extra-marital affairs.  It affects everybody and it leads to a whole set of new problems that we could never fathom.  A few minutes of pleasure can cost a lifetime of misery and tribulation.  Despite knowing this, many people are still doing it, causing marriages to collapse, family to break up and children at the mercy of the divorce.  The problem spirals into a vicious cycle of a broken family, society and country.

Well – these are some of the lessons that we can learn from this story.  Hope you enjoy reading my analyses and hope that this book can be a platform for us to reflect upon ourselves and evaluate our own lives, our family and our society.

Vigor

Pictures are worth a thousand likes

After actively blogging for 1 year plus now, I realize the ‘sad’ truth that people value pictures more than the content of a post. 

I’m never sore that I don’t receive as many likes as others and I’m not really looking for likes to my posts. I post because I love writing and I love sharing what I experience. I’m not much of a talker. I’m actually quite a quiet person. My family knows that and my husband at times complains and many times compliments me for that. So I’m happy and I don’t intend to change my personality. 

However, what I’m sad is that blogs which have lots of pictures especially selfies tend to be liked more by people even though the content is not good at all or there is no content at all. On the other hand, posts which have much better content and meaning receive fewer likes. Sometimes I’m guilty of this – not reading but just browsing – but I do try to read as much as I could. 

Maybe people are just too busy to read and just love to browse pictures. I don’t know. That’s okay. But I think we should support other WRITERS by reading their contents as we can get to learn lots of stuffs by reading other people’s stories and experiences. We get to share feelings and we get to empathize and sympathize with others who are faced with many life’s trials and tribulations. Sometimes people write because they are lonely and they need support from strangers because they couldn’t get the correct support from family or friends. 

So, Let’s support each other and our fellow friends and extend our hands of consolations. Just let them know that we have read their stuffs and no matter where they are they know that there is somebody from somewhere around the world cares about them and hears them. 
Do I make any sense?  No picture here. 🙂

Waterboarding

When I saw the news headlines below, I was amazed and I asked myself ‘why would Trump not allow waterboarding?’ thinking about ‘waterboarding-the sport or more commonly called wake boarding’ and forgetting that it has another, serious meaning.

Will Trump allow waterboarding? Not on McCain’s watch.

It was only after reading a few lines of the news that I realized my mistake.  What an innocent name to attribute to a torture to elicit information from suspects or even innocent people. [For those not familiar with the meaning of waterboarding, it is ‘an interrogation technique in which water is forced into a detainee’s mouth and nose so as to induce the sensation of drowning.” (Merriem Webster)].

Children who may not be familiar with the meaning may think that waterboarding is just like any sports which has the word board attached to it such as skateboarding, wake boarding, kneeboarding, paddleboarding, bodyboarding and flyboarding.

The name actually is not ancient and was only recently created.  Webster’s Dictionary first included the term in 2009 although it was first used in 2004.

Curious to know who created the word, I dived into wikipedia and found the lame answer:

“Techniques using forcible drowning to extract information had hitherto been referred to as “water torture“, “water treatment”, “water cure” or simply “torture”.

Professor Darius Rejali of Reed College, author of Torture and Democracy (2007), speculates that the term waterboarding probably has its origin in the need for a euphemism.

“There is a special vocabulary for torture. When people use tortures that are old, they rename them and alter them a wee bit. They invent slightly new words to mask the similarities. This creates an inside club, especially important in work where secrecy matters. Waterboarding is clearly a jailhouse joke. It refers to surfboarding”– a word found as early as 1929– “they are attaching somebody to a board and helping them surf. Torturers create names that are funny to them.”

Yeah! ‘Euphemism’ it is and very ‘funny’ indeed.  As a teacher, I don’t approve of it.  I’m glad there are still humane people who are not afraid to voice out their opposition of this torturous and barbaric method of interrogation.

Is it really a successful method to elicit information from detainees?  Well, here’s the answer:

In December 2014, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence issued a declassified 500 page summary of its still classified 6,700 page report on the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Detention and Interrogation Program. The report concluded that “the CIA’s use of enhanced interrogation techniques (EIT) was not effective for acquiring intelligence or gaining cooperation from detainees.” According to the report, the CIA had presented no credible proof that information obtained through waterboarding or the other harsh interrogation methods that the CIA employed prevented any attacks or saved any lives. There was no evidence that information obtained from the detainees through EIT was not or could not have been obtained through conventional interrogation methods.

 

Elicit

Rafflesia

A few years ago while teaching the topic on adaptation, I came across a unique flower that uses not butterflies, moths, birds or bees as its pollinating agents but rather the disgusting carrion flies.  Not only that, I learnt that this flower is the world’s largest, the heaviest, the rarest and one of the most stinkiest flowers in the world.

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http://www.rafflesiaflower.com
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Lost Borneo – WordPress.com
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floristtaxonomy.Com
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Britannica

 

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Our Jungle House

This unique plant has no leaves, roots nor stem and is actually a parasite that attaches itself to a rarer host plant called Tetrastigma vine.  Why it is still called a plant bewilders me more because without leaves, it doesn’t have chlorophyll, and hence, cannot photosynthesize.

In 1818, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, a British statesman and governor and the founder of Singapore, found this unique flower while leading an expedition in the Indonesian rainforest in Bengkulu, together with an Indonesian guide and his companion, surgeon-naturalist Dr. Joseph Arnold. It was later named after him, the Rafflesia arnoldii.  “It is perhaps the largest and most magnificent flower in the world” was how Sir Stamford Raffles described his discovery.  

Rafflesia was first discovered by Louis Deschamps in Java between 1791 and 1794, but because his notes and illustrations were seized by the British in 1803, they were only available to western science after 1861.   

The flower is basically a big pot in the center, flanked by five, 1-inch thick lobes of shining, bright red and cream-spotted petals. There are about 28 species of this flower.  So far, it is the biggest flower with an all-time record-breaking bloom of 106.7 centimetres (3 ft 6 in) diameter and 11 kilograms (24 lb) weight.  Even the flowers of its smallest species has 12 cm diameter flowers.

The uniqueness of this flower does not end there.  Not only does it look like rotting flesh, it smells like one too, hence its local names which translate to ‘corpse flower’ or ‘bunga bangkai’ as the Indonesians call it.  Its foul and pungent aroma attracts insects such as carion flies to help in pollination.  

It’s good to know that despite its pungent odor and not so attractive petals, Rafflesia is the official state flower of Indonesia known as Puspa langka (Rare flower) or Padma Raksasa (Giant flower), the Sabah state in Malaysia and the Surat Thani Province of Thailand.

Rafflesia is also an endangered or threatened genus.  The constant logging and destruction of the rainforests are threatening the existence of this rare and beautiful flower (despite its foul aroma).

“The plant is now hanging on to a precarious existence in a few pockets of Sumatra, Borneo, Thailand and the Philippines, struggling to survive against marauding humans and its own infernal biology.” (http://www.theflowerexpert.com/content/aboutflowers/largest-flower)

 

 

 

Aromatic

A Gentle Reminder

For those who are facing a rough patch in their lives, here’s a gentle reminder:

 

Know that God is always there to watch us all

Know that He sees you when you stumble and fall

Sometimes He wait and let you cry for a while

Before picking you up and bringing back your smile

 

This world is full of trials and tribulations

They hit the rich and the poor without hesitations

But don’t be discouraged because they are never permanent

Get up, move forward and don’t be despondent

 

Don’t be jealous of those who are ostentatious and famous

They are just flamboyant, vainglorious and never gracious

Deep inside they are never happy nor contented

In fact they are depressed because their hearts are dead

 

So just be grateful with your own private lives

Love your family and sincere friends that give you the drives

Happiness comes not from material, money nor fame

It’s waiting for you to unleash it if you know how to play its game

Happy Weekend Everybody

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Ostentatious

Mythical

We teachers often visualize a mythical classroom where the students are all intelligent, hardworking and well-behaved. So, we often come to class early in the morning with a happy and enthusiastic feeling, ready to impart the day’s knowledge.

But more often than not, midway through the lesson, we start to feel frustrated and flabbergasted, realizing that 1/4 of the class is starting to get on our nerves with their misbehavior, half of the remaining students class don’t understand what we have just explained to them while the other half is impatiently bored, waiting for us to roll out the next activity or assignment as they have already long completed the previous one.

Well, at times like these that we teachers wish that a unicorn flies down from the sky, swoops us on its back and brings us to the mythical world of the fairies and angels where we don’t have to worry about quizzes and assignments, students, parents and headteachers.  Ahhhhhhh!!!!!

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WAKE UP FROM YOUR MYTHICAL DREAM!!!!!!!!

 

Mythical

Pictures credit from: http://pixhome.blogspot.com/2014/10/princess-with-unicorn-horse-fairy-tale-story-images-for-girls.html

My new banner

Spent a few hours doing my banner and logo – just for the fun of it.  Not really trying to fish for compliments – but if you do have, I’ll welcome them with open arms.  🙂

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Love my new motto:

Spread Love & Knowledge, Stamp out Hate & Ignorance

Fish