Saturday, February 21, 2009

Some mornings are just brilliant!

So I slept at 2.00 a.m. this morning after a long Council meeting, and awoke to my alarm at 6.30 a.m. for the Pesta Tiong Hua IV (PTH IV) photo shoot. Despite not being in the committee (only first-year students are appointed), I was requested by Josephine to be the photographer.

It was fun, and we wrapped it up by 8.00 a.m., just as the sun was rising. Last year, the shoot started at about that time, and it was quite challenging to hold reflectors, cardboard pieces and other opaque sheets to block the sunlight streaming in.

Picture of the day: Technical Department.

After breakfast was the shoot for committee members.

Portrait of the day: Josephine, Head of the Multimedia Department.

* * * * *

Upon reaching home, Mum told me the bamboo plant in Popo's house was flowering. It's quite rare to see flowers on bamboo plants.

The chicks are coming along fine! Here's mother bird feeding her offspring.

The year so far...

There were a number of things I wanted to blog about before the end of last year, but this year came and after a very hectic January, I find myself barely hanging on to February's soon-to-be-breakneck speed.

Last year's stories, hopefully, will find expression here in the days to come. Certainly the trips to Sabah and Penang rank among my most memorable ever, and to think two of my closest guy friends and two of my closest girl friends were a part of those trips! And then there was December, one of the best Decembers ever...

* * * * *

So here are some glimpses of the year so far.

Ironic that after such a pleasant reunion dinner, the year 2008 had to end, and the new semester begin, with such an unfortunate incident.

But God saw me, saw us, through it. Praise Him.

At dawn, a purple sky slowly gives way to orange; it is the reverse at dusk. Pink is transient, and to me that makes it all the more special a colour in the sky.

I still seek the cotton candy sky over dandelion fields.

(Shot outside college the morning of Ai Wei's first day at work.)

The class had some fun extracting DNA from onions during our Genetics and Evolutionary Biology lab on 23 Jan.

Yet on the whole, smiles and occasional laughter aside, the year so far has been a draining attempt at finding ways out of various predicaments.

I seek an exit; there must be a way out of all this.

Looks like the VI still has quite a few bright ideas! Jon suggested I send it to The Star, which I did. It was published, but lost out on the RM50 prize to a picture of a tree whose 'leaves' were gold angpaus.

Jon and I returned to Scrabble after a four-year hiatus and, despite finishing only in 7th place in the Astar-NST Scrabble Challenge International organised by First College, managed to hand defeats to Khoo Beng Way and his teammate, some of the better young players in the local Scrabble Masters circles.

We've been encouraged to keep playing Scrabble by our competitors, and their friends and parents. I guess our paths have led us to other things, but we'll never forget our Scrabble roots!

I was born, more than 21 years ago, into this house. Some reflections will continue to echo in our lives even as we move on.

A pair of birds made their nest in Popo's house at the very end of January. The two hatchlings are doing quite well now.

I have yet to ascertain the species.

Wahid's Café at the Linguistics Faculty gave away angpaus when school reopened after the Chinese New Year break.

CNY was somewhat special this year as I was able to catch up with a couple of old flames. *wink*

Pastor Stanley shared this Benjamin Franklin quote: "If you do not want to be forgotten upon dying, either write things worth reading, or do things worth writing about."

How shot this, shaking his head. "Bendahari, Bendahari..."

(I was trying to recapture the stalk-eyed fly that escaped. They were extremely hard to trap using the aspirator.)

How's white damselfly mysteriously 'resurrected'. This happened the week before Thary left for Antarctica.

One theory is that it was left in the oven way too long (three weeks), but Thary suggested that it must've been the Jesus of the damselflies, and the following conversation ensued:

Ben: "Have you ever seen a white damselfly?"
Thary: "Yes, just the other day... oh wait, that must've been it!"

The first phase of covered walkways is complete. It actually works; I was kept dry in the lightly falling rain. Haven't tried walking in a thunderstorm yet, though.

Marshmallows in beef stew: recipe for disaster or brave gastronomical adventure? Perhaps some things shouldn't be mixed, or at least not too much.

We hurt each other, then we do it again; U2, 'One'

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Dad at 50

Born: Kuala Lumpur, 13 February 1959.

Happy FIFTIETH Birthday, Dad!

(I accidentally supplied the side-back lighting, and the results were rather inspiring!)

Monday, February 09, 2009

Encouragement from two old friends

From C.S. Lewis's 'The Horse and His Boy'

Shasta was a little reassured by the breath: so he told how he had never known his real father or mother and had been brought up sternly by the fisherman. And then he told the story of his escape and how they were chased by lions and forced to swim for their lives; and of all their dangers in Tashbaan and about his night among the tombs and how the beasts howled at him out of the desert. And he told about the heat and thirst of their desert journey and how they were almost at their goal when another lion chased them and wounded Aravis. And also, how very long it was since he had had anything to eat.

"I do not call you unfortunate," said the Large Voice.

"Don't you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?" said Shasta.

"There was only one lion," said the Voice.

"What on earth do you mean? I've just told you there were at least two the first night, and--"

"There was only one: but he was swift of foot."

"How do you know?"

"I was the lion." And as Shasta gaped with open mouth and said nothing, the Voice continued. "I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you

* * * * *

From T.S. Eliot's 'East Coker'

The chill ascends from feet to knees,
The fever sings in mental wires.
If to be warmed, then I must freeze
And quake in frigid purgatorial fires
Of which the flame is roses, and the smoke is briars.

* * * * *

From T.S. Eliot's 'Little Gidding'

... You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report. You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid...

Sunday, February 08, 2009

The Return to Ulu Gombak

This time, without any lecturers. 1-2 February, 2009.

Thary Gazi.

Passive sweep-netting.

It was a trip in which I can best summarise the experience as this: "They had all things in common." From Khar Yi's CNY food supply to equipment procured by Rydza and some extra food from Lukmann, truly it was all sufficient for us.

Also, I developed the concept of the 'living bottle'. In entomological studies, we use 'killing bottles' (lined with Plaster of Paris impregnated with a toxic substance like chloroform) to, well, kill insects. But I brought home all my specimens (and some of the others' too, like Lukmann's stick insect above) in containers filled with soil and plants, so as to keep them alive.

I miss you too.

Beetles are Thary's favourite insect. I enjoyed following this one around, experimenting with leaf-obstructed flash, which produced the shade gradients in this picture.

It was also a time of rediscovering my interest in spiders. I've been quite keen on large, rare mammals like elephants, proboscis monkeys and whales of late, but I think spiders are something I really wouldn't mind studying in time to come.

This Wednesday, Thary heads off to Antarctica. I hope he will enjoy himself. I hope I will enjoy myself too, in some way I cannot begin to imagine.

I truly pray that it is God who guides the paths we choose and follow.

The journey continues.

* * * * *

p.s. Amir has an incredible ability to spot fallen insects. This was especially evident during our stick insect hunt.

p.p.s. It was fun stalking the stalk-eyed fly up at the 19th mile!

(Edited 4.06 a.m., 4 March 2009)

Some seasons are worse than others...

What are the odds?

* * * * *

First, Sei Ku Poh on the eve of the Chinese New Year Reunion Day.

Then, Markus last week.

Just heard about Troy from Ai-Ling within the last two hours.

And now, just in, Vincent's grandmother.

* * * * *

Sei Ku Poh was the last of her siblings after Kung Kung passed away in 2007.

I wasn't close to Markus, but Tee Ming was, and through many writings his life indirectly met with mine.

Troy was a fellow Extemporaneous Speaking finalist in 2006, the year for the VI. Ai-Ling was our 'escort'.

Vincent is one of two Student Council Representative for the Faculty of Economics and Administration; he had to rush back yesterday as his grandmother was terribly ill.

* * * * *

My fourth grandaunt died apparently due to choking on a piece of ondeh-ondeh.

The young Christian thinker and leader simply did not awake from his sleep.

An early-morning automobile accident took the life of the promising brilliant young man en route to meeting his girlfriend.

And that oldest of foes, disease.

* * * * *

What are the odds?

Ben, "What kind of season is this?"

Ai-Ling, "An extreme bad season."

Donne wrote, "Every man's death diminishes me."

Lord, have mercy.