July 18, 2008

Mental Block Part 2

Since the last time I wrote in here, I have experienced little change from my daily routine of waking up, watching tv and resting, and more resting. Although I have written part of my first three chapters of my thesis, I felt that I have not done a whole lot more. I have not, for instance continue on my literature review, the one that I have made changes with a thousand times now, and I havent really got down to seriously writing about the samples I use for my research. What I had gained momentum is, writing creatively about my book on my life in England. Somehow writing creatively makes you feel as though there is a sense or reason to waste time. I feel there is a great deal to write about creatively than subjecting myself to write just on my research. Im wondering if any of my peers feel the same about their research or have they managed to produce work almost near completion. I dont want to think about it because it will make me feel lagged and far behind, afterall whatever I do, or will do, is my own prerogative. Unless I want to be branded a slacker, I better pull myself through this monotony and conquer my own malaise and laziness. Please help me God.

April 03, 2008

Research and Mental Block

I am back home for my field work and I am drained. I have reached a point of not wanting to read anymore, at least till I get my momentum again.

Home truly is the place to be for major distractions, and I expertly succumed to these. The kitchen beckons me to bake a cake every single day, and the bedroom entices me to lay down and watch Greys Anotomy day after day. My family just loves me doing nothing but just sit and play with them, hence I get tired and bored of reading and writing my work. I think this is what we call mental block, I hate to sit with my laptop unless its in my garden and writing creatively instead of academically. Yes, I’m in the process of writing many things, including journals for publications, my own research and also my other interests. I figured, since I like to write so much, why dont I try writing other things, but I realised its at the expense of my proper academic work.

And the school visits and observations are not helping either. Teachers are not cooperating well enough, cancelling their appointments with me and I simply hate to impose on these busy teachers just so I could see how they teach for my research purposes. So you see, I am quite tired and I think I need a grand holiday to cheer me up again. But I am so afraid to get myself into one because I will take time to come back to form.

I wonder if people out there know what to do in times like these? Do I just continue writing and reading and feel so sick of it, or do I take a break and just think of other things, or should I just quit totally? Doing a PhD is no easy job, imagine putting at least 3 years doing just one thing, how did people manage to get out of their boredom I wonder. I hope some light will come my way, otherwise I might just totally forget what Im doing.

January 01, 2008

Happy New Year Anyone?

I realised that this blog’s title has got to change because it is obviously not perpetually that I add anything new. But today really, I have got something to say.

Frankly, the hype about New Year is far greater than what it actually is. I know for some people it is as important as celebrating a new born, in fact some really do give birth on New Years day, but to most of us, it is just the changing of the last digit in the year number. Nothing much can be said about that, Im sorry, but that is just what there is to it.

Yes,some people do make New Year’s resolutions and break them even before welcoming the daybreak, but to me it is just another hype or worse an excuse. Because to me, if you want to change anything in life, including the way you look, behave or even breathe, you can start at any point in time, New year or not, so resolutions, to me, really just a matter of making sure you play along with the hype. This contrived idea that you should make a New Year’s resolution just because it IS New Year, put pressure on some people or even guilt. I for one feel that I never needed a New Year’s resolution and the best way to welcome the year is to relax my muscles by a bed-in on New Years day. Afterall, I have set-goals and targets every month of the year already, so does a New Year resolution really necessary at all? I wonder what people who, like Bridget Jones, say things like wanting to lose weight, or quit smoking or drink-less really stick to their guns after the New Year’s spirits have worn thin? It would be nice to research on this some time, and wonder about the millions of the inhibitants of this planet, how many of them actually achieved their resolutions at all. To me, stressing yourself with unrealistic goals ( or in New Year’s term, a resoluition) is really torture with the capital T. Why would you want to wish someone a happy New Year knowing that he or she has a resolution that will kill his or her ablity to taste desserts for the whole year just so the scales would agree with them? This is absurd. How could anyone be happy when he realises that he has a resolution to keep.

So my friends I want to wish you a happy New Year, with no strings attached, no goals set and best of all, no guilt whatsoever when you decide to down that slice of cheesecake. Happy New Year

November 16, 2007

Private Time

Somehow when you have alot of readings to do and a whole paper to write you tend to digress a lot, well at least the mind digresses to some where else. I am doing just that even though I had targetted to submit my upgrade paper today, so that my dear supervisors could have an interesting read over the weekend, NOT.

I have actually completed my writing but somehow I feel it needs tweeking. I wish I had a proof reader who like works just couple of days and have at least 3 days to spend with me reading what I have written. I have the feeling that I could be experiencing academia block. Big mental blog of where to go and what to do next.

In this present digression of sorts, I saw the call for application of Rootes Fund. I felt somewhat encouraged again. I have a little project that I want to do and I am thinking of asking for this fund. Nobody seems to give me any funds here at Warwick even though I must say that I am as poor as a church mouse, ( are they poor at all?) In my private time I want to do this small project that could either make me famous or infamous. Depends on how you take it. I wonder if someone can help with me this and my ideas are BIG. Then I think again, do we have private time as doctotal candidates? I have readings to do, I have papers to write and I have preparations for field work to think of, so where is my private time?

I believe the first year of PhD is a nice time. I have travelled, oh yes I have, I have read, well, not as much as I wish I had, I have moved houses, numerous times and this time further a field, I worked part- time, I taught in Coventry Schools for good money (at least to my standards), I have made extreme changes in my life, too extreme to put them down here, I have been invited to present my ideas and share what I know at home and abroad and all other things related to being a doctoral candidate. So are all those considered private time? I think so. I have yet to have a proper structure to my private time, so as not to overlap this with my PhD stuff time. And by the looks of things I might have too much Private Time and too little PhD time, or it is the other way around?

August 30, 2007

Work and Time

I am back home for the summer and finally, I managed to complete creating the surveys I wanted. But everything seems so mediocre to me. I feel that I could do better to get the information I want. The MOE in Singapore, even though they approved my research, still wants me to get permission to conduct these surveys. And for conducting my classroom observations, I will only be given 6 months to complete. I suddenly realised that I am pressed for time. I wonder if anyone feels or have felt the same when conducting their research. Everything seems to move so fast.

On a lighter note, my papers have been accepted at two great conferences. Wikimania, which was held in Taiwan in early August accepted my paper : Wilkipedia – A tool of Knowldge, or an Internet Phenomenon?
It felt great really. Then yesterday I received another acceptance note this time from COnference of technology, knowledge and society telling me they too have accepted my paper. Im feeling happy about this because after Taiwan, Im travelling to Boston, in January. Frankly conferences make you learn more than what the uni offers and I like writing. So, it becomes extra pleasant to read, write and share what you have done with like-minded people. I am truly looking forward to sharing my research with more people.
This weblog will now be a portal of my research, my updates on work and play and of course my way of of being contacted.

Home front, I feel very comfortable at home that I feel I’m not doing as much work as expected. But I have a conference which I will present and share some points about teaching using technology on the 8th of Septemeber, this will be conducted in Malay, my mother-tongue and organised by the national press. Of course I feel delighted in sharing, but again, it makes me feel that time is pressing on me.

I wish there are more than 24 hours in my days, and another 24 in my nights.

May 24, 2007

Love The Weather, Love England. So far.

Ok, finally after being here for months, the weather is being kind to me. I didnt enjoy the weather when I first arrived in December and returned immediately to the comforts of home after spending a month here. Now, my oh my, I don’t think I want to go home for the summer. There is something about the English weather all through Spring and Summer. I feel that it is sunny enough, but at the same time, it isnt warm enough to go around without my light jacket. At the same time, I feel sweaty when I have my coat zipped up. It is amazing how the breeze can be cool and the sun very sunny and we feel just right in between.

I have been enjoying the lovely English weather ( if we call it that, at least in summery spring) by travelling to all sorts of places on weekends. So far, I have gone to Manchester, far too many times, a hangover from a brilliant Bryan Adams concert, Lake District, Liverpool, CHester and come June, I will enjoy the South, Brighton and the surrounding areas. What is fascinating about this country is that it is truly beuatiful as it stands. The countryside, if you took a drive on an old Grasmere road towards Windermere, is simply magnificent, without being pretencious or unnatural, well of course not, England’s natural beuaty lies in the fact that its geographical position in itself lends charm and beauty to the world map. I find it so fascinating travelling along the lakes sandwiched between mountains or hills, with waterfall streaming down and feel so at peace with nature. And I must thank God for this opportunity to truly feel the charms of England. So much so that if you ask me for any reason why I want to stay here and not go back to Singapore, I would say, well it is a beuatiful country, so I want to stay. Don’t get me wrong, I dont want to be British, I dont need their passport because Singaporeans are allowed to go anywhere without Visa and we are welcomed the world over, but the reason to stay would simply be because I truly enjoy its beauty.

Beauty Abound
Another factor that England is so good to me is the fact that I can travel to say Venice, or Madrid, at the drop of a hat, because its cheap to travel and its fast and convenient. So I figured, let me enjoy the summer breeze a little, and then decide, when to come home to Singapore, where I truly belong. But for now, lets see more cows, shall we?

January 13, 2007

The Mac and Me

The discussion of late, among techies and spenders looking for a new toy, had been on the new apple phone, which to me is hardly any new technology. Now that the proposed iPhone name is gonna be contested, I wonder what it would be called this time. I wonder too if, like the Guardian anticipated, there will be a scramble for it because, even I, the self-proclaimed Apple addict have doubts.

Apple and me have a long standing relationship. At 16, some decades ago, the Macintosh became my first bedroom companion. It was pure pleasure I tell you, and from then, the relationship grew. I upgraded this partnership further with each new-born from Apple. Mac SE, Mac LSe, iMac,ibook and thats because to me truly, a Mac is the REAL computer, the PC is a copycat. But of course I did try my hands at a couple of International Business Machines, courtesy of my workplace. After decades of using Mac, I was also into their other toys. On one of my birthdays some years back, Apple produced iPod and iTunes, once again, I started a love affair with it.

I dont know if I can call myself a techie just because I love new technology.But I can say that my brothers are such an influence. Not only that we have every game console that comes to the market,but we were also very willing to queue for that Halo 2, PSP, PS3 and Xbox 360. Does it make one a techie if she finds relaxation playing FIFA on the Xbox or riding wild in a virtual Motorcross? Does it mean if you watch full length Torgue on your PSP that you are a confirmed tech-addict? Does it mean that when you pack one suitcase filled with your game stations, two lappies, and a high-end portable printer, hifis for your iPod and other paraphenelia like Skype phone, webcam and the works, makes you a techie? I dont know what I am, but I know that my love affair with technology is beacuse of the Apple.

The simple first machine I had was addictive and when I am addicted, I get the whole works. I wonder if everyone who owns the iPod also owns the iTrip, for listening in the car, the iTalk so that good lectures are not left unheard, and the different hifis. I must admit that when Apple comes out with something, its usually warrants a cult following and I’m so ashamed to admit that I might be that too.

But now I dont know about the new iPhone. I have had all sorts of phone, the Palm Treo, the O2, the HP iPaq, the normal GSM phones and the complicated 3G ones and I must say my liking for PDA phones is null. I hated them when I had them. And when I got them as presents, I wondered if the stores had ran out of other gifts. So I dont think I will warm up to a phone that holds more than a basic phone and a 2MP camera. I dont think I will be a teeanger here and do nothing but play with one device all day. I still want my songs on my iPod, still want to Macbook Pro for Internet. I dont know if Apple will do what it did to me for many many years, with this new phone. I have to wait and see and thank God, it will take at least 6 months before it lands in Britain because hey, I still havent got my hands on the Wii.

PS: I still have my first Macintosh SE from decades ago sitting on my old bureau, and I bet it works. Will try it tonight.

January 11, 2007

Money Issues

Have you noticed how little money grants us these days? I mean, inflation is rather high and for the same amount of money, we get lesser stuff than we used to.

When I came to Warwick, I knew that things will have to triple in value, yes, 1GPB is almost 3 bucks back home. When I transfered my what seemed too much savings into pounds, I got so little in return and with this amount in pounds, I got even lesser stuff in England. My rent alone is 550GBP a month, and I have to get the furniture I need,like my bureau, on my own and that sort of added up to my start-up cost in England. Just two weeks in England had cost me what it would usually take in 3 months in Singapore. This to me was, super insane.

So being BIG on frugality, I learned my lesson fast. I have now bought almost everything that I would need in England, in Singapore. I didnt realise that I was packing my return-to-UK luggage with things as small as a bathroom mat, because it only cost me $9.0 SGD which is only 3GBP, and that for a plush mat that would warm my feet when I hit the loo. Even if I’m only returning end of the month, I have already packed 1 huge luggage with stuff for my stay in England. I know this might sound insane, but this saves me three times more already.

I wonder if all foreigners face the same issues as me. And I wonder why I didnt choose to do this in say India, where my Singapore dollar will reign supreme. Oh yes, even though it will be cheap to do that, I might lose my job when I returned or worse, not finding any job thereafter. So I guess this money issues just have to sort itself, in the end I must ask myself, do I want the money to be worth the while and work for me in the end or just let it remain, just money?

January 05, 2007

Under The Weather

Everybody’s talking about the weather these days. At home we are still having heavy rains and although we are sunny all year round, we do expect the rain this time of year. But the weather lately have been funny that even UN chief himself had made a comment that the world is not taking too much actions in understanding and looking at global warming.

Indonesia Ferry VictimI hate to open the morning papers to read about mishaps at sea, air and even in the back gardens of people in the neighbouring countries.I feel helpless that I cant do anything about the poor conditions of these people or even help in altering the weather. As a child I remember putting a chilli and a garlic on a stick and poke it into the ground if I had a big outing the next day. It was supposedly asking the rain to go away.Of course my 8 year old neighbour taught me that and of course it was never proven effective. But even while being so naive then, I understood what rain could do to an otherwise memorable outing.

So imagine when you live in a country untouched by the weather no matter what when your immediate neighbours suffer in major ways. Indonesia has had not 1 but 3 ferry sinkings in the past week.Lives were lost and with each ferry carrying more than 500 people each, can you imagine the magnitude of these accidents supposedly caused by strong seas under the weather? Malaysia, another immediate neighbour of ours is all flood up, clearing now but slowly, and an Indonesian airplane carrying 120 passengers have still not been found in Sulewesi, Indonesia. Malaysian Flood

I count Singapore truly lucky. Imagine when the Tsunami hit Indonesia and part of Malaysia, Singapore, being the smallest red dot was not even touched. If this was not luck then was is it ? We are surrounded by bigger countries and like the youngest family member, we are often protected by the brotherly arms of these countries. While we do not have to pick up the mess, we often, out of our own gratefulness, help in ways that we can. Today Singapore’s Air force sent two jet planes to the plains of Sulewesi in search of the missing Adam Air. When Malaysia was flooded last week, we sent our nurses and doctors and clothes and necessities. These help us keep our neighbourly ties, but deep down I know, they make us count our blessings.

So what do you do when you are under the weather? In Singapore, we count our blessings and pray that we will always be protected by God and love and in the meantime if there are those hit hard by it, we render help or our silent prayers.

January 04, 2007

New Year and New weight issues.

I didnt have a huge party to welcome the New year’s. In fact, I didnt even remember to do the usual countdown or witness the fireworks display over the bridge like I did last year. This year, because of Eid Adha, we had our party of sorts, early.

Eventhough I vowed to stop feasting on a daily basis, I had a huge feast on Eid Adha,which happened on New Year’s Eve.I had to tell myself that I dont want to carry the excess baggage and since I hate to exercise, I had better watch what I put on my plate. My better half noted that I am on a perpetual diet and that I should not worry too much. But of course I worry. The last time I had 14kilos to burn, I jogged 10km every other day. I lost all of that in 2 months and the agony and perspiration should be enough to put me off food. But it’s hard, I love food and I especially love rich food.

On New Years day, I weighed myself and promised that I will try to lose at least 10kg off my frame. Of course that would mean buying a whole new wardrobe, but thats not the point, its just that I feel that weight issues are hard to handle. No matter where you go nowadays, nobody seems to want to have weight issues and I’m no exception. But most importantly, I worry if I would inherit diabetes or hypertension or worse heart diseases just because. But of course I’m not about to be bulimic or anoroxic. I intend to do it the healthy way and what better day to start than New Year’s. Of course I could quietly visit the surgeon on my spouse’s account, but now now, I should behave – I must remember its the New year, new resolutions new promises new everything. Heck I’m even at a new place.

So this blog is going to be a witness to my weighty issues. It will report the ups and downs of the weighing scale and I will invent a new reward system just to boost my morale. Let’s see if the new year brings me luck this time. Hmm..

January 02, 2007

Warwick? Where's that. (part 2)

Back from where I left off..

I remember why I didnt even apply Cambridge. I was in Cambridge in June 2006, deciding on places to study, among other things. What I saw was an eye opener. I arrived on a Sunday morning, nineish, and students were everywhere, good sign, they wake up early on Sundays, but I believe it was not an ordinary day. Because the men and women had champagne and wine glasses in their hands and it was blinking Sunday morning. Surely it was not a case of bad hangover, because they were semi-smartly dressed. The men had bermudas and shirts, and had their college ties on. Another weird thing. I asked my tour guide to explain what was going on and she said, there must be something but she didnt know what it was.The girls were in party clothes, like it was still Saturday night.

But the thing that turned me off totally was how cold the place was. Forget asking them questions, because they would look at you and say sorry, they cant help. I experienced this twice, once at the St John’s College office, and another at the Academic dress shop round the corner( let’s not mention names here). This shop sells anything Cambridge. The sales persons were unfriendly and looked at their potential customers with funny eyes. I didnt dare touch anything just in case I’d be charged for touching their t-shirts. And of course the prices were also out of this world.

The only thing I liked about the place was its beauty. Old buildings and the meandering River Cam were enough to melt hearts and make young minds imagine what it will be like studying there. But for me, it was just a nice photo backdrop.

January 01, 2007

Eid Adha

Yesterday was Eid Adha. And I was glad that I was home for it. It’s one of the few sacred days for Muslims all around the world. And for the first time, I did the sacrificial slaughter of the sheep. Let me explain why muslims do this sacred practice annually.

During the celebration of Eid al-Adha, Muslims commemorate and remember Abraham’s trials, by themselves slaughtering an animal such as a sheep, camel, or goat. This action is very often misunderstood by those outside the faith.


Slaughtered and waiting to be shared.

One of Abraham’s main trials was to face the command of Allah to kill his only son.Upon hearing this command, he prepared to submit to Allah’s will. When he was all prepared to do it, Allah revealed to him that his “sacrifice” had already been fulfilled. He had shown that his love for his Lord superceded all others, that he would lay down his own life or the lives of those dear to him in order to submit to God.

Allah has given us power over animals and allowed us to eat meat, but only if we pronounce His name at the solemn act of taking life. Muslims slaughter animals in the same way throughout the year. By saying the name of Allah at the time of slaughter, we are reminded that life is sacred.

The meat from the sacrifice of Eid al-Adha is mostly given away to others. One-third is eaten by immediate family and relatives, one-third is given away to friends, and one-third is donated to the poor. The act symbolizes our willingness to give up things that are of benefit to us or close to our hearts, in order to follow Allah’s commands. It also symbolizes our willingness to give up some of our own bounties, in order to strengthen ties of friendship and help those who are in need. We recognize that all blessings come from Allah, and we should open our hearts and share with others.

It is very important to understand that the sacrifice itself, as practiced by Muslims, has nothing to do with atoning for our sins or using the blood to wash ourselves from sin. This is a misunderstanding by those of previous generations: “It is not their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah; it is your piety that reaches Him.” (Qur’an 22:37)

The symbolism is in the attitude – a willingness to make sacrifices in our lives in order to stay on the Straight Path. Each of us makes small sacrifices, giving up things that are fun or important to us. A true Muslim, one who submits his or herself completely to the Lord, is willing to follow Allah’s commands completely and obediently. It is this strength of heart, purity in faith, and willing obedience that our Lord desires from us.
from www.islam.about.com

To me also the act of slaughtering the sheep on the special day is one that is waited by so many Muslims all around, especially the ones who have little to go by. In fact in SIngapore, most of the meat go to the poor in Indonesia, Cambodia and even the recent flood victims,in Malaysia. So for the unitiated this practice is also an act of charity. We are only allowed to take 1/3 of the animal for friends and relative, the other 2/3 must be given to the poor. I wonder how Eid was celebrated or obseverd in Warwick.

December 29, 2006

Warwick? Where is that ?...

From the moment I made up my mind that I would attend Warwick, I had different reactions and/or responses from the people who had asked me where I would go for study in the UK. In other words, many of them have not either heard of it, or worse, knew it existed. The fact that Warwick is pronounced non phonetically also makes this place sounds so uncredible to the people of my neighbourhood.

For my 85 year old dad,UK education would only mean either Oxford or Cambridge, and whatever you study in London is only either law or fashion. So imagine when I told him that I’m reading Education at Warwick. He simply went,”Ay, wheres that??’( he accompanied that of course with a look of genuine concern that I might not get a credible education for all this effort).

It also doesnt help that my local university is *top 20 in the world *and far more famous than the unheard of ” Warwick”. Time and again, I found myself having to tell people, or rather convince them, that I am in a great instituition recognised for its esteemed faculties and members and research and that its also top 10 in the UK. But many people are like my dad, they’ve only heard of Oxford and Cambridge and if you are not in them you are not anywhere. Come to think of it, why havent I applied for those two anyways? I applied for York, Bristol, Manchester and I didnt even think of applying for the top two. I cant remember now, what it was that stopped me from applying to them.Hmm…

So I feel that as part of the student body of Warwick, I should have the committment and drive to make my studies here fruitful and move towards making this choice institution world renowned and recognised. At least I have succeeded doing that with my dad who had stopped regularly reminding me to check the status of the university before committing further. I think it would take longer for people on my side of town to know that this is great place to study and its not like I’m wasting my time here. All it takes is time and I guess before long this would be just like another Oxford and Cambridge, but with a more progressive outlook, and a nicer place to be in … ah now I remember why I didnt apply to those two.

December 27, 2006

What is it with Britain?

You will realise that you are in love with one country when you tend to keep coming back to it without even thinking twice. I think I have slowly begun to like England despite its cruel weather on my Asian skin.

I was in Britain for three weeks in June while on some sort of tour of schools to find the best one suited for me. I visited all of England, and Edinburgh too, for this sole purpose. I liked the weather in June and without thinking twice really, I opted to come in December to start my pursuit of education. However, my judgement was so off, to be in England in December is like asking for wasabe with everything. But truly I had no choice, I have work commitments and December is the only time I thought suitable. Of couse, I know better now.

But there is truly something about Britain that will make me return to it many times over, even if London smells bad, even if Coventry is dead, even if the Lake District is a ghost town after 3pm. There is something about it that makes me think ” let’s see, when can I go to England?” Whatever it is I dont really know, but I will have 3 years to find out. Hopefully by then, I dont have cravings for the creme brule and creme doughnuts at Harrods or the chippy at Brighton or the Briyani in Manchester. Otherwise, 3 years will never be enough. Hmm…

December 26, 2006

Wondering Tonight

The night after Christmas,yes, the Boxing Day night always makes me feel that the year is closing on me and there are so much to catch up on. Sometimes, I feel nervous thinking about what I could or should have done before the year ends. And tonight, I feel the same.

I started my doctoral journey sometime before my mind even settles for it.I mean, I had been accepted into 6 unis in the UK and I dont quite know why I settled for Warwick. Now, I shouldn’t choose the word ‘settled’ because then it would make it sound as if I hadn’t cared. Or worse, just ‘settled’ for something lesser.The thing is, I always knew I would have a doctorate degree before I am 40, yes too late for some of us,but when it was really time to work at it, I was already busy with what I was doing to even have a clean break before I start studying again. It is all still muddled up there I say. And this makes me nervous.

I came to Coventry on the 7th of December, giving myself exactly a month to get intuned to my new scholarly pursuit. But 4 days after arriving,home was beckoning again. And yes because I hadnt done a clean break from work to start my sabbatical, I would have to clean up some mess first before they reckon I could start afresh. But this call-up back home is somewhat a blessing in disguise… Baba had taken ill, very ill, and being the youngest and the closest to him, I didnt mind losing my GBPs to be near him or with him. What a start to a scholarly life!

I have started reading my books again, while waiting for work to begin and Baba to recover, and hopefully to be in the mood of things and start scholarly life proper. I reckon life is not gonna be a breeze and I know it will be expensive too,(why didnt I choose Australia or America or even go local beats me) but what a heck, if I want to be professor before I am 40, I better get kicking quickly otherwise, I’m no better than that relic in a museum, pretty to look at, but what was it before?

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